Kate Bowles writes, > I formed an instant dislike of _Schindler's List_, and quickly learned that > this was a movie towards which others felt protective. For these people, > it seemed to be doing something else than entertaining, and (despite its > claims) something else than informing. > This got me wondering about the effect that Joshua describes so well here: > the added value of feeling morally elevated by approving of a particular > piece of motion picture entertainment. Whether or not this was Spielberg's > goal, it is nonetheless the case that _Schindler's List_ achieved the > somewhat bizarre effect of making people feel good about themselves, > provided of course that they watched it in the appropriate manner. > But I think it's important to remember that in making claims on behalf of > popular cinema about historical veracity, moral effects, educational and > other kinds of value, Spielberg is not worth singling out. He is only > continuing in the promotional tradition begun by Griffith in his defense of > _Birth of a Nation_, the function of which is partly to make all movie > goers feel glorified as members of a humanitarian community, rather than > just avid (and highly suggestible) consumers of cinematic entertainment. > Kate Bowles > Communication & Cultural Studies > Faculty of Arts > University of Wollongong, Australia Here, here, Kate [if I may] I too formed an instant dislike of S's L the first time I saw it and have been thinking about the reasons why on and off now ever since. I am currently working on an article which attempts to come to grips with this reaction while analyzing the reasons our culture seems intent on, to paraphrase Sara Horowitz, aestheticizing atrocity [see her article, "But Is It Good for the Jews? Spielberg's Schindler and the Aesthetics of Atrocity," in Yosefa Loshitzky, ed., SPIELBERG'S HOLOCAUST: CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES ON SCHINDLER'S LIST (Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1997), 119-139]. I couldn't agree more that the function of this type of representation is moral cheer-leading, or as you characterize it, to "make all movie-goers feel glorified as members of a humanitarian community." For example, as Ms. Horowitz points out, staged scenes of the kind used in S's L find a discomforting resonance in Nazi Propaganda newsreels in which such falsified images played an important role in facilitating and justifying the Nazi genocide . This raises all sorts of questions about why audiences would NEED to be convinced that the holocaust was a bad thing?!?! The usual defence for this kind of excrutiating film exsperience is the need for remedial education of [especially young] people about these historical events in response to certain recent [in fact, on-going] racist re-writings of history that deny, for example, the extent of Nazi atrocities. But there seems to be something else going on here. Steven Spielberg is an emotional button-pusher of unquestionable talent and expertise. The question is, Is the Holocaust something about which emotional buttons need to be, or more fundamentally SHOULD be, pushed? I will argue that the pushing of emotional buttons about a real event that resulted in the deaths of millions and the on-going terrorizing of many more is obscene. It is obscene in the etymological sense. The word comes to us from the Latin, obscenus, and refers to a representation that is offensive to decency and morally repugnant. I will argue that S's L satisfies these criteria, especially the word's older sense that characterizes a representation as ill-omened or ominous (OED). Anyway, I won't bore you with any more of this. Suffice it to say that questioning the unassailable morality and PC status of films S's L is a dangerous business that makes one think that the critical response to the film is more interesting than the film. Cheers, Marty. ---- Screen-L is sponsored by the Telecommunication & Film Dept., the University of Alabama.