comics, creative writing, film, masculinity, men, television, writing

On Joss Whedon and social media

This isn’t done to mock Joss Whedon or feminist activists who took umbrage with his latest film Age of Ultron.

This is about whether or not you should,  as a creator, separate art from politics,  especially in these times and with the increasing outrage and partisanship.

I like to keep my art and politics separate.  That doesn’t preclude me from feeling and supporting compassionate and progressive causes but like faith, it’s become a private matter. 

Refusing to bear an insult or injury is the bedrock of activism but when you look at political activism and social networking, there’s a lot of people who are so quick to dismiss or celebrate that you can get whiplash just watching. 

Such mercurial judgements and absolutism aren’t healthy for the artists who court them.  This applies whether you court any group at all.  Look at how Buffy and Firefly were heralded as progressive icons and now being lined up like cattle in a slaughterhouse. 

And for what?

Joss owes us nothing personally.  Only whatever work he does that you’re willing to pay for.  Same as with any artist.  That he’s not going to be a paragon of your perceived virtue is a given and he wasn’t especially vociferous about it. Yet he’s had threats and character assassinations, and all he did was make a fucking movie. 

If you’ve ever sent a threat online,  I pity you.  I used to troll after a fashion and it’s a short hit of adrenaline and a slow,  ugly comedown. 

Joss will be back but, like a lot of creators, probably won’t engage with his audience in the same way as before.  Perhaps that’s for the best but I think that every time someone gets the lynch mob,  that we’re throwing away something that we craved pre internet. I get it though,  focus on the work and those who love you and your work. 

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film

Didn’t go there, so I won’t be going back either

I haven’t seen any of The Hobbit films at the cinema.

I went every year with Lord of The Rings, have brought the extended editions and will upgrade to the blu ray at some point.

I feel that the Hobbit trilogy bears the same relation to LOTR that the Star Wars prequels did to the original trilogy. Overblown, stale, and magnifying the flaws of the original trilogy.

It’s a shame because I love Peter Jackson’s work. It’s strange because it’s essentially the same crew with a different cast and yet it doesn’t work for me at all. For so many reasons.

If you love it, I get why but for me, it just felt like one great film bloated into three of them, and I’ve not seen the third because I don’t want to hatewatch anything for 144 minutes.

It has it’s moments, but they have all the kineticism of a videogame, without the emotional stakes of the original. I had read LOTR several times, and yet I was invested in the characters in a way that the Hobbit doesn’t manage.

Still, age might be kinder to them than it has to the prequels.

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Secretary

It’s twelve years old now, and it’s still perfect.   The expression on Maggie Gyllenhal’s face as she walks through the office is exquisite. Not merely because she is beautiful, but because it is the expression of a woman getting her needs met. 

Even in the scenes of the self harming, there’s an expression that is akin to release, not ecstacy  but there is a sense of the self being relinquished. The rituals that she has, they anesthetize the action, make it pretty in a way that’s delightfully visual and part of the overall aesthetic.

I have had the author Mary Gaitskill recommended to me, and I’ve added a selection to my wish list. That’s almost a palpable pleasure in itself, knowing that there’s always great writing out there, both to be enjoyed and educated by. 

Regardless, if you’ve not seen the film, then you should. It’s also a sweet and positive portrayal of a woman’s ascension into a place of healing and acceptance, as well as a realised relationship. It’s worth it for the performances alone, James Spader, Jeremy Davis, Lesley Ann Warren and Stephen McHattie ( a personal favourite of mine) all make for an incredible cast and it’s a delight. 

I’m not one of those who think that nothing great is forthcoming in cinema, but this film has a sensibility that I hope to see again. Not a tribute or a remake but a similar freedom of spirit and humour.

 

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Down and Dirty Pictures

Although ostensibly about the rise of independent pictures alongside and because of Miramax and Sundance,  it’s the personalities and the conflicts that make this book compelling.  The films that fail are fascinating for the small decisions both artistic and financial and the egos are as ferocious as anything in film.  Biskind writes with tongue in cheek but ensures you’ll never see Robert Redford or Quentin Tarantino in the same light again.

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Now reading

After finishing Alie Hoffman’s The Dovekeepers, I am re reading an older book and on the list is Peter Biskind’s Down and Dirty Pictures, which is about the second wave of independent american cinema, filtered through the rise of Sundance and Miramax. I really enjoyed it before, because it speaks in a manner that’s equal parts gossip and academic analysis as well as recollecting some of the amazing films and actors that came through in that time period. Being non fiction too, it provokes some interesting ideas for me and I do regularly read non fiction because real life is so much richer and stranger than anything on the page. I do read a lot of self help books as well as my favourite subject, which is male psychology, sexuality and sex in general. 

You may have gathered that from a casual reading of my blog here. I’m not struggling with anything in that respect, I know who I am and what I want in my life and I work towards that. I have doubts and fears, insecurities as we all do, but they’re small for the most part and they pass, but I learn from the bad times and celebrate the good ones. 

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Hanna

This is such a beautiful film, combining a delirious fairytale aesthetic with a brutal, almost nihilistic action movie that deals with the machinations of government agencies. It’s an unseen and underappreciated film, which always tend to make me more loyal to it, in the same way that you like a band that few people have heard of. It was directed by Joe Wright, stars Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana and Cate Blanchett, it’s a heady film, and it has someone from Downton Abbey getting their neck broken, which probably will appall some of you, but will appeal to others. 

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