Monday, November 3, 2008

On the sudden, and the unaccountable

Dave Kehr's on over at the Paper of Record about the Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

What catches my attention are the first two paragraphs:

GROWING old is a subject American movies have largely avoided since the 1980s, when the commercial triumphs of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas made it clear that there was money to be made in never-never land — that world of the adolescent imagination where no one ever matures and death exists only as a punch line. It surely means something that Leo McCarey’s 1937 “Make Way for Tomorrow,” the most deeply moving Hollywood film about old age, has never been released on DVD in the United States and has not been seen on television in many years.

But suddenly and unaccountably, here is “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” a big-budget studio film, set to open Christmas Day, whose central theme is human mortality, a theme the film explores using the same special effects technology, now extended into the digital realm, that American movies have used for so long to keep us trapped in perpetual childhood.

In the 1980s, there was no death. Just like there was no society, see-- neoliberalism arching its back in the morning of a new day. What Kehr is recording is ideology-- which states that the current state is the natural and final state of human existence. The only end (or death) possible was the end of history.

But if history is not over, crises are neither sudden nor unaccountable. The question is not, then, where does this sudden willingness to talk about death come from, but rather: what does the system gain by considering its mortality?

I'd label it a production of a kind of false consciousness, whereby the average world citizen is convinced that the death of the system is in fact equal to their own death.

Which is to say, Mr. Kehr is just parroting the ideology of today as blindly as he is that of the 1980s.

As my friend Jane Dark once so eloquently put it, file under critics not doing their job.

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