Thursday, October 7, 2004

A Nation of Grad Students?

Yep, you've heard it mostly before but this is a decently amusing piece about how the long-lived American mania for self-improvement [insert Tocqueville quote here] is faring in the age of DVDs and trade paperbacks.

A few remarks:

1. Shouldn't it be "Zeno"? A web search shows significantly more hits including listings in philosophical dictionaries.

2. I read that Walkman piece too. It was by continual nay-sayer Norman Lebrecht and made some sense but, er, yawn.

3. I'd point out that apart from DVDs, most of his other examples aren't that widespread. Paperbacks with attached reading guides are uncommon and CD box sets rarely hit the charts.

4. The reading guides "revived literary deduction"? Shouldn’t that be “interpretation”? What are they supposed to be deducing?

5. I’ve heard about two dozen DVD commentaries and excerpts of easily triple that number but have never heard any filmmaker describe either “their own dazzling technique” or anything shot-by-shot. Of course most commentaries are complete wastes of time, one reason I don’t listen to them in full.

6. What is the possible connection between flatulence and being a film geek? For that matter why is being interested in art geeky? You can almost imagine: “Just a few years ago nothing would have seemed more recondite than reading Henry James’ collected prefaces, an idea that would interest only the most odorous book nerd.”

7. I miss Spy magazine.

8. Legally Blonde 2 and a Cody Banks film are easy targets.

9. Did VH1 actually show an NWA video? The channel has become such a celebrity shrine that I can’t watch it, something made only worse by “irony” that only points out how completely serious they are about celebs.

10. The end of trash culture would indeed be worth mourning and there are signs. I own a Herschell Gordon Lewis box set complete with commentaries, something unimaginable when I first had to book 16mm prints of his films and track down obscure VHS copies. Then again there are many more Jess Franco films on DVD than Ozu and Bresson combined which is definitely a disgrace. Don’t know that I have any point to that.

11. The Amadeus director’s cut came out in 2001, a decade after claimed in the piece.

12. I can’t imagine joining a reading group.