Last week’s class dealt with irony in American film and its connection to the social/cultural climate of the time. We started with a few minutes of The Truman Show, a very tongue-in-cheek comedy featuring Jim Carrey. What myself and others in the class found interesting was the timing of the movie’s release and its minimal accordance with the reality television craze we’ve experienced. While there were a handful of reality programs on at the time, it was nowhere near where we stand today with reality entertainment. The makers of the film managed to interpret America’s obsession with pop culture and celebrity in a nearly prophetic manner. The Truman Show is also an interesting piece to analyze because of the confusion we as an audience face in regards to who we identify with in the film. We are very much the dramatized audiences in the movie and even the “producers” of the show. In a way, however, we are also Truman. As a culture with such an emphasis on entertainment and consumption, it can be difficult to understand the difference between the manufactured stories we see every day and the reality that we live in.
We spent a good deal of time discussing Point Break and Kathryn Bigelow for the rest of class. We discussed Bigelow being a woman and if it holds as much of an influence on the film as the Lane reading suggests. The biggest question of the class was whether or not Bigelow is a feminist. The majority of the class agreed that Point Break as a film and Bigelow being a woman does not necessarily mean that she is a feminist. We did find it interesting to analyze the dynamic of the relationships between men and men and men and women. More than portraying feminist ideals, what Bigelow does do very clearly is play with gender, masculinity, and identity. The relationships between the men in the film are often more romantic in nature – a filmmaking choice that is rarely (if ever) made by the traditional “male” in hollywood. What we found interesting that reinstated Bigelow’s lack of feminist agenda was the unimportant role of Tyler, the actual romantic interest of the film. In the end, she and the other women remain essentially accessories to the men in the film. Concluding on Bigelow specifically, we agreed that what does come across strongly in her work is the need to dismantle heteronormativity.
We also discussed a similar topic of women as filmmakers and concluded that independent and avant-garde filmmaking seem to be the few areas where women have a place to share their work. If we see women in the director’s seat, it’s implied that she must have an important statement to make and the work will be something different and perhaps more challenging than what we’re used to in traditional hollywood.