Friday, July 22, 2005

The world's first Friendly Fisk

Lileks...James Lileks.

The man is his own Q - he pulls out
an ordinary-looking Bleat that starts with the late James Doohan; he finishes with artwork from the adorable Gnat. (It's not just you, the watercolor is wonderful.)

But in a tight place, he flicks out a little link and there's
Screedness to the rescue.

This week’s Entertainment Weekly has an article on Richard Linklater, who has made a remake of “the subversive baseball classic,” “The Bad News Bears.” Yes, the subversive classic. I like some of Linklater’s stuff – “School of Rock” is just a great fun movie – but I get tired of ideas like these: “The director, 44, sees his younger self in the movie’s junior badasses, underdogs, and latchkey kids, and wanted to make the rare studio movie that celebrates losers.”

Personally, I think that for EW, "subversive" and "classic" is a redundancy. It's part of the larger trend to regard controversy as inherently virtuous: edgy, irreverent, and unorthodox are tossed around as terms of praise rather than descriptives. Besides all this... rare movie that celebrates losers? This is a REMAKE of a movie that celebrates losers. By my count it's the third such remake in the past four months, counting "Dukes of Hazzard" and "the Longest Yard".

Ever since Brando, all you have to do is say “he’s a rebel” and people nod approvingly. Ah, the rebel. We need those! But a rebel against what? Yes, I know: whaddya got, the stupidest answer in the history of movies. Well, we have rule of law, food inspection, penicillin, and building codes. Okay, if that’s all you got, I’m rebellin’ against that. What if the kids rebel against rebellion? Or loserhood?

'Cuz that's what all the cool kids are rebelling against.

He goes on. The thread has that consistent theme - many of our cultural bellweathers have been steadily working to coarsen, to outrage, and to scandalize. And why not? Popular culture is lazy. It settles. Actual accomplishment, on the other hand, requires effort. It's work to come up with a good idea and see it through. It's hard to come up with a persuasive argument that makes sense. And of course, the rewards are not always apparent - the idea may be slow to find an audience, and the argument may not convince until reinforced years later. It's quicker to grab attention with bawd and spectacle, or to lob insults.

Well, who are you to be better than everyone else? Who are you to say that word is bad? Lighten up, pops. And so on.

The self-contradiction of the italicized sentiment is so startling that it's easy to overlook. The very same short-sighted keepin' in realists who resent you for "being better than everyone else" are, in fact, responsible for it - you are above them only because they are purposely lowering themselves. And they resent the reminder of what they would be if they could be bothered to make even a minimal effort.

Unfortunately, the wholesome desire to better oneself in manners, education, and virtue usually takes up a lot of time in practice, leaving the field of professional entertainment to those whose schedules tend to be less cluttered.


Joel said...

What's this? Disdain for Hollywood? Why that's downright subversive. Edgy, even. The gods of entertainment, if they could be reached for comment would not notice you. But if they did, they'd cluck about the irreverent and unorthodox noises coming from your blog. Only they wouldn't use those words, because these words are special. And special words are for special people. (Like, for instance, losers.)

Muley said...

Another winner. So well said.

The Barking Spider said...

Hollywood has no huevos, with the cash needed to make a film nowadays it's safer to run with sequels, remakes of TV shows, and genres that have been recently sucessfull (like movies about comic book heroes). Of course, there is the exception of a film released on Ash Wednesday of 2004 that was a license to print money for its Australian producer/director which Hollywood has restrained itself from exploiting.

Anonymous said...

"What if the kids rebel against rebellion?"

Hmm. Wasn't that the plot of a TV show once?