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March 1995, Week 2


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 7 Mar 1995 14:48:43 CST
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<<Outside of a doting fondness for the
70's, his films are thankfully devoid of any of the cloying sentimentality
and moralizing that gets shoe-horned into almost every film or television
show in AMerica. >>
It's quite refreshing to hear someone exempt QT's "doting fondness for the
'70's" from this new definition, but it's not very convincing.
<<There is no message.  I guess this is similar to what I said above
about no moralizing being forced in.  But Tarantino has simply made movies.>>
Well, of course this is the nub of the problem. The problem is the word
"message". Obviously, Chris is referring to a didactic moral message when he
uses the term. But this is a false premise. No matter how hard you try, a
film is incapable of not having a message. The very act of putting on ethical
or moral blinders conveys the message that such things have no meaning. Even
Michael Snow's minimalist films convey a meaning by DENYING meaning. You
can't defend Tarantino on this basis.
<<Tarantino has, to this date, provided us with the best view of
the meaningless and arbitrary world that we all live in.  I think he's
touched the pulse of the 'Letterman generation' which can find humor in
almost anything simply because of the realization that everything is, indeed,
a joke with no meaning beyond that which we decide to give it.  I know
I've been waiting for such a level-headed voice in film and I am
certain his acceptance reflects that others have as well and hopefully
means more will be coming along the way.  Maybe this means we'll be saved
in the future from sentimental crap like The Wonder Years or Forrest
Gump. >>
First of all, using "The Wonder Years" or "Forrest Gump" or any other film
that you do not like to elevate Tarantino is senseless. It is possible to
dislike obvious commercial pap AND to dislike Tarantino as well. The notion
that "Lettermanizing" the world is a desirable or good thing is preposterous.
Why on Earth, Chris, are you bothering to respond to my post if everything is
meaningless or arbitrary? Obviously, defending Tarantino is not meaningless
to you. And neither were my objections arbitrary. You defeat your own
Substituting a trendy neo-nihilism for balanced thought is the cop-out of the
decade. Like it or not, at some point you have to defend Tarantino on the
issues, not by saying that everything is meaningless and arbitrary.
Perhaps the world is less meaningful and more arbitrary than traditional
morality has allowed in the past, but that does not give you (or Letterman or
Tarantino) a pass to indulge in undergraduate sophistry to justify your lack
of curiosity and your philistine rejection of everything. This is just the
re-emergence of the old art vs. entertainment argument in jazzy
deconstructionist clothes. I don't buy it.
Gene Stavis, School of Visual Arts - NYC