Tuesday, March 20, 2012

John Carter

This is a comment by Foxessa on my pop culture posts:
Movies and comix, like most pop culture (not the same as popular culture, which is actually culture, that sustains individuals and communities), leave us ultimately unhappy in a the same way that eating nothing but popcorn for three days will do.

So I obsess instead on history and historians and trends and objective that run through our national expression and behaviors, economically and culturally, since the beginning of the colonial eras.

This can be depressing, which pop culture isn't supposed to be, since nothing has really changed historically, it seems, as we're in the depths of the same rhetoric and tactics to re-enslave African Americans and put women back in the kitchen and nursery.

Yet history gives me energy and exhilaration, while pop culture makes me feel sick and tired, and really depressed.

At one point I tried to distinguish between popular art, which was art created by the people, and mass art, which was art created for the people. Hollywood is mass art, created by people who are upper middle class or upper class for the masses. It can incorporate genuine critiques of society, but the critiques are limited and no real resolution is possible. Or so I would argue. Still, at the moment, I am scarfing up Hollywood movies. I saw John Carter last night. The movie has an odd effect, which I don't remember from the books. The two Martian cities, populated by red Martians, come across as elite. One city is brutal and destructive, rather like the ancient Romans, who made a wasteland and called it peace. It moves, grinding its way across Mars and destroying everything in its way. The other city is lovely and refined and rather ineffectual, almost like the Eloi. The green Martians, on the other hand, come across as the riffraff of Mars: tough people living in a brutally tough world. But rather likable. We are told that the cities have destroyed Mars, and it's up to the green Martians to save the planet. Noble savages, I guess. Maybe it's an SOS from the intellectuals in the ruling class to the rest of us: come and save us from the monster hedge fund managers.

Anyway, I am stuck on mass culture for the moment.


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