Author Topic: Wonder Woman  (Read 421 times)

Offline kimmy

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Re: Wonder Woman
« Reply #15 on: June 10, 2017, 11:03:30 pm »
I'm not convinced.  People didn't think the bible was fiction, they thought it was the document of human inception and evolution and a moral blueprint.

Fair enough, perhaps the Bible was a poor choice of example.   Regardless, you can find myths and legends and folk-tales of fantastical and supernatural individuals and creatures and events everywhere. It's ubiquitous. Any culture, any time in history.

You can look at the Chinese legend of the Five Brothers, or Gilgamesh, or Hercules, or Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, or Whiskey-Jack, or John Henry, or countless others...  why do so many cultures have these figures?

I think that our current love of superhero movies is just the latest expression of something that goes back a very long time, across many different cultures, and is somehow ingrained in our nature.   As I said before, I don't believe that the longevity and popularity of the superhero genre is an accident, I think it exists because it taps into something built into human nature.




Maybe 'value' and 'impact' aren't the right terms, but I can't accept that the bible and Grimm's tales could be on the same level of impact.  Granted that they are different, but I think genre matters.  Even within the realm of 'folks narratives' some are more important than others.

Well, few documents in human history have had the level of impact of the Bible.

I am of the belief that anything that survives, survives for a reason.  Whether in life, or more specific to this conversation, in culture.  I think that if we understand the appeal that causes something to remain popular, we understand something about ourselves.

I think that our dreams and nightmares and hopes and fantasies say more about us than our earnest attempts to describe ourselves.


In describing "value", what is the "value" in Amour?  What makes Amour more inherently worthy of my attention than say Gattaca or Westworld?

Good acting or complex, realistic characters? Is there more?  A gripping emotional experience? A profound insight on human nature? What really makes a movie or a book "valuable"?

Ok, but Gattaca exceeds the grasp of its genre while Sleepless in Seattle seeks to comfort the viewer and not change dialogue so much.

Gattaca doesn't exceed the grasp of the genre.  Gattaca demonstrates the possibilities of the genre. 

Science fiction (and "speculative fiction", for those who wish to seem serious-minded) are uniquely suited to telling stories that pose "what if?" type questions. Gattaca asks "what if the wealthy could genetically engineer their offspring?"   Minority Report asks "what if we could predict a murder before it happens?"  The new Westworld television series asks "what if computers began to become self-aware?"

Perhaps these kinds of questions could be explored in a movie about unattractive French couple sitting on a shitty couch in a shitty Paris apartment while they chat and chain-smoke, but I assure you the result would be total dog-shit.


Ok, so you seek escapism.  Thankfully, Will and Grace and All in the Family snuck their medicine into some humour, subversively, so that people would challenge themselves somewhat and not escape.

As it turns out, comedy is an effective and engaging way of presenting social commentary.  There are other engaging ways of presenting social commentary too, and thankfully not all of them require an unattractive chain-smoking French couple sitting on a smelly couch bickering for 2 hours.

Yes, I agree that Toronto is fantastic.  Next time you come let me know and Joan and I will take you around...
One time, I was flying in to Toronto on a clear day. I thought to myself "finally, I will get to see the famed CN Tower!"    Every other time I had flown into Toronto, it was cloudy or late at night and so I never got to see the famous tower.  This time, though, with the sun in the sky and not a cloud in sight, I was sure it was going to happen.  As the plane got closer to the city, haze began to thicken. Soon I could see very little. Then I heard someone say "look! It's the CN Tower!"  I looked and looked, and finally I saw it for myself. A tall thin grey shape surrounded by shorter thicker grey shapes in a sea of grey haze.  I was tremendously impressed, as you can imagine.

 -k

Offline MH

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Re: Wonder Woman
« Reply #16 on: June 11, 2017, 07:54:08 am »
Fair enough, perhaps the Bible was a poor choice of example.   Regardless, you can find myths and legends and folk-tales of fantastical and supernatural individuals and creatures and events everywhere. It's ubiquitous. Any culture, any time in history.

Ok, I am suddenly disarmed.  Now I'm not sure if my assessment of this genre is from being out of touch.

Certainly my facebook feed is FULL of status updates about superheroes, and this super lady in partcular.  I was ascribing that to the fact that most of my friends (Facebook friends that is) are liberal humanist moralists, but I realize that they are also much younger than me.

