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October 1998, Week 1


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Kate Bowles <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 6 Oct 1998 16:53:27 +1100
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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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Joshua Redmond wrote:
>I've read off-center remarks about SL, but never an implication that
>Spielberg's goal was a ploy to make Academy members feel glorified as
>ambassadors of a humanitarian community.
I formed an instant dislike of _Schindler's List_, and quickly learned that
this was a movie towards which others felt protective.  For these people,
it seemed to be doing something else than entertaining, and (despite its
claims) something else than informing.
This got me wondering about the effect that Joshua describes so well here:
the added value of feeling morally elevated by approving of a particular
piece of motion picture entertainment.  Whether or not this was Spielberg's
goal, it is nonetheless the case that _Schindler's List_ achieved the
somewhat bizarre effect of making people feel good about themselves,
provided of course that they watched it in the appropriate manner.
(_Seinfeld_ aptly satirises this in the "you were making out in Schindler's
List??" episode.)
But I think it's important to remember that in making claims on behalf of
popular cinema about historical veracity, moral effects, educational and
other kinds of value, Spielberg is not worth singling out.  He is only
continuing in the promotional tradition begun by Griffith in his defense of
_Birth of a Nation_, the function of which is partly to make all movie
goers feel glorified as members of a humanitarian community, rather than
just avid (and highly suggestible) consumers of cinematic entertainment.
Kate Bowles
Communication & Cultural Studies
Faculty of Arts
University of Wollongong, Australia
Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite