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August 1994


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Eric Rabkin <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 4 Aug 1994 15:29:50 EDT
text/plain (70 lines)
Folks, I know what I'm about to say risks offending some of you,
and I do it with great reluctance, but try as I have, I can't
accept the following message on what I think is its intended face
value, so I'm going to say what I get from that message and then
ask, if you're willing, that others tell me what they think.
> > From:           Drew Halevy <[log in to unmask]>
> > my use of the term inane studipdity was referring mainly to plot/acting.
> > look at film like _class of 1999_ a truly stupid film. dumd story, horrid
> > acting and mediorce f/x. but i saw it while finishing my thesis for my
> > MA, and it was the perfect escape. i think in large part, for me, the
> > inane stupidity is internal. i am wasting time (and money) and i know it
> > but just don't care. anyway, it is cheaper than booze and less damaging.
> > iguess that makes me the village idiot or something. oh well,  i need
> > something to clear my mind.-drew
> Thank you, Drew.  For a while, I thought I was the only one.
> I, too, find that I can really enjoy a truly pathetic film
> (_Galaxina_ comes to mind, as did _No Retreat, No Surrender_) just
> for its sheer ineptitude.  And, hey...aren't films supposed to be
> *enjoyable* once in a while?  It's sometimes nice to be able to unwind
> with something completely brainless.
> (Gene Siskel once confessed to liking _Inframan_, even though he KNEW
> it was a terrible film...)
> Vance Elderkin
> Department of Commuication
> North Carolina State University
> [log in to unmask]
First, I can't tell if Drew and Vance are really in full
agreement, although Vance seems to think so. To me, "studipidity"
is not the same as "ineptitude." To me, a stupid person has a
defective mind while an inept one simply may not know better
(either by virtue of being at an early stage of training or by
virtue of learning in a different context); that is, Forrest Gump
is stupid but he was not an inept runner, although he was, in the
scene we see this as an issue, an inept lover. If what one really
likes is "ineptitude" and that makes a film "pathetic," it seems
to me the pleasure being advocated is not "brainlessness" but the
opportunity to indulge an easy and detailed sense of superiority.
But I for one don't find a feeling of superiority conducive to
"unwinding," so maybe I'm simply missing out on what is being
asserted here by one or both the writers above. I say that not
disingenously, btw, but on principle: I do not believe that
"enjoy" and "think" are mutually exclusive notions. When my
students ask me, say after a particularly dense demonstration of
interpretation, "Don't you ever read for fun?", my answer is,
"Always." And I persist in believing that there are different
types of thinking, and even pleasures in not thinking (certain
forms of meditation, sleep, repetitive physical exertion), but I
honestly can't see how stupidity or ineptitude can provide an
opportunity for brainless or mindless enjoyment. That's why I
questioned the phrase "inane stupidity" in a previous post and
why I ask for further explanation now. I do realize, given my
students' reactions, that I am not justified in thinking that my
reactions are universal. Hence, I ask for help.
Eric Rabkin                [log in to unmask]
Department of English      [log in to unmask]
University of Michigan     office    : 313-764-2553
Ann Arbor MI 48109-1045    dept      : 313-764-6330
                           deptl fax : 313-763-3128
                           voice msgs: 313-763-3130