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November 1997, Week 3


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Joe Lamantia -- 'self-styled intellectual' <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 21 Nov 1997 14:03:41 -0500
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For a few days I wondered if I'd dropped that juicy nugget into a very dry well,
or if listmembers were just sick of ST.
Connie Voisine wrote:
> I forwared some of these emails to a filmmakerfriend and this was the
> response.
> Subject: Re: re S Poopers, (personal reaction illustrates interp) (fwd)
> What I see at work here (aside from the self-conscious infantilism of
> Starship Poopers as the means of referring to the film in question) is a film
> viewer and self-styled intellectual engaging in a basically homepathic form of
> film review.
Hmm... The sobriquet "Poopers" was applied by someone else, and I retained it
threading purposes: in combination with the general slant of Lisa's response,
this reference to self-conscious infantilism leads me to wonder if she considers
herself a self-styled psychologist.  I was issued a membership card by the
Brotherhood of American Intellectuals' Local #1984 a few years ago, and they
sought me out...
> He is not so much watching the film as administering it and
> recording his symptoms. Then he blows the symptoms out into the events of the
> preceding weeks. Then, the third step in the process, he turns back to the
> film (the remedy/antagonist), observes it microscopically for signs of the
> magnified symptoms he detected in his life and then pronounces them true
> because he found them in the film. Well, it's weird, but he just might have
> something there. I mean, I'm quite sure he doesn't have anything on the
> Starship Poopers
I just read Herbert Marcuse's "Aggressiveness in Advanced Industrial Society"
yesterday (in Negations: Essays In Critical Theory).  Here are a few relevant
"The brutalization of language and image, the presentation of killing, burning,
and poisoning and torture inflicted upon the victims of neocolonial slaughter is
made in a common-senesible, factual, sometimes humorous stlye which integrates
these horrors with the pranks of juvenile delinquents [Heinlein's ST addresses
this issue in specific], football contests [recall the game-scenes ?],
stock market reports, and weathermen."
'The consequence is a 'psychological habituation of war' which is administered
a people protected from the actuality of war, a people who, by virtue of this
habituation, easily familiarizes itself with the 'kill rate' as it is already
familiar with other rates (such as those of business, or traffic, or employment)
the people are conditioned to live 'with the hazards, the brutalities, and the
mounting casualties of the war in Vietnam, just as one learns gradually to live
with the everyday hazards and casualties of smoking, of smog, or of the
"And the brutality of power is further normalized by its extension to the
automobile: the manufacturers sell a Thunderbird, Fury, Tempest, and the oil
industry puts 'a tiger in your tank'".
Marcuse goes on to discuss 'technological aggression and satisfaction, which I
think is extremely relevant, but for brevity I will leave that until later, if a
thread on the issue starts.
> but he just might have a new, vogueish way of doing
> criticism, with some excellent historical precedents (alchemists? witch
> doctors?)
Lisa hits on the reason I posted my personal reaction and explicitly identified
it as such:
> Anyway, it allows a person to take a piece of art (poopers) and
> project tons of crap onto it until it is basically that person's own thing.
What else are we supposed to do with art (a real stretch for ST), except see
ourselves and other people in/through/permeated by it ?  A personal response
be at least one part of the complex of reactions generated or purposes served by
an object of art, or the object in question is simply not art.  When I shared my
unusual reaction, I was much less aiming at establishing any sort of ownership
through projection and interpretation than in positing that FILM-THEORY might
serve as a forum for discussing other aspects of the medium (impact, reception,
construction, etc) in a very specific context.  In general, the critical
commentary here is excellent, but the conversations on Lacanian
ego-identification and Zizek's views on totalitarian ideology occur without
dimensions which may contribute much.  I think the notion of critical distance
the stance of professional scholarship (the shape of the lectern, in effect)
deserves exploration as it constitutes a significant part of the activity here
termed film theorization.  My reaction to ST collapsed some assumptions and
barriers that have undoubtedly influenced my film analysis to date -- I've not
seen anyone address those questions in the forum of FILM-THEORY, nor in any of
the other film-oriented lists I read.  [I haven't investigated list archives on
this topic, please refer me if substantial history is available].
> Not like tons of people haven't done that before with their favorite albums,
> but like, whatever. Gosh too bad he feels it would be unamerican to drive.
> byle
> love
> lisa
I ENJOY driving most days, which is exactly what I find interesting about the
whole experience.  I can't wait to get my car out of the shop, despite my recent
A last shot from Marcuse, "Over and above all particular manipulation in the
interest of certain businesses, policies, lobbies -- the general objective
purpose is to reconcile the individual with the mode of existence which his
society imposes on him." [refering to "tendencies, forces which can be
by an anlaysis of the existing society and which assert themselves even if the
policy makers are not aware of them."]  Am I reconciled, psychologists ?
  Joe Lamantia
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