At the end of today’s discussion, I wonder what the future holds for television. How much interactivness will become too much between viewers and a series? Gossip Girl allows viewers to receive identical texts that the characters received that help connect storylines. A few years ago One Tree Hill had viewers vote on whether or not one of the main characters cheated on his wife. What is this all leading up to? A world in which the viewer will become the author and Hollywood writers simply start the story by providing characters and some character background? What do you think?
I hope that after watching episodes 1 & 2 of Generation Kill that there isn’t a single person that could deny the nearly palatable homoeroticism in both the book and show. When reading the text and arriving at Wright’s description of the putrid and cramped quarters of the Marines Recon forces, I began to remember just how perfectly Gen Kill serves as an example of homoerotic tension boiling just below the surface in many male interactions:
“The tent reeks of farts sweat and the sickeningly sweet funk o ffungal feet. Everyone walks around in skivvies, scrathing their balls…The gesture is defiantly male…” (21)
“They strong-arm their buddies into headlocks and punch bruises into each other’s rib’s. They lie in wait for one another in the shadows and leap out swinging Ka-Bar knives…dragging the blades lightly across a victims throat, playfully simulating a clean kill. They do it to keep in shape; they do it for fun; they do it to establish dominance.” (22)
Gen Kill does nothing more than take the homoerotic tendencies of men interacting (because, remember, this is journalism dramatized, not fiction) and place them in an environment where it is inescapably visible. –Dozens of men, thousands of miles away from home and any heterosexual comforts they may wish to engage in. Sweaty, muscled men housed in close, hot quarters with nothing to do to pass the time than wrestle in their underwear. Anxious men, jacked-up on stimulants and hard rock music, raring to go serve a healthy platter of ass whooping. …I can feel the intensity just writing this… Yet the visual production makes the prescense of homoeroticism even more painfully apparent.
*Flash to Rudy standing stark naked in the tent, muscles rippling and dick swinging in the faces of his nearby comrades, then picking up a hundred pounds worth of gear and heading out to go demonstrate some physical dominance.*
Even the men themselves seem hyperaware of the situation, as they spew a never-ending stream of homophobic, machistic remarks to again and again assert their heterosexuality. Most notably, in episode 2,
“Man we Marines are so homoerotic. That’s all we talk about. Do you ever realize how homoerotic this whole thing is?”
This quote, (more than being an all-too-convienent evidentiary support) demonstrates supremely well how it’s not homosexuality or homosexual acts that makes things homoerotic. “…Do you ever realize how homoerotic this whole thing is.“–the Marine doesn’t just mean the constant jokes about anal penetration or the familiarity of the men, he means the whole thing.–War can even be homoerotic.
I loved the presentation today given by Reno! I’m thinking about going into animation so what he talked about in paritcular really interested me…But his experience as an executive producer was also interesting. I thought it was strange how many shows have smaller writing teams now than in the past due to the economic restrictions. His struggles with the network were also interesting.
Edit: Wtf it’s David Misch, not Jeff Reno. Turns out both worked on Duckman AND Mork and Mindy. Figure that one out
Like in The Wire, I feel like it’d be safe to say that in Generation Kill we are also looking at the power dynamics in a specific ‘community’. The diversity of emotions pertaining to the situation in Iraq is amazing and sometimes disturbing to watch.
But are we told the same message that maybe there is no hope in fighting whatever it is we’re fighting? In The Wire corruption existed on both the police force and in the drug and black community focused on. But from both sides we were characters that, at least from their point of view, were fighting for what seemed to make most sense in their own world.
So is it comparable for this show? The power dynamics in Generation Kill are so interesting: so many people in high positions simply screw up, make the wrong decisions, or blame problems on others. The situation in episode 2 dealing with the lack of battery supplies for the marines was very strange for me–I would think that in any situation that enough supplies wouldn’t ever be squandered for men/situations that didn’t need them. The show brings to light how so many glaring problems in the military go unseen by others.