Are we indeed at a point where our cultural icons - even our FANTASY icons - matter ?  Or is this just a fad.  I'm considering it.

Maybe I'm looking at this the wrong way.  Superhero people films are certainly more relevant today than sitcoms, which was the opposite case 25 years ago when Murphy Brown's character choices became an election issue.  And maybe group moral change is just brought on the winds of whatever people are paying attention to in these times.

IF that's true, then the moral changes will stay with us, and in 20 years we will be watching something else ... a new type of content ... which will reflect whatever societal questions are top of mind.

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You can look at the Chinese legend of the Five Brothers, or Gilgamesh, or Hercules, or Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, or Whiskey-Jack, or John Henry, or countless others...  why do so many cultures have these figures?

As Harold Innes said, and I paraphrase, why do we pay attention to the things we do ?

TV sitcoms in the 1960s turned escapist and fantastical (Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, My Favourite Martian, Gilligan's Island, Beverley Hillbillies) until the cultural zeitgeist couldn't run away from issues, or assign magical housewives to send them away.  Then, in the 1970s, sitcoms (starting with All in the Family) tackled social issues head-on.

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I think that our current love of superhero movies is just the latest expression of something that goes back a very long time, across many different cultures, and is somehow ingrained in our nature.   As I said before, I don't believe that the longevity and popularity of the superhero genre is an accident, I think it exists because it taps into something built into human nature.

Of course, my reluctance to accept them comes from my distaste for the genre but you are right.  They have always been with us.  They could also be a fad, though, and they are certainly an outcome of the underlying infrastructure that produces films.  ie. demographic tastes, cultural mining, potential for large revenue.

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In describing "value", what is the "value" in Amour?  What makes Amour more inherently worthy of my attention than say Gattaca or Westworld?

You used the term 'value', but I think we don't need to define 'value' and 'impact' since we're both exploring here.

I think that the value and impact of stories is unknowable, and I think that people will pay attention to what they will pay attention to.  I just have a hard time wrapping my mind around the idea that pure fantasy would be as impactful to an adult as even a realistic drama such as 'Inherit the Wind'.  'Schindler's List', 'Birth of a Nation' or Philadelphia.

But again, I'm reconsidering this.

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Good acting or complex, realistic characters? Is there more?  A gripping emotional experience? A profound insight on human nature? What really makes a movie or a book "valuable"?

In terms of describing social impact, I think a real story with non super characters would have an advantage in making people see how social issues play out in the human arena.  You can see why I think that, right ?

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Gattaca doesn't exceed the grasp of the genre.  Gattaca demonstrates the possibilities of the genre. 

Yes, and speculative fiction of which science fiction is a part can answer the types of questions you describe.

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A tall thin grey shape surrounded by shorter thicker grey shapes in a sea of grey haze.  I was tremendously impressed, as you can imagine.
 

Yes, I agree it's fantastical.  It's like if God redesigned the Eiffel Tower to be better and also decided that it should be wonderful.  It looks like a giant grey olive on a stick.  They light it up at night now, so it can be pink or something during Pride.

Offline kimmy

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Re: Wonder Woman
« Reply #17 on: June 11, 2017, 01:51:37 pm »
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Ok, I am suddenly disarmed.  Now I'm not sure if my assessment of this genre is from being out of touch.

Certainly my facebook feed is FULL of status updates about superheroes, and this super lady in partcular.  I was ascribing that to the fact that most of my friends (Facebook friends that is) are liberal humanist moralists, but I realize that they are also much younger than me.

Are we indeed at a point where our cultural icons - even our FANTASY icons - matter ?  Or is this just a fad.  I'm considering it.

I think that our cultural icons, by definition, matter. Otherwise they wouldn't be icons. Fictional, fantasy, real-life, these are just minor details in the larger picture.  People might consider LeBron James an icon because he represents the peak of excellence in his field, perhaps he represents other things such as the power of determination and hard work, I don't know, I'm really not a basketball fan.  You mentioned Murphy Brown... was she an icon? I was rather young when she was at the peak of pop culture, I don't really recall much... in hindsight I think I was pretty dense at the time even by little-kid standards.  People might see Murphy Brown as someone who embodies traits they wish to emulate. She's a strong and independent woman who makes her own choices and takes no crap.  I think that the same can be said of Wonder Woman.  One is obviously a fantasy character and the other is less obviously a fantasy character, but I don't think that is a significant detail in determining the extent to people identify with these characters or are inspired by them.


