I replied to this with: "Dear Abe, I agree with much of what you say. A lack of comprehension is not a sound basis for criticism; BR is certainly a very fine film and much of the commentary has been based on rather superficial observation. However, your tone is patronizing and your pretentious posing of unanswered questions is both grating and unhelpful.
Rather than throw such questions up as though the answers to all all of them should be like the sun, obvious to everyone who is not blind, could you possibly join the rest of us down here on the common ground and share your ideas? It would be much more friendly and enjoyable to hear your perspective, rather than be beaten about the head and neck with them."
To which Abe rejoined:
Jeezus, Abe, how do you get enough oxygen up there on that saddle? Your head must be somewhere in the ionosphere on that thing. Are you a frustrated teacher? Do you wish you had a class of empty minds you could fill with your Socratic brilliance all day long?
Look, the point isn’t that the rest of us troglodytes don’t know how to partake in “the joy of narrative,” the point is that if you are going to take it upon yourself to ejumacate the rest of us, you run the risk of looking like a pretentious jerk.
Some ideas you might consider:
[li]Any given narrative may have more than one valid interpretation.[/li][li]It’s really obnoxious to set yourself up as the arbiter of what is right and proper in “how to understand film.”[/li][li]Hi Opal![/li][li] Just because you feel good about your own interpretation of a piece of art, do not feel that sharing that opinion will in any way spoil my own experience of developing my own ideas (Damn, but the pretentiousness of that alone is stunning). However, assuming the role of “Art Sage on the Mount” so as to lead the unwashed into the light is gong to curdle the conversation pretty damn quick.[/li][/list=1]
Yondan, I agree that Abe’s post was a bit on the arty farty side, but frankly I enjoyed reading it. And he was posting in Cafe Society for fuck’s sake. High faluting art criticism in a slightly posy and big headed way hardly seems to be out of order. I’m sure Abe has some idea of how he appears when he posts as he does. Does he really need you to “help him out” by pointing out that you are turned off by his style? Is it so personally offensive that it deserves a pit post?
To me, your upset with his post is a whole lot weirder than his posting style.
I haven’t read the thread under discussion, but the OP came across, to me, as being upset with Abe’s assertion that his interpretation of the film is the only True and Correct one, and everyone who disagrees with him has “completely failed to understand the film”.
Well, Princh I can see your point. Compared to animal torture and such, it is rather a mild issue, but I was sorely nettled, and I didn’t want to hijack the original thread, so where else was I going to put it?
To clarify, some of his ideas have merit, but really, there’s just no call for all the presumptuous B.S. And, as ** Kat ** observes, the whole business of claiming to have the one perfect understanding is just…ugh!
Finally, I am trying to keep the tenor of my remarks within reason. No swearing, as you will observe, or name-calling, or anything like that. As you say, it does not deserve a rant so much as a frank expression of distaste. And yes, I do believe such is warranted because if we are going to try and “eradicate ignorance” it would be well to do so in a manner which actually encourages thought and friendly discussion. Insisting on such archaisms as “one true readings” of “narrative art” is counterproductive.
But Yondan was Abe really trying to suggest that his view of the unicorn scene was the one and only? I thought that his major target was those posters who were saying (in effect) “any scene that does not add to the immediately obvious surface plot is irrelevant, therefore the unicorn scene was irrelevant” such as “I read books when I want to do that much work” Phlip.
In other words, I thought he was simply trying to say that the unicorn scene means something to someone, therefore it is not irrelevant, therefore stop slagging off the movie on that basis.
And in the second post that you quote above, he seems to me to be saying that he does not want to lay out his views as if they were the be all and end all, and that it was more appropriate for others to do their own exploration.
Well, as this is the first time I am the target in a Pit thread, I will put more effort into it than the feeble complaints against me in this case actually deserve. But next time please try harder.
First off, thank you and hats off to Princhester for reading me simply and correctly without generating the sort of smoke someone else is currently choking on (I even forgive you for calling me artsy-farty, etc.!). And special mention goes to Bryan Ekers for subsequently engaging in a discussion on this topic on the original thread. He holds a point of view I disagree with, but I will enjoy debating the matter with him because he provided valid arguments over a fascinating topic.
