Wednesday, December 06, 2006


According to Andrew Sullivan, this essay by Manohla Dargis is the work of a "poseur". According to John Podhoretz, it is "the single most pretentious review, ever written, in any publication, anywhere, of anything."

Now, read the actual review in question. It's a mystery to me how exactly Dargis was supposed to critique a 179-minute non-linear, bafflingly surreal David Lynch movie and not talk above the level of the room. But, I've read this thing three times now, and I'm still amazed at how clearly she has expressed herself. She's dealing with the film on its level, and wrestling with its obscure meanings, and yet, she's still writing in a way that can be understood by an adult. And writing for adults is taken as being 'pretentious'.

I'm getting a bit tired of 'pretentious' being used as code for: 'Hey! Think the way we do, dammit!' There's this single patois, let's call it "Dudespeak", which seems to be rigidly imposed in our culture right now. It pretends to be democratic and populist (in fact, it assumes that pretense!); but really Dudespeak is authoritarian- it demands that we think and express ourselves in one and only one way. Don't ever speak or write in a way that requires people to pay attention and consider what you're saying, Dude. Don't think about things that require patience and consideration to understand, Dude. Don't use metaphors, Dude. Life should be simple, and anything complex is not worth considering, Dude. Understand the world the way we do, and the way we tell you to, or we will snark you down, Dude. Be trite, be simple, be 'unpretentious', Dude.

In other words, shut-up and get back in line, Dude.


The Pagan Temple said...

Gawd, what a couple of fucking pricks. Did you notice, neither Sulivan nor Podhoritz explained why they thought the review was pretentous, they just gave what amounted to an ad hominem attack on the reviewer. No explanation, no context, nothing. Nada. Zip.

The rest of us are suppossed to bask in their pontifications and accept their summary judgements as divine wisdom.

I admit, I tend to see many reviewers as pretenous, egotistical, full of their own self-importance. But I didn't see that in this review. To me, it seemed concise, well thought out, and fair.

These two offerred what amounted to nothing more than a personal attack on the reviewer. It was personal to them. They obviously have a problem with either the reviewer, or with Mr. Lynch, or both.

Two little men, with two little minds, and two big mouths, and absolutely nothing to say of any merit whatsoever.

Hiromi said...

What the fuck?

In her review, Dargis made clear points and described them clearly. And it's not like she stuffed the review with obscure references -- a non-film buff like me got all the references.

Again, what the fuck?

Anyway, anyone who refers to himself as "JPod" should be shot on principle.

Rufus said...

My issue was that she was writing that way about a David Lynch film- not "Cars" or something! I mean, she's going to try to make sense of the bizarre images in the movie. That's her job.

Usually, I like Sullivan, and he has been open the flack that other people have given him about the comments. I've never been all that impressed by JPod.