BP Movie Journal 4/20/17

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13 Responses

  1. Tom Allen says:

    Great discussion. I think you both made excellent points in your arguments regarding how individual experiences can give certain viewpoints (particularly those of offense) more weight in a cultural discussion.

  2. Ryan says:

    Wow, I’ve never heard two friends argue more politely and articulately than you two. Congrats for that.
    Full disclosure: I’m an atheist who also grew up in a Christian home, and has a very Christian mother who I love very much. I can see both sides of this. I do think that Hollywood feels very comfortable bashing Christian conservatives, as Christians are certainly a minority in pulp culture entertainment. And even if they’re not technically a minority in the country at large, the specific saber-rattling, bible thumping Jerry Falwell type Christian is absolutely a minority now, and greatly reduced in their political power and influence than compared to say the Reagan years. I mean, they’re reduced to throwing their support behind an absolute immoral ghoul, who is no more Christian than Ayn Rand. So yes, it can feel like “punching down”, or pandering, or all the rest of it to go after them.
    On the other hand, Handmaid’s Tale was written a long time ago, where it wasn’t impossible to imagine the Jerry Falwells and Pat Robertsons growing in power until they behaved exactly the way the villains are portrayed in the book. Does anyone think Robertson or Huckabee or Santorum wouldn’t behave exactly as oppressively as an Islamic fundamentalist in Saudi Arabia does, if they could get away with it?
    So I think the makers of the new show are coming up with a worse case scenario of religious fundamentalism unchecked. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But I also see Tyler’s point that it feels like an attack. Seems like they should have characters who are Christian, but don’t agree with what the government is doing.

  3. aaron says:

    Your conversation was very interesting and very complicated and I appreciate that. Whenever a specific group of people are used as a standard for that group of people it is rarely going to be positive or truly representative, so I sympathize with David’s defensiveness (that’s a throw back to the listeners can’t tell you apart joke, btw). At some level, though, not all Christians are people who actually represent you or share your values. The impulse to lump every Christian together is easy and bad and I can see that cumulative effect is what makes you defensive. But, as I think Tyler (jokes, again) was trying to get at is there are very visible and very powerful people who live as Christians that don’t live with all of their values. This happens in every religion, yes, but again as David said (OK, I’ll drop it now) our cultural context is important. Everyone who has met Tyler (including all the listeners, too) know that you are not like the people depicted in The Handmaid’s Tale, but to be defensive for Christians who don’t share your same values won’t always come off well. It might be good to punch up at those who do use their faith as a shield. Again, I realize this is a complex and personal issue, but those are 2 cents.

  4. Wood's Hole Oceanographic says:

    I came here to praise your discussion also. I really felt for Tyler – his weariness and wariness at getting in to this area were plainly expressed and the very last words of the podcast “…alright, that’s it”, sounded like he was prepared for a barrage of negative criticism. Ryan has set the tone for full disclosure so here goes – I met a Christian once and he seemed ok. Ryan has also already made the point that occurred to me – that The Handmaid’s Tale is about unchecked fundamentalism, among much else. David pointed out that these people are taking what they choose from what Peter Cook once called “…your guide-book, or whatever it is”, leaving out ‘and they shall inherit the earth’, from the blessing of the cheesemakers. And so the producers find themselves in similar territory to the Pythons who took enough trouble to make plain that Brian is not Jesus, only to find the descendants of the real targets of the film attacked it from the cover of accusations of blasphemy. If the makers of The Handmaid’s Tale (I haven’t seen the new version) feel that they have distanced their ‘villains’ sufficiently from nice, normal, modern Tyler-style urban Christians, then they feel they can make a point about fundamentalism more tellingly in a context that the bulk of their audience will understand. Have neither of you seen the film version? Classy but glassy (it’s Atwood via Pinter) and directed by Schlondorff who you mentioned last week, it is not entirely successful but Tyler, you’re a Robert Duvall guy right? Never mind all that, your listeners value very highly the sort of discussion you had in this episode. Bravo!

  5. Ray (@RaySquirrel) says:

    Your discussion in this episode made me think of a recent video by YouTube user ‘Kraut and Tea’ comparing the art created by identity politics centered “Social Justice Warriors” and the Socialist Realist movement which took over the Soviet Union, Communist China, and many socialist countries of the early 20th century. In the Soviet Union art was not made for personal expression but as a vehicle for reinforcing the political agenda of the state. Socialist realism is not meant to be interpreted, it is not meant to be cognitively strenuous, it exists solely to celebrate the ideals of the Communist state. It is an art movement of no historical importance which satarizes itself.

    The parallel with art produced by modern “Social Justice Warriors” is similar in that it is made to service a political ideology. Films like Disney’s Star Wars and Sony’s Ghostbusters do not have female protagonists because the story requires it, but because progressive politics demand “diversity”. Television series and documentaries which assert that we live in a “rape culture” during a time period that the Bureau of Justice Statistics shows the steepest drop in rape, sexual assault and violent crime in our nations history. It is not unlike Soviet paintings of bountiful harvests at a time state mandated Lysenkoist agriculture ravaged the countryside.

    A series like “The Handmaden’s Tale” does not get made because it reflects any actual oppression that anyone finds in the west, but reflects the oppression “Social Justice Warriors” imagine they suffer. The villains of the show are Fundamentalist Christians not because Fundamentalist Christians pose a discernible threat to women and minorities. (Certainly not while homosexuals are currently being rounded up into concentration camps in Chechnya.) But because Fundamentalist Christians are a soft target. You can criticize them, mock them, villanize them and you can be reasonably certain that they are not going to kill you. Try attempting that in Pakistan where just this past month a young man was murdered by a mob over precieved blasphemy.

