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September 30, 2010

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JC

Glenn -

Sorry, but as a good percentage of your blog entries as late have been related to the deaths of folks in the film industry (very sad indeed), I wasn't sure where else to post this, to ask if you've seen it:

http://www.nypress.com/article-21675-discourteous-discourse.html

I obviously don't expect to carry on a conversation about it on this or any of the other memorial threads, but I wonder if it's worth trying to reconcile some possibly legitimate points the, um, "critic", may be making with the wholesale disingenuousness and/or hypocrisy that runs rampant in most of his reviews.

Michael Adams

Mantell is also notable as the diner customer in The Birds who says the birds should be killed.

Appropriately, Art Gilmore plays the announcer for Claude Rains' radio program in The Unsuspected.

Glenn Kenny

@ JC:

No, I hadn't seen that until you sent the link. I'm not going to write about it, except here, this once. Admittedly, there is no little hilarity to be wrung from White's use of such words as "august" and "credentialed"—"credentialed" in particular, as White's own credentials might as well have come straight from the one-time Professor Marvel—but really, it's just not worth it. As for his possibly legitimate points, well, they're still HIS points, aren't they. I could go on until I'm blue in the face pointing out the errors of bad critics/writers such as White, and would not achieve the desired result, which is for each of them to find some other line of work. Nothing I can say is going to make them improve their work, stop being stupid, compose better sentences, what have you. All I'll accomplish is to entertain a few of my readers and earn once again the disapprobation of That Fuzzy Bastard. So I'm weaning myself off that practice. Maybe you've noticed. That doesn't mean I'm swearing off debate with other critics. But that's a different thing. I disagree quite frequently with Richard Brody, for instance, but we can argue, vigorously and even pointedly because we respect each other as thinkers and as writers. The people I don't respect, and I don't need to mention their names...I'm just as well off ignoring them. Some might say that to ignore them would be to ignore some vital and worthy-of-consideration contributions to film culture. You'll excuse me for disagreeing. I don't think these people make any such contributions, really. Anyway, ignoring Ann Althouse has helped make my life less bitter over the past couple of years, so I figure why not extend the practice? I don't read White anymore, and I work pretty hard to avoid the others I have no use for as well. I save most of my bile pertaining to critical non-sense for Twitter, and even that doesn't really work out, because what I see as larky snarking is unfortunately seen as nasty harping by some others—my tossed-off bullshit apparently is of a higher proof, as it were, than I even know. So that'll be ending too.

Lou Lumenick

If Gilmore provided FDR's voice in "Yankee Doodle Dandy,'' he probably did the same for "Mission to Moscow,'' no?

JC

Fair enough, Glenn. For the record, I wasn't trying to get you to go off on the guy once again, given, as you said, how little there is to be gained from it, and how redundant it would be. The article itself only caught my attention on account of it bouncing between relatively rational (!) thought and the usual incomprehensible, self-deceiving nonsense that seems to be his bread and butter. At one point, he might've qualified as unintentionally (?) hilarious, but at this point, he's just depressing.

Anyways, I applaud your attempts to rise above the snark, and just ignore the sort of personalities that inspire soul-deadening, hostile feelings.

Cheers. :)

That Fuzzy Bastard

White is most tragic when he's bouncing between smarts and frothing. Deep inside White, there's a genuinely good critic, crushed and screaming---some of his early writing, in particular, is terrific, and he can still get off a genuinely sharp observation. But being angry-guy became his brand, and it ate his brain---that's what makes his madness truly sad.

Glenn Kenny

@TFB (and I promise I'm gonna drop it after this!): You certainly find some interesting insights in his first collection, 'The Resistance," but even there, you've got an air of transparently manufactured self-importance as the fly in the ointment, made manifest neatly in the book's sub-title, "Ten Years of Pop Culture That Shook The World." (Yes, I know, sometimes such upfront hyperbole is the editor's idea, but I don't think that was the case here.) The seeds of the madness were always there, might have even been part of what made him interesting. Whether he was keeping them in check and they got loose, or he calculatedly/deliberately brought them to the fore in an exercise in branding (which I think is entirely likely) we may never know. All I know right now is I've got my own hands full trying to keep my side of the street clean, as it were...

RoyBatty

I really don't see why some folks feel the need to negatively deconstruct this innocent little conceit that is more right than it is wrong.

Also, they have to be of equal stature or in a pattern (ie, Farrah Fawcett, M. Jackson & Ed McMahon but not Billy Mays. Unless Jackson is counted as too big to be grouped with anyone - as Paul Newman was - and Mays makes it triple for people who became famous initially from television).

But what most poopy-pants naysayers mostly overlook is that it's darkly fun. Haven't you got better things to sneer at, like Tyler Perry movies?

Brian

Not movies, but just noticed Stephen J. Cannell died, too. He produced a lot of bad television, but also gave Robert Culp a late career showcase in the sweet, clever GREATEST AMERICAN HERO, and co-created the sublime ROCKFORD FILES, which makes up for a million A-TEAMs.

Glenn Kenny

@ roybatty: Me: "As MarkVH implies in a comment below, the whole 'rule of three' thing, while diverting and perhaps convenient, almost always dissolves under scrutiny." You: "[P]oopy-pants naysayers...Haven't you got better things to sneer at...?" Jesus. Overreact much there, pal?

@ Brian: Yes, it is a shame about Cannell, and I don't know what to say beyond that, because what he did, and did beautifully, is very specific to TV, a medium I don't think I'm particularly good at thinking/writing about. But I will say what output of his I saw, I enjoyed. And that includes some "A-Team" stuff. This blog has among its readers at least one brilliant writer who has made a superb case for that show on more than one occasion.

Cadavra

FYI, Gilmore was 98, not 92. And he was truly in a class by himself.

Brian

Glenn, you're right to note the pleasures THE A-TEAM provides-- I can't watch it now (I tried rewatching on Hulu awhile back), but it was a favorite of my childhood, and I should really own up to that. It was GREATEST AMERICAN HERO that I truly adored as a kid, though (I wanted that red super-suit William Katt wore), and I watched it again in the spring when Culp passed away. It's as sharp as ever, and if anything it feels ahead of its time in its balance of mocking super-hero conventions while remaining affectionate and even admiring towards their underlying values.

Also, I know you've talked several times about how TV is "a medium I don't think I'm particularly good at thinking/writing about," but I always love your MUDRDER SHE WROTE posts and occasional comments about other shows (like EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND). All of which is to say thank you for those, and that I think you're better at it than you think. Hope you are doing well.

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