From: David Tetzlaff (email suppressed)
Date: Tue Dec 28 2010 - 14:43:02 PST
First, like Fred, I'd be happy to see more arguments about actual works, especially ones that illuminste the values of works that are under-recognized.
However, institutional critiques are also very much in order. Chuck questions Bernie for casting himself as an outsider opposing the powers-that-be. But everyone seems to be claiming innocence by virtue of their (relative) powerlessness, while imaging the (nasty) power as residing somewhere (or in someone) else.
True, none of us on this list have much power as individuals. However, the "experimental film community" does have a certain power in the aggregate. My impression of most of the curators and programmers I've met - the actual 'gatekeepers' - is that they do not operate imperiously, simply guided by their own tastes and interests (though those do play a factor of course). Rather, they have communities of one sort or another whose needs and interests they have to address.
The point is that judgments do get made. Some things are made visible and celebrated, while others are ignored. These outcomes have material consequences: including, for example, whether makers working within academia can achieve. We can all throw our hands up and say - 'hey, it wasn't me' - but it was, in some sense, all of us.
I haven't read all these posts closely, but if Bernie tried to exempt himself from his own institutional critique, I missed it. And - since I spent a little time with Bernie a few years ago when he interviewed for a Visiting Faculty job at the college where I was then employed - I have to say Bernie's would have a pretty good claim to outsider-ness if he wanted to make one. I would say his thought and his creative work are idiosyncratic, outside of established traditions (and counter-traditions), and I know his academic career has been a bit of a struggle, moving from one temp job to the next. It's not that Bernie's weak. He's a smart guy. It's that he's an odd duck even among the other odd ducks... yunno, "he doesn't fit."
Frankly, I didn't get Bernie's original post either. I wasn't 'hoaxed' by it, but it didn't make sense to me as critique or comment either. I hardly think this is anything we ought to be encouraging list-members to self-police. If I can read dozens of messages about the processing deadlines for Kodachrome, and dozens of requests for loopers (now, there's a topic with subtext that never gets addressed...) then I can read a few probes and prods without worrying about whether they hit the mark or not.
Roddy argues: The most effective means of frustrating practices that enforce a particular notion of propriety masked as objective and disinterest, is to use humor and artifice.
I'm rather fond of such tactics myself. I don't know if it's always the most effective approach in terms of reducing the incidence of those practices: too often the [censored epithet]'s don't get the joke. But it's a very effective means of keeping one's self sane.
Which leaves me feeling responsible for adding some kind of joke here... I don't have one off the top of my head, so I'll drop a link to something I made in an attempt to be funny:
It's a minute and 55 seconds long. If you listen to it, you might get a chuckle, or you might conclude you've just waste two minutes of your life. Feels free to post complaints - or arguments about why my song is worthy of attention despite being disregarded by all known authorities - either here on the List or to me personally.
(PREVIEW NOTE: It's a take-off of a well known 'golden oldie', created by using algorithmic devices inspired by structural films. Since the result is on silly side, it can be seen as a kind of poke at the high seriousness that usually surrounds discussions of the structural canon. The specific algorithms were inspired by a famous movie scene that uses the original song on the soundtrack.)
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