Friday, July 09, 2004


I've always had a non-specific problem with art types who define art as some sort of challenge to the audience. The people who want to make the audience feel something. The cross urinators, the Tom Greene "scream until you hit me" performance artists, the "I'm doing every other frame in black and white in a reverse Fibonacci sequence to cause tension in the audience" style filmmakers.

My problem is, I think that it's presumptive. What right do they have to challenge me? If I don't wish to be challenged, who do they think they are to not respect that?

There was a thing on PBS this morning about some of the directors who were early, groundbreaking TV directors, and when TV went vanilla they moved to filmmaking. Frankenheimer and Altman were the ones that I remember, and who sparked this. Altman talked about his style, which was pretty chaotic and unrehearsed. He'd tell the actors who their characters were, what the situation was and where the story was going, and just turn the camera on and back off. M*A*S*H, for example, is a powerful movie that tells a hell of a story, yet it is almost completely unassuming- no crazy editing, ridiculous camera work or jarring sound effects. He has an idea of the story, and trys to tell that story to the audience as he sees it. I respect that.

Frankenheimer spoke of having unpolished plots to annoy the audience, to keep their attention. Peter Falk talked about how Frankenheimer would purposefully upset the actors to get the proper emotion out of them. Or using camera tricks to convey emotion, even using abrupt edits to "slap the audience in the face." That's a quote.

Which is an obvious lack of respect for the audience, and I think it is an example of what I'm talking about. It seems like the lazy way out as well, a pornography of sorts. Rather than present a story or concept to allow the viewer digest and analyze it on their own, the 'artist' crams their view down your throat. Enrage? Or engage...


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