Matthew Wrather hosts with Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee, and Josh McNeil to begin a month-long overthinking of the decade. We do this by almost ignoring pop culture, instead focusing on Latin poetry, Greek etymology, poststructuralism, and the artistic viability of remakes. We do talk about Terminator a little.
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@Fenzel, I think your conveyer belt metaphor is flawed. Lucy could go get the supervisor, true. She could also start trying to eat all the candy she can’t package in time. But both of these are affirmative responses to the challenge of post-structuralism. The response you seem to favor – acknowledge the problem, but keep on plugging away like you always have, because it still has value – would mean putting as many candies in the box as you possibly can and just letting the rest fly past on the conveyor belt. Yes a lot of chocolate will end up on the floor, but at the end of the day there will also be some chocolate in boxes, and that’s not nothing.
@Wrather – you criticize poststructuralists for lacking intellectual rigor. But I think you’ll find that “intellectual rigor” is a culturally mediated concept that lacks any objective truth-value. ;-p
Saying “culturally mediated,” I’d contend, clouds the issue, which is that every concept (even “culture”) itself is epistemologically mediated, so that we don’t have a stable way to know or make determinations about the world. Which is one hell of a slippery slope.
I’m a big fan of the poststructuralists and of their valuable insights, though I think that literary and cultural studies has actually moved beyond them. (Much of the seminal stuff is 40 years old — what academic field doesn’t make a few strides in that period of time? Don’t answer that, Sheely.) Also, for someone who doesn’t really fall into their camp, I’ve actually READ a great deal of their work, which you can’t say for all of their adherents.
What I object to is the vulgarization or selective deployment of their ideas, ideas which are highly nuanced and complex. This is often done in service of political commitment, which is naive, because it masks a basic hypocrisy — a desire to ironize some meanings and to keep others.
“Living in the problem” isn’t the same as “plugging along as you always have.” You try new things, you go in new directions, you strive to make things happen, even when they’re futile, but you don’t let the fact that the problem is unsolvable make you feel too much worse about the way that you have to live.
But, that notwithstanding, the specifics of Lucy’s situation bear clarification — immediately before the chocolates come down the conveyor belt, the supervisor threatens her that if one piece of chocolate goes down the conveyor belt unwrapped, she is fired. So, her goal is not to wrap as many chocolates as possible, but to prevent the chocolates from going down the conveyor belt. If the part you object to is Lucy eating the chocolates and stuffing them in her bra as being counterproductive, well, she’s just following her assignment.
Clearly what’s needed is a remake of the original Terminator rebooted for contemporary sensibilities:
The Terminator is a nanobot, possibly piloted by Ryan Phillippe Inner Space-style.
Since this will be a Joss Whedon script, Sara Connor will be played by Summer Glau. Thus creating an opening for a lot of winky meta-commentary about the Sara Connor tv series.
Kyle Reese will be played by Tahmoh Penikett to erase the Sam Worthington stain. Plus ultra-winky ultra-meta commentary about Dollhouse and Battlestar. Tahmoh is always in love with robots! (or dolls) Let’s just say “women of dubious identity”.
Traxler, Vukovich and Silberman will all be played by women and they will have several conversations with each other, but not one about men.
Since there’s a spinoff-cast devoted to Glee, can Lee host a spinoff about Terminator? Based on your conversation, there’s still quite a lot more to talk about.
As Socrates would say ” ti esti Terminator?”
That was a tour de Overthinking It force. Righteous.
Oh man, I feel like such a chump on the Catullus thing! I said “Catullus 13” and I meant “Catullus 16”! http://www.vroma.org/~hwalker/VRomaCatullus/016x.html
Here is my own translation, since if I left you a voice mail, you wouldn’t be able to play it on air (and it’s worth mentioning that in the Latin, the first and last lines are the same):
“F**k you and blow me,
Aurelius the c**ksucker and fudgepacker Furius,
Who have supposed me to be immodest,
because of my verses which are a bit sexy.
Though the pius poet ought to be chaste himself,
his verses do not have to be,
which, in the end, have wit and charm,
if they are indeed a bit sexy and immodest,
and are able to stimulate desire,
not in young boys, but in these hairy men
who can’t get it up anymore.
You, who have read of my many thousands of kisses,
think that I am no proper male?
I will f**k your a$$, and f**k your mouth.”
I was looking through the rest of his poems, and at least a quarter of them are “diss tracks,” aimed at everyone from his ex-girlfriend who cheated on him, a guy who stole a napkin from him at a dinner party, and even Caesar himself. The one that reaches heights of “I can’t believe he just said that” is 97, where he compares a guy’s head to his anus, concluding that the anus is preferable: http://www.vroma.org/~hwalker/VRomaCatullus/097x.html
I would be very interested in what you guys think is the most viable ‘replacement’ for post-structural criticism. Wikipedia is of absolutely no help. There is some discussion on there about a sort of post-post-modernism in which the ambiguous conclusions of postmodernism are replaced by a return to a sort of optimistic earnestness, in which hope may be found a retro-modern, technology-centered approach. Do the themes of disability and prosthesis in Avatar validate this transhuman (post-human?) perspective? Is that why Hollywood can’t resist the mecha?
Also, what do you think of the idea that embracing ontological realism inexorably leads to hyperrealism? I liked the distinction you made in the Mad Men supplement between realism and merely capturing the veresimilitudes of a cultural epoch. It is also my favorite mention of an SAT word that was ALSO in American Pie. Dare I say, I liked it copiously?
If you read Hesiod’s _Theogeny_ and _Works and Days_ with the right approaches, they are both pretty misanthropic and misogynistic- dis tracks, kind of, but indirect, aimed more at man- and woman-kind in general than any specific person (unless you buy into Hesiod’s religious belief that Pandora was a real woman, etc.).
I can’t remember who posed the question (although I lean in Wrather’s direction for some reason), but I don’t think novels are the same as movies in terms of legitimacy when it comes to re-making them in popular culture. At least, not yet- maybe someday. But really, novels don’t get reWRITTEN. They may be re-interpreted, but in different forms of media than book format (play, tv, film, etc.) (and I exclude kiddy versions and re-illustrations and such from this, as well- which I realize could totally kill what I’m saying, here). It’s a little different, but look at the huge backlash from some of the contributors to this site (in comments and from actual members of the group) against _Pride and Prejudice and Zombies_, for I think that came from the same place preventing the complete re-writing of novels. Re-doing a novel in novel format just isn’t easily accepted, and while some of the same arguments against remaking movies are potentially said against rewriting (“It’s lazy!” “It’s corrupting the original mythos!” etc.), it stems from something much more ingrained in the common popular culture that creates a barrier making it generally scandalous to consider re-writing ANY novel (whereas with movies, it’s sort of on a case-by-case, fan-by-fan basis). This isn’t to say it never will be acceptable, but it seems as though there is a certain level of taboo involved with novels that is much lower for the film industry. I don’t presume to explain exactly why this could be, why it’s more acceptable to remake a movie, but it’s an observation/ assumption of the existence of a trend I thought I’d point out for the heck of it.