Saturday, January 27, 2007

A Quick Note on a Too-Common Refrain

I am only about a third of the way through this critique of Falling Down at The Unapologetic Mexican, but already I am loving it, partly because I hate Falling Down and even more partly because I hate Michael Douglas.

In the comments here, Lesley and I were sharing our hatred of Viggo Mortensen (note to self: Quit threadjacking coblogger's excellent posts! Why am I always such an asshole?), but I have to tell you, that hatred pales next to my hatred of Michael Douglas; it is as nothing. See, I don't just hate Michael Douglas; I hate the dead skin cells that slough off daily from Michael Douglas, creating layers of dust for other people to clean up. I cannot stand Michael Douglas. Please attempt no defenses of Michael Douglas in the comments, for I will delete them! There is nothing you can say to make me change my mind about this. Some things just are: Death is inescapable, taxes are inevitable, Michael Douglas is loathesome, The End. We're not arguing about this. This blog is not a democracy.

That, however, was not what I wanted to talk about here. I wanted to give a big cheer for this observation of Nezua's:

Sometimes in conversation or these kinds of talks one may hear "you are parsing too much." But oye! Not a cherry pit appears on screen that is not intended to affect you (save the frequent camera crew reflection in a glass door type of incident). This I studied. This I did. This I know. Although I imagine most readers of blogs are pretty media-savvy vat@s, I say this because of my own arc. Even aware of media, I used to entertain the notion—buying into the Art Director's skillz—that a background might (sometimes?) be as-is. Real life. Or just populated with random objects. That was before I became parts of fueds between a D.P. (me) and an Art Director, in a struggle over the Director's ear and creative lean. Now I know that every item is deliberated over, and all springs from the Director's interpretation of the script.

I have a friend who also studied film and would back him up on this. Every detail matters.

But more generally, I note that "you're over-thinking this," "you're reading too much into that," "you're being too sensitive," and all these remarks are common methods of camouflaging a simpler desire, one normally verbalized as "Shut up." Feminists get it, people of color get it, transgendered people get it--everyone who deviates from the norm gets this one at some point or another. And it's not that you can't debate intent versus context in specific situations; you can, and people do. But when someone who knows more than you do about how films are made, or how novels are written, or how sculptures are created, or how bridges are designed, or how it feels to be non-white, non-Christian, non-male, non-heterosexual--how it feels to be outside the dominant culture--when that person speaks, if your impulse is to yell "shut up," even if you mask that impulse with "quit taking everything so literally," you're the ignorant one, and you'd be better off listening to the one you've mentally labeled "too sensitive." Nine times out of ten it is not that they are too sensitive. It is that they see with a keener eye.

And now, back to enjoying the view through a keener eye. Some days the internet's not so bad, you know?


gennimcmahon said...

I loathe Michael Douglas with every fiber of my being. Say, "Creepy Old Man" and I think, "Michael Douglas." Say, "Dirty Bird Turkey Wattle Icky man" and I think, "Michael Douglas." Ick. It makes me question Catherine Zeta-Jones' sanity on a most intense level. What is she THINKING?

ilyka said...

Say, "Dirty Bird Turkey Wattle Icky man"

NO! No! If you say that three times before a mirror in a pitch-dark room, he appears!

Stop before you kill us all, woman!

Anonymous said...

I spent only 1.5-2 years in the film/tv production world, but the biggest lesson I learned was that yes, EVERYTHING is deliberate. Every damn thing.

Sniper said...

Heh. The other day I was in a conversation about how James Woods, Michael Douglas, David Caruso and David Spade should all do a movie together... except I'm afraid it would somehow blot out the sun.

JackGoff said...

OK, I can forgive the Aragorn hate as long as you hat Michael Douglas.]

What a terrible actor. Sheesh!

JackGoff said...

And I can't type...or proofread.

Anonymous said...

Sniper got my loathing guy-I struggle to see how the hell David Caruso got the gig he's in. I can tolerate Spader, Douglas and Mortenson. But David Caruso? So he showed his ass crack in NYPD Blue? Fine. But I think nothing says "I spend my time seeing how many blow-up dolls I can fit it in to" like Caruso.


Lesley said...

Oh man, I hate Michael Douglas too. Last night while I was guide surfing, I found some movie that has them both in it. Of course, I didn't watch it, but that might just be the worst movie ever made. Possibly worse than, and I wouldn't have thought that was possible before yesterday.

So, of course, I haven't seen "Falling Down". I figure if I just read nezua's post, I'll have all the important stuff anyway, right?

ilyka said...

And then some--I'm blown away imagining how much work must have gone into that. I guess if you studied filmmaking it wouldn't be a total chore, but still, that's a lot of time spent and a lot of notes taken.

Until Nezua pointed it out, I never noticed the Christ metaphor in it. I'm not really as observant as I think I am when I'm watching movies, is what I'm getting out of this.