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October 1994


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Jason Clabaugh <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 22 Oct 1994 09:41:01 CDT
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Hey folks-
     First, I would like to thank one and all for their views on PF and the
level of civility that has been maintained on this topic as opposed to others
that have appeared in recent months.  For those of us that lurk on lists, it
has been educational in many ways.
     Secondly, I would like to preface my remarks as being without malice
aforethought, intent  to offend, or anything else that might cause negative
vibes to any and all who read this post.  I admit, I am not a licensed
professional in film criticism, just a BA in American Studies and just shy
of MLS - I have a passion for film but no credentials that make my opinion
particularly valid in terms that more educated professionals take for granted.
     Thirdly, I admit that I have not yet seen PF, NBK, or *Reservoir Dogs*.
This does not imply any value judgment of any kind.  Nor do I intend to
pontificate on anything I have not yet seen.  I generally wait to see movies
on cable, which offers me a wide variety of choices at a price that is
affordable on a graduate student's income.  Not only that, but I can smoke and
talk back to the screen without disturbing others.  Consequently, I am about
a year behind all of you in seeing these films.  I have seen *True Romance*,
and was rather unimpressed by the movie as a whole.
     Now, having (I hope) thoroughly disclaimed my opinion so as to not
offend anyone with my ignorance, I have a few questions that I hope will not
inspire a flame war.
     In the last few days, I have picked up *Hollywood vs. America* by Medved
(whom I personally regard as a clown prince of popular critics).  While I
am not normally drawn to such works (I much prefer biographies or histories
of film and filmmakers), and I am far from finishing the book, I'm wondering -
where does the metaphor end and responsibility begin?
     As a future librarian, I am dead set against censorship of any variety.
Nor do I object to the opinions or statements made by any of you good people
out there.  Medved makes a good point in the beginning of his book - when do
filmmakers cross the line in glorifying subjects that the public at large may
find disgusting and despicable?  Glorification, I might add, is a broadly
defined term here.  It could be argued that putting something on the screen
at all amounts to glorification.  I do not take such a narrow view.  I felt
that the cartoonish violence in some of Schwartzenneger's sci-fi movies was
very entertaining (I too am guilty of the crime I see).
     Having seen QT's style at work in *True Romance*, it seems to me a bit
on the extreme side.  I have spoken with contemporaries who, while not being
squeamish at all, had to physically walk out of PF to avoid being sick.  I
am glad to see meaningful discussion on the list, but little attention has been
paid to the level of violence that PF, RD, NBK, and others contain - at least
not so far as whether or not they are too extreme.
     I do not claim to know where the line should be drawn.  I feel that those
who do are either zealots or fools and bear little attention.  I also feel that
the critical community, while being able to speak eloquently on the use of
image as metaphor, should also *discuss* whether these moves are extreme.  This
is not to make value judgments on art as it were, but few of us can completely
deny that film does influence the behavior of certain individuals in our
society.  We may not be able to quantitatively measure levels or effects, but
we perceive it nonetheless.  Is it possible that we could start some meaningful
discussion on this topic as it relates to these films?  Where does art end and
responsibility begin?  It may be a topic that has plagued mankind from ancient
times, but I believe it still has relevance.
     Anyone who wishes to flame me on these matters, I apologize in advance
for offending you.  Please address any flames to me personally and spare the
others who lurk on the list.
Jason Clabaugh
[log in to unmask]
"If ya want to stop war and stuff, sometimes ya gotta sing real loud !"
                                      -Arlo Guthrie