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TV sitcoms in the 1960s turned escapist and fantastical (Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, My Favourite Martian, Gilligan's Island, Beverley Hillbillies) until the cultural zeitgeist couldn't run away from issues, or assign magical housewives to send them away.  Then, in the 1970s, sitcoms (starting with All in the Family) tackled social issues head-on.

Ok, so let's take I Dream Of Jeannie and Bewitched for a moment.  Doesn't the fact that these became big hits say something about the audience?   I am of the assumption that these were shows created up by male writers, approved by male TV executives, and embraced by largely male audiences...  bearing that in mind, isn't there something we can conclude about the culture of the day?  I think there are people who make entire careers of doing that sort of analysis. 

I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched might not talk about a single socially contentious issue in any episode, but I think the existence of the shows and their popularity in their time is in itself a form of social commentary, and possibly a more significant comment about the society they existed in than any conscious social commentary the writers might have inserted into an episode.  As I said earlier, I think our dreams and nightmares and fantasies say more about us than our conscious attempts to describe ourselves.



As for Tackling Social Issuestm I think there's a certain level of delusional self-importance involved when writers set out to "tackle social issues".   "This week on a Very Special Episode of Diff'rent Strokes, we're tackling drugs!"   One of Willis's friends has obtained a joint, and Willis wants his friends to think he's cool, but after a "Watchoo talkin bout Willis???" and a lecture from Mr Drummond, Willis realizes that being cool isn't the most important thing. Problem solved! Issue tackled!

I don't think that issues get "tackled" in the space of a half hour moral lesson... I think that "tackling issues" is a long term project. I think that Ellen DeGeneres has "tackled" homophobia by building empathy and rapport over a span of many years.   Archie Bunker is another one that's before my time, I've only seen clips... but I gather that it depicted a dialogue between tradition and conservatism and progress and liberalism that went on many years. 

And I don't think that overt attempts to "tackle" an issue are especially effective anyway.  I don't think that setting out to create a fictional environment that shows racism is bad is as effective as creating a show around a black family that people find likeable and relatable and building empathy for the situation.  I don't think that an overt attempt to "tackle" homophobia would be as effective as Will ^ Grace or Ellen were.   And I don't think having someone lecture people about female empowerment is as effective as simply presenting empowered females-- be it Murphy Brown, or be it the newer generation of active and assertive Disney princesses, or be it Wonder Woman.


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Of course, my reluctance to accept them comes from my distaste for the genre but you are right.  They have always been with us.  They could also be a fad, though, and they are certainly an outcome of the underlying infrastructure that produces films.  ie. demographic tastes, cultural mining, potential for large revenue.

Well obviously movie and television studios are in the business of making money, and their interest in tapping into whatever trends stems from a desire to make money, not to effect social change.  Their success or failure in these ventures-- their assessment or misjudgment of what the public is craving-- provides information that we can analyze.   Is the success of the current Wonder Woman movie a signifier?  Was the massive failure of the recent female-led Ghostbusters movie a signifier?  What went right for one and went wrong for the other?


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I think that the value and impact of stories is unknowable, and I think that people will pay attention to what they will pay attention to.  I just have a hard time wrapping my mind around the idea that pure fantasy would be as impactful to an adult as even a realistic drama such as 'Inherit the Wind'.  'Schindler's List', 'Birth of a Nation' or Philadelphia.

But again, I'm reconsidering this.

I think that "issue movies" can be powerful, but they can also be trite or preachy and terrible.   I thought that "Schindler's List" was incredibly moving and powerful.  The ending, with the candles in the darkness, where they showed his legacy... the people who survived, and their thousands of descendants, because of him... was pure waterworks for me.  I couldn't contain it.  The power of one man to make a difference, even in the midst of all that horror... was so profoundly uplifting.  Part of it was that it was simply superb film-making, but I think that for me at least a part of it is that this was a real man who did a real thing that changed so many lives.  (I was also quite moved when I read the account of the man who stood up and shouted "**** you, I'm Millwall!" when the terrorists stormed into the pub in London last week. This drunk soccer fan attempted to fight the terrorists with his bare hands, buying everyone else time to flee out the back. He ended up in the hospital with many cuts, but who knows how many people he might have saved?)

