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July 1994


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John R Groch <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 19 Jul 1994 16:58:44 -0400
text/plain (48 lines)
On Tue, 19 Jul 1994, Kurt R Gegenhuber wrote:
> On Tue, 19 Jul 1994, Guy Rosefelt wrote:
> > Denise,>
> > I heartily agree with you. Movies are foremost entertainment. Any effort
> > educate or extract a response beyond enjoyment is secondary. I posted a
> > similar opinion on CINEMA-L and got shot down for it too.
> >
> > Guy
> 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.
> 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.
> 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?
> Kurt Gegenhuber
> [log in to unmask]
Agreed, Kurt, absolutely. But why must we assume entertainment and the
process of being entertained is so simple? Whatever happened to the
polysemic text? The complex and contradictory subject position? (There
were people who regarded Glenn Close as the heroine in Fatal Attraction,
after all.) Why must the political problems we see in True Lies be
conflated with the film as a whole? Why must the enjoyment of the film be
conflated with subscription to its political agenda? Why must this
conversation be so damned Manichaean?
Or, here's another question: why are many of us as film scholars willing
to believe that we can admire -- that is, find pleasure in -- the
aesthetics of Birth of a Nation and Triumph of the Will without either
being or becoming Klansmen or Nazis, but we are unwilling to grant the
same ability to separate pleasure from politics to the folks around us at
the multiplex?