Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Unbearable Lightness

I had been warned, I read about the dangers of postmodern lightness, I even took a class this spring that mourned the loss of humanity in contemporary writers. And now, it has finally happened. I have come to regard the hysterical realism of Zadie Smith's White Teeth with the same remorse as does James Wood. I am endlessly repulsed by the overwhelming whiteness of a Wes Anderson movie that parlays itself into self-aggrandizing quirkiness. Are Spank Rock and M.I.A. etc just a bunch of no-talent acts capitalizing on our deficient attention spans? 
Yet I could be wrong. Is that just the nature of our times and is it these artists' prerogative to reflect it however they so see fit? Am I being outdated and stodgy in demanding some sort of humanity from their depictions? It is not so much that they are expressing an ideology that I find particularly disturbing, I just have a problem with their aesthetic - it all seems excessively boastful and disturbingly flippant.  

*Edit: Only moments after I posted this, I realized what the flaw with this genre is. It is one that you will enjoy immensely in its first viewing. It is just so absurd and so bizarre that one cannot help but be utterly impressed by virtue of its novelty. But that is all that the genre allows, an exhaustible source of pleasure as they lack true emotional investment. There is no returning to it time and time again, a trait that has allowed the classics to endure. The only feeling it provokes after a certain amount of exposure is irritation - irritation at how trivial and unengaging the work really is once you go past its over-the-top antics.

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