Unpopular opinions!

Discussion in 'General' started by _pi_, Nov 6, 2007.

  1. UFAlien

    UFAlien New Member

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    Anyone else think maybe there should just be a "social implications of the Living Dead films" thread, or something? The last couple of pages have pretty much just been about that instead of the thread topic.
     
  2. buck135

    buck135 Kanamit

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    Not really. This topic will run its course and another will begin.
     
  3. Anaestheus

    Anaestheus Well-Known Member

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    I'm sorry, but that is probably a POPULAR opinion and really has no place in this thread.

    ;)
     
  4. scott71670

    scott71670 Well-Known Member

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    And voila! This becomes an unpopular opinion due to its being a popular opinion in the unpopular opinions, and we rounded back to the unpopular opinions source.
     
  5. DVD-fanatic-9

    DVD-fanatic-9 And the Next Morning, When the Campers Woke Up...

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    Remember my argument: the shooting party didn't decide to shoot Ben because they clearly, soberly, and deliberately considered that they wanted to shoot a black man. They simply saw that he was black rather than a man they might want to make sure was alive/not a zombie and didn't think twice. The implication is semi-subconscious, not strictly overt and reactionary. The real-life horror here is subtle but also blatantly obvious. Which would compliment Romero's style as we know it.

    In a way, any other argument does not make sense. The death is not an example of the establishment realizing that they were killing the youth and so they shot him because he was young. That doesn't make sense. And he was not shuffling around. So, you have to switch your argument to: it's about rednecks and guns. But, how? The shooters were portrayed as simple blue collar guys not wearing suits. Even I'm not saying you'd have to be a redneck to shoot a black man. But it does make sense to assume that after spending the amount of time they likely had shooting anything in their path that they let their subconscious impulses make the decision in the split second Ben was shot. And, again, this was / these were the times.


    You already have my answers: the original script context is largely irrelevant when it comes to specific onscreen imagery and what that suggests.

    Things change.
     
  6. Anaestheus

    Anaestheus Well-Known Member

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    But, there are several shots prior to this that show that the group are quickly shooting EVERYONE without hesitation or much thought prior to shooting Ben. In the sequence leading up to Ben getting shot, we see the posse quickly gun down nearly a dozen other undead with barely a blink. Why does shooting Ben get special significance?
     
  7. Anaestheus

    Anaestheus Well-Known Member

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    Since writing 3 words appears to be difficult, I'll have to assume that the answer to all my questions was "Yes".

    So my point is then this. The only racial elements that are in the film appear if the VIEWER CHOOSES to see Ben's race as being significant. If the viewer doesn't see Ben's (or Jones') skin color as a defining trait, then there is no racism or racial message in the film. In order to see a racial message in the story, it is the viewer who brings the context of racism into the mix.

    Romero never intended to make a film about racial issues. And even when he had an opportunity to turn the film into a message film, he very intentionally avoided that. Which I think is actually quite brilliant, because that is Romero saying that Jones' skin color should not be a factor in defining Ben or any of the characters.
     
  8. DVD-fanatic-9

    DVD-fanatic-9 And the Next Morning, When the Campers Woke Up...

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    This is Romero we're talking about. Romero is not an overt kind of guy. He's extremely subtle, layered, and ironic.

    Now, all the zombies we saw the guys shooting were completely out in the open. Unless I've never seen the film before. We have you, yes you, right here as proof that this style of filmmaking is effective in getting a viewer to concentrate on one aspect of a scene so that when a new layer becomes apparent, it's not the first thing you think of. The first thing anyone would notice is that Ben is indoors. (Why you didn't recall that when you mentioned the shots of all the zombies being gunned down, all of which were outdoors, I can't say but it's definitely chinscratch worthy.) And, except for his face/head, entirely obscured. If he spoke a single word, called out to let the hunters know he was alive and not a zombie, and they shot him anyway... it would be completely obvious to everyone that the point of the ending was They Shot Him Because He Was Black / didn't take the time to make sure he was a person rather than a zombie because their instinct was "why bother to check since he's black?" Which is not Romero's style. But, again, one thing we do know for sure: they saw him clear enough to get a perfect shot at his head, therefore they could surely tell that he was black, and he most definitely was not shuffling around like one of the zombies. He stood completely still.