On the other hand some of the attempts to create gripping emotional drama just don't affect me at all.  I can only vaguely remember seeing Philadelphia, for example. For whatever reason, it just didn't ...  I dunno.  I agree that discrimination is wrong and that this man was treated unfairly, and I think that depicting this situation was a noble goal, but maybe it just didn't connect for me because it felt preachy.  Obviously most didn't feel the same and the movie was recognized as being a great artistic success, but it just didn't move me in the way that Schindler's List did.


For me the "value" is not in the effort to depict something important or noble, it's in the effect it has on me as a viewer.  Schindler's List was valuable for me, not because it told a story about a courageous person, but because for me it was a profoundly moving experience.  Philadelphia, for me, was not nearly as valuable and not because the subject matter wasn't important but rather just because it wasn't personally moving for me in the way that Schindler's List was.

Mad Max: Fury Road, for me was "valuable" because even though it didn't involve much in the way of deep thinking or social commentary, it controlled my heart rate for two hours and gripped me and energized me in a way that few other films ever have.   The "value" in terms of expressing some idea that's important to society is minimal to negligible... but the value to me as a viewing experience was beyond describing.

And for me as a viewer, the "value" isn't a function of having a laudable message, it's in the experience. Schindler's List and Mad Max: Fury Road both delivered an incredible experience, in different ways.  Philadelphia, for me, didn't, in spite of making a thoroughly commendable effort to depict injustice.

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In terms of describing social impact, I think a real story with non super characters would have an advantage in making people see how social issues play out in the human arena.  You can see why I think that, right ?

Sure. But I feel that making an overt attempt to depict social issues is not the only way to make people understand things.

I think the scene in Frozen where Elsa sings the big song, embraces her magic power, builds the ice-castle, and accepts who she is probably has more impact, especially  for a younger viewer, than any words Murphy Brown might say.

Yes, I agree it's fantastical.  It's like if God redesigned the Eiffel Tower to be better and also decided that it should be wonderful.  It looks like a giant grey olive on a stick.  They light it up at night now, so it can be pink or something during Pride.

If the CN Tower is a giant olive on a stick, does that make Toronto a giant Martini?

 -k
« Last Edit: June 11, 2017, 02:34:40 pm by kimmy »

Offline MH

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Re: Wonder Woman
« Reply #18 on: June 11, 2017, 04:34:40 pm »
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If the CN Tower is a giant olive on a stick, does that make Toronto a giant Martini?

Club Sandwich.

Offline kimmy

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Re: Wonder Woman
« Reply #19 on: June 11, 2017, 10:44:59 pm »
Club Sandwich.

Well, see, if you'd said Martini, I'd have been more inclined to come visit.

I have really enjoyed this, Michael.  Such a refreshing change from talking about Trump and conspiratard idiocy and Muslims Muslims Muslims. I believe that the process of trying to express my ideas to someone else causes me to re-examine them and sometimes gives me fresh insight into my own opinions.

 -k

Offline MH

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Re: Wonder Woman
« Reply #20 on: June 12, 2017, 05:50:50 am »
Imagine that.

I am still reading your last long post above, btw.

Offline MH

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Re: Wonder Woman
« Reply #21 on: June 12, 2017, 06:21:41 am »
Ok, so you are focussing on the phrase "tackle" and if we burst that apart we can find Wonder Woman is in that cohort of embedding social issues on the light end of the spectrum:

-Serious films that are directly written about social issues - preachy or not - such as Inherit the Wind, Philadelphia, Schindler's List

-Films that aren't about those issues but embed social issues within them - Birth of a Nation, Lethal Weapon

-Sitcoms and popular television that overtly put 'social episodes' together - Different Strokes, Soap, or All in the Family

-Sitcoms that embed minority characters for you to get to know the 'other' - Will & Grace, The Cosby Show

-Fantasy and sci-fi that buries the social themes, but are detectable - Wonder Woman, Handmaid's Tale

----

I think it's too simple to say that the producers are tapping into issues to make money.  Unlike others, I do accept that money is the prime driver and in some cases (Soap, All in the Family - Norman Lear in general) the idea seems to be to get viewers on the back of controversy.  But I also think that creators are artists, and as such they do have an agenda.

