Monday, January 9, 2012

Midnight in Paris

Shuddering review.

Another unlucky artist story, this time through the virtual pen of that throbbing romantic artist, Woody Allen.  The plot in summary consists of Owen Wilson, engaged to an uncaring California girl, travels to Paris.  Wilson plays a writer who writes crap for sitcoms (imagine) but who wants to move into the serious world of novels (aided thoroughly by the passive voice and telling, in the short selection we're quoted).  Being a genuine artist (TM Hollywood), this American travels to the past to pick up clever anecdotes from Hemingway, Picasso, et. al., in order to learn that his fiance and her family are jerks.  The jerky fiance has parents who--get this--actually doesn't think all Tea Party supporters are fascist!

Imagine that!  To dare to say that bunch of poor people upset at bankers, Congress and the Federal Reserve, and who want their money back, aren't fascist!  Everyone knows that people from red states who don't like Barack Obama's domestic fiscal policies are discriminatory hooligans who judge others based on surface criteria.  How uneducated of them.  How can they be so illogically prejudiced as to slur entire groups based on a few token anecdotes?

Ahh, noblesse oblige.  What makes Woody's rich Hollywood writer better than other people?  He wants to be nice to the maid, while those crazy Republicans think that the maid might have stolen some jewelry that disappeared from the room.  By being nice to the help, the right kind of upper-class white people prove that they are sensitive, sweet and perfect, without having to do anything to change the power relations that make them upper caste and the help lower caste.  This is the pinnacle of compassion: treat your working poor a little better than other lords, so as to make your elite society more sustainable in the long run. 

(Using trite cliche versions of Hemingway and Picasso, et. al., and thereby not having to come up with any characters of his own, saves Woody Allen a lot of time.  Brief trips to the past allow Wilson to learn clever "common man" anecdotes to use to upstage that ridiculous character from 2010 who thinks he knows something about artists because he's studied them for decades.  All of the characters who have any merit prove that they are artistic and genuine because they adore officially-approved artists from the past and properly revere and emulate them.  You can identify the bad artists, who aren't included in the picture, by their failure to recognize how only Paris, and great portions of classical western-approved history, possess worth.)

This will strike back at those idiots who named things "Freedom Fries" before the Iraq invasion!  Only by accepting the rich cultural history of the imperialist colonial predecessor to Britain and America, with its large stock of art approved by its educated neoliberal successors, like Woody Allen and his friends in Hollywood, can we show how intelligent we really are!  And everyone else who fell through the cracks in those times wasn't worth paying attention to anyway. 

How comforting this story is to happy imperialists: a hideous empire rises on the sweating, whip-lashed backs of its own working masses, who themselves stand upon the stinking, rotting corpses of countless millions of murdered darkies who lived too close to the good resources.  Greek, then Rome, crushed the barbarians and paved over the bloodflow to make some nice buildings.  Their art survived as imperial France got its colonialism on and raped the world.  Britain got in on the gang-rape, and eventually formed a coalition to get ahead of France.  Slavery, war, oppression and untold horrors continued.  An offshoot of Britain appeared in America, resulting in the malignant mass now dominating the world.

And throughout it all, we can trace a fine line of classic history of art: from modern American greats like Woody Allen, back through western European colonial artists, back through the Renaissance, the greats of Imperial Rome and Greece, and even before then, to the most popular book ever, the Bible--the Torah-tic linchpin of genocide, ethno-superiority, and aggressive religious expansion.

Sit smug on your piles of money, Mr. Allen, you dashing romantic you. When your husk rots away, a new imperialist will be there to resurrect you as a great artist of the past, giving advice to young writers in Imperial Belize, or wherever the fuck it next turns out to be.

Update: Outer Party functionary Peter Travers, of Rolling Stone (a publication which is very cultured and right in a hipster douchebag way) says this of Midnight in Paris: "Exhilarating!  Brims over with...ravishing romance."  Yes, ravishing romance, in a movie where no one gets together, the major characters have no sex, one open-mouthed kiss occurs onscreen, and the romantic highlight involves Owen Wilson telling a girl that he thinks there's this "sort of chemistry...between us."

Then again, for Woody Allen and Peter Travers, maybe that is romance.  Maybe that's why they find comfort in browsing back issues of the Hemingway Quarterly and lingering for a few hours in the Picasso museum.

Sample Question from the Bill Gates #423 High School, English 2-B final exam in the year 2040:

17.  WHAT ROLE DOES PARIS (THE CITY!) PLAY IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE PROTAGONIST AS AN ARTIST?  CHOOSE ONE:

A) PARIS IS THE SITE OF TIME TRAVEL
B) PARIS IS AN EXPRESSION OF ARCHITECTURAL BEAUTY
C) PARIS IS A CENTER OF ARTISTIC CREATIVITY FOR THOSE WHO KNOW ITS SECRETS
D) ALL OF THE ABOVE

3 comments:

  1. The funny thing is, many of the artists who made Paris so famous as an artistic mecca--Renoir, Degas, Monet, etc.--were just into painting their immediate surroundings and scenes from everyday life, rather than elaborate, fakely-posed portraiture and classical figures. Just because their surroundings happened to be Paris, those scenes have now been elevated into classical myths of their own. The rebellion has become the establishment, and is now being used to propagate the myth that true artistic genius comes from the blessings of the divine beings of old.

    ReplyDelete
  2. No, no, you're entirely wrong. Paris is hip, new, rebellious, AND classically perfect. Using it in a movie proves that you are artistic and intelligent. How dare you insult Woody Allen like that??

    ReplyDelete
  3. Or Dan Brown/ Ron Howard for DaVinci Code... Yes, how dare you? ;)
    How often have past incendiary movements been elevated to become the hip, new norm? In art, this happens repeatedly. The funny thing is, on occasion, the once reviled old way surfaces as a *new rebellion* (like the stubborn re-resurgence of "figurative art". Such interesting stuff.

    ReplyDelete