While I did bristle at the implicit notion that genre films aimed at the "blue-collar fools" were inferior to the arthouse pictures (but then, what exactly qualifies as art cinema; the extrememly commercial product of the Hong Kong, Bollywood, and Japanese cinemas are released in the US as "arthouse" films), I more or less bristled at the patronizing and elitist characterization of such audiences as "blue-collar fools," even if joker was going for irony and hyperbole. And I am well aware that the concerns of intellectuals and academics in regards to popular culture is of little consequence to most commericial filmmakers (though, clearly not all, Hollywood auteurs like Hitchcock in his later years carefully cultivated their connections with the emerging 1950s and 1960s cinephiles, French, English, and American; and in the 1980s Alan Parker took umbrage with what the post-structuralist Screen
collective was writing about commericial British cinema, so he was atleast familiar with their arguments), but I would hardly characterize the intended audience of "blue-collar fools" as so homogeneous, no matter how demographically close the intended audience may appear. Another thing, I don't see what is wrong with the idea, at least in theory (if not always in application), "that our best work is being buried
in the same category as big-budget shit drivel like Tomb Raider
(a category I place Fast & Furious
in, but he doesn't) when it's actually more "subversive." (which kind of ignores Yun's like for Mulholland Drive
, Ghost World
, and the Mekas film, not to mention The Royal Tennebaums
). You got it exactly right, Termite Art! Why can't the the big budget drivel hold as much aesthetic, moral, ideological, etc., etc. value as an art film? Why should blatantly commercial cinema be precluded from serious discussion? I can imagine an analog in the 1950s cinema debates, "Hey guys, why are you bothering with Howard Hawks? Look, why not discuss Eisenstein?" And of course, now both are almost the exclusive province of intellectuals, which just tells you that yesterday's trash is tomorrows art. Might as well embrace the trash now, which is why I put films like The Fast and the Furious
, which I liked for almost identical reasons as yun-fat, and Legally Blonde
on my ever expansive best of list, right along with my independent and art films.
You could always make the argument that we are reading too much into such films, which I personally think is a hollow argument, because it implies there is a "correct" reading of a film, and that reading has it's limits. Film, like life, requires a an interactive participant, until then, it's an inert series of photochemical effects. All value, whether intellectual, aesthetic, moral, political, emotional, all arise from our embodied interaction with the film-object; until it is acted upon, it has no value (which also means that a film can never, ever be discussed on it's "own terms," you as a spectator bring everything to the table, your experiences are what interact with the film object); because we share a common biology and physical environment, as well as various intersections with our culture, intersubjective agreement is possible. Objectivity is not. Do intentions affect our view of the film object; sure they do, if we know them explicitly or develop hypothetical intentions, it is part of the experiential system that we use to interact with films. But even the best intentions have unintended consequences, or people can act against perceived intentions, and then there is the issue of unconscious processes. Also, we should seperate transaction value, that is the value of the film object as a commodity for it's makers, from usage value, which changes from subculture to subculture, and historically, over time. The filmmakers themselves have a usage value for their work, sometimes explicitly, sometimes implicitly, and whether these intentions are economic, narrative, ideological, functional, etc., etc., it is no guarantee that their usage value will coincide with the audiences usage value, nor should we use their usage value as a yardstick for our own. The subversion is not the subversion of the film-object, but it is our subversion.