From: Bernard Roddy (email suppressed)
Date: Tue Feb 13 2007 - 05:29:02 PST
By way of conclusion, I would like to say this discussion has wider implications for "experimental film" more generally (whether it's Ann Arbor, Squeaky Wheel, or cable access in Chicago). It also has implications for content on this discussion list. Here are some thoughts in that connection:
I don’t think the list has to have a bottleneck through a particular agenda. Certain messages are sent past certain members to others, and it is unrealistic to think every post, or even a high percentage of them, will be of interest. There is a risk of list discussion becoming a kind of policing. While I appreciate the intention, I have little confidence in the competence of any set of select members to assess the value of posts or film for all the other members.
The beauty is that there are opportunities for members committed to certain agendas to stop in and visit with members committed to others, or to be reminded of the concerns occupying the endeavors of those members. There seem to be, for example, people who hope to advance commercial services through the list. If you have ever tried to sell something, or depended on succeeding, you will sympathize with this use. However, there is also a place to critique a system that would reduce us to such uncomfortable (at least for many of us, very uncomfortable) conditions.
One important conflict will, I think, inevitably be between members who need to attract customers and members who, perhaps from an academic or activist standpoint, want to change what constitutes valuable or meaningful representation. If you belong to the latter group, a list like this is not so much a bulletin board to advertise your wares to existing taste as it is a public sphere of discussion about what is of value, something that can be changed or is often felt to be misunderstood.
I oversimplify, of course. If you take as a reference commercial film or broadcast television, a variety of work will prove of value that someone will not find valuable who is not looking to resist the impact of media of mass-appeal (taking little interest in it), or is not concerned about the same media. But by this point in the debate we are sufficiently in agreement, I think, to move on with the diverse agendas that constitute the heritage of “avant-garde” film.
Having tried to speak with diplomacy, I will now be frankly partial. We suffer enough under financial and technical limitations to acquiesce willingly to any constraints imposed to ensure the reduplication of easily recognizable forms. For those who reject the very basis of “standards” and see only the production of meaning in the service of socio-political ends, “outrage” comes as a welcome surprise. It constitutes a tactical maneuver by which everyday ingenuity disrupts the strategies of overbearing institutions.
If mastery is demanded, let it be a mastery of the dynamics of power, of their operations as these find expression in the moving image and its distribution, and in our own film and video productions. If distinction is desired, let it be a distinction sustained by a critical discussion of media culture, of our work’s capacity to communicate from a position of alterity or in dialogue with the “other.” Of course, it is only by means of the norms that interesting violations become possible, and so it is not to abolish all norms that some seek transgression.
Someone might compare this list to a radio station or newspaper, in which case there would be an editorial board and some deference to advertising. It could also be compared to a conspiratorial group trying to act in unison, in which case minority initiatives would appear disruptive. However it is conceived, there is a political dimension to deciding on agendas. When the discussion about capital punishment in the media focuses on personal responsibility and the details of the crime, the forces for execution reinforce their position. When the coverage of abortion returns to a discussion about religion or another “holocaust,” a strike is delivered by the forces of repression. Without settling any questions of “truth,” success is measured by the terms of debate.
I want to enjoin others, don't let yourself be defined off this list (you "illegal aliens," "juvenile delinquints," "perverts!"). Dont' leave me here alone.
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