Scott Ellington's Blog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

The Social Network

It begins in midsentence purposefully to place the audience at a distinct and instantly-recognizable disadvantage.  Two young people are conversing in a bar, talking to cross-purposes, rapidly, and almost inaudibly because the background music and ambient noise drowns out the viewer’s perception of the content of their conversation.  Lipreading in this context is a far superior skill to subtitlereading, because much of this conversation is nonverbal/unpredictable, and the viewer’s eyes need to be locked on the faces of Mark Zuckerberg and Erika Albright as their relationship disintegrates in the perilous course of this white-water conversation. 

The midsentence, crash of a midrelationship constitutes a wonderful device created/employed by Aaron Sorkin to force the audience to pay attention.  The smothering of voices in background sound extends the device to the point of exasperation with (and at) the very start of the film – but not to the extent that I wanted to stop the DVD and turn to something/anything else.  In fact, I played the first three minutes four times; straight, with subtitles, fiddling with a couple of sound control panels…and eventually I quit trying to defeat the sound design.  I simply paid more attention, and found the investment sufficiently rewarding to keep on keeping on.

Ultimately, I found it to be a wonderfully engaging film packed to bursting with very smart, attractive people saying and doing smart, interesting things from the moment it starts to the moment it ends.  And fuck them, each and every one, including the chicken.

Next morning:  This film is subtly and strikingly reminiscient of Flowers for Algernon and Amadeus in revealing the sharply contrasting (de)valuation of people; turds/nuggets, celebrity/negligence — strongly implying a desperate cultural need for universal forgiveness and boundless, groundless loyalty within and beyond the permeable boundaries of species; refresh…refresh…refresh.

Three days later:  Fincher’s commentary approaches conclusion with the story of a French journalist who passionately objected to the failure of the principle participants in the film to actively collaborate with Zuckerberg, the living human on whose life the story is based. 

Fincher responded by asking the critic WHAT that kind of consultation would have bought the project, in that the humaneness clearly lacking/muted in Mark at the start of the film is also clearly evidenced as present, robust and growing at the conclusion of the film.  It’s an interesting response that strikes me as evasive.  I also think that Zuckerberg has been treated by The Social Network enterprise very much as Eduardo Saverin was treated by the Facebook enterprise, according to the film; the value of his stake was enormously diluted in the course of an incidental/accidental betrayal and exclusion.

Ironically, a brilliant but asocial computer artist invents an amazingly powerful social network tool and grows a recognizable conscience in the course of its prosecution.  I think collaboration with Mark Zuckerberg might have made The Social Network a far more important film tha it is, but the one we got is brilliant.

Advertisements

24 Feb 11 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Irking Siobhan O’Flynn

Siobhan O’Flynn
To: Scott Ellington

oh buddy – can’t see the forest for the tree huh? how silly – is this performance art??? must be

On Feb 20, 2011, at 10:27 AM, Scott Ellington  wrote:

Siobhan,

 
No.  It’s a photograph of my eye.  I’m telling you there are absolutely NO other body parts nor other people involved in the icon that creeps you out, and any associations you make with defective schools of art are purely your projection.  On the other hand, it’s a polarizing image to which some people react as you do (probably without informing me of their ennui/disgust/whatever) and other people say they like:

 

See B.S.
Caption:  If the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers had a kid, it would probably come into the world with an attitude like this.
Scatological allusions are unavoidable, hence the content warning.
Comments:
OH MAN IS THIS COOL LOOKING!!!!!!
LOL!!! LOL!!
INSTANT FAVE HERE!
Maybe to make this a screen saver on my computer. Strangely enough,… scatology is not the first thing I allude to or is on my mind with this image.
More like… “Even with sex were “fucked over” by being watched/ controlled by THEM…-from our own insides.”
Ponder that, My Peoples.
          *ScottEllington Jun 1, 2010
        Thank you! I think all spin put on the (eye)ball is invaluable.
looks like a mutated pussy COOL PIC!
 
*Kitsch1984 Jun 24, 2010 I confess that for a moment I understood what it was … wOw!
          ScottEllington Jun 24, 2010
        Me too.
 