    Now, I don't see you raising any issues with "why doesn't Ben speak?" You are trying to judge the film's narrative per the logic of what the most overt reading of the imagery suggests. You should be the one telling me things like "if the shooters can see Ben clear enough for that famous bit of dialogue that closes out the film, then Ben could see he was in danger and did nothing." If you're actually going to make the arguments you're making, you really should have some problems with the way the scene was shot. You are intentionally selecting what shots support your view of the film. And, in telling me how they do (support your view), you're leaving out crucial details. I can see you're not going to argue my correction earlier that Ben wasn't shuffling around when the shooters saw him through the window. Because I think you know I'm right. Besides... Ben was holding a gun, steadying it, and aiming it at the hunters when they shot him. They didn't miss this, they got a damn good look at a body in a window aiming a gun at them. The same context that applied to Cooper before now applies directly to the hunters: they're wary of a black man with any sense of control. Also, watch the end credits sequence again. The very first shots are zoom-ins on the eyes of the hunters and they are looking at the dead body with disgust. But the camera isn't showing us any zombie's corpse- it's Ben's.


    Not in the 1960's. Not with the end credits images (I am telling you: watch this again, it's on YouTube in HD). And not considering the dynamics of the Cooper vs Ben power struggle.

    And this is why I mentioned before that you are very much trying to re-write my argument. To you, I am narrow-minded. (To elaborate slightly: simple minded, not necessarily prejudiced.) Because right now, in 2014, yes it's progressive to view this entire story with blinders on about the characters' races. But that is also from the vantage point of 2014. We are discussing a film from the 1960's. You can't change the context this actor portraying this character had, given what we see him doing throughout the course of the film (as I have clearly pointed out in reply after reply), considering the time in history it was made in. I refuse to be anything other than realistic about this. The reality of the situation is that most people in the critical, historical, artistic, and academic communities have enlightened me on the fact that race in fact did play a very big part in why this film means as much as it does.

    So, no, I'm not buying this "you see his race, I don't- so neither do the other characters" b.s. You have already explicitly stated that you want the film to have no racial subtext- you find it more progressive that it was cast without race in mind. But, again, that's only at the script stage. The imagery will tell another story, making changes to the text. It's a fact with almost any film: what is shot will always change the story in some way. And, considering that the ending features a very large group of people with guns who shoot a black man, then proceed to savage his body with hooks and burn it like he were garbage through the lens of a horrifyingly gritty photo montage... that makes a statement, no matter how you try and slice it.


    Yeah, that's what's going on here. I'm short-changing the movie because I think it's important to use history as a context in the background of a film that doesn't feature characters dreaming whole sections of the plot or traveling into other worlds or dimensions.

    I didn't suggest Ben's race was his defining trait- it was Cooper's motivation to mistrust him. If Ben had basically told Cooper that everything he said/did was right, do you honestly think Cooper would have been anywhere near as irascible with him? I mean, if Ben represents "the young," Cooper would be forced to see Ben as an equal because Romero portrayed him as being a take-control, intelligent, well-spoken guy. And, to be honest, he didn't in any way look like a 25-year old. Tom did. And Tom and Cooper got along pretty damn well, wouldn't you say? The only people he barked at was a woman and a black man. I don't think you even have a handle on why Cooper would have had a problem with Ben if his distrust weren't racially motivated. And the movie offers no solid alternatives that make this conflict as interesting or culturally relevant as racism.


