Industrial Affect

December 14, 2009

Science fiction isn’t a new film genre.  Actually in terms of American media it’s as jazz is to music.  Even still when it comes to making sci-fi movies the film industry often feels compelled to nonchalantly splice existential intrigue with juvenile action.  There’s nothing wrong with it really, writers of sci-fi are known for finding ways of creating more elegant resolutions for carnal conflict; pitting those with the will to endure against others’ propensity to dominate.  Spotlighting the wholly under-valued masses that confront simple truths with honor, vigilance and bravery.  Taking time to celebrate the few individuals that define their fate with action instead of resting on the laurels of incumbency and arrogance.

These are epic stories.  If not only because they are bold enough to peer into the complexities of existential dilemmas without shying away from the brunt of complex intellectual hurdles.

As it is with everything the salience of daring endeavors vary.  On some occasions the reason sci-fi films fall short is cost; penny pinchers scrutinizing values beyond their depth.  Equally when this genre seems to have abandoned its more thoughtful doctrines it’s often because sci-fantasy became an excusable setting for yet another high-tech slugfest.  We’ve got nothing against action, read our other articles, we’re big fans.  It’s just that we resent Hollywood’s attempt to get a canned run-n-shoot picture to stick to the wall with starry-eyed gravitas glue.

It’s a disproportionately rare occasion when you get a master of lore and lyric like Joss Whedon to approach films like Serenity with such clarity.  But Joss, like Tim Burton, has a genius that seems to disregard the apparent shape of relevant pegs and stalwart wholes.  They manage to create parallel dimensions as if from scratch, holding to standards of quality that are unimpressed by others’ expectations or parlance.

Sure, many will make an argument for the authenticities of solely human dramas.  These recapitulations of envy and a feigned empathy for lives never lived; narcissistic parables that play out in familiar settings, driven by recidivist circumstances that seem to be party to scenes we must always be just missing.  Fortunately these kindly authors are so penetrating as to describe trite over indulgences as if we were born in a cave, insisting that their trivial distinctions are the measuring rod by which we should reflect on our lives.

Well perhaps we should have been reared in cave – but we’ll get to that later.

We don’t mean to be harbingers of gloom, and we appreciate that pop-cult movies are a young persons foray, we simply think there are ways to do both that should benefit from relentless pursuit.  Unfortunately the social conventions of a culture bred on these obtuse displays of generic bravado tend to also be compulsively rapt with them.  These authors become the enablers for lives addled with perpetual vicariousness, people and personalities that are easily disillusioned by speculators of trivial distinctions.  These viewers pursue a dire need to believe themselves worthy of the benefits of high-minded sensibilities, hoping that acclamation is somehow equal to ability.

Then how is it we are graced by rare exemplars?  Let’s consider the social implications of a well-built cave.  All great visual artists were born and bred somewhere, so we wonder if there’s a law of underexposure that could dictate the likelihood of rearing great movie-makers.  If there are sky lit magic kit like closets all over the world with a stack of classic literature, an etch-a-sketch, AM radio and the complete Hitchcock box set, oh and some cloud coddled pasty young erudite that’s being slowly pickled with the creative virtuosity found only in human potentials – not realities.  ‘Cause what are harder to find, frequently trivialized and pigeon held by trifling matrices of reasoning are the archetype. Is it because societies are so fervently breeding their antithesis that hordes of charlatans are suppressing quality with garrotes made of defaulted loan notices and manic cluelessness?  Are beacons of hope being psychologically brow-beaten on rickety futons by duplicitous wanna-be model girlfriends that prefer to be out of their minds than out of their depth?  Are punk art heathens more determined to oppress bourgeoning seers than they are to focus on their own work?  Are we then supposed to be content with the toxic by-products of their lechery?

The fact is that even Star Wars was an uphill battle of psycho-theatric pursuits. It simply wasn’t the language that media was fluent in at the time. This stalemate of want and will is not the fault of producers, directors or cinematographers.  We can’t even rightfully blame “studio execs” ’cause really they’re just in the business of doing the business that looks to them like good business.

So in matter of fact it’s your fault, the audience that is, as connoisseurs you’re not particularly discerning.  Impressionable ­– yes, eclectic – no.  Sure a lot of it has to do with what risks you’re prepared to take with hard-earned money, time-share parenting, carefully chosen stadium seated companions and/or the forecasted benefits of taking screen cues to the bedroom, barroom or both.  Now if you read books more your imagination would be filled and fueled by a yearning for full-fledged creationism.  Your desire to infer subtleties of language and psychology would allow even the most alien settings, characters, and interplay to be held to their own complexities and depths.  But when most people sit down to take in a fresh idea they prepare themselves to be wowed like a drug addict searching for a high that he intends to compare to his first – like some retroactive virgin.  And once you know how good it can, be who likes waiting to get high or laid?  Still it’s this closed-minded outlook that stymies most innovations before they’ve had a chance to flourish.  It cripples brilliant purveyors of progress and growth before you’ve even learned why you need their insight.

We’d say you should read more, challenge yourselves to tackle personally dynamic imagery, your own,but there are things that we think you should learn for yourselves.  Not to mention that having to constantly re-state the obvious offends us and we intend to make your avoidance and/or ignorance of it your own problem.  We could give you some sort of mantra to mimic as you “purchase” your ticket, but that might just encourage you to haphazardly place your faith in blind methodology instead of reaching beyond your intellectual cul-de-sac to become a bit wiser.

What we will suggest is that when you sit down to your next hard-fiction film stay for the credits.  As you sit there for an extra 10 minutes you may realize that every person cited played a necessary role in the creation of this tailored opportunity to transcend yourself entirely.  You may start to appreciate that the minor details that you haven’t even had the time to trivialize were someone’s responsibility.  It may start to dawn on you that the endless river of facial tics and compositional artistries you’ve already taken for granted are often minor monuments to your affections.  It might start to sink in that those two hours of distraction took around 41,600 man-hours to bring to market.  Again you.  Granted many in the process may be misguided scum but some of them may become integral to the film you have yet to see, the one that will drag you out of your tired merry-go-round of ethos and into a new richer psychosomatic playground.

One last note.  When most people hear computer generated effects it amounts to a vision of someone turning on an enigmatic computer and pushing a button that reads the mind of the operator solely to manifest an otherwise impossible moving effect into existence.  Yours is a cut and paste desktop reality of whim and want.  Hit, miss and harmless.  In fact computer art designers for films endure the same endless litany of choices that all committed artist subject themselves to time and time again.  It’s a love affair that one embraces knowing this unrequited affection is meant to slip through their fingers and into your lives.