Saturday, January 19, 2008

Life Imitates art or
does art imitate life?

Art is a reality, not a definition; inasmuch as it approaches a reality, it approaches perfection, and inasmuch as it approaches a mere definition, it is imperfect and untrue.
Benjamin Haydon (1786-1846) artist

I just finished the bibliophile mystery "The book of Air and Shadows" by Michael Gruber and found this interesting:

...movies come first. For example, one never had a fast draw face-to-face shoot-out on the dusty Main Street in a western town. It never happened ever. A screenwriter invented it for dramatic effect. It’s the classic American trope, redemption through violence, and it comes through the movies. There were very few handguns in the real old west. They were expensive and heavy and no one but an idiot would wear them in a side holster. On a horse? When you wanted to kill someone in the old West, you waited for your chance and shot him in the back, usually with a shotgun. Now we have a zillion handguns because the movies taught us that a handgun is something a real man has to have, and people really kill each other like fictional western gunslingers. And it’s not just hugs.

Movies shape everyone’ reality, to the extent that it’s shaped by human action—foreign policy, business, sexual relationships, family dynamics, the whole nine yards. It used to be the Bible but now it’s movies. Why is there stalking? Because we know that the guy should persist and make a fool of himself until the girl admits that she loves him. Why is there date rape? Because the asshole is waiting for the moment when resistance turns to passion.


Teresa said...

That is a thought-provoking section. I especially like the carryover from the Main Street gunfights trope to romantic persistence as stalking. I would only tweak one line: It used to be the Bible but now it's the movies—unless your strong faith shuns entertainment, in which case your reality is shaped by whatever your pastor has told you the Bible says, just as film critics tell us what we should think of the movies we see.

The Misanthrope said...

Hi Teresa, I agree, which is why I don't review movie reviews anymore. At most I read the headlines and the first paragraph. Same with book reviews for the most part. For book reviews I save them and read it after I finish the book.