«Scatalogical allusions»… what do feces have to do with this?
          *ScottEllington Jul 16, 2010
        An interesting question, and very like my response to the representative of one of the founders of United Hollywood who asked me to replace it as my avatar there.
Apart from the assertion that this image was objectionable because of its urogenital associations, no elaboration was provided, and I complied with their request, motivated by my respect for very smart and very creative people.

If you don’t see a scatalogic allusion, perhaps it isn’t there.

  ~ilovemykids Sep 15, 2010
clever hahaha
          *ScottEllington Sep 15, 2010
        High praise for low humor Thank you!
  ~bellefree-bentan Sep 20, 2010
It’s a disturbing image .
The Brazilian singer Tom Ze has an album cover where he uses a marble in a scatalogical manner to evoke an eye…
          *ScottEllington Sep 20, 2010
        Thank you! Message re-sent and Ze research in-progress.

It’s just the eye of the beholder on which and with which the viewer projects associations.  Those associations are as valid as the artist’s original intent — which was to see what a photograph of my eye would look like mirrored.  It actually was slightly more interesting than the original photograph (and that’s not saying much), but the response to the image is fairly fascinating.  The instant it’s shared, the image also becomes yours to like/dislike for reasons beyond my control — but it’s still just an origami eye/lid/socket, folded in half and mirrored in Photoshop — and mirroring the culture that interprets it’s significance as they see it collectively and individually.  I don’t own the associations people make any more than I have control of the way people see me.  To be known as the PudendaEye guy is not a shameful thing, regardless of the derivation of the word, “pudenda”.  Trite, shocking, old-hat..?  Wow!   It’s a cheap, digital photograph of my eye that I manipulated in the simplest possible way.  The persistence and vehemence of your (and other people’s) response to it is disproportionately interesting to the effort invested in creating it, so my response to those responses probably seems quite ornery.  Sobeit.  The truth is — it’s a slightly manipulated photograph of my eye.  Handle it.  Or don’t, but asking me to stop using it as my avatar is a vastly inferior alternative to our having a conversation about it’s putative significance as an indicator of the health of our common culture.  (Which isn’t post-racist, post-pornographic, making-much-progress…)  So, thanks for this opportunity. 
 Scott      

 

Hey Scott,
that’s a packed email below with many tangents that I can’t rely speak to on the writers’ strike, so I reply to the point I can, re your avatar.
Here’s the basis of my response, the degree of which you find fascinating:
To be concise as your description is disingenuous, it’s your eye in a vagina – so is that supposed to be subversive? avant garde? rejecting the constraints of normative society? if so, it’s been done but maybe an audience without a sense of art history won’t know that.
And, as I mentioned before the clearest antecedent, the Surrealists, were almost all misogynist in their fragmentation of the female body – See Hans Bellmer’s disturbing dolls. So whatever rejection of the morals of the day, consistently, the shock value of their images was generated by images that continued the tradition of misogyny and objectification that underlie the western tradition of the nude. The only surrealist who really broke with the past in creating a radically new iconography was Magritte. And I should add, Lee Miller, Man Ray’s sometime model, and a photographer in her own right who did a radically subversive photo series of a real breast on a plate, having stolen the post-masectomy breast from a hospital. That is one radical critique of the tradition of the nude, the objectification of women and the medical profession all in one.
so I don’t really see the traction in your avatar as a subversive political statement, as it’s one in a long history of images that support a status quo that I don’t support. And artistically? aesthetically? as such it’s kinda boring because it’s been so done. And do you really want to be ‘the vagina eye guy’? You’re a film guy, you must know all the crit around the dynamics of the gaze etc etc
saying it as I see it
Siobhan

On Feb 19, 2011, at 09:58 PM, Scott Ellington wrote:

Bill Moyers spoke at length last month to broadcasters in NYC.  One of the jewels among his remarks was this one:


 The late scholar Cleanth Brooks of Yale thought there were three great enemies of democracy.


