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June 1996, Week 1


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Dave Trautman <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 3 Jun 1996 09:32:14 -0700
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Subject:   re: yesterday, today, and tomorrow
Murray Pomerance <[log in to unmask]> said some very interesting things
about the state of movie viewing and is hitting very close to the nail on
this one.
I agree with his sentiment and his argument.
I also accept th existence of a generalized anxiety within the community of
people who study film that their efforts are being trivialized.
On my first viewing of "American Giggolo" with a small theatre audience I
came across the problem Murray has identified.  This was some time ago, but
the memory is very fresh.  I got the distinct impression the film I was
watching was completely different from the one the rest of the room was
watching.  For weeks afterward I asked others who had seen the film what it
was about and they would tell me.  None had seen the film I saw.  None
followed the story line I was following.  None actually "watched" the film as
closely as I had.  None, perhaps, had the same knowledge of the behaviors of
women who have been abused that I had.  This made it clear to me that without
the guidance of someone who is actually watching the film with a somewhat
"trained" eye (not necessarily technically either) many in an audience will
completely miss the substance of the "art" that is film.
This kind of thing has been going on in literature for a long time.  But for
film and movies it takes on another dimension.  Carl Jung wrote once that
everyone feels they are an expert in psychology because they have one.  I
believe everyone feels they are an expert on film because they've seen them.
Everyone is an expert on TV because they own one.  A local SciFi author was
amazed at the young people she met at a Trek Conference presentation she made
who had never imagined the stories had the themes and metaphors she had been
explaining to them.
I love to read from Screen-L, the references, the level of debate and I get a
heck of a lot from some participants.  Murray is trying to identify a
systemic problem in terms that may suggest there is a fix.  There isn't.
Mitch Kapor says "noise is the price we pay for bandwidth" and I believe he
is right.  Our tolerance of the level of ignorance in the general population
(and particularily among the uninformed here on Screen-L) should be the
hallmark of whatever academic purpose the study of film may have for us.  In
another time, and perhaps with another life to parallel my real one, I would
have time to read all the books, watch all the films and research all the
background on movies.  I cannot.  My obligation, therefore is to show respect
for those whose job it is to do the reading, to those who are dedicated to
writing the reference works, and to respect the discussions here on Screen-L
so that many may benefit.
I have examined my reasons for subscribing many times in the past few years.
I've come close to un-subscribing but not because of the "noise".  The
usefulness of this list waxes and wanes for me and I stick with it while
filtering the subjects and detours which come with the territory.
Although I endorse and applaud Murray for his remarks I felt strongly that I
had to sound a note of caution and tolerance in response to it.
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