"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Friday, January 01, 2010

"Two paradoxes are better than one; they may even suggest a solution." - Edward Teller

***

This doesn't touch on the speciesism and the myth of the noble savage of Avatar (as well as the only folly of man being women: does anybody think Jake would have switched sides if not for his affair?), but it's still good stuff:


Avatar Stereotypes? Jarheads, Rebel Women & Cross-Species Love

"The culture often plays with important character archetypes — “typical characters” that audiences know and recognize. And such cultural markers are a way that both the audience and the artists find a common frame, within which the drama and examinations can take place. I have seen such archetypes denounces as “stereotypes” all my life — as if we can’t recognize (and even enjoy) cultural encounters through familiar types.  As if that is inherently sexist and racist. And as if there isn’t an important role with offering audiences the familiar in order to take things someplace strange and shocking...

I find it strange to say:

“[The film] Aliens ends up as a compare/contrast between Ripley and motherly instinct as an adoptive parent vs. the Queen Alien and its endless laying of eggs.”


That film ends up in THAT contrast? On what planet?...

Is a film tame, compromised, unacceptable if it doesn’t load its female characters with a queerness that puts it out of access to mass audiences? Why would THAT be our key standard for what is acceptable or positive?...

Take Heg’s discussion of Chacon death (warning: spoiler):

“In the instance of Aliens’s Vasquez and Avatar’s Chacon, they’re introduced, then meet their end when their presence threatens to develop into a more fleshed out character…. So what we have here are a sort of constellation of femininity: butches die before combat really begins, but feminine characters prosper so long as a mother or girlfriend character arc can be tacked on. This isn’t really all that much far removed from the action and horror movie convention of killing the black sidekick first, so that they don’t outshine the more Aryan protagonist.”


Is that true? Chacon rebels, openly breaks rank in battle, goes over to the other side, and then dies in combat in an act of mutiny. And this is a negative thing? Because she isn’t the lead character?

It’s not true that Chacon is removed “before combat really begins.” But really, it is very odd to claim that she is  gotten out of the way so that more traditional (read: non queer) relations can flourish. The cross species love of two warriors growing in the course of an insurrection, Jake Sully and Neytiri? Is their love some reactionary and traditional thing simply because it is not queer? Doesn’t miscegenation count as nontraditional to communists anymore?!...

What kind of a film would Hegemonik NOT find unacceptable? Once we exclude all the means and memes that Hegemonik finds unacceptable — what is left for radical artists to build with?

What would that film show, what would its characters be like, and what kind of an audience would it help reach and transform? What does a movie look like that is scrupulously free of “stereotypes” — and how would such a film play against the questions and contradictions of an audience? (And which audiences?)...

Doesn’t this whole method end up saying that only experimental sub-cultural work is worthy of praise? And that anything that seems “mainstream” (i.e. eagerly seen in real theaters across the country seen by millions of real people) must be inherently compromised beyond acceptance?...

Does anyone really think the impact is that these girls are trained to believe that “feminine characters prosper so long as a mother or girlfriend arc can be tacked on”?

Were we watching the same movie?...

I spent time in a radical sub-movement (the RCP) that tried, in many ways, to screen sexuality out of human encounters — including its youth movement, party’s discussions and even the love relations of party members. At major summer projects it was sometimes announced that sexual contacts or flirting among participants was not acceptable. Is that how we want reality portrayed…. or lived?

Isn’t the issue really HOW sexuality and attraction are portrayed?...

I have long seen a method of left cultural critique that assumes (a priori) that it all sux, that it is all bourgeois and reactionary in intent and impact (otherwise why would Hollywood make it? Why would zillionaires fund it? Why would a ruling class allow it? etc.).

And starting from that assumption, the real question becomes merely the details: How (in particular) is this or that new piece a pile of shit."
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