Wonder Woman as some kind of breakthrough still doesn't make complete sense to me, but if the chattering classes in my Facebook feed are any indication maybe there's something to it. 

Offline kimmy

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Re: Wonder Woman
« Reply #22 on: June 12, 2017, 09:32:02 am »
Ok, so you are focussing on the phrase "tackle" and if we burst that apart we can find Wonder Woman is in that cohort of embedding social issues on the light end of the spectrum:

Not to nitpick, but I'm going to nitpick...
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-Serious films that are directly written about social issues - preachy or not - such as Inherit the Wind, Philadelphia, Schindler's List

I'm not sure genocide and gas chambers are exactly a social issue in recent times. I think the debate on those issues has been long settled, other than for a deranged few. *cough*cough*taxme*cough* 

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-Films that aren't about those issues but embed social issues within them - Birth of a Nation, Lethal Weapon

uh... Lethal Weapon? I guess I missed the embedded social issues.

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-Sitcoms and popular television that overtly put 'social episodes' together - Different Strokes, Soap, or All in the Family

As I mentioned I haven't seen a full episode of All In The Family, but my understanding is that the social commentary flowed organically from the premise, as opposed to "very special episodes" of sitcoms where the attempts at social commentary felt forced. 

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-Sitcoms that embed minority characters for you to get to know the 'other' - Will & Grace, The Cosby Show

Agree, although I believe the thought process is primarily "Let's make a popular TV show!" rather than "Let's make a show that will educate people."

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-Fantasy and sci-fi that buries the social themes, but are detectable - Wonder Woman, Handmaid's Tale

I have not yet seen the new Handmaid's Tale TV show, but I saw the movie some time ago. It was set in a near future world where human fertility had been drastically reduced (due to environmental degradation? I forget). The few remaining fertile women became commodities.  It was a not-at-all subtle take on reproductive freedom issues, with other social issues thrown in for good measure.    With many US states enacting laws that seek to elevate the rights of a fetus above the rights of the women carrying it, and with Mike Pence one heartbeat/impeachment away from the White House, it might be a very relevant premise for American audiences at this point.

I think it's too simple to say that the producers are tapping into issues to make money.  Unlike others, I do accept that money is the prime driver and in some cases (Soap, All in the Family - Norman Lear in general) the idea seems to be to get viewers on the back of controversy.  But I also think that creators are artists, and as such they do have an agenda.

Yes,  I agree.  I didn't mean to suggest that it's all a callous plan to exploit real issues to make cash.   But ultimately, the studio and the investors didn't scrape together a big-move budget without the intention of seeing a return on their investment.

I think that the artistic people involved-- the actors, the writers, the directors-- often have genuine intention of doing something positive.  And perhaps the studio people do as well, but their primary decision is not "is this positive?" but rather "would people watch this?"

Perhaps back in the 1970s some studio guy looked at the pilot for "All In The Family" and said "this will never fly, we need dumb jokes and an annoying kid to make it more other sitcoms", and maybe his colleague said "are you kidding? this is amazing! people will watch this to find out what everybody is talking about!" and luckily for us the second guy won the argument.

I have no doubt that Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot and the creative people in the Warner Brothers DC Comics division wanted to make a female-positive movie, but ultimately they had to make a movie that people would go see.

Wonder Woman as some kind of breakthrough still doesn't make complete sense to me, but if the chattering classes in my Facebook feed are any indication maybe there's something to it. 

I don't think "breakthrough" is the right word.  You used the word "signifier" earlier, and I think that's closer.

They've made a movie that's by most accounts an unabashed celebration of female empowerment, about a character who is perhaps the most unabashed symbol of female empowerment ever created.   And the movie has been incredibly well received, from both an artistic and a commercial standpoint.  I just find that gratifying.

After a year where the first woman to run for President lost to a senile orange idiot, it feels like a win.

