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(Don't want to live in a) hub and spoke world - click opera — LiveJournal
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Mon, Mar. 26th, 2007 01:16 am
(Don't want to live in a) hub and spoke world

85CommentReply


(no subject) - (Anonymous)
uberdionysus
uberdionysus
Troy Swain: Black Box Miasma
Mon, Mar. 26th, 2007 12:33 am (UTC)

I would say you're looking at it the wrong way.

You are correct, but consider the opposing ramifications of monoculture:

Consider the strengths and diversity of our best art, and how our best art rests on the backs of the strengths and diversities of arts that have influenced our own, and that are usually foreign.

Art becomes moribund and boring when it is ruled by monoculture. In visual art, think of the worst parts of Egyptian art, or the Post-Caravaggio mannerists, or the French Academy. In cinema, think of Hollywood movies from the 50s, or Hollywood today.

Monoculture is bad for art, and especially rough on creators and consumers who want to discover new voices and new ways of seeing.

For example, all of the influences on Funky Forest and Taste of Tea are common in the U.S. and Europe (Ozu, Bergman, Cronenberg, etc.), but the Japanese take on those influences resulted in specific films that gave us something fresh and new. Same with African writing from the 60s, French movies from the 60s, the discovery of Japanese prints in the 1880s, the discovery of African art at the turn of century, or contemporary Iranian film-making.

It's a trade off. Kurosawa (Japan) is influenced by Ford (U.S.), and Sergio Leone (Italy) is influenced by influenced by Kurosawa. It comes full circle when Clint Eastwood makes a film that is influenced by all of the above. The give and take that gave us magical realism also gave us modernist poetry and dark literary fantasy. But without protection, a lot of that stuff wouldn't have existed.

Cultural protectionism tends to be conservative, but it paradoxically forces the youth to rebel against the conservative national output. Monoculture doesn't do that, since there's no national film culture to rebel against. The techniques of filmmaking become Other and lost. In a protected environment, the young filmmakers will take aspects from the monoculture and also, inadvertantly, what is needed from their own (protected) culture.

Without cultural protectionism, the Taiwanese New Wave would not have happened, John Woo wouldn't have made movies, Abbas Kiarostami wouldn't have made movies, The Host wouldn't have been made, the French New Wave wouldn't exist, on and on. All of those people created niches that work economicly, but they needed help to get started. And without those singular voices, our own movies would be a lot worse.


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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
uberdionysus
uberdionysus
Troy Swain: Black Box Miasma
Mon, Mar. 26th, 2007 03:43 pm (UTC)

Then we're just arguing semantics. I have no problem with tarrifs and barriers for struggling countries and economies, and a massive problem with large economies using tarrifs and barriers. I have no problem with any non-U.S. country demanding that theaters show a certain percentage of locally made film. The demands of the market will create niches for both high art and low.

Again, J-Horror, The Host, Miike, wuxia, samurai films, yakuza films, giallo, spaghetti westerns, polizias, etc., are all genre film that developed in protectionist environments. Japan, Italy, and France of that time still obviously had access to Hollywood film since all of the above were "low" bastardizatons of U.S. genres, and all of those bastardizations enriched our film culture.

It's not about prevention, it's about access, and it's only necessary for the smaller markets.


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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
uberdionysus
uberdionysus
Troy Swain: Black Box Miasma
Mon, Mar. 26th, 2007 04:36 pm (UTC)

I was only using "low" genres to show that it's not all "high" art, and that those cultures, with help, can often produce extremely popular (and profitable) films. I also wanted to show that favorite popular U.S. directors and tropes wouldn't exist without them.

I assume you know the endless examples of "high" art film and I don't need to list people like Ozu and Szabo.

You can never have cultural separation unless you police along the lines of N. Korea or former Afghanistan. I don't think anyone is arguing for that, at least not anyone I've read in these threads. I don't think Momus is arguing for cultural seperation at all, only for more variety and ways to make that happen.

Without mixing, again, most "high" art would not exist. No Kurosawa, French New Wave, Fassbinder etc.

I'm arguing that subsidizing small markets (esp. those that are against monolithic multinationals) is good for all.


ReplyThread Parent
chipuni
chipuni
Brent "Chip" Edwards
Mon, Mar. 26th, 2007 03:30 am (UTC)

Cultural protectionism tends to be conservative, but it paradoxically forces the youth to rebel against the conservative national output. Monoculture doesn't do that, since there's no national film culture to rebel against. The techniques of filmmaking become Other and lost. In a protected environment, the young filmmakers will take aspects from the monoculture and also, inadvertantly, what is needed from their own (protected) culture.

With all due respect, I disagree strongly. Why would young filmmakers be able to rebel against a national film culture... but not a monoculture?

Is it money to create the film? The cost of making a film has dropped dramatically in the past twenty years; what once cost millions of dollars now costs hundreds of dollars. Anywhere in the first world, a would-be filmmaker would be able to save enough to start filming after one year.

Is it special knowledge? Although learning filmmaking from the masters can save time, I don't see that one needs more than a camera, a script, some kind of set, and willing actors.

Is it distribution? Although getting into multiplexes is very difficult, the Internet is =starting= to find ways to pay filmmakers and content creators. (iTunes is the best one that I know, so far. Others will quickly show up.)

