Time for my occasional rant. It’s things like this that make me feel like an utter crank, but what can I do but try to keep a little bit of a sense of humor?
The Academy Awards: I rarely watch them, that is, hardly at all, but last night I dipped in for a few minutes with my children and wife. The awards are the epitome of the Dominant Discourse in our consumer pop culture, are they not? (I’m waiting to hear from you dissenters!) Seems to me that they represent the entertainment-industrial complex’s elite, and the overwhelming air of self-congratulation is a bit, well, repulsive. Not too bad since they are all so good looking, and there is a lot of real talent there, but they lay it on a bit thick. Tom Hanks, backstage, camping it up a bit by exclaiming to some fawning set-up, “Yes, more fun to come!” seems to have his irony deflated and co-opted by virtue of being part of this industrial orgy of self-congratulation.
This is what an erstwhile anarcho-snob friend of mine used to call “la recuperation,” the ability of the Dominant Discourse to absorb and control even the elements of culture that try, or claim to try, to be against it. Who tries?? The Dominant Discourse, after all, it’s not what is right, it’s just what everyone is talking…about, even me. Remember, there is NO bad publicity.
And just what is it? Preoccupation with celebrity, which is nothing more than being in the news, i.e., talked about. Glamour, that heightened sexual allure, beauty, and charisma that comes from natural gifts helped along by a lot of skilled handlers, photographers, tailors and dressmakers, etc. How odd to see the craftsmen in this business, like the woman who won for best costumes – they seem quaint. They just want to do what they love doing, and they are good at it, and they work very hard. She spoke of Kubrick as her Master – how old fashioned!! I suppose the glamour magnets, the ones with any brains, and I suppose they are as numerous as in any other field, are the same way – they didn’t make the business, but what a business!
Yes, the business: it aims to be glamorous, and it is, but why does it so frequently seem so lame, which adds to the air of childish, faintly repugnant atmosphere of narcissism? The patter often makes no sense at all, like the journalistic hackwork in tabloids – it simply tries to sound as if it might be witty, but who’s really listening? Oh dear, I am ranting…
Well, I thought Ms. Diaz’s dress was rather striking, though I see it rated a Worst Dressed award on one web site. I liked the flower petal motif as a hem. But she herself appears to be turning into some material other than human flesh. (At least on TV she does.) It’s a strange element of getting older in this culture that I can watch celebrities age, as opposed to just seeing pictures of the ones who made it before I was around, and turn into plastic, celluose, or whatever preservatives they use:
And this dress was striking too – that color! But the movie, what little I saw of it was incredibly boring. You may say that Ms. Blunt is very beautiful, and she is pretty, but this dress would make any slim woman look like a goddess, don’t you think? Isn’t that the whole point of haute-couture?
Well, I refuse to be drawn into a debate over fashion, there are more serious fish to fry! I try to take the long view on such cultural ephemera, and I don’t mean that pejoratively. Here is a Cruikshank print from 1812 showing “Dandies and Dandyzettes,” of the day, the extreme fashionistas of the time.
Oh yes, the serious stuff, here it is, Mr. Albert Gore winning the Academy Award for best documentary. Well, I guess he didn’t actually win, but the film was about him and his point of view on global warming. I have not seen the film, but I have read his book of the same name which I believe is pretty much word-for-word the film on paper. It pains me to have to say it – I like Gore, sort of, and I heartily wish he were president instead of the disaster we have – but the book is lamentably weak. The arguments and ‘evidence’ it presents are questionable, wrong, illogical, distorted, i.e. totally lacking credibility. He gives the environmental movement a bad name. You couldn’t make a worse case for the “global warming” advocacy block, I think. To me, it is very sad that this book/film/Powerpoint presentation is taken as a strong scientific argument for the “warming” point of view. The book is simply a polemic, frequently substituting religiosity for scientific method, and I believe it is quite dishonest in its presentation of some of the issues.
The most glaring example of his loose way with the truth is the question of what can be done if all the models and predictions are correct, and what will be the result? Gore finesses this question in the back of the book where he addresses frequently made objections, asserting that to take the position that it’s too late to do anything is simply to give up – No we must keep the faith (never mind the facts). In fact, all the models he champions indicate that it is too late to stop the alleged warming: the most we can do is hope to stop, slow, maybe reverse it generations from now. That’s a worthy goal, but let’s be honest and stop implying that the actions he urges on us will fix the problem now, which he often does say.
I could write a page by page critique of his book, but that would just put me in the camp of the Holocaust Deniers according to a lot of people. Or at least into the camp of the Petro-Industry hacks. Nobody is really interested in the details, which, of course, is where the Devil is. This is what is meant by the Dominant Discourse.