    :rolleyes:

    No, sir, please don't spank me- I'll do better next time. Honest.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2014
  9. Anaestheus

    Anaestheus Well-Known Member

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    You keep siting Romero's "subtlety" as an indication that there is a racial subtext. But, I have several issues with this. One is that Romero isn't really subtle. Kubrick, Billy Wilder, Tarkovsky, maybe Bava, Fisher, and sometimes Carpenter are subtle. Hitchcock, maybe, but it's hard to say how much of his subtlety was intentional. But, Romero tends to be pretty blatant with his sense of allegory. He does make intelligent, thought-provoking, films with social messages, but rarely are they subtle.

    Two, Romero and Russo have both very clearly said that they very blatantly never set out to make a racial statement when filming (not just writing, but filming) NotLD. They actively avoided everything that they could to keep the film from being that. If in doubt, read Zombies that Ate Pittsburgh, there are a couple of pages dedicated to that. So, if there is some sort of "subtle" message it was done not only without, but actively despite intention.

    Russo even says "when Duane gets shot at the end, we weren't thinking any black-and-white connotations. What I try to do is make a situation be real, and to me, it's real that if you have a bunch of armed citizens suddenly become posse members and going all over the place gunning down ghouls in a panic kind of situation, you're gonna have people accidentally shot, like it happens during deer hunting season"

    So, if the filmmakers went out of their way to do everything that they could to not input a racial message in the story, where do you think it comes from?

    This one is so all over the place, I am not sure where to start. I didn't mention that he was "in a house" because I honestly didn't think it was relevant, and upon scrutiny, would only say that it stands to support the argument that they never got a good enough look at him to determine anything. For everything else, I would probably just say to reference the Russo quote above.

    Again, not following a lot of this. I'm not sure how the "Ben doesn't speak" thing fits in at all. It's not my point, so I'm not sure where that one is coming from. But, I will point out that Ben is not the only zombie corpse in the pile. Yes, the camera focuses on him, but that makes sense, considering that he is the main character of this film.

    And, yes, I never conceded that you were correct when you pointed out that Ben was not shuffling. I should have pointed that out earlier I suppose, but it got lost in trying to methodically respond to everything else. However, I don't think that changes much of my point that it was still not a racially motivated shooting. Yes, they got enough of a good look to shoot him, but there is nothing to indicate that this one instance out of all the others had to do with Ben's race. Again, reference the Russo quote.


    As mentioned before, there is no attempt in any of my posts to diminish the historic aspect of having an actor cast regardless of his race as the lead role in a feature film. But, the fact that there is a black actor does not mean that the film's story has a racial message other than, "hey, we really don't think race is a big deal. And screw you if you think otherwise." It's cool that they felt this way, particularly in the 60s. And it's of incredibly historical significance that none of the filmmakers thought Jones' race was a big deal. But, if you think that there is a racial element to the arguing between Cooper and Ben, that is the result of your own projection, not the intentions of the filmmakers.

    You keep siting the closing images of being referential to images of a lynch mob. But, I think they are more referential to the images coming out of Vietnam at the time. Google "Vietnam Mass Graves" if you aren't sure what I am talking about. For one, there is no lynching in the closing of NotLD. Second, Ben is not the only corpse in the pyre. Third, see Russo quote above.

    Cooper only riled against Ben because Ben questioned his authority. Tom did not. That is pretty much spelled out during the argument between Cooper and his wife where she points out "it's important for you to be right" And whenever she questions him, he bullies her just as much. The arguments aren't about race. They are about authority. Cooper wants to make sure that his family is safe and he sees anything other than holing up in the cellar as decreasing that. Furthermore, as you yourself pointed out, Cooper probably was right to hold up in the cellar. So, he's got some pretty solid reasons for going against Ben that have nothing to do with Ben's skin color. As for anyone representing "the youth" that's not my argument so I can't comment on that one.

