Sunday, October 19, 2008

It's code

KIDS made me contemplate all of the verbal and physical 'code' that we take as consensus. In the first scene the girl asks 'do you care about me?', the guy says yes, and that serves as code for 'it's cool to fuck now.'
I always pay attention to who*m I'm sympathizing with in a movie because i know that our life experiences shape our experience of a film. I have a hunch that a lot of boy and man-identifying folks are able to watch KIDS and sympathize with the boys and men in the film. For me, sympathizing with a character is not only rooting for that character, but reacting emotionally and mentally with the character to what's going on the situation. When the kids go swimming, I felt like I knew exactly what the girls were going through when they take off their clothes. Eighth grade graduation pool party flashback. Flattered but vulnerable, hot but weak.
When the girls were sitting around talking about sex, i felt like i could be there in the room and it would be normal life, but when the guys were hanging out it was totally foreign--i felt like i was watching from a thousand miles away.
It scares me that the sexual violence against women in the film is presented but not analyzed. I think that most people will walk away from the film saying 'that's messed up' about the violence in the film and the way women are treated. But I think it's also totally possible to walk away without internalizing that the rape at the end is rape. That it is violent, a crime.
How do we make art that both 'reflects reality' and challenges it? I think it's interesting when people talk about 'the job' of art and argue that art doesn't need to have a goal of changing society, that good art simply reflects or imagines or is whatever the artist wants it to be.
I think that artists have to take seriously that what we produce does affect and change society whether we want it to or not. Especially when Hollywood, publishers, sales, and profits are involved in art, we have to scrutinize our work hard. I'm not suggesting that artists have a duty to preach or to compromise their art for social good. I'm saying that we've got to explore the impact our art has on people. And that i want the art that i personally choose to create to challenge people, to take them places where they explore what's going on with the character they don't usually sympathize with. I'm scared of people leaving the theater saying 'that guy was a scumbag, but he had game.' Or 'that guy was a piece of shit' but not trying to figure out how he got there. Or saying 'that bitch should have used a condom' but never wonder why she found herself in a room having coerced sex in the first place.
I'm scared of people seeing a movie and letting it become part of their experience, but never letting it snag what they're doing that night with questions of what the characters are doing and how they got there........Movie and a pizza, watch a movie and chill.

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