From: Siobhan O’Flynn
To: Scott Ellington
Sent: Sun, February 20, 2011 6:13:57 AM
Subject: Re: Avatar

He called them “The Bastard Muses“:

 

Propaganda, which pleads sometimes unscrupulously, for a special cause at the expense of the total truth;

Sentimentality, which works up emotional responses unwarranted by, and in excess of, the occasion; and

Pornography, which focuses upon one powerful human drive at the expense of the total human personality.

The poet Czeslaw Milosz identified another enemy of democracy when, upon accepting the Noble Prize for Literature, he said

“Our planet that gets smaller every year, with its fantastic pr

oliferation of mass media,

is witnessing a process that escapes definition, characterized by a refusal to remember.”

Memory is crucial to democracy; historical amnesia, its nemesis.


Avatar, schmavatar, really.  It’s a photograph of half of my eye — very simply, but suggestively mirrored symmetrically — and in-and-of-itself, absolutely no big deal, from my pov.
It’s importance to you is, on the other hand, absolutely fascinating.
Before the writers’ strike ended, I was honored to receive an email from Jeffrey Berman, one of the founders of United Hollywood asking in behalf of an even more heroic bigshot
(quite possibly Laeta Kalogridis) that I pick another avatar, because the same one that bothers you also disturbed her, ostensibly for the same reasons which were not itemized then either.
I complied.  The strike ended, and the sentiment proclaimed on November 6, 2007:
“They get paid, we get paid” and “We’re all in this together.”
fell by the wayside in the stampede to get back to business as usual
and beneath the weight of a 150 page Minimum Basic Agreement formulated by the army of lawyers called the AMPTP.
So I’m anything but anxious to exercise unquestioning compliance with the semi-rational, inexplicit qualms of people I respect
who have a problem with my means of expressing myself.
It should be noted here that most of the things I said at United Hollywood involved the inflamaory suggestion that the WGA should initate
a 3-year education program to educate global audiences to the realities of rank&file screenwriters’ situation…preparatory to calling for
a global boycott of studio product.
Throughout the duration of the strike, I stopped buying DVDs, suspended my iTunes and Netflix accounts, and wrote directly to Patric Verone
asking how a private citizen might support the strike (given that [my] presidential campaign donations would be funneled directly into the very deep pockets of
integrated transnational minstream media conglomerates for incredibly wasteful and counterproductive adbuys) anyway.
He actually wrote back! telling me to send money in support of the striking writers to the Motion Picture and Television Fund, which I did, supporting an organization
that has fallen deeply into disrepute since then.
So much for blind obedience.
When I invent or discover a “better” avatar, I’ll probably start using it ubiquitously, religiously, and far more diplomatically,
but not meaninglessly, nor blindly-obediently.
My avatar, in my opinion, propaganda, sentimental nor pornographic.  It’s fairly angry, skeptical and vigilant.
Sidebar.  The same guy who turned me on to his copy of the Serenity DVD four years ago, that put me on the path to Joss Whedon, Ken Burns, David Milch, David Thorburn, Henry Jenkins and to you
suggested yesterday that Kyle XY was really cool.  So I’ve been streaming it for the past 10 hours, and Kyle XY absolutely sucks.  Bob’s taste is clearly deplorable and his tip to SereniFly was a total fluke.
I guess I don’t understand, with civil wars erupting, foreign and domestic, why anybody’s talking about anything else.
Scott

23 Feb 11 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Captain Blood

is a tale told to an audience of idiots; full of sound, culminating in fury, and scrupulously careful to avoid the confoundingly intricate, fascinating historical context (the English Civil War to the English Bill of Rights) that would vastly complicate the tale of the ultimate prevalence of Progressive Democratic Justice over Papist Absolutism.

It’s also a remarkably clever propaganda piece espousing the virtue of disobediance, impertinance and insubordination — told by a wonderful army of unknown up-Star(t)s, contract players, character actors, Curtiz, Korngold and the Warner’s studio system at a time (late 1935) when unqualified financial success and gripping hymns to civil disobediance were desperately needed.  And it’s a pulse-poundingly moving encyclopedia of inspiring Hollywood cheats that blessed careers and greatly influenced all that came afterward.

06 Feb 11 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments