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- Dear Susan and Mira,
Congratulations on the relaunch of M/E/A/N/I/N/G.
The problem of "resistance" and cooptation is (i think) even more acute. This year, for example, had been one of the best year for movies in a long time (that is, for almost everyone, with a few exceptions). Making up a Ten Best list wasn't hard; what was hard was limiting it to 10! You could have had a list of Ten Best movies that were all from Asia; you could have had a Ten Best list that had mostly movies from the Middle East; you could have had a Ten Best list filled with American "independent" films. And you could have had a Ten Best list of only gay/lesbian/transgender movies! (To check out my Ten Best list as of Dec. 13, which was the deadline to hand it in, you can go to: http://www.villagevoice.com/take/seven and check out the list of critics.) Actually, i saw a few movies after Dec. 13 which could qualify; Jim Hoberman listed his Top Ten, then his Second Ten (with comments) and then his Third Ten! Just in terms of "gay" movies, Brokeback Mountain has gotten a lot of (positive) attention in many of the critics' awards so far, and it's been on many people's Top Ten (it even broke through in the Village Voice poll), and it's actually doing very well at the box office. The reason i mention the oddity of its breaking into the Village Voice poll is that it's such a "mainstream" film, and that's the point. Brokeback Mountain is a very traditional, mainstream movie with a gay theme. More than a decade ago, "New Queer Cinema" was the "cutting edge" in the independent film world, and now, it's been domesticated. (Even Gregg Araki, one of the most extreme of the New Queer Cinema artists, came up with Mysterious Skin, which was more "mainstream" than anything he's ever done.)
So what is an "alternative" culture, when so much of it is now mainstream?
And the other big issue... there's a moment in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, when Mary has been dating a younger man, and she and Rhoda go to a party given by the young man and his roommates.... and a 50s ballad comes on (i think it's "Earth Angel"), and Rhoda starts snapping her fingers, and then she looks around at all the 20-somethings at the party, and she says to Mary, "Our youth is their nostalgia!" And that's exactly what's happening now. (Christopher Durang once said, "The Mary Tyler Moore Show... there's a scene in it that's prefect for any occasion!")
So many exhibitions (on Monday, the Grey Art Gallery is doing "The Downtown Show") are now trading on this nostalgia (for the East Village scene, for Warhol's Factory, etc.) and so that's another form of cooptation.
So it'll be interesting to see how we all try to help launch a genuine "critique".
January 8, 2006