People, products, whatever man.

This is a conversation that a very good friend and I had. It was based on another conversation and the exchange below is quite self-explanatory.*

I didn't ask my friend before I published the conversation and I think that was a terrible mistake on my part. To an extent makes me an untrustworthy person and an asshole. For that and just that, I sincerely apologize to my friend and to my 'better side' that I didn't care to respect when I published it. Thanks.

The topics, argumental points rather, in the exchange above have been discussed extensively in feminist literature. In fact, it's been the topic for several daytime talk shows in the US. Nevertheless, it is not a bad idea to ponder over it once in a while with new and "absurd" perspectives. Run through the follwing pages to have a rough idea - ref 1; ref 2; ref 3; ref 4.

* - The exchange has been edited spatially to fit the margins better

28 comments:

aj said...

excellent post, suresh. it's amazing that you can not only talk about these things to your friends but publish it in your blog.
i never thought about porn or masturbation like that. i read one of the articles, it was very interesting, i think i'll read others too. thanks

Anonymous said...

Suresh,

Good job with your blogs/podcasts/videos etc. I just happened to run into your podcast today and was very impressed :-) Although I might not completely agree with your opinions, but didn't have the time to post my comments either. Will probably do that soon enough...Keep up the good work! :-)

Cheers!
-Chennai ponnu :P

The Individualist said...

To me, pornography is just another industry that has its own share of pros and cons. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Just another business venture, that's all.
Masturbating to porn most emphatically is not sexist. And like you rightly mentioned, a person masturbates to the products that they become. And no, I don't see any discrimination against women arising out of the act.

The Individualist said...

The links and the links arising out of the link that you provided were VERY interesting. Thank you, as usual.

vichi said...

how come you constantly criticize mainstream movies for being sexist but haven't mentioned a word about it in this discussion?

Suresh said...

AJ - Yeah, most of my friends are quite comfortable with all these topics. Even when it involves invoking first persona activities (like the one in this conversation). Yeah, ref 4 is particularly worthwhile, do read it.

C'Ponnu - Thanks. Yeah it's usual for people to disagree with a lot of what I have to say. But I would welcome you to put your disagreements out so that there's some clarity in your understanding or my understanding of what's under contention.

Vichi (and Sudhir) - Porn is often cited as the extreme version of what we see in mainstream movies. But it's so not true. As my friend says, there needs to be a nuanced understanding - porn cannot be simplified just as an industry or overvalued as something the dictates male behaviour. Porn, though rarely, does have an honesty in what it shows. Something that is terribly missing in mainstream sexist versions of womanhood. Sexism in pornography is restricted to a very specific aspect of human life - sexual interactions.
While it reduces people to sexual objects, that reduction doesn't influence general human behaviour (of those who watch it) beyond an extent. But mainstream movies, on the other hand, represent women (and men) within a narrow of alley - of culture, civility and all kind of nonsense - regardless of what the context is. And it's a lot more pervasive than porn.
Of course, it doesn't mean porn needs to be given more slack, but as I said it's out and out fantasy meant to appeal to specific "instincts" in men and women. Movies are doing it too, but there's a dishonesty - there's a dangerous ubiquity to its presence.

So, porn for the most part is sexist, but critiquing it is problematic because of the subjective nature of the sexism involved. To quote from 'ref 4'
--quote--
Interpretation is extremely personal. Even those sexual acts that are considered to be prima facie degrading to women-like ejaculating on a woman's face-are wide open to interpretation. Radical feminism considers such an act to be the quintessential humiliation of women-case closed. It is the subordination of a woman to a man's pleasure, which puts him in a position of power.
But is it?
Consider the perspective offered by James R. Petersen on come-shots: "What makes ejaculating on the outside degrading ... while ejaculating inside ... sacred? Do guys learn to come on a woman from porn or from premature ejaculation? ... For that matter, masturbating guys ejaculate on their own bodies all the time, and not one says, `Oh God, I just degraded myself.' " [3]

Still others observe that women are particularly interested in seeing come-shots because men's ejaculations are generally hidden from them. In "normal" sex, women never see men come. To some of them, it may be as seductively elusive as the glimpse of a breast or lace panties is to a pubescent boy. In this context, the come-shot can be interpreted as almost romantic: The woman wishes to share in her lover's orgasm.
My point is not that any one interpretation is "correct," but that the delightful diversity of human nature allows for many interpretations, none of which are inherently right or wrong. They are all subjective. They are all benign.
--unquote--
I request you read further to have detailed argument.

