Dog's Dinner

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Friday, May 20, 2005

Reactionary Trip

To be perfectly honest, I was also somewhat annoyed by the Michael Moore avant la lettre "Interview with a Consumer Product" in Masculin, Feminin, in which the hero interviews a slightly vapid and not terribly attractive girl who won a beauty contest and a trip to America. (Not clear whether the episode is fiction or non, but it feels real, probably improvised.) He asks her about the war in Vietnam (the film was made in '66) and other political matters of which she knows or cares little. She does exemplify an annoying type of person-- a certain arrogance comes through, familiar to me from certain of my students who as I've mentioned have also often been to America. The type of person who has ambitions of a political career but refuses to engage in a discussion about drugs, an incredibly important political issue in most countries, because it's "not nice." And it is disheartening that someone in her late teens or early twenties doesn't know what "reactionary" means-- she thinks it just means someone who reacts quickly and decisively to situations. But the fact is that the hero's girlfriend is at least equally ignorant of and indifferent to Vietnam, Marx, Mao, etc., and is to at least an equal degree a "Consumer Product" (she's an up-and-coming pop star, a dreamier version of Mireille Mathieu) and probably couldn't say what a reactionary is either, but we're not (I hope) supposed to hate her, since the hero loves her and she's adorable and vulnerable and opaque and doesn't really know what she wants but starts liking Bach because her young man loves Bach and can't stand pop. So the issue is really aesthetic, not political. The scene is manipulative and dishonest, and just like the Brittney Spears soundbite in Fahrenheit 451, it caters to people's worst tendencies, their intellectual snobbery and delusions of superiority.


At 11:20 PM, Blogger Prince Myshkin said...

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At 11:23 PM, Blogger Prince Myshkin said...

you have drawn me out. that is a brilliant scene that gives a question to so many people (that probably will never watch this fantastic movie) about the life they lead and how effects other people. it is an opportunity for all of us to reflect on our consumerism and by the same token realize how we can become a catalyst for change. like it or not, we are in a changing world and things are getting more and more wild by the minute or at least it seems that way in america with this looney tune politics going down. drinking, dranking, drunk. j

At 9:27 AM, Blogger Small Man said...

That kind of sneering politics-as-aesthetic-statement you see so often in Godard doesn't bother me too much because usually I find it so absurd, and as long as those scenes don't drag on too long I think of it more as a whimsical distraction from the love story which is primary. You only get into trouble after he breaks up with Anna Karina and loses the ability to portray the love story, so in the later movies you have scenes with Godard playing himself explaining how the Americans, they have no history! etc. Even in La chinoise, which is explicitly political throughout, the political debates seem to me more like a diverted expression of the characters' passion for each other, than serious political thought, or even thought at all. But I'd like to see M/F again.

At 12:39 AM, Blogger Jack Naka said...

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