 -k

Offline MH

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Re: Wonder Woman
« Reply #23 on: June 12, 2017, 09:54:44 am »

I'm not sure genocide and gas chambers are exactly a social issue in recent times. I think the debate on those issues has been long settled, other than for a deranged few. *cough*cough*taxme*cough* 

The larger social issues are very relevant and will be for awhile.

 
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uh... Lethal Weapon? I guess I missed the embedded social issues.
 

Anti-racism messages embedded throughout.  You missed them i guess.

 [ quote]As I mentioned I haven't seen a full episode of All In The Family, but my understanding is that the social commentary flowed organically from the premise, as opposed to "very special episodes" of sitcoms where the attempts at social commentary felt forced.   [/quote]

Ok - so another point in the spectrum then.

 
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After a year where the first woman to run for President lost to a senile orange idiot, it feels like a win.
 

Congrats on your win then.

Offline Moonlight Graham

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Re: Wonder Woman
« Reply #24 on: June 12, 2017, 11:59:19 am »
One time, I was flying in to Toronto on a clear day. I thought to myself "finally, I will get to see the famed CN Tower!"    Every other time I had flown into Toronto, it was cloudy or late at night and so I never got to see the famous tower.  This time, though, with the sun in the sky and not a cloud in sight, I was sure it was going to happen.  As the plane got closer to the city, haze began to thicken. Soon I could see very little. Then I heard someone say "look! It's the CN Tower!"  I looked and looked, and finally I saw it for myself. A tall thin grey shape surrounded by shorter thicker grey shapes in a sea of grey haze.  I was tremendously impressed, as you can imagine.

Ahh Toronto.  It's a city where mother nature bulldozed over wonderful grasslands and paved it over with fabulous grey concrete as far as the eye can see in every direction, then plopped ridiculously expensive houses & condo highrises on top.  The CN Tower itself is made from the finest grey concrete that can be poured.  At it's base lies the the Skydome, a giant mountain of grey concrete topped off with polyurethane grass inside & homeless folks outside.  The Dome, which literally became horribly out-of-date within 5 years of being built, is now called "Rogers Centre", complete with statue of Ted Rogers out front, which is a huge tourist attraction, as zero people flock to nab selfies with the man who overcharged them on cable TV & mobile.

 The city smells like car exhaust & marijuana.  If you're lucky you might find micro-pieces of "fake nature" (human-planted trees and grass) scattered with dog shit/piss.
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Offline MH

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Re: Wonder Woman
« Reply #25 on: June 12, 2017, 01:10:28 pm »
... people flock to nab selfies ...

Agreed.  It is fantastical.  Like a fairy kingdom.

Offline Moonlight Graham

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Re: Wonder Woman
« Reply #26 on: June 12, 2017, 04:28:14 pm »
Wonder Woman as some kind of breakthrough still doesn't make complete sense to me, but if the chattering classes in my Facebook feed are any indication maybe there's something to it.

I don't think it's a "breakthrough" of epic proportions, but it's a little something.  Women as lead protagonist in action movies is a newish social/cultural trend.  Like I said, the new Star Wars trilogy & Rogue One & Hunger Games etc. led by females (the woman who George Lucas hired to take over the Star Wars franchise for him is a woman...obviously an overt feminist, but she's a great role model too.  She produced E.T., Back to the Future films, Jurassic Park etc in a highly male-dominated industry especially back then).

Movies are like any media, filled with propaganda and social agendas, good or bad.
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Offline kimmy

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Re: Wonder Woman
« Reply #27 on: June 13, 2017, 12:14:10 am »
Anti-racism messages embedded throughout.  You missed them i guess.

I mean, ok, there's a black guy and a white guy and they're friends. And in one of the episodes the villain is a racist South African diplomat, and a South African secretary who is ok because she's not racist and sleeps with Mel Gibson.

I think that if this is the standard for being a socially aware film, then everybody's socially aware. I mean, Wonder Woman and Mad Max:Fury Road are full of pro-feminist messages,  Waterworld and Godzilla have an environmental message... I mean... it's setting the bar pretty low, don't you think?

...

So you never did actually elaborate your own thoughts on the "value" thing we were talking about. What gives a film value?  You clearly feel that Amour is valuable, I'd like to hear why.  I'm not suggesting it isn't, I just want to hear your thoughts on what that value is.

