just for the record

it’s fucking creepy that so many Trek plot lines involve Troi getting psychically raped

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Thoughts on Marie Antoinette

I just got out of Marie Antoinette, which was well put together, but which left me sort of disappointed. I was thinking about it, though, and a lot of historical movies really suck (in this, I suppose I include biopics, and almost any movie that is situated in a realistic reconstruction of a historical period) That feeling started me thinking about Nietzsche’s ‘On the Advantage and Disadvantage of History for Life’.

What Nietzsche does in ‘On the Advantage and Disadvantage…’ is that he divides history into three categories: monumental, critical, and antiquarian. I’ve always found this distinction useful, and also useful for looking at the contemporary practice of writing history (to my mind it seems that most contemporary academic historians think they’re writing critical history when in fact their work is thoroughly antiquarian– but that’s another topic).

Monumental history might be called inspirational; critical history is perhaps best exemplified by Foucault; and antiquarian history is history by the idlely curious.

I think monumental historical movies are actually the best use of the special properties of film to present a historical subject. They don’t hold up as an accurate portrayal of history, but I think they can work really well as movies and as illustrations of the myths and values of contemporary society. A good example (though not the best movie) is the Mark Wahlberg movie ‘Invincible.’

In addition, there’s a class of historical movies that address a historical subject critically, with an eye towards influencing contemporary behavior. These can also be really good.

(I’m not really going to talk about what might be termed ‘historical fantasies’, movies set at some point in the past, but which don’t really engage with historical realities)

But most historical movies don’t fall into either of these categories, and settle instead for a limp sort of antiquarianism. This sort of historical movie has to come to terms with the radical difference of life the past, and some compromise is made between historical accuracy and emotional naturalism, and what comes out are bad movies.

pimp slapp’d

What the fuck happened to Stephen Thomas Erlewine? He used to be one of the best pop critics out there (not many people will go to bat for Urge Overkill) and he’s totally changed. Today I was reading his reviews of the Simpson/Lachey post-break up albums, the new Justin Timberlake and the Paris Hilton album, and it’s like his personality is completely different.

For a long time, he was the only reputable person who seriously listened to Hilary Duff, but he’s become vindictive and gossipy– downright nasty at points. What the fuck happened? Did his wife run off with his best friend? Or has he just been reading a lot of defamer?

This would be a moot point if his reviews were still solid. But of the above list, the only two things he liked were Jessica Simpson and Paris Hilton– he gave the latter 4.5 stars (?!, as for a dubious move in chess).

His more recent pop reviews have focus more on image and packaging than the actual music (cf. his review of Lindsay Lohan’s ‘Speak’); he says every pop album he likes is ‘frothy’, ‘fun’, and ‘hooky’; and he calls Madonna ‘Madge’ a lot. He’s gotten old and weird.

I remember sitting around with Dan in college and talking about how much we both liked STE. It’s too bad things have changed.

holy shit

I think a new superproducer has entered the room.

I’ve been a big fan of Cassie’s ‘Me & U’ for a while, and I’ve had her ‘Long Way To Go’ in my head today. I listened through the rest of her album, though, and even though Cassie is a singer of modest talents, the album is carried by Ryan Leslie’s uniformly tight production.

Many would find this sacrilege, but I think there’s something of Thom Bell to Leslie’s production, in that combination of taste and laid-back lushness.

It’s even more surprising that Ryan Leslie makes an impression considering the bumper crop of solid producers that have come out recently. I’m thinking Cool & Dre, Rich Harrison, and that Nate guy who works with Timbo… not to mention the countless workmanlike producers on the radio (e.g. Scott Storch).