    CLOSING
    I'm pretty tapped out on this one and it is seeming like everyone else is pretty beat too. If you want to continue this conversation, I'd be fine starting up a separate thread for it.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2014
  10. Anaestheus

    Anaestheus Well-Known Member

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    Just to be clear here. I am not making any attempts to re-write your argument. I may try to re-state it in my own terms, but I am always trying to be accurate. That was why I asked those three questions earlier. That was a sincere attempt to try to follow your logic to pinpoint exactly what you were saying and where we diverged. No offense meant, but you tend to write a lot and, to me, it seems sort of hop around a bit.
     
  11. maybrick

    maybrick Well-Known Member

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    I'm soooo glad that I'm not the only one that's feels this way. To me, writing a whole lot doesn't necessarily mean that you're saying anything of importance. On a message board it's often better to say as little as possible and just get to the point. Not every post needs to be a thesis, for pete's sake. :lol:
     
  12. maybrick

    maybrick Well-Known Member

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    My latest unpopular opinion: Stephen Spielberg has never made a horror movie. Well, that's not entirely true. He made the TV movie Something Evil shortly after Duel and it was lousy enough that he never tried his hand at it ever again. Duel and Jaws were both Thrillers and while the debate continues over who did Poltergeist I firmly believe that the only reason that it has any sort of effectiveness as a horror film is because of Hooper. Spielberg is without a doubt a very talented director, but the horror genre is simply not his forte. Yes, his few supposedly "horror" films have two or three scenes that are tense and even scary, but life itself can be sometimes tense and scary. There needs to be a few more ingredients added to the mix before I consider a film a work of true "horror".
     
  13. 17thJuggalo

    17thJuggalo Active Member

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  14. Anaestheus

    Anaestheus Well-Known Member

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    What you've got there is the incredible effect of Pachelbel's Canon in D, easily one of the most influential (i.e. ripped off) pieces of music ever written.

    https://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=1F978713F38AD934

    My favorite example is Blues Traveler's "Hook" which actually manages to be a song about how much everyone rips off Pachelbel while doing an amazing job of ripping off Pachelbel.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdz5kCaCRFM&index=9&list=PL1F978713F38AD934
     
  15. Matt89

    Matt89 Well-Known Member

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    I'd say that's a general rule of thumb when writing. Period. (Unless it's creative writing.) But, there is much truth to the saying, "quality over quantity".

    ~Matt
     
  16. Workshed

    Workshed A Barge Person

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    Exactly. Writers learn this in their first writing class. (And it's true for creative writing as well.) Less is more; kill your darlings.
     
  17. Paff

    Paff Super Moderator

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    "Brevity is....wit"

    -Reading Digest
     
  18. DVD-fanatic-9

    DVD-fanatic-9 And the Next Morning, When the Campers Woke Up...

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    The irony of this whole thing is that you people are complaining about having to read for 5 minutes what it takes me sometimes hours to write and edit, etc. There are often paragraphs of things I don't post, that I wind up deleting.

    This feedback might be your way of saying that I'm bragging but I know this makes me sound pathetic. Don't know what to tell you except that most of my long posts are all detail-oriented. I'm not going to tell someone I don't agree with them without pointing out a list of reasons why. And, no, I'm not going to present them in list form.
     
  19. 17thJuggalo

    17thJuggalo Active Member

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    Personally I like all the in depth responses to threads here. A lot of people here treat horror movies with the same regard as art house or blockbuster movies, even if the horror movies are "trash". Elsewhere horror is just written off and long discussions don't really occur.
     
  20. Anaestheus

    Anaestheus Well-Known Member

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    Just to be clear. I don't have any issues with the length of your posts. I just find that you tackle multiple issues/comments in the same post and that can make them a bit difficult to reply to. Like with the "Ben doesn't speak" thing. That's why I described them as "hopping around".

    I don't mind taking the time to read all that you write. You obviously put a lot of thought and time into them and that is commendable, even when you are wrong :) I just find it hard to follow/respond sometimes.
     

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