Kill Your Television

I sawr a film today, oh boy...Perhaps it was about a lucky man who made the grade: Jean-Jacques Annaud's Seven Years in Tibet (or was it Brad Pitt's). As i had seen Annaud's The Lover the week before, comparisons inevitably arose. But don't get the idea i see a lot of films. This was about half my yearly quota.

As i was saying before i so rudely interrupted myself, The Lover was quite a decent film, in the sense that it relied on the complexity of its characters to generate interest and believability, even as it played big-time with stereotyping and sex. And it refreshingly refused to romanticize these characters or create a morality play. Tibet, on the other hand was romanticized to the nines and Annaud or the producers or screenwriters or somebody apparently couldn't stop from embedding little moral nuggets (LMNs) in what i remember as a fairly matter-of-fact tale in the original book. Whatever.

I was struck by these LMNs. They were not even that objectionable as LMNs go: egotistical impulsive asshole somehow makes it to Lhasa, becomes tutor to growing Dalai Lama, gets morally uplifted due to exposure to DL's childlike ancient wisdom. And DL is well done, not overdrawn. And so on. Not really so bad. But i don't like this spoonfed morality, even if the morality is something i more or less share. I wish Hollywood – and that's who really did it – could just leave it out.

Doing a thoroughly French film, Annaud had a completely different approach. Not only without moral messages, The Lover also had a ring of authenticity as it addressed an intensely interesting but generally taboo subject, the sexual initiation of a teenage girl by a seriously older and more sophisticated man. Its authenticity derives from its faithfulness to the original book by Marguerite Duras, who writes honestly and unromantically – maybe these are the same – about her own experiences. By way of contrast, i have not seen or read Lolita, but since there is no input from the subject it is hard to imagine its having anywhere near the same authenticity. Hard, in fact, to avoid the conclusion that Lolita is an old man's fantasy, and maybe that's Nabokov's intention, although such honesty and talent as he may possess cannot survive Hollywoodization. Interestingly, because of the current hypersensitivity to the child abuse issue in the States combined with its historical prudery, Lolita can't even get shown there, although it is a thoroughly American product. Perhaps the dream factory is fading.

Dream on.

One place the dream factory doesn't impart much in the way of moral hoo-hah, beyond the good guys usually winning, is in its violent epics. To be consistent, i should think this is just great. Not. Such a tricky area. So easy to have an opinion, much less so to have insight. Try Osho.

Television? Don't know a thing about it. In our house, it is an innocent black box only used for videos. From what i have gathered from magazines and occasional contact, it's still a vast wasteland. Not that there isn't lots of "good" material on it, but it seems an unnecessary difficulty to try to keep such integrity as i possess in the face of the relentless barrage – ads and programming – trying to sell me not only products but image, lifestyle and attitude. Osho tells us to not retreat from the world, but you have to draw the line somewhere.

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