Sunday, March 31, 2013
Thematic Wanderings: Intercultural Workout
Been Netflixing all Easter Sunday, and then it began to natter at me if cultural barriers will persist in dogging certain acclaimed works. It's just something that I have witnessed in various corners of the internet, where some often well-articulated writers/podcasters have disparaged certain works in ways that while containing gripes that may very well contain their own sense of validity, seem to lack additional insight as to why said works seems to connect so well with others. And while even considering such a jumble of subjectivity, it stands to reason that context is at times more than necessary for some viewers to bridge gaps that cannot otherwise be bounded over. Even I could be considered guilty for similar transgressions (perhaps Iron Sky would have worked for me if it didn't take such a singularly foreign view of american politics) when something that speaks clearly to a regional audience is bought here, only to garner detraction.
Which brings me to one of the main questions that has been nagging at me for years; With emerging, and expanding foreign markets for film, and the easiest access to foreign genre film in history, just how much have we collectively begun to gather a specific level of expectations based on what we consume as viewers in our native culture? In the last twenty years alone, we have seen a sharp climb in production and story quality in other markets, and one of the more interesting side-effects of this, is a clear need on the part of certain reviewers/commentators, to require an almost strange amount of objectivity to their subjects. While on one hand, this can be seen as a reasonable point of argument, there is also this evidence of possibly a lack of cultural/historical knowledge creating great gaps where some would expect more universal clarity. It's a discord that is possibly inherent in these accelerations of access and exposure.
Something is bound to be lost during this time, and can only possibly be remedied with patience, and work. But could within the age where all are content creators, be this place where such understanding could in fact be reached without so much of the expected derailment by way of the atypical failure to grasp simple language and cultural. We are all within our respectively shifting places in the global enthusiast community, and while it is expected that subjectivity will remain a human constant, it still fascinates me when a colleague expresses dismay at something that reaches others in ways that transcend the mere distraction. So when films that come from other parts of the world, where there have yet to be greater amounts of understanding between cultures, it is only natural that certain themes and concerns will fail to make a dent in the minds of even the most attentive viewers.
Which leads it all in an almost "chicken or egg" scenario, where filmmakers are far more capable of making works that center well within a regional framework, and are brought over to be re-examined by cultures still a gap removed. It's almost paradoxical how we (meaning previous generations of strange cinema conisseurs) were once able to appreciate the works of foreign filmmakers with more openness, and encouragement once upon a time, regardless of a dearth of budget, or resolute comprehension. Flash forward to today, and such notions are almost completely flipped by these very same viewers. I do not propose anything in a way of a series of solutions, but it is something one couldn't help but notice. But could it possibly be that many of us have traded in some elements of wonder for an unspoken model of approval? This may be completely off base, but one cannot help but see this as a possible trend coming forth as more fans find themselves becoming reviewers, when it can also be said that arts such as film defy constructs despite having cul-de-sacs of narrative safety.
But I will state this as an ever curious lover of nuance, it sometimes takes as much work from us as it does from the artists.