In my opinion, the film revolution has already started; places like YouTube have been spreading people's films. It will grow internationally even more than it has.



ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Mon, Mar. 26th, 2007 06:34 am (UTC)
straight-to-youtube, made-for-youtube, youtube-of-the-week...

For all the three hundred million Youtube clips I've heard about and don't care to watch, I have yet to hear any buzz about "people's films".


ReplyThread Parent
barnacle
barnacle
The Plain People of Ireland
Mon, Mar. 26th, 2007 09:02 am (UTC)
We all tube for iTube

YouTube is an excellent case study of what happens to alternatives to the hub-and-spoke system. When they reach a size that threatens the hegemony (like YouTube and MySpace both did) then they're almost immediately gobbled up by enormous hub-ist organisations like Google and the Murdoch empire. As Momus says, the hub is desperate to avoid the spokes from connecting up: if it can't prevent it through protectionism, then it will attempt to control and feed off the means of those connections out at the rim.

Google, and by association YouTube, might try to position itself as some sort of global, centreless, grass-roots love-in, but any organisation that doesn't even check whether or not the name for its new mail system is trademarked in Europe might provide an encyclopædia with its canonical example of capitalist chauvinism. And while it's possible to produce a pluralistic culture with the machines of monoculture, it's harder than you think to prevent the prevailing hub-culture from twisting the discourse round to its own way of thinking.

Don't forget that, through the selectivity of this column, all of the commenters here (me included) are busy on YouTube watching Jan Svankmajer and Japanese vloggers whose comments are translated for us by Hisae. Do you think the vast majority of YouTube users produce or consume anything of the sort? If so, then Hisae must be terribly busy.


ReplyThread Parent
imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Mar. 26th, 2007 09:59 am (UTC)
Re: We all tube for iTube

And while it's possible to produce a pluralistic culture with the machines of monoculture, it's harder than you think to prevent the prevailing hub-culture from twisting the discourse round to its own way of thinking.

Exactly! This is one of the key problems with seeing the English language as a way for spoke F to talk to spoke T. Languages contain ways of thinking, built-in. They make certain conversations more likely. They tie us in to certain migratory corridors. And so on.


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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
uberdionysus
uberdionysus
Troy Swain: Black Box Miasma
Mon, Mar. 26th, 2007 03:29 pm (UTC)

Why should you care?

Because it's not about marketing failures. You can't compete against a multi-national corporation if they control all the means of distribution, and Hollywood controls most of the distribution in the world, EXCEPT for the countries that demand that their theaters show a certain amount of locally produced film. The economics question is a question about access, not a question about marketing, or the survival of the fittest.

Equally important, is diversity. You should care about aficionados and small markets because aficionados tend to be the creators, and the new ideas almost always come from small markets. A financial disaster may be the spearhead of a later cultural revolution. It's the "Velvet Underground" effect. The Velvet Underground sold a few records, and were a financial disaster, but it is commonly said that everyone who bought an album started a band.


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uberdionysus
uberdionysus
Troy Swain: Black Box Miasma
Mon, Mar. 26th, 2007 03:16 pm (UTC)

You can't rebel against a monoculture because monocultures of all sorts take away access to distribution and production.

YouTube and the internet is slowly changing that equation, but I have many friends in the movie industry, and making a film with digital tech is NOT cheap. It's easier to make a film now, but not by much. We all remember the story of El Mariachi or Sex, Lies and Videotape. Getting a decent digital camera is around $3,000, and although anyone in the 'first world' could save enough to start filming in a year, almost no one could afford to make a movie after a year of savings.

But the bigger problem is distribution. It is a monstrous problem, but not so much when you're in a country that supports local filmmaking. Japan and France both demand that theaters show a certain percentage of locally made films, and this means it is much more likely that a young filmmaker will be able to get their film into the theater. They won't have international distribution, but they'll have a ready-made access to a local audience.

YouTube simply isn't equiped to show features, and for now is predisposed to simple clips and the easy-to-digest. We've watched manga and films on YouTube and it's passable, but it sucks. And no one I know is willing to watch a 15 minute home-made movie on YouTube, let alone something that's an hour.

So although you're partially right, in the big picture cultural protectionism fosters young artists of the country. It has little to with rebellion and everything to do with access, money, and distribution.

But the larger point is that without the film revolutions of other countries in the last 50 years, U.S. films would suck. Without cultural protectionism, there would be no kung-fu wire works, no Ozu, no Tarkavoski, no John Woo two-gun flying-through-the-air action, no giallo, no Spaghetti Westerns, no Neo-Realism, no jump cuts. No Cassavettes, no Lynch, no Tarrantino, on and on and on.

Yes, we might be on the edge of a revolution, but without something to build on, we're going to get tons of the same old unimagintive bullshit. The only countries that need cultural protectionism are the ones that are losing all of their national filmmakers because they can't compete against multinational marketing and multinational corporations. It's both a question of economics (and monopolies) and protecting diversity in arts.


ReplyThread Parent
desant012
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Mon, Mar. 26th, 2007 12:52 pm (UTC)

I think you're forgetting about Japan's totally paradoxical New Dark Post-Romantic Post-Protectionist New Wave of Artimonoculturcide - the slapping machine.


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