Anyway, I didn't mention it in this discussion because it wasn't quite relevant. We have discussed that before. So this exchange was about a different issue altogether.

The Individualist said...

Bingo. So, I don't see how it can be called sexist, like it were a fact.

Escape.... Great Escape said...

I feel 'sexist' is too broad a term in this discussion. IF you arent 'sexist' when it comes to sex, then you become bi-sexual... or in Ali G's words. 'tri sexual'... Try anything sexual. Sex is one thing that does not warrants equal opportunity. (i hope i dont sound too catholic or homophobic).

Anyway getting excited by pornography actors doing pornographic acts when it is clearly intended to, cannot be termed 'demeaning to women', If that is what sexist means in this convo.

That is the issue that never croppped up in this convo. The issue of 'intention'. If the intention is to titilate, and you get titilaed, then that is in no way demeaning to anyone. (If both the concerned parties are of legal age).

I guess the next thing I would want to do is review a porn movie. that would be a nice excercise. Hehehe... but frankly Suresh, dont get too intellectual about porn. Not worth it.

Durga said...

Suresh, stop justifying slapping your shlong and get laid!

haha

Suresh said...

Regardless of whether we consume porn directly or not, our interactions do surround pornographic representations. Language to popular culture, everything is ‘pornographized’. For this reason alone -- even if we don’t bring in the “it’s a 10 billion dollar industry” argument – it is essential that we to come to terms with what it is composed of. So it is worth it. It has larger relevance.
I don’t think you’re confusing sex with sexism. But it does seem that you believe sexism is inherent in everything sexual and it’s unavoidable - it’s a very unsophisticated view. Porn is predominantly sexist because more than the act itself, it’s the setting that needs more scrutiny. It’s always the woman who becomes the slut or the bitch or the whore. The man is perfectly “justified” in having an immense libido – he’s not out of “norm.”But the woman, even in a “developed society,” has to restrain herself. This is just a milder version of “karpu” BS. So it is extremely sexist regardless of how subjective one tries to make it.
It’s always “you like that bitch?” or “take that slutty whore” and she’s very happy to be called that. She acts like that’s her place. This is no fantasy world specific to a sub-genre(?) of porn, but porn in general – in most cases.
(Because of the explicit nature of the description of the actual act, I’m just quoting parts of it)
--quote—
“Gag Factor” is a type of “gonzo” pornography, which is the roughest form available in the mainstream pornography shops and also the fastest growing genre. This scene is more overtly misogynistic than some, but it is not idiosyncratic. The sex and the language in what the industry calls “features” typically is not as rough, though the message is the same: Women are for sex, and women like sex this way.
If anyone wants to dismiss these concerns with the tired old phrases “to each his own” and “as long as they are consenting adults”-- that is, if you want to ignore the reality and complexity of the world in which we live -- I can’t stop you. But I can tell you that if you do that, you are abandoning minimal standards of political and moral responsibility, and you become partially responsible for the injuries done as a result of a system you refuse to confront.
--unquote—
This argument stands in direct contrast with what I had quoted earlier. That’s what I meant (and my friend) by nuance. We cannot take a very generic idea of what represents porn (or what “defends” it) and employ it for everything. When we are spending so much time writing ‘reviews’ about individual movies, why not about an “industry,” at least once?

Suresh said...

Durga - I'm not particularly proud about "slapping my shlong" myself, but I don't know why doing it otherwise is any better.
(ok, sour grapes):p

The Individualist said...

What about the scores of 'bondage' movies where the men are tied up and taken 'advantage' of?
What do you have to say about that?
It’s always the woman who becomes the slut or the bitch or the whore.
How about gigolos? They aren't as many, agreed. But will they being as many solve the 'problem' then? Will it bring about equality in sexes as far as pornography is concerned and allay concerns of pornography being sexist?
The man is perfectly “justified” in having an immense libido – he’s not out of “norm.”
Who says so? If my family found out that I was masturbating to porn, they'd not exactly be proud about it. If my friend found that I have holes in my pockets to allow me to masturbate in public, he'd consider it out of 'norm' and hell, might even regret being my friend. And this is very much analogous to asking girls to 'restrain themselves'. All of it again becomes subjective even though you attempt to generalise it.
As for karpu bs... by condemning porn and calling it sexist, that is exactly what you are propagating, in a not so direct way.
In my opinion, it isn't sexist. And I don't see how it becomes paramount to abandoning my standards of political and moral responsibility.

