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Ed Driscoll

You Heard It Here First

August 27th, 2013 - 7:04 pm

In a 2008 retrospective of the late Pauline Kael, the influential New Yorker film critic, who championed the violent, transgressive product of the “New Hollywood” of the late 1960s and pre-Star Wars 1970s, beginning with 1967′s Bonnie & Clyde, Robert Fulford of Canada’s National Post wrote:

Kael, whose critical reputation was in its early stages, used Bonnie and Clyde as the opening shot in what turned out to be a war against middlebrow, middle-class, middle-of-the-road taste. Her New Yorker piece began: “How do you make a good movie in this country without being jumped on? Bonnie and Clyde is the most excitingly American American movie since The Manchurian Candidate. The audience is alive to it.”

She announced no less than a revolution in taste that she sensed in the air. Movie audiences, she said, were going beyond “good taste,” moving into a period of greater freedom and openness. Was it a violent film?

Well, Bonnie and Clyde needed violence. “Violence is its meaning.”

She hated earnest liberalism and critical snobbery. She liked the raw energy in the work of adventurous directors such as Robert Altman, Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Martin Scorsese. She trusted her visceral reactions to movies.

When hired as a regular New Yorker movie critic, she took that doctrine to an audience that proved enthusiastic and loyal. She became the great star among New Yorker critics, then the most influential figure among critics in any field. Books of her reviews, bearing titles such as I Lost it at the Movies, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and When the Lights Go Down, sold in impressive numbers. Critics across the continent became her followers. Through the 1970s and ’80s, no one in films, except the actual moviemakers, was more often discussed.

It was only in the late stages of her New Yorker career (from which she retired in 1991) that some of her admirers began saying she had sold her point of view too effectively. A year after her death (in 2001) one formerly enthusiastic reader, Paul Schrader, a screenwriter of films such as Raging Bull and Taxi Driver, wrote: “Cultural history has not been kind to Pauline.”

Kael assumed she was safe to defend the choices of mass audiences because the old standards of taste would always be there. They were, after all, built into the culture. But those standards were swiftly eroding. Schrader argued that she and her admirers won the battle but lost the war. Acceptable taste became mass-audience taste, box-office receipts the ultimate measure of a film’s worth, sometimes the only measure. Traditional, well-written movies without violence or special effects were pushed to the margins. “It was fun watching the applecart being upset,” Schrader said, “but now where do we go for apples?”

Where indeed? But nobody who was standing behind the Panavision movie cameras of the ’60s and ’70s, or the television minicams of the 1980s was asking that question; they were too busy kicking over the applecart. Unfortunately though, “you can only be avant-garde for so long before you become ‘garde,’” as former Saturday Night Live writer Anne Beatts once warned her fellow leftists. Similarly, a century ago, when bohemian French modernists coined the phrase, “Épater la bourgeoisie!”, evidently, they never stopped to consider that the bourgeoisie would eventually long grow inured at efforts to shock them.

Or that the bohemians would become more than a little bourgeois themselves, along the way.

Related: “The most disturbing thing about this ex-Disney star’s sordid routine? My teenage daughter’s blasé reaction.”

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Top Rated Comments   
Madonna? please...that old nasty gap toothed skank looks like a Nazi prison guard in a 70's B movie. Miley is just another passing pop phenomena, a balloon with the air slowly easing out. She'll grace the covers of the National Enquirer for the next few years of rehab and public humiliation. Her hillbilly dad, if he cares, will find out what an achy breaky heart really is.
Miley does a nice cover of Dylan's "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go". Unfortunately we won't miss her a bit.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
In my early 20s I saw Bonnie and Clyde, which was a must-see event among the people I knew. As a visual artist I was captivated by the credits, which announced that the film that followed would be an authentic recreation of the period instead of the usual reinterpretation of period style wrapped in a familiar and current guise. Up until then only the Brits successfully made films in which earlier 20th century periods were done accurately. In this regard the film was brilliant, a feast of gorgeous production design. But I was very troubled by the film all the same. To me it was a glorification of nihilism for nihilism's sake and, to my knowledge, the first American film in which two killers were portrayed in a very sympathetic light. They were just two glamorous romantic kids larking about, sewing some wild oats. The violent ending was choreographed so lovingly, so like a ballet, that I almost expected the corpses to get up and take an elaborate bow. I sensed that the film signaled a significant cultural change that I found disturbing. I think I was right. This film marked the beginning of a new cultural era, call it The New Dark Ages, that has seeped its way into every aspect of our society.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I remember when Madonna was trash. Now rap and Miley Cyrus have elevated her to Art.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (61)
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upto I saw the receipt 4 $4952, I accept that...my... mom in-law had been actually receiving money part time from there new laptop.. there uncle haz done this 4 less than 18 months and at present cleard the debts on their mini mansion and got a great new Lancia. read what he said >>>>http://www.wep6.com
Go to website and click Home tab for more details.
❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤

