Monday, January 17, 2005

Shakespeare and South Park...

Oliver Kamm has been discussing Shakespeare as well - taking pot shots at cultural materialism (well, more like new Historicism to look at some of his targets) along the way. He calls upon the ghost of CLR James to shore up his tower with these fragments, or some such.

Anyway, I'm not sure that was a wise choice - I double checked my CLR James Reader - he was a Trotksyist of a particularly Romantic hue, eventually breaking with the Old Man over the issue of unconditional defence of the Soviet Union and the Theory of State Capitalism, he co-founded the Johnson Forrest Tendancy with Raya Dunayevskaya in Yankland back in the forties, when he was touring as an academic officially giving lectures on Herman Melville and 'Moby Dick' - enough of the background already.

Anyway, I read his take on Hamlet - did he assert the independence of literature, it's remove from all social concerns and a value in itself? Or did he see Hamlet in terms of its encapsulation of the conflict of classes going on in Shakespeare's time? A conflict contained and recognisable in society subsequently, and hence it's lasting influence?

No prizes, he asserted the contingency of art.

Further, he would talk of film products in tones of high art. Not art house cinema, but things like Gangster flicks and Charlie Chaplin, these too were serious art and literature to James.

So, I reckon he would agree with me, in saying that alongside Hamlet, the new creation of Parker and Stone - the creators of South Park - Team America : World Police.

I am convinced this is a piece of art every bit the equal of a Shakespeare, and only a little less crude.

Without giving anything away (as if there is much to give away). The film adopts an ironic stance to fervid American patriotism, with it's incidental score lyric 'America, fuck yeah!' playing in the background, as the team jets around the world to destroy bug-eyed arab terrorists, blowing up the world's cultural landmarks in a totally crass way.

Likewise, American stoppers (as I presume we must call them) are satirsed as stupid, vaina nd ultimately in league with the Bond villain-esque Kim Il Sung (who is really, really busy). Their depiction is crude caricature, virilent assualt, objectively the film's villains. But the villains to ironic heroes.

No-one escapes the swirling vortex of satire, no-one gets to escape this film with their values unchellenged, with positions unquestioned. Just as the film itself repeatedly creates humour by revealing itself as a puppet show.

Some humour is designed to re-enforce values. Racist humour, isnn't really very funny, it just works by using (a black feller with...' as a punch line, it doesn't question anything. In team America, the racist sterotypes are a question to racist stereotypists.

As a defender of literary realism, I would maintain this film achieves high artistic status because it encapsulates the truth, because it contains all the elements of the recent struggles over American military policy and terrorism.

As one reviewer has asked - Just what did Matt Damon do to piss these guys off so much?

Other blog reviews
Rotten Tomatoes reviews


Post a Comment

<< Home