August 16, 2005

Entertaining Policies 

I'm writing this post off-line in order to overcome the difficulties posed by the dial-up connection I am using at the moment, so let's see how it works.

I realized I do not want to politicize my choice of entertainment. I do not want to choose my music, films, books etc only on the basis of the author's political stance. If I find something interesting and entertaining I will appreciate it, even if it is in disagreement with my opinions.

There can already be enough dullness and boredom in life to cast away my chances for good entertainment. Also, I don't want to end up in an echo chamber and never hear different opinions; that's an intellectual vegetative state.

Of course, I exercise some selection. Generally, I find works trying to preach overly uninteresting. Same for political propaganda of any flavour. When it comes to music, I can easily ignore the lyrics and concentrate on the sound; that's why I can listen to Rage Against The Machine and enjoy the music - but I find their lyrics pretty ridiculous.

In general, what I like are good stories, with believable and real protagonists. With the occasional excursion into mindless action when I feel like that - Schwarzenegger anyone? When I have a good story and interesting characters, I don't really mind even if they veer quite to the left - or right, or whatever. I can identify with some characters, despise others, dream of living the same story - or a totally different one. At the end of Star Wars: Episode 3, the most prominent thought in my mind was how to get home for the night. After watching Sin City, I was thinking what I would do if put in the same situations. If I had been Marv, I'd have used a chainsaw.
I also liked early X-Files: it was good, gripping and entertaining - even if full of paranormal and conspirational delusions.

I don't think propaganda works can be good stories, generally. Reality often does not give us the desired outcome, and things just happen regardless of their moral value. The bad guys can and do win, too. For a didascalic story, instead, you need things to go in a certain way, and often this requires plot contrivances. And a high dose of rethoric, and taking yourself very seriously. I prefer stories that grasp the complexity of reality.

Now, works of fiction are not reality - they try to put us in a more desiderable reality, instead (when you're living a dull life as an office clerk, even a fierce firefight may look more desiderable, for a little while). But there is a limit to the level of contrivance and suspension of disbelief I can accept. If a work of fiction, for any reason, crosses that limit, almost automatically that work joins my crap list.

From my own experience, it is the Left that tries to push its own agenda through any means - films, music, books, art (but a lot of lefty "art" is just rubbish for me); that was even in Gramsci's plans. The first time I watched Bowling For Columbine I found it quite interesting, but then I realized how false and manipulative Michael Moore is and I wrote that movie off. Moore was doing propaganda, not an earnest documentary - even if misguided - and pretended to be telling the truth. I watched Alexander, and found it plain boring. Also irritating for its insistence on homosexual themes although I don't think it qualifies as pro-homosexuality propaganda (people tend to see what they want to see, anywhere); it's more a distorted vision of that epoch. But Alexander the Great was a warrior, a man who made conquest his reason to exist and indeed conquered an immense empire. He was not a whiny, eternally undecided metrosexual chap for god's sake!

Not that the Right and other sides do not do propaganda, anyway - a lot of Chuck Norris' movies are just like that. But a good fight to the death is too entertaining for me, that's my weakness.

Ultimately it is a matter of style and content, and I take both into account but I have no fixed rules for their relative importance. Sometimes in my preferences content trumps style, sometimes it's the other way around and other times style and content have the same weight.


Hi Fabio :)

re: "But Alexander the Great was a warrior, a man who made conquest his reason to exist and indeed conquered an immense empire. He was not a whiny, eternally undecided metrosexual chap for god's sake!"

Exactly! Alexander needs to be depicted as a agressive, decisive son-of-a-%itch. No other description matches the reality of Alexander the General. We have only vague clues of what he was really like, but one thing he was NOT was a pussy cat! Even if he was gay, he was a king, not a queen!

I agree with your views here up to a point... but I really like science fiction. The reason is because I go to movies to be entertained, and being taken to an alternate reality can be entertaining.

But Hollyweird needs to stop preaching at us! A great number of sci-fi stories have been utterly ruined by having an alien good-guy who looks down his nose at us primitive humans and preaches about how we can save ourselves or our planet if we would only follow the liberal doctrine. It was vaguely annoying at first, but it has gotten to the point where it is absolutely trite now. And Hollyweird (and by that I don't just mean film makers in California, I'm referring to film makers as a generic entity) doesn't seem to know just how trite it has become.

For instance, a few years ago The Fifth Element was almost ruined with just such preaching. In the end, when Leeloo won't activate the weapon she is a part of, it is because she doesn't think mankind is worth saving. In the BOOK, however, there's no such plot line. In the book, she has a problem activating the weapon because she is confused about the meaning of love. No political correctness involved. The PC plot line was added by a Hollyweird screen writer, probably over the original writer's objections. This movie could have been a solid, hilarious sci-fi comedy, but they ruined the ending with the PC preaching, letting us all know how basically evil we all are.

Stephen King has started producing the movies of his own novels because Hollyweird kept rewriting his plots!

Then there was Star Wars: Ep 3. And that George Lucas made an announcement just before it was released that the story was a metaphore for George Bush=Emperor Palpatine.

That's complete BS. Some years back, George Lucas told us all that he wrote the entire storyline years before he ever released the FIRST film in 1977! He realized that he couldn't squeeze it all into one movie, and split up the plot. THEN his story was that he wanted to make a good action film with good guys and bad guys chasing each other. And that was what made the original trilogy great!

So when Lucas made his utterly ridiculous "metaphore" announcement, I almost laughed myself sick. Trying to jump on the PC bandwagon and missing is almost as bad as getting there! He had the plot line that we ended up with all along!

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