Suresh said...

Come on Sudhir, you know there are no "scores" of bondage movies and even in those movies the women and men are deliberately portrayed as being deviant. A man (sometimes a woman) is portrayed as being over powered by the sexual 'wrath' of a deviant woman whose only goal is to satisfy herself sexually. It's the converse of the common theme in which a nagging girlfriend or a wife is literally silenced by the male with his sexual 'power.'
Gigolos? What are you talking about, Sudhir? You are contrasting a socio-historically positioned sexist bias with a peripherally existing uncommon phenomenon of gigolos? When was the last time you heard a man being "insulted" as a gigolo? This stuff can be common only in movies.
A man can sleep with hundreds of women (or men) and he still won't be called a "slut" - a demeaning word that has sexism written all over it.
Forget about how your family would react to your masturbating; a promiscuous man and promiscuous woman - who's likely to be called names? You have a whole of list of words for women - bitch*, slut, whore (ho), randy, hoochie, tramp, floozy etc. When was the last time you heard a hip-hop musician singing what a "gigolo" his friend is?
So the terms of self-restraint for men and women are no miles apart. Need I even tell you that? I don't know how you got the idea that I "condemn" porn. I mean, this kind of collectivization is what this post is all about - lack of nuanced perspective. I'll quote what I had said above
--quote—
This argument stands in direct contrast with what I had quoted earlier. That’s what I meant (and my friend) by nuance. We cannot take a very generic idea of what represents porn (or what “defends” it) and employ it for everything.
--unquote--
So yes, I am condemning specific expressions in porn. Porn is not just porn, it has layers that are beyond subjectivities. Three men choking a woman's throat one after the other - I don't want to be naive enough to believe that it is just simple fantasy meant to satisfy 'harmless' subjectivities. It is overtly sexist. I condemn that act. Just the way I condemn exploitation of labour - we cannot use the "they are adults who don't have any jobs anyway, so let them work in the dark tunnel without gasmasks" logic there.
Subjectivity cannot be used as cloak to justify everything. "Pokkiri provides an escape from the troubled realities of the audience. kuthu songs lighten up their spirits. Movies like Pokkiri are essential for the smooth functioning of the society. We cannot criticize it just because you don't like it. It's all subjective."
I think you’ll agree that it’s an absurd logic that lacks sophistication and reeks with dishonesty.

There's a documentary in which Calcutta police justify 'forced' prostitution as something that "prevents men from raping 'good' girls."
It can only be taken as an alternative view point to enrich our understanding more contextually - not as an excuse to dismiss the debate itself. That's when it becomes tantamount to abandoning one's political and moral responsibilities. I hope you get a clearer idea about my stance now.

* - Bitch has gained a new meaning that is quite gender neutral. Bitch is someone who bitches. Why do I say this? Because I like using the word (both on men and women):p.

The Individualist said...

So, you are saying that porn as a whole is not sexist but some layers of it are and that if those layers are to be abolished, porn can be tolerated?

The Individualist said...

Bitch to me has always been a 'cute' word.
It almost sounds like a praise. The way I say it. :p

Suresh said...

Yeah Sudhir. The layers need not be 'abolished' per se (because it may never happen), but we should be open to identify those layers as being sexist. Believe me, anyone who has read this post will think about what they see - they'll try to understand if it's just fantasy that's being played out or gender dominance in the name of fantasy. The subjecvities will be more critical.
The conversations threw light on something that I was consuming regularly yet didn't stop to see through its layers or relate them to what I was doing.

Anonymous said...

Suresh, The 4 links you provided are very interesting. But I am particularly bothered by your attitude to Pokkiri. It is unnecessary to demonstrate "sophistication" in everyday behavior.
ie.
"pokkiri provides an escape from the troubled realities of the audience. kuthu songs lighten up their spirits. Movies like Pokkiri are essential for the smooth functioning of the society." is completely ok. There is no need for further sophistication. Furthermore, such sophistication doesn't make you appreciate Pokkiri more/less, or doesn't add value to the product. It becomes sophistication for sophistication's sake.