Well, as for you Yondan, that is the last time I try to help a resentful and insolent ingrate understand the difficult points of a movie after I am asked for clarification. I also question the wisdom of inviting me to such a groundless pit thread, but that can wait until you explain your position. I wouldn’t want to humiliate you if your silly reaction was the result of a misunderstanding!
I didn’t bother with this cagal in the original thread, preferring to address the actual argument (which is what the SDMB is about). First, you ought to try and focus on the argument as opposed to the speaker. Secondly, you may have thought my approach was rather didactic, but that’s because there’s some people around here who could stand to learn a few things about film before splattering crap all over the forum; there are also many others who may not know a whole lot about the subject, but who are eager to learn, believe it or not. I tried to combine a fairly analytical approach to narrative with a simple structure and presentation that I hoped would make sense to the majority of readers, even those not versed in narrative analysis. Based on the popular choruses of “this sucks” and the rather lowbrow origins of the thread in question, I think these precautions were quite necessary (and may be why you think my response was pretentious). Frankly I could have posted a much higher-level and more detailed response, but I doubt that most readers would have been interested in it, and I am pretty sure that at least some would have been unable to understand it (it would, however, still not have been pretentious).
Thirdly, even if my tone was condescending/pretentious/patronizing/whatever (and to me it just looks like you have difficulties telling the difference between condescension/etc., and honest informative discussion) does that really seem a good reason to open a pit thread about it? Perhaps the real issue here is the weakness of your position requiring a boost through strong Pit assertion. Now on to the actual “arguments,” and I hope everyone can forgive me if this goes on for a while but Yondan does make some broad accusations:
My emphases throughout this post. Notice that the only three words of merit in the entire paragraph above are “share your ideas” (which I was already doing, what else would you call that discussion??). I then replied to your request for precise information:
You seem to think this translates to “there is only one way to look at this film and that is my way,” when in fact I am telling you the joy is to reach your own supported conclusion, not have someone give you the answers. Let’s continue:
Once again, I distinctly mention that it’s you who must build up your own ideas based on the material. What I am doing is simply asking that your eyes be open to the material in the first place and I do that through specific questions that allow the viewer to enjoy the movie in an active manner! Why on earth would I pose questions if all I wanted to do was inculcate my interpretation upon you and everyone else? It is much easier to convince someone if you prevent them from thinking (indoctrinate them), and here I am encouraging you to think about themes in a film, an exercise that is extremely likely to contribute to the development of your own opinion. Somehow to you that translates as “Abe’s way is the only way”. Please…
As an interesting aside, David Lynch included a list of 10 questions to act as clues for the DVD release of his latest film, Mulholland Drive. The questions (the answers to which are by no means always clear) help to unlock the difficult film in much the same way that posing questions for Blade Runner may make things clearer. In many ways though I find BR a more difficult film than MD, chiefly owing to the level of detail in BR and its ultimate mystery, whereas MD is a Lynch hallucination, albeit one that makes more sense than his other ones. At the same time, BR is also more accessible than MD… go figure.
Now I suspect that this is one of the items that really rankled you, the possible implied suggestion that you do not think a whole lot when you watch a film. That suggestion is not actually there, although judging from your Pit resort I am beginning to think that, had it been there, it may have been correct (your visceral antipathy towards me certainly lacks the trappings of reason). Anyway, note that I encourage everyone to approach the film actively, meaning you work it out for yourself and put your effort into it, which is why posing questions is a particularly useful technique–but in your dictionary that may be “pretentious”. Watching the film passively would involve sitting through it as if it were Independence Day and forgetting about it, or getting all the easy answers from elsewhere (and you were asking for the answers). I don’t think I need to tell you that watching a movie actively is a far more fun and rewarding experience, not to mention that it allows one much better depth when criticizing the work.
I went on with some more possible questions and:
To this series of valid arguments you replied with the following irrelevant manure:
What saddle? If you perceive me as that high up perhaps you need to shake off a few rocks and ascend to ground level, at the very least?