The scene from episode 1 that really disturbed me was how the men responded to the letters they received from children in the United States. The foul way they talked about the little girl and her letter was kind of shocking. At least based on pop-culture depictions of people in the military, I was aware it was a hyper-masculine environment, but not the point of suggesting having sex with a pre-pubescent little girl.
Many of the men shown simply don’t care for the war, and many thirst to kill. I feel like the show really doesn’t try to ‘teach’ the audience anything, which is refreshing–but in the show’s aim in trying to be realistic, does it show a bleak situation that has no hope of being truly resolved?
Based on a few comments I see here, it seems that people find issue with Williams article. But for many reasons I found it to be brilliant–not necessarily because of the points that are made, but simply for the fact that they are made.
How the black body is depicted and received by audiences is a topic rarely talked about whenever I have discussions about film or television, so it’s refreshing whenver this rare topic does come up in a class of mine. The psychoanalytical mindset of Williams can be offsetting to people who are determined to destroy any sort or Freudian interpretation of media. But I love how he brings up the fact that the spaces many of the black male characters in the show exist in can be interprested as being homoerotic/places for intimate homosocial relations.
Of course this doesn’t mean that the creators of the show INTENDED it to be this way…But I often feel like taking into consideration a creator’s “intentions” for a work can make viewers blind to how it can, nevertheless, be interpreted (and consequentially affect) large audiences.
I especially feel like William’s exploration of black male homosocial relationships to be important, as I feel like it’s a topic that’s (especially in hose communities) is avoided like a plague. I also feel like the same should/can be applied to female relationships in shows, but often that’s overlooked.
In Jason Mittell’s article, “All in the Game,” he inserts a quote from David Simon:
The Wire has…resisted the idea that, in the post-modern America, individuals triumph over institutions. The institution is always bigger. It doesn’t tolerate that degree of individuality on any level for any length of time. These moments of epic characterization are inherently false.
The idea seems to be that if a television show chooses to posit characters as the catalytic forces rather than institutions, it is making no attempt at realism. This to me was extremely provocative, and I found myself readily in agreement. When one sees a program like Homicide or a film like Clockers, it’s difficult to mitigate the territory of who is responsible for the deterioration of individuals’ lives and entire communities. One is almost too entangled in the interpersonal relationships and minds of the characters. Yet, I find that The Wire doesn’t necessarily ask its viewers to place blame. Through shying away from an interior character focus, and instead making an attempt at presenting the nuances of the larger system, The Wire refuses to propagate the myth that any one person’s individual agency can save them.
I find it interesting that with the increasing availability of space with the invention of DVDs and Blu-Ray discs, that distributors find more and more ways to fill that new space. For some reason it bothers me usually when there’s an insane amount of additional features–not because I find this unnecessary, but they (1) are usually more in quantity and quality and (2) give me high expectations for EVERY DVDs to have adequate bonus features.
For example, your average action movie may have 5-minutes interviews with the actors, behind-the-scenes footage showing how special effects were done (Don’t you want to know how Davy Jones’ tentacle beard was made? If not, you will now), and if you’re lucky, a director’s commentary. With so much room to cram extra ‘goodies’ with, I feel like many DVDs go overboard and give viewers only small clips of interesting material to make buying the DVD more worth while.
And thus is born the expectation of ALL DVDs to be the same way. But when I rented the Brokeback Mountain DVD, there was no director’s commentary–which INFURIATED me. But had such a thing never been used on DVDs, I wouldn’t have cared.
Where do these NEEDS come from? Never after watching Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End did I think, “I wish I knew how they animated Davy Jones’ beard.” But like on many DVDs today, on Pirate’s DVD there’s an extended section on how special effects were made, which usually are fairly interesting. The Watchmen DVD apparently has a lot of extras including bio clips on the fictional characters, a short, fictional documentary about part of the movie’s universe, and I even think an animated feature based on part of the graphic novel. The same has extended to television shows.
Did distributors purposely create this need, or was it born from the desires of avid DVD collectors?