Here is a recent example of that -
http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117961277.html?categoryid=13&cs=1&nid=2562

AO Scott said 300 was crap. It made 70 million. Now that 70 million came from somebody's pockets. Assume $10 per head, you have 7 million people...even if you assume 99% of those 7 million are dumb unsophisticated fucktards who got sucked in to see something they would otherwise not have, that still leaves 70,000 people who are sophisticated enough, most likely more sophisticated that Scott himself.
David Denby dismissed Babel as "badly fiction" when it came out. After it won the Oscar(s), he had to write a 6500 word essay defending his previously "sophisticated" defense...it just made him look all the more lame. He could have simply said - "I don't like Babel" - which is a subjective statement, like "Suresh doesn't like Pokkiri". Instead he said "Babel is bad fiction" which is trying to put an objective spin on something - well, he got creamed when audience watched it, his credibility is in toilet now.
I don't like Pokkiri either, but there is an audience for it, and dismissing them as unsophisticated makes us even more unsophisticated. And worse, arrogant.

I urge you to take a week's trip to San Fernando Valley. You can actually walk into several of the studios and watch porn being shot. Whether it is gonzo or throat choking, it is far more safe, hygenic and easygoing than working as say a programmer in wipro. Most of the shops are pop & mom outfits, there are plenty of women present ( not just the on-screen talent but women who shoot, light & edit footage ) and it is nothing like working in tunnel without gasmask. Far from it.

Cheers
ip

Suresh said...

Ip,

I didn't mean sophistication in that sense.
n adjective
2 Ø(of a person) aware of and able to interpret complex issues.
I meant it as viewing something with the inclusion of complexities involved in it than dismissing the criticism as a subjective bias.
Let's agree that 'Pokkiri' is a bad movie, then we shall discuss why it exists and what purpose it serves - that's where honest subjectivities creep in.
I'll quote what I said again,
"1. Pokkiri provides an escape from the troubled realities of the audience. kuthu songs lighten up their spirits. Movies like Pokkiri are essential for the smooth functioning of the society. 2. We cannot criticize it just because you don't like it. It's all subjective."
There are two syllogisms that don't quite flow together. The former doesn't warrant the latter. While Pokkiri may be 'essential' it's not "subjective bias" that leads you to criticize the movie. That's why I gave that example - a false syllogism that is widely used.
It's like how you criticize Coke, Pepsi or McDonalds. There's little debate over the health benefits (?) of these products. But the consumption of these doesn't in anyway stand in favour of the criticisms they face. In fact, that's exactly why they are criticized. Criticizing Coke or Pepsi doesn't make the consumers idiots or naive (though a big section of them could be) for the critics themselves may consume it - but it doesn't invalidate the criticism either. To quote what my friend said, "accepting that we are mired in something doesn't mean we take it as inevitable, and think resistance is futile."
I haven't seen '300' yet, but assuming that Scott was right in his criticism (I don't know what value the word 'right' holds in these discussions) and if you contrast it with the movie's apparent BO success -- it may not say that 99% of those who paid for it are fucktards -- it does say that 99% of them are people who don't mind being unsophisticated fucktards for 90 minutes. People's willingness to take shit once in a while should not been mistaken as people value shit.
All art forms are subjective, but there is some universality that has evolved over time (much to our dismay). It's one of the "necessary evils" I suppose - but it exists. That's how we produce and communicate through art forms. Even the weirdest of artistic expressions won't appeal if the weirdness isn't visible - if it is limited just to the artist 's understanding of it. Of course, that brings us to the whole "do we consume how it's supposed to be consumed?" debate.
But in spite of all these complexities, I think it's intellectual dishonesty to say that "Mahanadhi and Pokkiri are good movies. It's just that I hate Pokkiri. But I'm sure a lot of others like it, which makes it no worse than Mahanadhi."
I haven't seen Babel either, but David Denby's criticism could have well been out of "subjective bias" that wasn't supported appropriately (in spite of his defense). But it is not always that a critic realizes that he/she doesn't like something because of his/her bias. Identifying one's bias is harder than admitting it - Denby could have been a victim of this. Or probably just faltered and went on faltering by defending it than admitting it. I don't know.
My comparison of 'women in porn' to 'working in tunnel without gasmask' was not about poor working conditions. I've have seen a few episodes of 'Porno Valley' which is just 'behind the scenes' version of porn. I've seen pornstars treated like, well, stars. I have few complaints about that. It was about what evokes us to protest against or criticize something. I'll quote the passage again,
--quote--
Three men choking a woman's throat one after the other - I don't want to be naive enough to believe that it is just simple fantasy meant to satisfy 'harmless' subjectivities. It is overtly sexist. I condemn that act. Just the way I condemn exploitation of labour - we cannot use the "they are adults who don't have any jobs anyway, so let them work in the dark tunnel without gasmasks" logic there.
--unquote--
I wasn't saying that she's in pain (probably was) but the act, yes the ‘act’, represents something that is extremely sexist - beyond 'normalized' subjectivities. It was to drive the same point. Subjectivity cannot be taken as excuse to justify everything, although it has to be considered.
I agree with you on people pontificating their biases under the façade of ‘objective criticism.’ But I think ‘collective intellect’ has grown enough to see through those pontificators. But on the other hand, honest opinions should not be mistaken for arrogance. We are not invalidating the experience, it’s the product we are criticizing (at least within a movie critique’s context). Obviously there are times when you put down both the people and their experience (ex: when millions of them ‘spoon fed’ pillayar with milk). Those people at that moment were idiots and their experience stupid. idha solravan arrogant’a? ennanga idhu kadhaya irukku :p. Cheers