Bah, more rubbish. I am, as I said, always hesitant to spoil a work for others, and become irritated when I hear possible answers to films or books I have not yet had a chance to see/read, thereby spoiling the experience for me. Would you care to explain what you manage to see wrong with my statement? Or with any other of my statements, since you provide a lot of whiny bitching but no solid arguments?
No, I am simply someone with a keen appreciation of the narrative arts, from mythology to film. Never been a teacher, don’t want to be one, and don’t think I’d be very good at it. Narrative is one of my hobbies, and something I studied for years, in addition to the fact that I was writing published fiction at one point when I had the time (which doesn’t necessarily mean much, but at least demonstrates I have some experience in narrative). Are you a high school student forced to repeat the year again and bitter at all persons who are informed?
No, not at all, although it’s interesting and rather telling to see such simplistic views on education. The Socrates allusion is quite faulty because (apart from the lack of Socratic irony or elenchus in my post) the Socratic method relies on asking specific questions (with predetermined answers) on cue in order to develop an argument against the opponent or to make the opponent appear to demonstrate one of your points; instead I am encouraging the asking of questions for the benefits brought to the inquirer by asking the questions, not necessarily by reaching the variable answers (more like Zen really, and this is crucial to the fusion of narrative and philosophy). So no, I do not wish for a class to indoctrinate, but I do wish Cafe Society were populated with fewer baseless complainers. And too bad that statements such as “it makes no sense this sucks” are always the loudest (the point I was complaining about, and one with which you have already stated you agree).
Only if you wish to see things that way, and that speaks more about the way you view others than it does about me. And I think you’ll agree with me that the crowd of people who think valid film criticism is “dis movie blowz chunks its so booooring” are definitely in need of some education. Yet you find my approach irritating! An amusing response, and not one that indicates any willingness to fight ignorance, I’m afraid.
That has always been my position, and the language of my posts (never mind the actual content, since that seems invisible to you) supports this. Have you actually read the post you are bitching about? Because a bit later on in the same post, in my reply to Kingpengvin, I wrote: “I never implied that those who disagree are stupid or wrong. I merely complained of people not understanding the movie and resorting to shallow criticisms that are wholly undeserved. As I said, “I do not understand this” does not equal “this sucks”.”
It’s really obnoxious to whine unceasingly about your offended sensitivities when you have nothing else to rely on. If you wish to view a complex movie like Blade Runner passively, you may be in need of expanding your knowledge of film; otherwise consider keeping your mouth shut when others discuss the issue in the informed manner that the movie deserves (whether one likes it or not, this is a much deeper movie than, say, a Jet Li action flick, and requires correspondingly deeper analysis). Note (again) that I have not provided an ultimate interpretation of the film, but have encouraged people to view it actively, the way the film was intended to be viewed. Do you think film makers pack such levels of detail into their films just for laughs? It’s all for the viewer’s benefit. Too bad this effort is lost on some viewers.
Mildly amusing, quite ingratiating.
More senseless ranting. I already explained why I am reluctant to spoil a work for others. There was a movie a while back–I think it may have been The Others but I forget–with a trailer or DVD jacket that completely gave away the entire movie and most of its secrets. If I had seen the trailer/jacket before I saw the movie I would have been highly irritated with it for spoiling my viewing experience. Perhaps you did not appreciate my approach, perhaps you felt your erudition or authority was threatened by my comments in the discussion, but never have I set myself up as “Art sage on the mount” (hey, that could be something to consider). If I have, it was inadvertently and through nothing other than my arguments, and not through asserting that my view is the only view, or any other bullshit (but, whether you like my comments or not, if someone doesn’t think and doesn’t ask himself pertinent questions when watching a film like Blade Runner, someone IS wasting his time, and will probably conclude that “dis movie blowz chunks its so booooring”).
Now, since you feel that the “pretentiousness” of my approach is “stunning” perhaps you actually have solid reasons to support this extreme point of view? So far you have been unable to attack concretely a single thing I posted, including my incitement to view movies actively, etc. And this failure in spite of your vociferous posts on the subject. What a lot of hot air.
