Wednesday Links

Still devoting most of my energy this week to the book. I did catch Errol Morris’s latest documentary, Standard Operating Procedure, the other day and wish I had time to write in further detail about it. I think SOP may have gotten a little lost in the backlash against Iraq War docs, but it really is one of the most compelling, if unsettling, films I’ve seen in some time. A number of critics, including J. Hoberman, have argued that Morris abdicates the ethical in favor of the epistemological in his investigation of the Abu Ghraib photographs, but I think that what Morris is actually doing is investigating how our understanding of the nature photography unsettles the grounds by which we make ethical judgments. I don’t think that Morris is “letting the torturers off easily” here so much as asking why certain forms of (visible) violence are punished while others are not.

Meanwhile here are a few links:

  • The Chronicle has a short article about “YouTube star” Michael Wesch, an anthropolgy professor at Kansas State University.  I’ve written about two of Wesch’s videos, both of which very clearly tapped into the internet zeitgeist, but this time, I’m more interested in his claim that viral videos will affect politics and may have even affected the 2008 Democratic primaries. It’s an interesting argument, and while I’m generally inclined to agree, especially if we take into account the most recent Pew study on the internet and the 2008 election, I think the dialectical interplay with TV is still crucial.
  • Patrick Goldstein of the LA Times has a blog entry on Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story.  Atwater is, of course, one of the most successful and flamboyant political operatives of all-time, and the film’s trailer suggests that Atwater’s story is told with quite a bit of energy and style.  Boogie Man is one of the films I most regret skipping at this year’s Full Frame Fest, but I’m glad to see that it’s starting to find an audience.  Worth noting: A.J. has a post on an article by Jeffrey Ressner of Politico, arguing that he may be trying to manufacture some drama over the film’s political perspective.
  • Goldstein also has a discussion of the potential effects of a Screen Actors Guild strike, noting that of the 17 films currently in the pipeline for production that might get shut down by a strike, all of them are essentially high-concept  blockbusters.  Kind of depressing for those of us who’d like to see films made for adults.
  • Finally, it appears that I will soon be prepping for my own fifteen minutes of fame.  Sujewa will be stopping through town in a few weeks to interview me for his documentary on indie film bloggers.  Should be a lot of fun.

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