Anonymous said...

For your reading pleasure -
http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/atlarge/2007/03/05/070305crat_atlarge_denby
Denby's 6500 word apology :)
Basically, Denby likes Pulp Fiction but not Babel, so goes on & on & on about why one is better than another.
In another parallel universe, maybe some Argentinian Denby likes Innaritu & not Tarantino & that person will go on & on.
I guess what I'm trying to tell you Suresh is that you whole argument hinges on your one point "All art forms are subjective, but there is some universality that has evolved over time". I don't agree with the universality part. At All. I would just say they are subjective, and stop at that. I don't think I am amart enough to judge/appreciate african tribal dance or new guinea marriage ritual or sharia laws or, why, even milk fed to pillayar. I don't want to be arrogant enough to call them idiots. My mom fed them milk too. I don't think she is an idiot. People do stuff that makes them happy. If you take a random sampling of 100 Indians and ask them what they think of doing sociology masters after engineering bachelors, 90% would say it is idiotic. Would they be right ? I would think not. You do what makes you happy. More milk to the Pillayar, I say.
ip

Anonymous said...

Sorry bad link.Here -
http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/atlarge/2007/03/05/070305crat_atlarge_denby

Anonymous said...

What the hell ?! Blogspot meses with my link. Ok try this.
link

Suresh said...

ip,
If you think there's no universality, how do they produce and how do we consume (or experience) art forms? How did MJ become global celebrity or Jurassic Park an international hit? All the examples you've cited have been discussed and critiqued extensively in relevant areas (religious studies, ethnography etc). It just needs some contextual understanding.
It's interesting how you pick and choose lines you want to address in order to fit your counter-argument. Here's what I said
--(ex: when millions of them ‘spoon fed’ pillayar with milk). Those people at that moment were idiots and their experience stupid.--
I'll say it again, those people need not have been idiots in general but at that moment, they were. Subjectivity cannot be used as a justification here. Given that their action was based on an assumption that a bronze or stone made statue of pillayar was sucking all the milk while it was flowing right down its feet, it was utterly stupid. There's nothing metaphorical about this (like the regular abishegam) - only metaphors escape rational criticism. Even that only to an extent. We are not talking about what the majority or minority opinion is.
How is it relevant whether your mother or my mother did it? This is the false syllogism that I was talking about -- " My mother did it, so I wouldn't dare calling it idiotic". I love my mother - she can be an idiot at times. I like Suresh's podcasts - but he is a dickhead. There's no conflict of interest in these statements. They are independent assertions.

Sure, more milk to pillayar - long live idiocy.

Anonymous said...