I echo Princhester’s sentiment. I am still flabbergasted that anyone would blow up like Yondan, especially after asking for clarification. Are you upset that I ignored your initial drivel about my tone?
I have to point out that “one true readings” (which was never part of my argument) and “narrative art” are most certainly not archaisms—your ignorance is showing. Seems to me I was working precisely against ignorance, whether you agree with my interpretation of Blade Runner or not (and, frankly, I hadn’t really provided much of an interpretation yet out of respect to those like you who had not analysed in detail many of the important themes, and who may therefore enjoy another viewing without information that could spoil the experience or cause you to see things one way over another).
Yondan, your baseless approach to this problem truly fills me with concern, and I am really starting to worry about your intelligence since you keep insisting that I claim there is only one view, when I do the exact opposite. But hopefully I have shown you that what you thought I was doing was not what I was actually doing, and we can forget this idiotic situation.
So, leaving aside the volumes of empty and unsupported complaints, what exactly are your objections about my post/style in the thread in question?
Kat, it looks like you misunderstood my posts the same way Yondan did. That is, if you didn’t just read Yondan’s “take” but actually bothered to read my output.
Well, I am not all vanilla, I am sorry to say. And I do maintain that what you may see as [the whatever it is] is probably nothing more than paying attention to detail and logic so as not to mislead readers or confuse points over issues that I feel confident with, but that I recognize are not necessarily the domain of everyone else.
Or can you point out distinct instances of [the whatever]?
This wasn’t worth a Pit thread, sure, but was he really a “resentful and insolent ingrate”? Think really hard about this reflects on you before answering.
You could have stuck to this and not posted your dissertation above. Tone is an extremely difficult thing to read in electronic media, and the difficulty is pronounced greatly when you forget you are sometimes communicating with persons from potentially every country and culture in the World (except, perhaps, the Amish), as well as a variety of ages, experiences, and education levels.
I don’t see where either of you guys did anything really wrong to the other. It seems to me that the two of you had a simple misunderstanding over tone - why not just admit that you both were a victim of non-verbal cross-cultural electronic communication, and not get cross with each other? Just because it’s a Pit thread doesn’t mean you have to fight, get angry, or even disagree.
Oh, I think I’ve gotten quite enough of a rise out of you.
Ok, there are two separate issues here, and the first centers on the discussion of the movie. As I said before, I think that the substance of your ideas have merit, even though I tend to disagree with them. But don’t weenie out on your original position, which is that you have THE definitive interpretation :
What I’m going to complain about here is the bitching that the Unicorn Scene in Blade Runner gets: that scene was crucial!!! If you think it was unnecessary, you have completely failed to understand the film.
Now, you say that the article “a” preceding “final solution” in the last quote indicates that you are not advocating for one particular “final solution” but that there are in fact multiple “final solutions.” Forgive me for misinterpreting that, but I think you will allow that the message of a single letter may be overshadowed by entire phrases and sentences to the contrary.
But let us not nitpick.
If you will maintain that you are in fact not trying to advocate for one true interpretation, then I will accept your word for it.
The other issue has to do with tone and style. I reiterate, yours are grating and pretentious, and your latest post only supports my contention. To begin with, you say:
Just to clarify; I wasn’t asking for clarification. I was asking you not to assume that it was your role to ask leading questions. I probably should have said this more clearly.
And yet you also say:
You’re right, that’s why teachers use it all the time. But when you enter into a conversation wherein everyone is ostensibly an equal, to assume the role and techniques of a teacher is presumptuous, in that you are assuming a position of superiority and authority.
Perhaps, if, as you insist, you do not really have the final answer, which, as I have already shown, was your original position, later statements to the contrary.
Well, narrative art is certainly not archaic, although I don’t think I was saying it was. But the idea that there is one true reading certainly is archaic, a product of the school of New Criticism, which has long since been joined by a plethora of critical perspectives.
Abe Your concern touches me, and I am warmed by your compassion and depth of feeling for my intellectual well-being. I will take your suggestion to heart, and put all the idiocy that has been demonstrated here out of my mind, and move on.