Archives For April 10, 2012

I’m going to link to a blog post that I don’t think is worthy of hits. But I’m going to do it anyway because it’s demonstrative of a serious problem, and because it features a comments section which has featured a lot of thoughtful debate that is very much worth reading. The post is an entry in a series over at Man, I Love Films entitled ‘Hot or Not‘.

I find that post pretty deplorable, but hardly unexpected on the chauvinist backwaters of the internet. In fact, it’s pretty par for the course. Not necessarily on movie blogs, but in other places. What gets me isn’t so much the post itself, which is easily dismissible as lazy piece of writing done for no other reason than to get some extra hits. No, I’m more bothered by the defences of the post. These are twofold. First, from the writer himself. Kai Parker says a lot of things in the comments, none of which help to quell my feelings about the post, and in some ways make things worse. Then there are the other women who come to his defence, which only makes me feel sad.

The ‘Hot or Not’ post is pretty simple. A list of female celebrities, each with an alluring photo followed by a quick list of superficial ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ mostly describing aspects of their physical appearance. My problems with this kind of post should be clear. This is the same kind of sexist shit highlighted in the Facemash sequence in The Social Network. Talking about a woman—or anybody’s—attractiveness is perfectly fine. Even quantifying that attractiveness is okay. The trouble begins when we get to reductionism. The title itself, ‘Hot or Not’, reduces things to a binary formula. A woman is either ‘hot’ or ‘not’ with no qualification or middle-ground. Granted, it’s a headline, and it’s partly meant to grab attention, but it sets a sour tone. The headline could have been mitigated by reasonable content. Kai, in the comments, points to an old post he wrote, which discussed man crushes and attractive male actor, and did so very well. Such a post about women would have been great. The headline wouldn’t have fit, but I get it, hits need to come in somehow and misrepresentative headlines are common. Click to read more.

I’ve seen a lot of discussion recently about whether this New Golden Age of TV has surpassed cinema as the best, most important mass art form. I can understand the arguments. While I don’t think there have been nearly as many great TV series as there have been films, the great TV shows of late have been quite extraordinary. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film that did for me what HBO’s The Wire did. There wasn’t a single film last year that had me gasping for air like Breaking Bad‘s fourth season. Neither of these comparison’s are fair, though. First of all, these shows are exceptional. They’re also long form fiction, which allows much more time to build stories and develop characters. Film just can’t do that, but it does do other things well. There’s a benefit in the short form. The precision of storytelling in film almost always surpasses what’s possible in a TV series over multiple episodes.

Arguing which format is better is essentially pointless. We can all agree that they’re both capable of greatness. That said, that movies and TV are very different doesn’t mean they have nothing to learn from each other. I think that TV has done a great job of adapting the qualities of cinema. Shows look grander and more cinematic, a direct result of widescreen and HD. Series have also become more serialized, which isn’t really a cinematic technique, but the approach of essentially making a movie that happens to be cut up into 10-20 hourlong acts is distinctly a response to how films are crafted. Click to read more.