I really really dislike discussions where my having two degrees in a field gives me little sway in a conversation about a topic in that field. Yes, there are problems with academic elitism and expertise. Yes, we should think critically and expand our minds beyond our immediate area of interest and employment. and for sure we should not overstate the authority of university/research centers as hubs knowledge production.
It’s just… at what point in time will it matter that I did like 4-8 years of coursework and projects and research trying to understand something better that another person just read a few op-eds about? And full disclosure, I’m sure I’m guilty of overstating my knowledge of different topics outside my range. I know this issues stems partly from how I approach such interactions. It’s partly my problem.
Still, what the hell is wrong with some people (and by some people, I especially mean university students on facebook)? If someone steps up, in a non-condescending way, and says “hey peeps, I studied topic xyz for several years / it’s my thesis topic / my close colleagues study this… here’s how I make sense of it.” and then everyone else carries on with zero regard for that contribution, an carries on offering their opinions (note: not arguments)… where’s the respect? the curiosity for new perspectives? taking advantage of knowledgeable people by asking challenging questions of them?
I feel freaking invisible and dejected, like I’m never gonna get respect. Why did I study it?
This is largely a problem I’ve experience as someone from more of a humanities and social sciences background. I feel like “scientists” don’t get this rude dismissal as often. Like, if I was talking about blackholes or space ships or something, and someone in my network with a physics degree or an internship at NASA offered some info, I’d shut up and listen. I’d switch to a question-asking mode. I’d probably do some research and challenge them… but I’d keep in the back of my head that this person spent several years thinking about this shit.
ugh. there have been at least two domestic violence calls on my block (/my brother’s block) in the last 6 months. three police cruisers visited down the street house last weekend. i thought maybe it was a drug bust. my sister-in-law walked the dog this morning, and was joined by the neighbour who lives at the end of the row houses. He had a scratched face and bruised fist. he said his wife is “away for a while”. I know that we live in a rape culture, I know domestic violence and all forms of sexual harassment are more intrinsic to heterosexual relations than we like to admit. I know it happens too often in too many households (obviously, as a GBV-prevention researcher). Just… something about the proximity of such an incident makes me feel helpless to stop it. I’m barely acquainted with the neighbours on the immediate left and right, let alone the street. advice?
Over at Badass Digest there’s a great discussion going on about the odd kink that accessibility via social media has brought to the author/viewer relationship. I’ve been pretty open on twitter to discussing my intent with various aspects of Looper, from plot details to bigger themes. Is that a good thing? Frankly I don’t know, I’m figuring this out as I go along. I’d love to hear what you think.
I am an avid listener of filmspotting and a burgeoning cinephile. I always want to know more about the film-making process, actors’ preparation, production notes, writer-director’s visions, marketing tactics. I love learning how things work. Some people don’t get it, preferring to sit back and enjoy the movie sort of mindlessly. For me, the dissection of the film is part of the enjoyment. Even if it’s a bad blockbuster, I want to learn about everyone and everything involved in its making. I am fascinated by the filmmaking craft and the movie industry. The more I learn, the more I keep watching. For me, having the filmmakers’ insights just makes me want to watch the film again and pay attention to different elements. I spend hours reading IMDB pages and review blogs, and listening to filmspotting.
On the other hand, I’m a sociocultural critic and scholar. I consume media and pop culture critically, with an eye to its impact in our cultural and political landscape. In that sense, I don’t care so much about authorial intent or the “truth” and conclusive “facts” about the story, but rather I care about the cultural influence of the text regardless of its intended purpose. I want to know what cultural work the film accomplishes - does it offer new narratives about the parent-child relationship? Does it subvert or challenge our understandings of violence? Does it encourage a new way of thinking about certain scenarios and people? Is the casting reflective of diverse peoples, or is it white-washed? Etc. etc. From this perspective, I am actively moving past the notion of “truth” and paying closer attention to the context in which truth is produced.
So… I’m both a cinephile who wants to know more, who appreciates every interview and blog you do, and I’m a cultural critic who wants to put aside your vision and talk about the cultural meaning of the film. I want it both ways!
I say… use your judgement. I totally get that each film is a labour of love, and you’d want to defend it to the umpteenth degree. You will get questions for which you can easily provide straightforward answers. That is going to satisfy some. But you’ll never satisfy everyone, even if you answer truthfully and in great detail. Another way to think of it is to consider that your satisfaction as a filmmaker might not derive from the telling of truths about your process and vision, but in knowing that your work has encouraged dialogues and debates about the truths of the film. I totally think you should participate in those dialogues, but not solely by telling us what we “need to know.” Just… you know, talk about it and work through ideas with the consumers and critics of your films. So far, I think you’re doing all of the above, and you should keep it up!
In turn, I will use my judgement. If there elements of a film that I’d rather analyze on my own, I’ll do so and choose to ignore interviews that offer filmmaker insights.