Flaming Creatures, and that sneaky intentional fallacy

From: Fred Camper (email suppressed)
Date: Fri Mar 27 2009 - 16:45:13 PDT

Of course it's no "fallacy" to listen to what artists say about their
work, as long as you don't take those words as gospel, but evaluate them
in the light of the viewing eperience. I do think that artists who are
making good work often have a pretty deep understanding of what they're

While I do not think it's right that a great film can be viewed in any
possible way -- "Serene Velocity" is *not* a slapstick comedy; "Scorpio
Rising" is *not* a feminist tract arguing against traditionally male
ways of seeing -- it is also the case that there is no one correct way
to view a film. Viewers bring their own biases, experiences, and even
sometimes expectations. To someone who had never seen a penis in a movie
before, "Flaming Creatures" might seem shocking. To a male porn
aficionado hoping to be turned on, it's likely to seem rather tame.

A short note Smith wrote on the film, which I believe I read on a wall
label for a Smith show in Queens some years back, really helped me. (And
if anyone knows the exact quote and the source, please post.) He wrote,
as I recall with some bitterness, that, thinking he had made a comedy,
he was rather surprised to learn that he had made a sex film. This gave
me a helpful way of thinking about this getle, playful, consciously
"campy" film that I first heard about, in my teens, as some kind of sex

Fred Camper

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