January 2, 2007

Occam's Razorette

Ms. Dana Stevens, Slate's film critrix, plaintively wonders:


Why War Movies Leave Me Cold

I'm going to start with a personal confession that I hope will open out onto some bigger questions—not only about this year's movies, but about the ever-scarier world outside the theater. Here goes: I don't like war movies. Worse, I don't seem to get war movies. Even as the lizard part of my brain recoils appropriately from images of young men blasted to bits by bombs, my higher faculties inevitably shut down, and any cinematic subtleties are lost on me. It's as if I myself, as a viewer, were suddenly plunged into a war zone, where the world narrows to the question of sheer survival.

My thought process during your average war movie, if transcribed, would read something like this: God, war is strange. … Large groups of men in uniforms trying to kill other men in uniforms, in service of an abstract concept … How could anything so horrible have happened once in the history of humanity, much less be happening all over the world right now? … I wonder if the American death toll in Iraq has passed 3,000 yet … Oh s***, Giovanni Ribisi is gonna get it now. … Please don't show his guts.

By the way, this kind of dissociative disorder strikes only during the classic boys-in-the-combat-zone movie: a Saving Private Ryan, a Flags of Our Fathers...

What does it mean, this resistance to a genre that, I can objectively acknowledge, has produced so many powerful and moving and important films...?


Hmmhmmmh, that's a tough one ... What could it possibly mean? Oh, wait a minute ... I think I've got it:

It means: You're a girl.

(Also, it's probably particularly related to Ms. Stevens having a baby earlier this year, so the maternal oxytocin hormone is still flowing relatively heavily.)

More generally, why are film critics such idiots? Do they understand so little about human diversity because you pretty much have to be a raging egomaniac to think whether you liked a movie or not is of general importance?


My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

18 comments:

Arthur L. Miller said...

Men and women are different. What a concept.

Steve Sailer said...

Dear Arthur Miller:

Yes, I imagine you would have noticed that during your marriage to the late Miss Monroe.

Anonymous said...

actually the only thing running through my mind during war movies is 'god i hope i don't get drafted'...

Anonymous said...

Since Dana Stevens is somewhat representative of critics, and critics' scathing reviews are bound to have an impact either consciously or not on entertainment providers in the long haul, perhaps we might lay more of the blame of unrealistic, politically-correct entertainment on the tube and in the theater on critics and the fear they generate in hyper-sensitive artistic-types?


For example, in between watching the exciting Louisville-Wake Forest bowl game tonight, I caught parts of two episodes of LAW AND ORDER during commercials. The first episode with Chris Noth featured a Jewish kid and his white friends beating up Mexicans and assaulting an Arab girl (and beating her to death) for filming it in Queens.

The second episode (Mariska Hargitay and her lovely large brown eyes)was "something" about a KKK-gang beating a black man to death and a white man who interevened that ended up stabbing an Aryan/KKK (or whatever, right?) gang member was prosecuted (I didn't hang on for the conclusion to that).

Both episodes are based on events that hardly ever (if indeed ever) have taken place to my knowledge. When is the last time anyone heard of a KKK-gang beating up some poor black guy? I live in Tennessee, and have never heard of that happening (and have heard of only one man who was actually in the Klan----in the 60's, he supposedly is a preacher now in Woodbury, TN). Ive never heard of anyone else who actually is in or knows of anyone in that organization (if it even exists here anymore). I have never, ever heard of any group of whites attacking a Mexican here (or in New York). This stuff either doesn't happen at all, or rarely rarely happens. Yet here is a critically acclaimed television show acting as if its de riguer.


Its my opinion that falsely portraying a group of people over- and-over in the media and falsely accusing them by accusation is a form of hatred. We dont make movies with tons of Asian serial killers do we? Thats for good reason, Ive never heard of one. Yet whites are portrayed super negatively or as criminal masterminds in much of our entertainment while idiotic critics applaud the "realism" of these scripts.

post comment for sports fan Sailer: Its been a fun bowl season. The games have been great.

Anonymous said...

Dana Stevens also claimed to be perplexed by Darren Aronofsky's romantic sci-fi/fantasy The Fountain. Slate's Fraysters had more insightful comments about that movie than Stevens did.

BTW, Sailer, did you review The Fountain? Favorably?

Chief Seattle said...

War movies, especially the WWII variety, are all about male comraderie and overcoming adversity. Women are typically an afterthought, usually as a nurse, victim, or spy. That, more than the blood and gore, might explain the lack of appeal to women. My wife groans every time a war movie shows up in our NetFlix queue.

alan said...

Large groups of men in uniforms trying to kill other men in uniforms, in service of an abstract concept...

If life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are just "abstract" concepts then so be it.

Alex said...

"If life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are just "abstract" concepts then so be it."

Well, right, but also country, relations, and the guys in the trench with you are hardly abstract concepts at all, and those are more common motivators than "abstract concepts".

Also riches and territory. More non-abstract concepts that tend to motivate wars more than whatever Stevens was thinking about.

Meghan said...

Mr. Sailer,

As a permanent female and sometime film critic, I was prepared to take great offense to this post that a friend sent me. And if it weren’t for that darned illiteracy, I’m sure I would be livid. You may have won this one, Sailer, but I have a mean apple pie in the oven. Now if I could just find my shoes…

Steve Sailer said...

Dear Meghan:

Godless Capitalist has labeled your kind of response:

"The fallacy that 'The exception disproves the tendency.'"

It is absolutely omnipresent in contemporary discourse and it's absolutely fatal to intelligent thought.

Meghan said...

Damn you with your words.

Anonymous said...

The review goes wrong here:

Worse, I don't seem to get war movies. Even as the lizard part of my brain recoils appropriately from images of young men blasted to bits by bombs ...


The filmmakers aren't expecting you to "recoil ... from" those images, and the men in the theater around you - particularly the young men - aren't doing so. Especially if those being blasted are the enemy.

Anonymous Also said...

Anonymous,

I don't think she meant that the filmakers themselves want us to recoil from these images. Just that recoiling is what any peace-loving, enlightened individual in the audience would do.

Why she singled out the reptilian part of her brain to do the recoiling, however, is a bit of a puzzle. I've never noticed reptiles to display a particular aversion to violence.

SFG said...

She would have said 'id' 30 years ago.

David Hume said...

War movies are hard for feminists to watch because they show men acting nobly and bravely and dying for people of their (the feminists') gender. But what feminists don't want — under any circumstances — is to have to feel grateful to men. That is what the lizard part of their brain is really recoiling from.

David Hume said...

And let me add: if a film showed men building cultures, making scientific discoveries, in short constructing a civilised world that is better for women above all to live in — then it also would get the feminist revulsion response.

Modern films are all about guys who are stupes, simpletons, cads, and incompetants, being made better by contact with some woman who sorts them out and raises them up to her exalted level. Men in films are notable only for the fact that they are never doing anything worthwhile.

SFG said...

Well, there are action movies and other genres aimed squarely at men. Bond's not the nicest guy in the world but he is squarely macho and usually fighting the good fight. Science fiction movies have loads of men playing with toys with an occasional girl tossed in to spice things up.

Artsy movies tend to follow the politically correct pattern you describe. I suspect this is one of the reasons conservatives suspect the arts. Which of course means artistic types growing up in small towns are subject to heavy anti-artistic prejudice and go on to move to NYC and LA and make movies about how small-minded people in small towns are, perpetuating the problem.

Polly said...

What the heck is a "critrix?"