Thursday, August 16, 2007

Quotations from Chairman Mamet, Part III

More quotes from David Mamet's Bambi vs. Godzilla: On the Nature, Purpose and Practice of the Movie Business.
"The making of movies is magnificently pragmatic. As in combat, as in sex, the theoretical is all well and good if one's a commentator, but the thing itself can actually be understood only through experience. No one on any set, or in any cutting room, knows the difference (if such there is) between realism and naturalism -- they are merely "telling a story with pictures." A couple of guys in a coffee shop set out to write a gag; a couple of guys with a camera set out to film a gag; a couple of guys in an editing room set out to make sense of the trash that's been dumped on their desks. That's moviemaking in its entirety -- anything else is just "the suits." Through it all the clock is ticking: so many days and they take away the camera, so many days and the studio needs to release the print."
And this:
"The dramatic experience is essentially the enjoyment of the postponement of enjoyment. The mouth waters at the prospect of a delicious meal; the palms sweat in anticipatory delight of sex. The enjoyment of the pseudodramatic entertainment has nothing to do with anticipation. It is, not only aesthetically but physiologically, akin to actual ingestion or congress.*

*Consider the difference between enjoyment and stimulation. One leaves the ballet feeling refreshed, as a promise has been fulfilled. One quits the videogame or pornographic film feeling empty and vaguely debauched -- for one has only been stimulated. The brain, here, craves a repetition of the stimulation, as with any drug. One may sit in front of the television for five hours, but after King Lear one goes home."

1 comment:

Pete Emslie said...

I like that last paragraph particularly, as I can also equate what he is saying in regard to the animation industry. I really detest much of what passes for animation design these days because of this contemporary trend towards deliberate ugliness. The lineup of shows on Adult Swim is especially indicative of this, as well as much of what shows up on YTV. For some reason, producers think they're going to attract an audience by designing characters that are awkward and crude, displaying drawing skills that are no better than that of an average high school kid. This deliberately ugly and primitive approach is somehow thought to be "hip" and "cool", thereby securing them those elusive teen viewers.

However, what they fail to consider is that this same fickle audience is only, as Mamet puts it, "stimulated" for a limited time before their attention moves on to the next visual trainwreck that somebody else provides. In short, what this means is that nothing on TV is built to last, with everything created for hopeful success in the short term, making a quick buck while the shock value lasts. If only they would realize that "shock value" can never compete with true "appeal", and that the latter approach could win them an audience that would support their work for many years. As it is, there seems to be a lot of turnover on the schedules of most of these networks primarily dedicated to cartoons and/or youth programming. A lot of shows don't last beyond one season.