Friday, August 31, 2007

Analyzing Your Own Culture's Films

This is unbearable! I am going to sound very elitist, but perhaps this is simply pro bono work on my part in teaching everyday-Americans critical theory. On the other hand, maybe I'm just suffering from an extended reverse culture shock.

The problem I see is that the American analysis of their own films ends short of real analysis. In general, this type of person cannot consider the attitudes the film is trying to legitimize, cannot consider the messages and concepts the film is trying make acceptable. And they cannot consider the present political context. America is currently at war in Iraq. A film that seeks to reassert the innocence of the American military situation, through Peal Harbor-style provocations, seeks in some way to justify the American recourse to military action, or legitimize an attitude of acceptance surrounding the issue. This is, in my opinion, largely a subconscious act on behalf of the director, editors and producers. But not only is the recourse to militarism justified in the film, but also in the real world, because the viewers accepted the action and innocence of the mission. But Americans are hideous when they say things like, "No, a film is just a film, and there's nothing that deep about it."

But (
to use the analogy of another user) for the few who "analyze things too much" and do see the world in a larger, more complex way, we often make the mistake of stepping into a local city council meeting and arguing geopolitics. Way over their heads.

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