  -k

Offline MH

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Re: Wonder Woman
« Reply #28 on: June 13, 2017, 05:19:18 am »
it's setting the bar pretty low, don't you think?

It's a new phenomenon that may have started with that series.  Mel probably had nothing to do with it.
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So you never did actually elaborate your own thoughts on the "value" thing we were talking about. What gives a film value?  You clearly feel that Amour is valuable, I'd like to hear why.  I'm not suggesting it isn't, I just want to hear your thoughts on what that value is.

  -k

What is 'quality'.  Read 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance'.  You can't define it.

Why I think Amour was valuable was that it was engaging and challenging and told a real human story.  I remember more scenes from that film than from all the 2 (3?) Lethal Weapons films.  I believe that societies seek out art as a salve.  There's no knowing why they choose escapism vs. real art.  'Farenheit 911' was the #1 film in the box office a few years back, and the next week the #1 film was 'Kangaroo Jack'.  The poor kids in my town all wore heavy metal t-shirts, and 20 years later it was Tupac.  The superhero film is a fad that will play out, and is thriving because of what I call infrastructure factors (cultural mining, broad appeal, revenue potential) but will eventually die out.  At some point, also, the current cultural conflict will manifest itself somehow in the arts.

Offline kimmy

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Re: Wonder Woman
« Reply #29 on: June 13, 2017, 11:17:37 pm »
It's a new phenomenon that may have started with that series.  Mel probably had nothing to do with it.

I doubt it started with Lethal Weapon.  I'm sure there are interracial buddy-flicks that predate Lethal Weapon.  I'm sure there's lots of other movies with social messages-- I mentioned Godzilla, for example-- that predate Lethal Weapon.  I'm sure there's lots of movies featuring black characters poking holes in racial stereotypes that predate Lethal Weapon.  I think that Trading Places, with Eddie Murphy and Dan Ackroyd, probably did the same sort of thing long before Lethal Weapon did.

What is 'quality'.  Read 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance'.  You can't define it.

"I can't tell you what it is, but I know it when I see it."

I made an attempt earlier.  If something gives me a genuine experience-- be it a genuine belly-laugh, or the visceral thrill of Fury Road, or the powerful range of emotion that Schindler's List provided, that's quality.

If something leaves me feeling like Philadelphia... "well, that was nice, I guess, and I agree with their message, but it didn't really grip me..." then that's not quite in the same league.

And if somebody sets out with the noblest intentions and the most laudable message and the most important subject, but just doesn't hit the target, then that's not quality...  no matter how much one might wish they'd succeeded in their goals.

For you, perhaps Jurassic Park was a silly fantasy story with an outlandish premise.  For me, when they get to the part where they unveiled the dinosaurs, that moment was etched on my brain forever.  Seeing that, in the theatre as a little kimlet, that was the most wondrous thing I had ever seen and I cried tears of joy it was so beautiful.  For me, that moment was more valuable than any socially-conscious message a director might put in a movie.

Why I think Amour was valuable was that it was engaging and challenging and told a real human story.  I remember more scenes from that film than from all the 2 (3?) Lethal Weapons films.  I believe that societies seek out art as a salve.  There's no knowing why they choose escapism vs. real art.  'Farenheit 911' was the #1 film in the box office a few years back, and the next week the #1 film was 'Kangaroo Jack'.  The poor kids in my town all wore heavy metal t-shirts, and 20 years later it was Tupac.  The superhero film is a fad that will play out, and is thriving because of what I call infrastructure factors (cultural mining, broad appeal, revenue potential) but will eventually die out. 

I think there were 4 or more of the Lethal Weapon films.

A "real human story"...   does a "real human story" have to be told in an ordinary, real-world setting?

At some point, also, the current cultural conflict will manifest itself somehow in the arts.

Which cultural conflict?

Some people believe that every cultural conflict manifests itself in the arts. Some people have proposed that the post-WWII environment in the US-- McCarthyism, fear of communists in every closet, and that sort of thing-- found an outlet in alien invasion, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, War of the Worlds, etc type entertainment.  Similar analysis has been done regarding the effect on the arrival of AIDS on US cinema in the 1980s, and I'm sure there are numerous connections that could be drawn.   Popular culture says something about the audience that made it popular... and that goes not just for what you term "real art", but equally for what is transitory.

 -k