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June 6, 2011 by musehick

well, given this is a daily exercise, or supposed to be, it isn’t hard to notice that i missed sunday. there just was not enough time to sit down and condense my thoughts into a few paragraphs. either that or i just didn’t really have any thoughts that fit the requirements of this blog. and what are those i hear you asking? well, they are loose and vague and designed to allow me to waffle along about absolutely anything that i see fit to waffle about.

so, i rewatched ‘being john malkovich’ last night for the first time in an age – this after watching the last twenty or so minutes of ‘brick’ which i had been watching the previous night. my wife was watching ally mcbeal while this was going on. i told my wife what i was watching and she told me she would have to rewatch it and work out what the film was actually about – cue john cusack talking about puppetry and getting inside someone’s skin and living life for them for just, what, fifteen minutes? (an extension of the five minutes of fame i think warhol said we would all have in the future).

it’s interesting – ‘sex,drugs and cocoa puffs’ by chuck klosterman, which i mentioned i am reading earlier in this blog, often seems to be exploring different aspects of this same notion … virtual reality games, reality tv, tribute bands, celebrity sex tapes, and how in some strange essential way we can most be ourselves by being someone else.

we used to read for that experience – slipping inside the first person narrative and peering through that persons eyes. what do we have now? first player arcade games, point of view pornography, karaoke and games where you can simulate being a rock star … all fake and yet somehow all real.

ally mcbeal on the surface is pretty straight forward – a comedy about a law firm; but if you look at it the heads of the main characters in this show are constantly leaking into the ‘reality’ of the show, with imaginary elements popping up left right and centre to show us in the interior workings of ally mcbeal’s and others minds.

all shows have one of those characters that represent the audience, that allow you to walk in their shoes through this strange new world the writer has created. it seems to be an inbuilt need to sometimes play at being someone else (the grass is greener on the other side and all that), so this to me is what ‘being john malkovich’ is about … it’s about what all of our entertainment is about, but being created in that post-modern self-referential mode that means it is aware of the fact that it is a movie, it makes concrete and literal these abstract notions which are taken for granted and run under the hood of most   traditional films and tv shows. ‘brick’ also operates tongue in cheek as a knowing pastiche of the detective movies it is riffing off, the film maker giving props to the audience in a nudging manner  that says – i know you know what you are watching, because you read the same books about what films you should like, and sure you can like my movie for what it is without knowing anything about the old films it tips its hat too, but to really get the whole effect, being in the know is so much better, eh? and if you look at ally mcbeal it too has this savvy knowingness that spends a lot of time winking at its watchers.

reality is so in your face about being real nowadays – all these people acting naturally in front of the cameras; the fakeness self evident to anyone who can recognise that a camera changes the whole dynamic of someone’s life and the need to act natural. our drama sometimes is too self conscious – a lot of it still keeps the contract with the audience and just tells a story, but just as much of it breaks that contract and enters this new contract where it and the audience spend most of the show patting each other on the back for being so smart and getting the reference which links star wars to zen buddhism.

theories and practices you once had to dig deep into some huge tome to get a grip on are now common currency in our culture and skin a lot of cultural artifacts which play dumb but which are in truth much smarter than a quick glance might suggest.


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June 2011
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