If ppl like to feed milk to an idol & enjoy that communal experience, why should that be deemed idiotic ? I fail to understand that. I know & you know & they know as well ( they are not blind, they can see too that the milk is flowing down, not into the idol's mouth ) its a mass delusion.
It is no different from watching a rajni film in tent kottai and throwing coins on screen & lighting candles & screaming hysterically - its a very enjoyable mass delusion & we indulge in it simply because real life ie. brushing teeth & going to work & cooking & eating etc becomes boring after a while. Same with these idol worshippers. Let them have their fix. Let them write a blog or do podcast or pour milk or watch Pokkiri - its all equivalent - why don't you see that ? Ppl are just trying to pass time. Why insist on sophistication in that ? If you go back 2 generations, they will find it idiotic that 2 humans are writing their thoughts in a blog & doing podcast instead of getting out & meeting real people :) Purely subjective experiences.
And what's with finding MJ & Jurassic park universal? Your kids will most definitely think that MJ is a creep & Jurassic Park is juvenile, just like we cannot tolerate say Sehgal or some other ancient 1920s singer/dancer who were hotshots in their time. When Pather Panchali was first screened in MOMA, NY audience were disgusted to see Indians eating with their bare fingers. Ppl threw up & left the theatre in disgust. Today we are supposed to say Pather Panchali is a universal classic! What hypocrisy. What has changed, other than building consensus among critics ? if you have a few million dollars ad budget, you can make a reasonable vijay/ajith/whoever film into a "universal experience"! nothing like money to brainwash masses. universality is a bigtime sham. do you honestly think a non-tamilian can appreciate all the nuances of mann vasanai or mudhal mariyadai ? you can supply contextual understanding, and they can pretend they "get it", but still, we know fully well they can't. just like i can't get a karan johar flick. why would i care about an indian driving mercedes and playing guitar ? i have never met such an indian. as far as i am concerned, he doesn't exist. but like johar explains time and again, he grew up in posh south bombay where everybody played guitar and drove mercedes. ok, good for him, but that doesn't make it universal or understandable. he won't get mudhal mariyadai either, even if you add all the context.
suresh, pls think about it - universality romba problematic da.
Ofcourse if you want to pretend that there are indeed universal experiences, then nothing idiotic in worshippers pretending that pillayar is indeed drinking milk. As long as everybody is pretending, everything's fair game.

Suresh said...

ip,
You're missing the point again and again. I don't know if you're doing it deliberately. There's nothing great about MJ or JP. That point is, certain kinds of shit appeals to more people than others. The same way, critiquing has evolved just like everything else has - subjectivity is no longer an excuse to justify everything. Some, yes, but not everything. If you don't agree then don't care about what critics say. Don't worry about opposing them back or trying to point why their argument is weak.
universal
n adjective relating to or done by all people or things in the world or in a particular group; applicable to all cases.
So universality does not necessarily mean everyone/everthing in the world of universe. Just a characteristic that supersedes conventional boundaries (of language, nationality, religion etc).

You've refused to address this question twice
"If you think there's no universality, how do they produce and how do we consume (or experience) art forms?"

Your comparisons are completely flawed. There's a huge difference between the events you're contrasting.

Rajini exists - his acting exists. His product exists. The only point where subjectivity comes in is when someone thinks that the product is stupid, his acting immature and his face ugly.

But on pillayar's case - pillayar is a fictitious character, even if we assume he is real and the idols represent him, the idols don't consume milk. It's an observable fact. But deluding that it does is not just matter of subjectivity, it's a delusion - it's denying a truth that can be as truthful as truth can ever be. At that moment they are idiots beyond human subjectivities. It's intellectual dishonesty to equate this with the Rajini example or my experience with blogging or podcast or everyday life in general.

People are just passing time - no problem. I do too. I like to become an irrational idiot more often than others. I'll say it out. But just because I and others do - on a mass scale - the idiocy cannot be deemed intellectual (with respect what is considered idiotic and intellectual ). Once again, we are not talking about whether something is essential or not, we are trying to characterize it with reference to the pointers available today. This also explains why Apu Trilogy or Space Odyssey didn't appeal to the audience then. They were not hypocrites - they based their judgments with reference to the pointers they had then.

My blogging and my experience out of it are not based on assumptions that can be scientifically disproven. Here, if you don't agree that science is the most objectives language to communicate and understand our world, there's no point in this exchange (and you can ignore the argument below).

Just like how science acts as an objective reference point (at least for most of the people and the law) there are other reference points that have evolved. International laws like - the Nuremberg code of medial ethics, POW treatment etc., or law in general. If crime is subjective why have courts and arguments? Let's punish them all or free them all.

