Monday, February 26, 2007

American Beauty: has anyone noticed the pervasive and awful influence this film has on culture? Leading to a trend of mysterization of the suburbs. Such as a somber commercials selling phones. Or the show Desperate Housewives. "The suburbs are alot weirder than you think." No, they aren't. Or did all this start with Edward Scissorhands?

I think the whole trend of tv ads regarding themselves as some kind of aesthetic gesture is really disturbing. Is it too much to ask that tv ads just be inane and annoying, without laying some profundity trip on the viewer?

The thing is that what is behind this mysterization of the suburbs is cheap reassurance. "Everythin our country's doing is right, everything we do is fine. We're all just a little weird that's all. And hey, cut loose, buy something" etc. The idea that inspiration is a commodity. That, as Master Card says, it's 'priceless'. But the inspiration itself is to buy things.

4 comments:

richard lopez said...

no, it didn't start with _edward scissorhands_ but perhaps _blue velvet_ which wasn't so much a burb as a small town, but the motions are just the same.

and those films in turn are predated by sherwood anderson's 'winesburg, oh' a collection of linked stories about a small town.

but i agree, that there is nothing more execrable than the burbs are weird movies. even worse are the spiritual malaise films of burbanites, such as the otherwise admirable filmmaker ang lee's _the ice storm_. in that film i wanted to reach thru the screen and slap all the characters silly.

burton's film about a man-child with scisssors for hands is a great satire and fairytale of present time u.s. life in spend it like you don't have it burbs.

Mike H said...

I love Blue Velvet, though I did think about that. But there are so many kinks and brilliant flourishes in that film that I think it defies any easy categorization. I'm sure the American Beauty guy probably saw Blue Velvet and might even claim to be influenced by it. But this would be sort of like the Indigo Girls claiming to be influenced by the Velvet Underground.

If you want my email by the way, its mthauser@uwm.edu.

uncle wiggle said...

The idea of "small community" "suburban mythology"
"small town voyeurism" goes way
back beyond anderson's winesburg.

I was just reading about a famous
book Pound (are we allowed to mention him on this blog?) was always trying to get Dr.Williams to read. Some 18th century English book called "The Village". by...
shit...Crabbe I think. Pound loved
it's venom and anti-pastoral sketches of town folk. But Williams
just saw alot of idealization.


What seems to be the thought
here is the actual Cliches that
these settings perpetrate.
God! Stephen King in film and book
form is the king of the whole
"small town where we thought nothing like this could happen"
format! If you think about it it's
endless, but no doubt in our fond
abstractions, there will always be
a place for the celebration and subversion of
how "american" anonynimity is.
Just hope there's more sexxy hunks
playing "wierdos" with video cameras.

I really love "The Last Picture Show" for some reason tho. Maybe cuz it's filmed so poetically.

Mike H said...

Maybe what I was trying to get but didn't articulate so well is just art gets co-opted, then commodified or maybe the other way around. Same old story when I think about it.