Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bad Movie Meme

I was tagged by Ann Bartow of Feminist Law Professors to give my pick in the worst movie meme that is currently making the rounds in the blogosphere. Anyone who has ever gone to the movies with me knows that my personal pet peeve is historical and/or literary inaccuracy and that I find it hard to see a film that takes stupid factual liberties, particularly of the sort that reinforce presentist biases or patriarchal, Eurocentric, or corporate capitalist ideologies. My friend Jenny Cool, who has been subjected to my running color commentary on these films, has joked that movie makers should issue special DVD versions in which you can watch the movie while listening to my erudite ranting and raving.

Of course, I have several runners-up in this category. As I said here, Beowulf totally rewrote the great epic and misrepresented the role of women in Anglo-Saxon society and the place of Christianity (or lack of same) in the original text. To the extent that it posed as a costume period picture, I was also irritated by the depiction of China in the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Finally, the pseudo-epic Troy hacked me off by not only killing off all the characters who had interesting post-war homecomings in the classical tradition, but also by misrepresenting the past that Homer was representing, a past on the other side of a historical disaster so immense that the Greeks actually lost writing during that catastrophic period. Chief among Troy's sins was the fact that they kept showing coins in the story, particularly in repeated anachronistic scenes of coins being put on the eyes of the dead. And yet THE GREEKS OF ACHILLES' TIME DID NOT HAVE MONEY. Coined money began in Lydia in the seventh century B.C. Knowing this fact makes sense of a lot of characteristics of the world that Homer is depicting and a pre-historical time of legend in which codes of hospitality were even more important for travel, exploration, and diplomatic exchanges in the absence of any currency.

But nothing ticks me off more than a movie that makes a lot of pretenses to historical accuracy, while totally constructing an alternate reality of the director's own making. Thus, the worst movie winner for me has to be Gangs of New York, which I managed not to walk out of. Yes, I stayed through the terrible dialogue to the bitter end, along with the equally vocal African-American couple in the seats behind us who expressed their outrage about this moronic trivializing of New York's Civil War race riots. You can read a much more measured critique of its historical inaccuracies here. Oh, and the fact that all women are really prostitutes in the director's mind also bugs me.

I tag bitch phd, Alexandre Enkerli, Mitsuharu Hadeishi, Eszter Hargittai, Julia Lupton, Alice Robison, and Nedra Weinreich.

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Blogger Nedra Weinreich said...

Hi Liz,

Thanks for tagging me, but I'm going to have to pass this time. With 2 little kids, I don't get out much, and when I do, it's not usually to the movies. And if I do see a movie, it's generally something that I'm pretty sure I'm going to like because I've already read reviews and screened out the bad ones. Sadly, I was trying to remember the last grown-up movie I saw in the theater, and Ratatouille was the only one I could think of!

At home, it's not much better. We don't get cable beyond the local broadcast stations, and our DVD player hasn't been hooked back up to the TV since we moved in July. I have a Netflix DVD of Battlestar Gallactica that I've been holding onto since the summer without having a chance to watch it.

So, lack of current input plus a horrible memory means that I have no film disasters to talk about. Maybe that's a good thing. :-)

11:09 PM  

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