Take the OSCARs for an example: in spite all their flaws and politics the movies that get nominated and chosen are relatively better than those that do not. There's definitely a lack of consistency, but the number of instances where they have erred will be way fewer than the number of times they did not.
If this weren't true, the Oscars would not have developed the kind of reputation that it has. People won't look up to it. When they aforementioned ratio becomes too much to take it will lose its charm.

Just like how science acts as an objective reference point (at least for most of the people and the law) there are other reference points that have evolved. Imagine this happening in a court

Citing big names who don't give two hoots about the Oscar will not deny the fact the Oscars has a reputation and a market at least in America. The same with IMDB. 8 out of the 10 times the top ranked movies have lived up to my expectation. If I cited the 2 times it didn't to diss IMDB it doesn't say much about my discretion, does it?

If everything is subjective, why is a national award more worthy than a filmfare award?

As I said earlier, drawing tangential comparisons about what the future generations would think about our current lifestyle to justify scientific absurdities and others that are way below any contemporary reference point is intellectual dishonesty. Nuance - this what we need.

Anonymous said...

Suresh, To address "If you think there's no universality, how do they produce and how do we consume (or experience) art forms?".
Well, in a given group of ppl with common cultural constructs, one produces/consumes/critiques an artform. A church choir in the US will be meaningless to Amazonian tribals...group of ppl have nothing in common. So why should Oscars ie. meant for a group of ppl with common cultural construct ie. knowledge of English & a westernized viewpoint on life, mean anything to someone outside that group, & vice versa ? During Ray's time, there were fierce arguments in ftii as to who was more "indian" - Ray or Ghatak. Ray's film/viewpoint is a very anglicized/westernized ie. dispassionate look at Bengal(is) - Ray himself agrees in his biography. Ghatak's is much more melodramatic, which is what Indians are actually like, evidenced by our penchant for song & dance & overdramatized situations ie. tears & screams when normal behavior can suffice ( in our films...not in actual day2day life). Ray is much more Oscar-compliant in that he belongs to that construct, & Ghatak doesn't...he's far too indigineous. Nobody would dream of giving an Oscar to say Raj Kapoor or Guru Dutt...too "filmi"...yet whole lot of Indians ( who haven't been exposed to a regular western diet of films ) will very happily consume it...its specific to them & certainly not universal. I won't knock that & say it is a certain kind of shit that must appeal to certain ppl. Same with Pokkiri. It appeals to its target. What advantage is gained in calling it shit ?

Oscar/Critique/whatever is certainly not objective or scientific. It is just rich ppl's timepass, the same way toothless grannies will discuss neighbor's sons & daughters in the agraharam ie. thinnai pechchu. Oscar is just Hollywood's thinnai pechchu. Ada poi ivalavu importance kudukarai.
I like some of their nominations...but that's just statistics...ie. if you take any award ceremony, you will end up liking n% of it...with Oscar, the n is larger, because I am part of their cultural construct. My grandparents are not part of that construct, so they will happily watch Autograph & feed milk to pillayar :)
"Why is a national award more worthy than a filmfare award? " itself is a loaded question. Who says it is more/less worthy ? You deem it more worthy for ppl like yourself ( ie. me & others like you ). There are umpteen who don't fit that construct...for them something else is more worthy. Pillayar is very real for ppl who worship him. For us ( westernized scientific idiots :), it is fictional.

You seem to seek complicated explanations when very simple ones exist. Pehaps that is the point of sociology :))
ip

Suresh said...

{{You seem to seek complicated explanations when very simple ones exist}}
I agree.

Who created homosapiens? - Homosopiens weren't created, but evolved. They were a product of a process called...damn it's complex.

Who created man? - God. Good. I like it.

The Individualist said...

Does a stupid person necessarily act stupid all the time? Isn't it sufficient that he acts stupid on a few occasions? How many hours does a person have to be stupid to qualify as a stupid individual, in general?
Isn't deeming a person stupid for a few hours tantamount to labelling him a stupid person?

Suresh said...

Sudhir,

I think it's the ratio that justifies a tag (stupid, sexist, racist etc). If you do more stupid things than 'reasonable' or "intelligent" or at least 'not so stupid' things or just as many, it's safe to call you a stupid without making it appear like an ad hominem attack. Of course, the ratio differs for each tag. You can be a "normal," "good" person all your life, but kissing a 11year old hard on its lips makes you a pedophile or at least a pervert.
But in case of stupidity, I think you have the liberty to be stupid more often that you would be with regard to other things and respective 'tags.'

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