Friday, September 30, 2005

Call of the haters

I've been meaning to update about Thumbsucker but now it's been over two weeks since I saw the movie and my memory has gone all fuzzy and gray like bread mold. Yes, my brain is one big loaf of bread, no wonder, ready to be disposed of within a week, with no hope of saving by the graces of ginko.

Well, first there was the lag time. I have this bad habit of taking a really long time to digest (all this language of food!) a work. And if I hit the writing at the right time, while the proverbial iron is looking for a/c, I get that balance between actually remembering thoughts and feelings 'of the moment' and integrating that with realizations or useful comparisons to other works or larger pictures. Needless to say, I always arrive when the iron's all icy with unwelcoming, the kind of cold that is: "I've been sitting here waiting and dinner's ruined and the kids are hungry and you come in all devoid of memory and feeling and insight. You're sleeping on the couch tonight."

Secondly, I got stuck on a rather moldy subject indeed – hipsters. Why? Why spend time on this? ...a word that is ammunition enough to make certain people run away in the opposite direction towards the Gap. In the right hands, the reaction is something funny, enjoyable, recognizing both the ridiculosity of hipsterdom and paying attention to it. Otherwise, there is this mirror upon mirrors of hating on supposed haters, the term losing whatever small amount of meaning it had in the first place (perhaps none) and failing to describe either or both artists and their work.

I'd been familiar with the term in the realm of clothes, music, ipods, but not really in terms of movies until more recently. I guess there were always those few Wes Anderson movies, Lost in Translation, or anything with Bill Murray, and Donnie Darko (which I have never seen) that get bounced around in "indie" or "hipster" vocabulary courts. Maybe I've just never paid attention to this reaction before and I'm seeing more movies or maybe it's something that was single-handedly born of Zach Braff and Garden State and Natalie Portman freaking out to the Shins.
But now terms like quirky, hipster, indie, emo, arty are sprinkled on just about anything. And then hated upon by the sprinklers. The culprit for this topical foray was not only the reviews of Thumbsucker that almost without fail mentioned one of the above terms, it was this thread. "INDIE TRENDFEST"!!!! it blares.
The more I read, the more I got confused at exactly what was being argued, what was being hated. (Maybe it's that I fundamentally don't understand the hater attitude. Such strong, all-encompassing, all-knowing feelings!!!) There was being mad at being "indie"/purposefully and mad at being "not indie enough"/original. Perhaps I became frustrated with the real lack of concreteness of what it means to be "indie" and the treatment by commenters that it was. I mean the term gets especially mixed up in a field where one needs an incredible amount of money (ring the commercial bell!) to get anything of feature-length done and distributed and then there's that long trip from birth of script to movie theater. It's harder to be trendy when it takes years to step out the door.
(Plus I got riled up by things like spelling errors. Lack of research. Earnest references to "The OC", spelling errors. I am SO cool.)
And, I found it strange that people take issue with yet-anothers. "I'm sick of yet another..." like yet-anothers is a contagious disease, often in response to plots and settings. There are three basic settings: city, country, suburbia. Soooooo, I mean, really, is it ALL THAT STRANGE to have "yet another" movie that takes place in suburbia? I mean, don't some people live in suburbia?? Don't people feel lonely? Don't adolescents feel alienated? Don't they, and everybody else, and Pink (what happened to her?) feel misunderstood?? Oh no, just another movie about somebody being unhappy at a certain point in their lives and how those around them react! Oh no HOW CLICHÉ!!!!
Isn't the art in narrative forms in how they are told?
Now, if the negativity stemmed from something like, "Oh no not another white soul-searching protagonist male" then I'd be all, you go girl, even if you're a boy. I could understand that argument a little more. I don't start out discussing American movies with "God, I'm so sick of white people in movies. It's so CLICHÉ." because in most cases, in discussing the movie itself, as a work, it's useless commentary.
What's weird is that some of these really disdainful reactions arise out of people who haven't even seen the movie and that these terms are bandied uselessly about by reviewers. But then, there's always marketing to say hello to your preconceived notions, as well as the practice of hating by genre, or saying something like, I'm so sick of label-label-label kind of thing but I decided to give it a chance and watch it and it surprised me and I sorta liked it and so at least it's the best of it's label-label-labelBOX.
Marketing is a trickster! I took a look at the movie poster and I kinda went, "Uh-oh," the sorta "quirky" (UNAVOIDABLE!) hipster alarm bell ringing, the joyous strains of Polyphonic Spree wailing, "You are sooooooooo innddiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeee!!!!! Love it! Accept it!" And I begin to think in boxes too. It's human. Though we recoil against them, we like boxes. Hats like boxes. But ... most of all, we like boxes, with things inside. Which you take outside of them. Like Gifts. And puppies.
Summary of too-long-entry: Stop using useless labels to justify or explain why you like or don't like a movie. I guess it is useful for other things, but it does not help me. Please send me gifts. Not necessarily puppies.
And yes, I will talk about the actual movie. This was all a very bad tangent-dream, life is but a.

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