November 06, 2003

Tarantino and this "art" thing

Maybe the disaffected youth of America, wholly angered and frustrated with the lackluster state our country, vents its bile in the form of hating film.

Film is a long-standing commodity of our artistic culture, the perfect medium to bridge expression and capitalism. And the fragile psyche of people in this country who want to criticize America wait for when a film becomes "successful" or "commercial," when a director can become big within the culture they despise, and proclaim its lack of merit.

Some films are made to make money. They have no artistic value, and exist, like musicals, to perform an escapist service. And some films do exist entirely in the art world, never letting the audience breathe easy or relax.

For the malcontents, film cannot do both. Whether they admit it or not, they buy into a Marxist reading of film as being a mode of production with value assigned by its commercial success. If film is a cultural commodity for these people, its cultural value diminishes as its means of gaining capital increases. Hollywood big budget films are suspect because of the hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of people associated with them (alienating them from the means and mode of production and producing a unifying hegemonic structure), while the struggling art student, armed with his or her Betaflex 16mm, is a true artist because of the lack of alienation from the means and mode of production and because of the lack of any type of earning power and the film's possible critique of hegemony.

As a Marxist, I support this way of looking at the world. But I cannot tow the party line in all cases, and I feel no remorse in happily declaring Quentin Tarantino to be a commercially successful artist (especially when most of the naysayers don't understand their Marxist roots).

Kill Bill marks the development of Tarantino as a true autuer director, realizing themes in his career since its beginning. And the criticism of Tarantino being "overly stylized" and "kitsch," disservices the film's potential to be a commentary on filmmaking that is not alienating, filmmaking that does not support a hegemonic America, and filmmaking that--gasp!--is entertaining and popular.

"Y'all" "Yins" and "Yous guys" are all stylized versions of Standard Edited American English "you." Each dialect signifies a specific place with a distincitive culture. To criticize someone for saying "y'all" because it deviates from SEAE only works if you're trying to convey a standard form of communicating, like in an essay or newspaper.

You can't criticize film for being stylized because it deviates from a standard form of communication. Since its inception, film has been either realist (documentary) or stylized. The Lumiere brothers employed the first use of special effects, and their rocket on a string crashing into the face of the moon began the journey of stylization.

But can a film be overstylized? Well, what does that even mean? Already film is stylization of reality, just like any art. It does not seek to mirror reality, can never mirror reality, and any attempt to say film represents without distortion is suspect and disingenuous. So film is stylized by its nature, and it seems impossible to set an objective standard to measure acceptable degrees of stylization.

end part 1(aren't i stylized?)

Posted by thivai at November 6, 2003 01:50 PM | TrackBack
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