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August 2000, Week 2


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 10 Aug 2000 10:35:06 -0400
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sean Desilets <[log in to unmask]>
TEXT/PLAIN (43 lines)
I think Mike Frank is quite right to point to the ways in which this
discussion of language ends up being a discussion of originality or
authenticity, and when I thought about that it helped me to contextualize
my discomfort with some of what's going on in the "politics on
screen-l" thread. It seems to me that we can acknowledge that every
cultural artifact is both "foreign" and familiar to each of us. Do white
academics speak the "language" of Menace II Society (whose title itself
puts the question of language on the table)? Well, yeah, especially white
academics who grew up watching the same noir films that the Hughes
brothers did...but on the other hand, probably, no, for rather more
obvious reasons. The academic's relationship to that film--and to any
other films, this is just an example--is a whole network of experiences of
familiarity and alienation. There isn't one language in which to read a
film. I think the tendancy on the other thread has been--sometimes--to
priviledge one languge (the technical language of filmmaking) over all
others. Don't get me wrong--I have the deepest admiration (even envy) for
people who understand the inner workings of the physical machinery that
makes films--but that physical machinery is only one among others. If
in the end I'm more interested in, say, ideological machinery, or in the
machinery of language itself, my perspective is no less legitimate, even
if I explain some particular moment in a way that can be explained
differently from that technical perspective. If an art historian who knows
nothing about film writes a fascinating article about the colorized
version of _Night of the Living Dead_ that treats the strangeness of the
color as part of the film's discourse, even if she doesn't know the film
was originally B&W, she isn't wrong, she just knows differently.

Sean Desilets                   *               "The only people who
                        *               *       believe that there is
Department of English           *               a language that is
East Hall               *               *       not theoretical are
Tufts University                *               professors of
Medford, MA 02155       *               *       literature."
[log in to unmask]              *                       Paul de Man


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