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May 1998, Week 1


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Murray Pomerance <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 30 Apr 1998 21:30:49 -0400
TEXT/PLAIN (33 lines)
It may be self evident that what I disagree about in Mike Frank's
engaging and direct reply to me is precisely whether or not something
"mediocre" can matter.  Mike knows I grew up much as he did, and I'm sure
as most of us did, searching for, and trying to make, meaning.  One of my
teachers, Leslie Fiedler, wrote about, and inspired me to think about,
secret scriptures, texts which are so banal we insist on trashing them
rather than taking them seriously--perhaps to our great peril.
Now, GOOD WILL HUNTING is not, to me, mediocre-and-therefore-discrdable;
it's meaningful.  And Will's problem with that History grad student in
the bar suggests a widening and, for me, terrifying division between town
and gown, between the official "thinkers" and people's attempts to
think.  He's a kid, after all, a bright one, and so is Matt Damon, so he
surely knew how to write Will Hunting.  He's not Plato, he's a kid, and
I'm wondering how that grad student suddenly stopped being a kid when
he's clearly not much older.  In fact, Will shows that he can read the
same texts, even more of them, and more deeply.  But he doesn't have the
pretence and the arrogance, and what bothers me is the sense I have very
often that the pretence and arrogance really do constitute academic
Obviously I don't have this sense always.  But sometimes, and it's
disturbing.  And this idea, that one can have such a sensation and it can
be disturbing, and that academic life can be this way, is surely worth
thinking about, and this film is surely worth taking seriously if it
raises this issue to the foreground.
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