SCREEN-L Archives

May 1998, Week 2


Options: Use Monospaced Font
Show Text Part by Default
Condense Mail Headers

Message: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Topic: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Author: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]

Print Reply
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Dan Gribbin <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 9 May 1998 12:41:14 -0500
text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
text/plain (56 lines)
Mike Frank drew the conclusion from my recent posting on "movies that touch
the heart" that my comments were "based on the premise that the PURPOSE of
movies [and presumably of art] is simply to touch our hearts."
(capitalization his).  He proceeded to invoke the New Critics to chide me
for committing the "affective fallacy."  In his words:  "that a movie may
have a point or a point of view, that it may carry ideological weight, that
it may represent or misrepresent, that it may play a part in constructing a
culture and hence, in the final analysis, play some part in constructing us
. . . all of these possibilities are ignored by this premise as are any
notions of skill, craft, artistic language, form, control that went into
the work."
Noble words indeed.  I seem to have struck a nerve with Mr. Frank with this
mention of emotion.  I was not, of course, implying that the only reason to
make a film is to appeal to the emotions, nor that the only reason to view
a film is to be emotionally moved, nor that the only criterion for judging
art is on the basis of its emotional appeal.  My appreciation for the work
of Wim Wenders alone would be sufficient corrective for leaning too far in
that direction.  My point in commenting on "Good Will Hunting" was that we
shouldn't be too upset when someone disagrees with our assessment of a film
which does move us.  I stand by my hope that some will.  As for Mr. Frank's
comment:  "We may care about films strongly enough to feel that pleasure
alone is not what we want our films to provide," I suppose we have to
assume that this caring so much about film separates certain superior
critics from the common herd, allowing them to see ever so much more
clearly than the rest of us into the artistic process.  I doff my hat, but
I do have some concern for one who will invoke the New Critics on the
subject of the "affective fallacy" while so carelessly exposing his own
rear flank to the "intentional fallacy."  We might wnat to admit that this
fallacy hunting is a bit like identifying the mote in our neighbor's eye,
or to recognize that those who claim an exclusive lock on the truth are
often doomed to spend most of their energy defending their turf.  Mr. Frank
and I could wish to have been present when one of my mentors, Richard
Harter Fogle, debated the virtues of eclectic criticism against the
strictures of the New Criticism, as championed by Cleanth Brooks.  The
debate took place at Tulane University, my alma mater, back in 1945.  The
critical issues seem still to be alive.  So, we might hope, are the
elements of mutual respect for colleagues and sensitivity to the context of
their comments that I have no doubt were maintained between Professors
Fogle and Brooks on that occasion.  Ciao.  Dan.
Dan Gribbin
Ferrum College
Ferrum, VA 24088
  Dan Gribbin  ([log in to unmask])
  Professor of English
  Ferrum College
  Ferrum, Virginia  24088
To sign off SCREEN-L, e-mail [log in to unmask] and put SIGNOFF SCREEN-L
in the message.  Problems?  Contact [log in to unmask]