Sunday

Edutainment

I had a trilogy of disappointments recently, and some joys, and they told me about myself.

Disappointment is a strong word, as I enjoyed all three. I read Kate Atkinson's 'human croquet'; I watched half man half biscuit live; and I started watching Buffy from the start.

Human croquet had the same world weary wit and cynicism as other KA books, but perhaps with even more abuse and incest than other works. Half man half biscuit played well, but I can't help thinking they didn't play their best material (especially of the more recent stuff), and the songs weren't developed for live performance at all. Buffy was Buffy.

The thing is about each of these spectacles was that as good as they were, I didn't get anything new out of them. I felt deflated by the mounting lack of... Novelty. Defined as how information-rich something is.

So I was delighted to uncover a new seam of prog metal to explore, to find genuinely decent horror films for streaming to tthe telly, to come across documentaries that both entertain and educate. 

Hmhb's set had another disappointment, that a large section was still the early 80s material referencing Dean Freidman, nerys Hughes, Len ganley, Fred titmus, dickie Daviies... Slebs whose shelf life has been surpassed by the references to them.
I suppose that's a greater satire on them, that their supposed fame is mocked from a far for being so transient. But it seems futile to still be going on about them.

The flood gates were opened by 'Stuart; a life backwards' which I've been meaning to read for years and picked up from a market a year or two ago. Just like Kate Atkinson, it seemed like anybody who can be abused, will be abused. But being a true story, and one that takes me through many worlds I had no idea about the insides of - prison, homeless shelters, care homes, &c. - I felt completely riveted by it.
Now I'm not one of those people who thinks that being 'based on a true story' will make a horror film better. Actually, I hate those, because i can only watch it wondering what actually happened. The fucking awful film The Posessesion is a case in point, but I'm not going to talk about it because it's not worth it. But I love a documentary. They can contain all the emotional truths of a good work of fiction, but you're learning at the same time.
On the other hand, a good work of fiction can do exactly the same thing, and take you through new worlds. But being fictional sets your mind at unease, as you can never be sure how much has been adapted for the sake of the story. Actually te same is true of docs too, but i digress.
Good example here is the film of philomena - a slightly fictionalised adaptation of the true story book, that lifted the lid on something horrible in a more punchy way then a straight doc would. But anyway:

Then I watched Brain Dead, peter jackson's early film that had an almost identical opening to his adaptation of King Kong, except that racist stereotypes of native islanders work better in aloe budget Shlock horror film than a mainstream event movie. 
Brain dead is information rich like the fermenting, festering matter that takes up so much of the screen time. It felt like a practical joke on the viewer, that I was in on, how disgusting it was. And yet interestingly, it shied away from the worst of the potential violence to the zombie baby that turns up half way through. As if to say 'we do have some standards.' I spent a lot going 'oh, god,' and actually turning away from the screen.

It's so different to Audition that the two shouldn't be packed into the same genre, but I'm developing a theory: that anything with horror in it gets labelled horror, just as anything with metal in it is a type of metal. It's never 'metal folk', is it? Or 'metal jazz'. Audition is not really a horror film, it's a drama that descends Into horror. I was amazed, actually, based on what I've heard about it, that I was able to sit through it. The actual violence wasn't that graphic, although what happens is awful. It would have been so much better of I'd had a chance to experience it like I did with Dusk til Dawn - with absolutely no idea of the tonal shifts that were coming. In fact I wish I could experience all films like that (like when I read Rebecca, with no idea of what kid of story it was going to be).

But what struck me about any of these things is that they got me thinking, and try for me talking. They don't provide easy answers and leave gaps for you to fill in. They they make you ask, what would you do? Did they do the right thing? It's the real tradition of tragedy.

Splice is a great example, because the author should be commenting on society but actually it's just about how wierd his own views are. But I've written about that before.

I watched the flat. What starts out as a simple expose peters out towards the end as the paper trail runs out, and as if to underline it petering out, the documenter gets lost in grave yard, unable to find the memorial stone of a lost relative. It implies the past is untouchable, unknowable, and all you can do is move on - a complete but subtley done avant-face from what he seemed to set out to do. 

What I learned, is that I don't feel satisfied by the same old; that I need to be actively challenged by the media I consume, that I need to be educated and affected by it. I mean actually affected, as in changed, and forced to grow. I don't know about all that nietzcschien stuff about self improvement, but I'm not happy unless I'm either being shown up as ignorant. Maybe I'm an info sadist? Is that a thing?
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