    • Ryan says:

      So when the original Ghostbusters and the original Star Wars had male leads, that was because the “story required” it? How so? And in this new Wars, how would one demonstrate that the story required a specific gender for the lead character? And what political agenda did you glean from the casting of Rey?

      • Ray (@RaySquirrel) says:

        There was nothing which “required” that all the cast of Ivan Reitman’s Ghostbusters be all men. It was an original idea and the leads were deeply connected to the personalities of the filmmakers. Ghostbusters produced by Amy Pascal, directed by Paul Feig, and written by Kate Dippold, adds nothing to the concept except for swapping the genders. As for the Disney Star Wars films, the new president of Lucasfilm Kathleen Kennedy has explicitly stated that she wanted to place an emphasis on female protagonists. There is nothing wrong with that except that it hasn’t resulted in any interesting female protagonists. Rey is a Mary Sue and Jyn Ersoe is a blank canvas.

        • Ryan says:

          She’s not a Mary Sue in the slightest. Her ascendancy in her powers was almost exactly the same as Luke’s in the first series. You also went from strongly implying that movies should only have female leads if the “story required” it–which is nonsensical and comes from a place of privilege– to some mealy mouthed “nothing wrong with it, but…” tapdance. You already gave yourself away, dude. Own it.
          Also, “rape culture isn’t real because there’s less rape now than 100 years ago” and it’s all a communist plot” stuff was very amusing.

          • Ray (@RaySquirrel) says:

            You obviously didn’t read my original statement. I did not say anything about a “communist plot.” I said the art produced by “Social Justice Warriors” (mind the scare quotes) is analogous to the art produced under communism. That is it is art made reinforce a spacific political ideology. It is uncomplicated, not challenging, and can only produce dirivatives of a previous generation’s work.

            You stating that Rey’s arch matches exactly that of Luke in the original 1977 Star Wars proves my point exactly. I have no particular love for Star Wars as a brand, which is exactly how I see the new Disney series. It is a bland inoffensive corporate product. I have nothing against female characters, see Ellina Riply, Lizbet Salander, Furiosa. (Though admittedly everyone in Fury Road is a bit of a blank canvas.) When a work of art is made in order to satisfy ideology you are most likely going to get derivative, condescending drivel.

            As for the definition of “rape culture”, it is a society which normalizes or excuses rape. The people preaching this idea are people spreading the “1 in 4” statistic, which is wildly inaccurate as the BJS. To say that we live in a culture which excuses such a crime because the incident rate is not Zero, or because the mechanisms of due process are imperfect and cannot prosecute every instance of said crime is ridiculous. The fact that we live in a society which prizes due process is a privilege in itself, a privilege we shouldn’t take for granted. The word “privilege” itself has been taken for granted. It used to mean count your blessings, now it is used as a cudgel to silence any dissenting opinion.

          • Ryan says:

            Unless your point was that Luke Skywalker was a Mary Sue, I didn’t prove your point at all. In fact, your acknowledgement that their arcs are the same but only the female character gets criticized for it proves my point exactly, and not yours at all.
            Of course, every time you comment, you back pedal and move the goalposts just a little bit more, so who the fuck can say what your point is?
            Also, you don’t even have the vaguest idea what “rape culture” means. You might want to try google. I’ll give you a hint. It’s not a term slapped on any country that has an incident rate above zero, but that was a charming Straw Man.

          • Ray (@RaySquirrel) says:

            You seem to be getting increasingly hostile in your responses. It all seems to surround the fact that I dared to speak against two of the most prevalent modern religions today, Social Justice and Star Wars.

            For Star Wars, the character of Rey is a derivative of Luke Skywalker and a Mary Sue. She is hyper competent, loved by all of the established legacy characters, and saves the day in the end with powers which Luke couldn’t master until Empire Strikes Back. The Force specifically chose her to carry on the legacy of Luke Skywalker.

            As for “Rape Culture”, it is not just me who oppose the idea of there is a “rape culture” in North America. Big names in feminist scholarship oppose the idea, from Camille Paglia, to Caroline Kitchens, to Christina Hoff Sommers, to Bell Hooks, to Barbara Kay. Even when questioned by the White House on how to diminish instances of sexual assault on college campuses the Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network (RAINN) reported:

            “In the last few years, there has been an unfortunate trend towards blaming “rape culture” for the extensive problem of sexual violence on campuses. While it is helpful to point out the systemic barriers to addressing the problem, it is important to not lose sight of a simple fact: Rape is caused not by cultural factors but by the conscious decisions, of a small percentage of the community, to commit a violent crime.

            While that may seem an obvious point, it has tended to get lost in recent debates. This has led to an inclination to focus on particular segments of the student population (e.g., athletes), particular aspects of campus culture (e.g., the Greek system), or traits that are common in many millions of law-abiding Americans (e.g., “masculinity”), rather than on the subpopulation at fault: those who choose to commit rape. This trend has the paradoxical effect of making it harder to stop sexual violence, since it removes the focus from the individual at fault, and seemingly mitigates personal responsibility for his or her own actions.”

  6. FictionIsntReal says:

    Dino de Laurentiis produced Manhunter. When that didn’t perform very well, he allowed free use of film rights for the book’s sequel’s adaptation, but he didn’t produce Silence himself. Early on he produced Italian neo-realist movies, a far cry from the schlock he would later be known for.

  7. Darrell says:

    At a time when the political spectrum is divided more and more by immature social media trolling and cheep points scoring, it’s nice to hear two grown-ups having a very intelligent discussion about a very difficult issue. And yes, the discussion itself must have been exhausting to an extent – but that’s how any of these tough issues are ever moved forward. Only when the ‘left’ and the ‘right’ can work together as you two do will real change start to be seen anywhere.

    This was a great piece of podcasting!

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