Tuesday, January 4, 2011

emo entertainment thoughts

I enjoyed Exit Through the Gift Shop as a fun way to spend a few hours with some great footage of tagging. But it made me hate Banksy (against whom I bore no previous ill will) and Shepard Fairey (whom I maybe already disliked). What a dick move making a feature length film whose essential message is how cool you are, and how artistically valid, authentic and underground your shit is. It smacked of insecurity.

Funny People was also a good way to spend a few hours, but was deeply self-indulgent. A Hollywood comedy star (Apatow) making a movie about the spiritual emptiness of the society of Hollywood comedy stars. Sometimes it was fun to spot all the unexplained cameos, and Apatow makes all his male characters touching in the same successful way. But I couldn't get over the self-indulgence. And the time in marin went on way to long. Jerry Seinfeld's Comedian was basically the same movie, but real, and earlier.

I am midway through The Corrections. It is a very good novel. I am enjoying it a lot. I could live without the post-modern naming (e.g., Ford Stomper) because unlike White Noise or Infinite Jest, The Corrections seems a novel firmly grounded in present reality rather than the future or an alternate reality, which makes these add-ons seem flippant. It is also a really white, upper-middle-class novel. In that it reminds me a lot of a heartbreaking work of staggering genius. Anyway, don't spoil the ending for me.

12 comments:

Ellen said...

Ha, Comedian! Now I have to go look up the aspiring guy and see what happened to him.

I really didn't like Funny People, and it made me go back and reconsider the oft leveled criticism at Apatow that he makes movies for and about men (something that didn't bother me about the previous two he directed). I felt absolutely nothing for Adam Sandler's character's plight and resented the movie for trying to universalize his striving as some kind of holy human impulse, but I have guy friends who found it very sad and moving. The Jason Schwartzman subplot was more interesting to me.

Wade Garrett said...

Funny People was good, but I thought that its attempts to be Great hamstrung it a little bit - Apatow could have made a more enjoyable movie if he wasn't swinging so hard for a home run. I found Adam Sandler to be surprisingly tolerable in that film, but maybe it was because he was playing a jerk, instead of one of his usual types.

The Corrections is a favorite of mine, and I won't say too much about it before you finish it. Yes, it deals almost exclusively with white, upper-middle class people, but its not like Franzen goes out of his way to tell us how create his characters are, or, on the other hand, turn it into a "white upper-middle class people have problems, too" pity-fest. There are not a lot of writers who can craft three-dimensional characters of both sexes, but Franzen is one of them, and there are a ton of great writerly details.

Senor Beavis said...

All the punk rockers and the Ford Stompers ...

The aspiring comedian's name was Orny Adams. My college roommates and I saw him open for Greg Proops and he was really funny. However, apparently he's totally like that. One of my roommates talked to him after a show in Atlanta and said he saw him in DC and he want on a rant about how much he stole that show from Proops. All that said, he is funnier than Jerry Seinfeld, which isn't saying much. That's what I learned from Comedian. I guess I missed the whole thematic elements that were meaningful. The more time passes after "Seinfeld," the more obvious it is that it was Larry David's show.

8yearoldsdude said...

you are right that the sadness wasn't as present in Comedian. It was more about the superficial similarities of pairing super-rich comedian with struggling one and showing how rich but also cutting the culture of comedians is.

Comedian actually has the vanity-project and wannabe theme in common with "Gift Shop" insofar as one of the big themes of Comedian is that Jerry knows he has to work for his jokes and his fame, and Orny wants to fame without the work.

8yearoldsdude said...

also, ellen, I think the charge that apatow hates/doesn't understand women is totally valid. I feel about his stuff the way I feel about philip roth. it is dudes-only culture. and as long as you don't mistake it for universal culture, it can be fun.

Senor Beavis said...

I saw it a long time ago, but I don't think Orny Adams wants the fame without the work. He's cataloged all his performances and watches them incessantly and admits to being obsessive-compulsive about this. Maybe the work is put into different areas, but it's a lot of work. And a lot of connections.

8yearoldsdude said...

yeah. maybe it was that he wants the fame through hard work, but doesn't understand the comedians code and is not accepted into the rich culture. somehow the movie strives to make jerry look cool and him look like a doofus.

Elaine said...

this is a tangential point, but it's interesting that someone like Philip Roth who so obviously writes from a dudes-only perspective is routinely cited as "America's best novelist," "deserving of the Nobel Prize," and a "master analyst of the human heart" (from The Guardian). can anyone think of someone working from a women-only, non-ethnic perspective who is taken as seriously?

Wade Garrett said...

Marilynne Robinson comes immediately to mind.

I don't want to pick a fight here, but are there any other female writers working from a women-only perspective who are as good as Philip Roth? Don't you think that there are enough women, open-minded men, and possibly-closed-minded-men-who-cynically-want-to-champion-a-female-writer-for-political-purposes out there to celebrate them if they existed?

Ellen said...

Your use of the phrase "working from a women-only perspective" indicates that yes, actually you do want to pick this fight.

The issue is that there may be enough readers to champion that writer now, but there weren't for many years, during which time Philip Roth was absorbing the exposure (and the money) that might have gone to a similar caliber writing talent who happened to be a woman. Naturally we can't go back and correct that but I think Elaine brings up a salient point.

Wade Garrett said...

Ellen - Elaine used that expression. I only used it in response to her point.

Its probably true that Philip Roth established his reputation as An Author That Everybody Had To Read in the 60's and 70's, when acedemia and literary criticism was dominated by men and male-centric points of view even moreso than it is now.

There are several female authors of Roth's generation - most notably Toni Morrison - who are as famous and well-respected. In fact, Morrison has won the Nobel Prize, the award for which Roth's consideration is seen as proof that the American literati have a male-centric view of the world. WITHOUT QUESTION the world of academia and literary criticism is dominated by males, but, I think we need to identify some female writers whose work has been overlooked, and champion them, instead of lashing out at every "male-centric" author beloved by critics. Jennifer Weiner complaining about Freedom doesn't really count, because she had such a big financial stake in getting for herself a larger portion of the attention and critical acclaim currently enjoyed by Franzen.

Wade Garrett said...

Any list of the top ten authors in America has to include Toni Morrison, Joan Didion and Marilynne Robinson.

Combined, they have written 17 novels (Morrison - 9, Didion - 5, Robinson - 3). Part of it, obviously, is that Didion has written a number of films and works of non-fiction, and Morrison and Robinson have spent much of their careers teaching, unlike Roth, who writes a novel every year or eighteen months. Most Nobel Prizes in literature go to authors with greater outputs, except for the few which are clearly political in nature. I don't know, I just don't think that, at the elite level at which they operate, many people worth listening to have refused to acknowledge their literary merit because they happen to be women.