This Jezebel article pissed me off, ‘cause I was literally listening to that album at the time, ‘cause it’s one of the best ever, and who isn’t listening to it as constantly as they can,…-, but, I’m not gonna criticize that piece, or any of the several rebuttals to it. (Although I'll leave the link to Variety and Medium rebuttals.)
Or Molly Ringwald’s observations about some of John Hughes’s less-than-perfect portrayals and observations on men and women that don’t hold up in the #MeToo era, which you can find below
or any of the other ones you can think of, at least I don’t intend to.
There’s also a backlash to these pieces in though, in general, not just these specific ones, and I totally do understand it. Bill Maher actually devoted a whole “New Rules” segment to the trend on his show awhile back.
Even people who saw Shakespeare’s original production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the time, mentioned that the play is completely ridiculous and nonsensical, and thought his “The Taming of the Shrew” had quite a few sexist undertones to it, and they weren’t wrong then, and they’re not exactly wrong now. That’s also a criticism nowadays of a lot of these pieces that these criticisms were levied against the art at the time, but-eh, that’s not always the case. I mean, I’m sure there’s criticisms that existed on some level of the criticsphere, but it’s almost important sometimes to challenge pop cultural perceptions of art as well, especially if they’re so ingrained in our culture. Besides, there’s plenty of reasons to revisit past works and take a look at how they look through a different modern lens. Hell, that’s basically how auteur theory was created. Truffaut and Godard didn’t just see whatever latest Hitchcock or Hawks movie they saw that week, they went their whole filmography and analyzed the visions and motifs and ideas they had, and when we go back through others work, we can learn about them in other ways as well. One of them includes comparing how a work was received, accepted or viewed at the time compared to how it’s looked upon now, and even compared to how it actually, may be sometimes.
Although a good example I’d rather bring up is actually a friend-of-mine’s observation about the movie “M*A*S*H” that we disagree on. Of course I love the movie, it's in the Canon of Film.
I probably should go back and rewrite that article a bit now that I'm looking at it; (It was one of my earliest articles; [sigh]) but he finds the movie disturbing, especially how the film portrays the women in the movie as objects of sex and ridicule and sexual ridicule, and there’s never any punishments for these actions. He’s not wrong, necessarily. In fact, the movie is actually toning it down. If anybody’s ever happened to read the books-, yes, books, there’s several “M*A*S*H” books, they’re much gaudier than the movie. They actually play more like bad “National Lampoon” sequels than the movie, which-, this is where I disagree with my friend, ‘cause Robert Altman does actually take those behaviors and empathizes with them, but not because he agrees with them, but by underlining the setting and situation the characters are actually in, justifying the non-empathetic and cold-hearted treatment the doctors have towards others, by showing that they're in an even more oppresed and inhumane situation, like in the middle of a pointless meaningless war, where they sew up injured soldiers back to health just to have them go back and become dead soldiers, as opposed to what was actually originally written in the novels which were far more, right-winged in terms of content and comedy and those behaviors seem cruel and mean because they're cruel and mean. That said, yeah, I understand how on the page, out of the context, and sometimes even in context on a first viewing, I can see how things like, tricking a character into being naked in front of the whole camp, just for the purposes of a bet about her hair color is a bit mean-spirited and awful, right before they’ve done surgery on a few dozen teenage soldiers and Koreans who’ve had their insides taken out of them because of guns, landmines and bombs going off for no good reason, etc. etc. etc....Like I said, in that situation, me and my friend disagree.
That said, there is something about these pieces that I find kinda curious. And it’s something that I’ve actually railed against in the past, and people have criticized me about it, and I’ve defended it and I still think I’m on the right side on it now. You see, the main insighting incident to most of these pieces, isn’t that they just wanted to discuss how a movie or album or TV show or blah, blah, blah, how the piece doesn’t hold up to today’s standards, but, really, it’s about how they came into the experience, with expectations. Anticipation. They came into these films and things, because of reputation, the expectations they had. They had heard so much about the piece of work they’re now questioning that they were confused or surprised or shocked when they actually went to see it, that they weren’t met. Like I said, I’ve had that happen to me too on occasion, but why? Well, they heard the talk and reputation of the thing, and that got into their head?
Then again, you can't ever shut outside influences down like that entirely. Times do change, expectations and accepted behaviors change, our perspectives change, and films themselves do indeed change as we grow older and reconsider. It is important to study how we were, what we thought was acceptable, why we did then and why we don't now and how that change occurred. We can't just accept things by saying, "Well, that was then and this is now." Imagine if we do that to say, "The Birth of a Nation" or "Triumph of the Will", and just not even bother with any other analysis? Maybe it's impossible to take an older beloved film and not see it as a beloved older film and analyzes the reasons it is, as oppose to just viewing it as a good movie (Although I still think that's a goal worth striving for, every time.), but I think you can still analyze those films on how things have changed and how things that might've been so blissfully ignorant and blind to many back then are shocking and startling to see now. Like, when you watch an old TV game show for 40 or 50 years ago and see all the contestants smoking, or hell, go read Manohla Dargis's New York Times article about "What the Movies Taught Me About Being a Woman" article again just to get a reminder of just how far we've come in a society.
Bill Maher is right about that, we'll always be looking back and wondering just what were we thinking, unlike him, I do think it's actually important however, to occasionally seek an answer to that question, as well as two other questions, in regards to today's media, "What the hell are we thinking now, and why are we thinking that?