I’m wondering about the role of Touhey in the novel. I wonder if he’s supposed to be a parody of David-Simon like figures, or if he’s a purely original creation of Price. It’s interesting to look through the eyes of an author as looking through the eyes of ANOTHER potential author. It’s especially interesting to see thatPrice creates characters highly critical of this figure that’s more of a nusance than anything else. Is it a critique of people outside of the worlds of Rocco and Strike–their lack of understanding? Does it go further and criticize how people may displace themselves from the communities they analyze (for example, Touhey looking at the drug and police communities as only fodder for his film), only to let them know that they, too have their weaknesses? For example, Touhey is revealed to be an alcoholic. Then Touhey just seems to disappear from the novel entirely. I’m not sure what to make of his absense from the rest of the novel since I assuemed he would play some larger role in Rocco, if not Strike’s, life. Was this just a narrative decision on Price’s part, or does Touhey’s disappearance have further implacations for the meaning of the book?
After reading the final chapter of Clockers, what was perhaps supposed to be an uplifting, relieving or hopeful conclusion to the novel left me feeling somewhat dissatisfied. To be sure, I was happy that Strike didn’t end up serving time for a murder he didn’t commit; another casualty cycle of clockers caught up in the game. However, after all the punishment and ironic struggles he had to endure because Rocco–a homicide cop in a position of great power and authority–felt like he was the murderer, I was slightly miffed that in the last few pages of the novel Rocco realizes his mistake and is fairly unrepentant for it. He does not attempt to clear up the bad blood between Strike and Rodney, nor does he seem to have plans to reprimand Andre. He does not seem hung up on the fact that, even after evidence pointed away from Strike and Victor had repeatedly confessed to the murder himself, his self-serving, narrow, racialist assumptions may have led him astray. Strike’s exile to New York offers his character little to no vindication, only the opportunity to pick up the struggle again somewhere else.
My lack of satisfaction at this conclusion, though, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I feel that the lack of true “justice” (in the sense that we all wish would exist) is an accurate portrayal of the poor urban world where clockers thrive. To have written an ending which allowed Strike to win on all accounts would have done an injustice to the systemic reasons that life entangled in extralegal activities and poverty is cyclical and continues be the inheritance of disenfranchised peoples.
I am really impressed with the Corner book. I had a feeling, after reading Homicide, that this book would be very good, as well. I don’t know if I only say this because I am from Maryland, as well, but I think one of the reasons his writing is so nuanced and vivid is because he feels a part of the community, if even in a small way, because it is one he belongs to. Certainly, he is not a “corner boy,” but something you can draw from his writing is that everyone is affected, and potentially involved in some way. I think some parts of the tenth chapter really capture this feeling. After his passage about what “we” would do if we were the children of the addicts, he states that this is “our” myth that we, as Americans, accept as truth because we can’t seem to blame ourselves for the poor choices of others. The “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” myth is, as he states, what excuses our “judgments” (478) that we can’t help but pass on those who we assume are making the choice to live as they do. They’re just “lazy,” or they are so resentful of “success” that they’ll be god damned if they go after it, right? Its not our fault, right? In the final episodes of The Corner, we see all of the characters struggle with their instinctual desires to “get out,” through work, sobriety, relocation, even somewhat passive suicide. There are two scenes that show this the best, both taking place in Inner Harbor, a “revitalized” district of Baltimore with hotels, a convention center, somewhat upscale shopping, lots of restaurants, and extremely guarded and expensive parking. Gary goes shopping in a health food store and sees “Schindler’s List,” which reminds him of his old success. This gets him thinking about the situation in West Baltimore, as he clearly feels like a stranger in places he didn’t used to. He tries to see a bigger pictures outside of his own choices, attempting to find a greater explanation for why he can’t escape his own addiction. The other scene is when DeAndre applies for a job at a nice Italian restaurant in Inner Harbor, only to walk out as he observes an older black man bussing tables. He is shamed as he sees someone who is trying to escape his “fate,” and gives in again to the corner. Later, he helps Miss Ella out with her garden while he is supposed to be working on the corner, showing his ambivalence. He tries to be “good,” but when someone or something discourages him, he immediately agrees with them and goes back to being what the “outside” world thinks of him: bad.