51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Am I the only one who thinks discussing Madonna as an artistic milestone against which Cyrus' raunch can be revealingly measured hardly worth the effort?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I found nothing titilating or sexy about Cyrus' performance. Nor shocking. A boyish body with demonic Gene Simmons tongue extensions. Dancing around with Pedo Bears.

It's just sick twisted self hatred.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
What's hard to take seriously about Paglia is her insistence that Madonna (as if!) is Art.

I'm with Allen Bloom on this one!

Looks like maybe the Lefties will convict Miley of racism, somehow, for her execrable performance; perhaps that (if anything) will shut her up!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
What's next? Bestiality? Human sacrifices on stage?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Didn't some British rocker bite the head off a poor innocent mouse on stage once?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yeah. The mouse asked for it. Apparently it was the only way he could stop hearing the music.

Now seriously, you are right: they'll do whatever it takes to shock the public.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Another adolescent desperately trying to be one of the "cool" kids.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
From inconsequential Disney starlet to primitive, perverted, pornographic,
sexual exhibitionist. Miley Cyrus is at the root core of our culture's
depravity and obsession with sex......degrading us just a liitle bit further by
pushing all the "twerking" buttons. Surely, next time on T.V., she will
no doubt have to outdo herself with full frontal nudity and newer, more exciting objects in her hands.
Can't wait......can you?





1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
About those old time stars Madonna imitated in the beginning of her career: there tended to be an element of pride, of haughtiness, in their performances even when they played the sluts. Think of somebody like Marlene Dietrich - even when she was the bought woman she always gave the impression that she was doing it because she had to, not because she liked it. That you could buy her body or her time, but you could never buy her, and she'd get out of it the second she was able to. And that the hero would have to offer her something much, much more if we wanted to have her for real, not just get the illusion of having her.

That is definitely missing with most of the women who sell with sex today. Most of them just appear very cheap, women anybody could have for nothing, or for the price of a drink. Something one might use and then throw away when it breaks or he gets tired of it, with no regrets. Not many Bugattis in that bunch.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
And not many people who even know what a Bugatti is.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
My problem with Paglia is that she likes Madonna. Madonna was cheap trash in the 1980s, not the art that Camille thinks she is/was. Bad music and cheap thrills images.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
That's right. Madonna in the 80s was merely recycling cheap trash from early modern period.

We are swirling the toilet bowl. Our cilvilization is in a death spiral.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Paglia merely defends an ever coarsening, decadent, death spiral, neo-Pagan culture using the better diction and fancier vocabulary of the Academy but, nonetheless, it’s still just a defense of decadent, barbaric scheisse.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
What is kind of funny: anybody remember her father's song where the singer compares a girl he met to a used cheap sporty car - looks kind of flashy, and nice, on the outside, but once you look under the hood there is nothing much there?

Seems like she matured into that. A cheap car which has been made up to imitate a sports car, but only a bit and only on the outside. What people who dream about a Bugatti Veyron while knowing they will never, ever be able to buy one may go for, and perhaps even keep for a while, and have slightly amused memories about if they mature past that stage and finally buy something more sensible, although when they talk about it it's more in a joking manner, how weak the engine turned out to be, or how the exhaust pipe fell off in the middle of a highway.

While it evokes amused pity, at most, even from those people who can afford just a Mercedes, and isn't really even noticed by those who can afford that Bugatti, except maybe when gets on their way.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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