The unacceptable

August 6, 2006 at 5:16 pm Leave a comment

The continued use of the “unacceptable” wether in the case of this documentary on “Jesus Camps
” by the left or by right wing outlet’s focusing on the most outrageous forms of say homosexuality are both inherintly conservative ideologies. They come with the insuation that one side is correct and should have the power to ban the other’s point of view. They are in spirit totaltarian and their message that look at what the other side is doing and you’re helpless to do anything about it (especially taken the current u.s. administration) is intended to goad the audience out of their former acceptance of pluralism wether in shopping, morals, religion, or government. These films seem to say look at the horrible abuses these people make when you let them do anything they want. I am reminded again of T.J. Demos’ article on Steve McQueen, while it’s hardly romantic enough to fit with the gist of my post it says, “Current documentary practices, for instance, may return to dangerously to precritical notions of representation that make problematic assumptions of transparency or neutrality… While politically activist and radical in rhetoric, the proposed transparency of a political signified may bring with it a paradoxically authoritative interpretive structure that forcloses an otherwise open and polyvocal field of meaning.” In other words, when we accept a documentary as “true” and take the genre of documentary as “transparent” or even neutral we make the mistake of missing the fiction created by the cuts made by the director (i.e. their qoutations in  film form) and the agenda evident by them. Hence when David Byrne says, “There were some perfect sound bites — at one point Pastor Fischer
instructs the little ones that they should be willing to die for
Christ, and the little ones obediently agree. She may even use the word
martyr, which has a shocking echo in the Middle East. I can see future
suicide bombers for Jesus — the next step will be learning to fly
planes into buildings. Of course, the grownups would say, “Oh no, we’re
not like them” — but they admit that the principal difference is simply
that “We’re right.
” a big flag comes up in my mind, here the director has taken a qoute and managed by implication to create an entire world of arguements not officially endorsed by the “neutral” director, but created by the audience itself. Mr. Byrne does seem smart enough to draw himself out of the trap of possibly endorsing an end to pluralism, “When one sees religion perverted — in the U.S. or in Israel, Pakistan,
Afghanistan or India, one wonders if the spiritual seeds, planted by
visionaries and enlightened prophets like Jesus, Mohammed, Marx and
others, are just too volatile for large societies to deal with. One
asks if religious visions are better off kept as a personal thing, or
at least confined to a small group — otherwise the death and
destruction sown by and in the name of religions more or less balances
out their moral and personal virtues (which are many.)” But as usual this also misses the point that conflict is necessary for there to exist more than one way morally or religiously, if we didn’t have culture wars this would imply no one is thinking about religion or morality or what’s right anymore. To host a pluralist system is to accept that people will always disagree. If it were the other way around, we’d be in harmony, but we’d also be rather boring.

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Entry filed under: media.

links for 2006-08-06 A rule someone else probably already invented

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