Thursday, May 22, 2008

Thursday Sundries

My brother thinks I overstate the daring of Trinity's Paris By Night. He says our popular culture has moved beyond the tragic era of homosexual life and love, or at least that our movies and TV shows are no longer governed by its expectations. I think he's mostly right. Perhaps it's PBN's modesty that I find so powerful, and that I think represents a real contribution to the work of opening the popular arts to more sexualities and broader audiences. Just as we're never really made to fear that Sam and Buck's lives are destined for tragedy, we're never asked to rally around them in heart-warming celebration. There is no scene in which all the straight characters smile gregariously and congratulate the recently coupled Sam and Buck (and, of course, themselves, for just being so incredibly supportive), even though this scene would also reward its (straight) audience. Indeed, the only time a character pleads for acceptance it's Buck, early in the show, hoping that Sam will be his friend even though he himself is not "that way": there is no sanctimonious straight world to which Sam appeals for validation. In a sense, straight audience members are never invited to the party; Columbus has assumed that they don't need to be invited, that they don't need the blandishments of ceremony and struggle, that his show's decency and innocence are engaging enough. The object of the play's inquiry is not political but existential; it is concerned not with justice, per se, but with doing right; its tone, then, is not strident but sincere.

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We went to Cable Car last night for the last Magic Lantern of the season. It was the "India Show." Even though I really didn't understand a lot of what I saw--not only were the shorts typically abstruse but the DVD on which they were compiled was damaged and played stutteringly--I enjoyed the evening. What I appreciate about everything I've seen at Magic Lantern shows is that the works are specifically, exclusively, stubbornly filmic: they are not theatrical, and they are never literary. Which is not to say that they're illiterate; just that they are untranslatable to any other medium. It's really refreshing to see film being used for things that only film can do.

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