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July 1994


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Denise Bryson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 19 Jul 1994 16:54:43 CDT
text/plain (69 lines)
>On Tue, 19 Jul 1994, Guy Rosefelt wrote:
<snip, snip, snip>
>Look, this is ridiculous. Does our analysis of what's going on have to
>come to a grinding halt if we see that somebody is being entertained or is
>receiving pleasure? That ought to be the starting point.
No, and I don't think anybody says it does.  There's a difference,
though, between analysis and ideological destruction, and in many cases
what's currently called "analysis" is simply an excuse to dis the things
that don't entertain us, personally.
>We ought to be able to ask "Where does this pleasure come from?" The
>answer, as I see it, is that people are entertained by representation that
>confirms their worldview, that tells them that their sense of what's true
>and just and sensible is JUST FINE. People watch to have their values
>stroked. When America saw Fatal Attraction in the 80's, it said, "Yep, I
>told you so." That's entertainment.
Exactly.  And that's JUST FINE.  I know nobody ever handed me a moral
magic wand and told me to go out and pass judgement on folks for what
entertains them.  I'm interested in what makes them tick, yes, but
not necessarily in re-educating them so that they can see the error
of their peasant ways.  If they enjoy seeing Arnie gunning down
50 people in the space of 15 seconds, that's not a crime.  Nor is it
a crime to laugh at Tom Arnold's line about the woman dilemma (can't
live with 'em, can't shoot 'em in the head).  In fact, it's going
some to even claim the moral highground in declaring such a thing
"bad."  Some of the psychological theories about violence and its
counterparts (racism, sexism, any kind of -ism you like) don't
say such things are bad:  some, in fact, postulate that the
vicarious experience of such things actually SUBLIMATES the tendencies
of this species to whomp on each other.
Nobody's proven any of the theories.  They're all still alive and
kicking, although some are obviously taking more of a beating than
they're getting nowadays.
>To say that entertainment ought to be exempt from analysis, or necessarily
>excludes politics, is to utterly miss what entertainment is. Isn't that a
>bit of a problem if you're studying TV and film?
Again, nobody said "exempt from analysis."  Exempt from individual
judgements about right/wrong?  Probably not.  But the difference
between analysis and moral evaluation is a vast one.  The critical
language of the past few years has begun leaning more and more to the
latter, with a bit of neglect of the former, it seems.  "I object
to X" is a more valid criticism now, for instance, than "there
were plot holes you could drive a Buick through."  Or "I was
disturbed by the depiction of furry mammals in Return of the Jedi"
is currently given more credence than "What about the Ewoks evoked
audience response, and why do we think people really gave a darn
about the overgrown teddybears, anyway?"
Oh, never mind.  I'm probably rambling--a true bit of proof that
I'm not completely entrenched in linear, patriarchal discourse.
Denise Bryson, Language and Literature
[log in to unmask]
=      Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot      =
=       change, the strength to change those things I can, and        =
=         the wisdom to hide the bodies of those I've killed          =
=          because they PISSED ME OFF|   - Anonymous -                =