Battle in Seattle
October 1, 2008
I went to see this foamy nugget of unstated causes and riot-fueled romance without reading a review. How can I be so “sophisticated” and yet so stupid, always surprised and yes, somehow hurt, when the movies won’t deliver me my world in the way I see it (and say it). Sort of like politics, but this year, we have Obama, so at least someone in that sphere speaks like me. Sure, the cast members are costumed convincingly, and their moves match-on-action the actual sights and sounds of the protest (they intercut convincingly). Yet, my work insists, as does all it relies upon, that art needs to be theoretically as well as politically correct (that’s Benjamin, “The Author as Producer”); that forms and even means of production need to reflect, produce, engage with the nature of the (complex) ideas and causes represented.
In this comically traditional rendering of a new world order, each character becomes a bite-sized representative of a pared down version of a simplistic (and humanized not theoretical or analytical or political) position (i.e. they killed my brother or my baby…really) that could never begin to represent the complex analysis of this movement (anti-globalization) or the activists who people it.
And my whining points to how hopelessly idealistic, or nostalgic, or intellectual I am. Because it must be true that this film speaks more clearly and to more people than anything I write, or teach, or make: committed as say I am to people’s forms, I seem to be equally stuck to elitist notions, avant-garde yearnings, complex practices, and deep understandings, not the forms of this time. Yet, if this is “political film,” I’ll have none of it.