FROM SUCH GREAT HEIGHTS, COME DOWN NOW
I was going to title this from a favorite Big Black quote, but decided "I don't know why I come here, I tell you I ain't no company man, but i can pull on a rope and kill a cow as well as any other fucker can," was too long in the end.
But, it would have fit. I just got back from seeing The Corporation, a pretty good documentary that is another in the line of politically charged films that are almost visual editorials, rather than documentary filmmaking in the traditional sense. The Corporation focuses on the idea that a business can incorporate and become its own entity, and the good and the bad (mostly the bad) that this new "person" can do. It presents a variety of sides, even though it's clear where the filmmakers fall, and has a lot of good information to impart. That said, it does faulter a little by suffering from too many Michael Moore-isms early on, leading with jokes to soften us up before it hits us with the hard facts. The style is lumpen, just a pastiche of clips from old films from the '50s, to suggest we're all so very naive--a technique as outdated as the mindset they are criticizing. Plus, I am tired of these guys feeling like they have to ease me into the film, like I wouldn't listen if they don't open with a couple of jokes. I'm here, I'm sitting in the chair, I paid, what confuses you about that? I'm listening. It seems to me you're adopting some of the advertising techniques you're villifying!
I also am once again a tad bit horrified by the smug, self-satisfied nature of the audience. Hissing for the bad guy, sudden outbursts of religious fervor when there is something you like, applause as the credits roll--honestly, I'm not really all that impressed that you are there. Just seeing these films doesn't get us off the hook as individuals. I know I'm one to talk, grabbing a Starbucks on my way home to blog about the film, but at least I know that I am ineffective and inactive. Far better are the kids outside the theatre who are doing what they believe in and trying to get Ralph Nader on the ballot (even if they can't understand that my refusal to sign is not me saying he has no right to be on the ballot, but just a show of non-support; by their fuzzy logic, I'd be an enemy for democracy by not throwing my weight behind Charles Manson getting on the ballot--he has a right to run, too, but not with my help).
I didn't end up going back to the Conference today. I just knew I'd regret it. I do want to note, though, the one thing I did learn there: independent comic book companies that pay advances are not actually out of line with other fields of independent publishing, and actually offer better royalty structures. Who knew?