January 15th, 2006


(no subject)

I have never cultivated vindictiveness. Occasionally, I will find a way of performing entirely moral actions with entirely satisfactory and moral outcomes, which have the secondary consequence of causing pain or embarrassment to people who have wronged me. Helping to set up the UK group 'Feminists Against Censorship' was a worthwhile intervention in the Sex Wars and helped popularize some ideas I believed in deeply. Its success in, for example, overturning the pro-censorship policies of Liberty also caused pain to various Leeds women of a radical feminist tinge who had, twenty years earlier, destroyed my comics collection which one of them, my ex-landlady, had been storing for me. This was a bonus, and a bonus I expected - it was not why I got involved.

Except inasmuch as the destruction of my comics collection is my personal experience of book- burning and makes the theoretical issue of free speech, censorship and people's extension of the term pornography to cover anything they don't like, including classic Steve Ditko Dr Strange comics, a very real one for me.

Mostly, though, I sit by the stream and wait for the corpses of my enemies to float past.

Because it is my experience that, in fact, they do.

My guess is that because I am such a sweet and reasonable person, anyone who takes the trouble to wrong me is clearly wicked or deranged. I could be wrong, but the frequency with which my enemies destroy themselves without my stir is a point in my favour.

A case in point is onw of the people caught up in the JT LeRoy scandal, according to today's diary piece in the Observer. ( Teen drag hustler novelist turns out to be concoction of cabal led by previously unsuccessful 40-year old woman writer. ) This person objected to the idea of my writing Kathy's biography because, as one of her New York friends, he felt that a New Yorker should do the job, rather than someone from one of the other two cities where she spent important parts of her creative life.

This is not, on the face of it, an unreasonable position, and was one I was rather expecting, except that he did not share his misgivings with me, but rather misrepresented things I had said to Kathy's actual executor (who had the courtesy to ask me for my side of the story) and to come to London and bitch me to all and sundry. This latter decision was not especially smart, since he chose to bitch me to, among others, several of my close friends, who smiled and nodded and took notes and reported back.

In the event, various other projects and illness ensured that the biography of Kathy became a dead project, and I thought I would never have to think about him again. And now he is caught up in a mess of his own making. Tralala!!!

(An earlier draft named and shamed, but I have removed his identity at the request of a third party whom I like and admire.)

Going to the movies of my life

I write about film, and occasionally I review it, and I find myself getting progressively irritated by my more eminent colleagues in the film-reviewing trade.

This is partly their inability to parse the sf, fantasy and horror genres. It was an eminent art critic and cultural commentator who failed to understand that the writhing tentacles during the emergency delivery scene in 'Men in Black' were the human-seeming mother's, not the baby's, and was confused by what she saw as a discrepancy of size, but there are many film critics it might have been. After the press screening of 'Underworld', I found myself having to explain its plot to people.

Let's be clear, the movie was not very good, but it was tiresomely clear in its exposition one way or another, and people were complaining that they did not understand.

This particular area of cluelessness is not the only one.

Most of the reviewers in the broadsheets are a) male and b)presumably straight, and I find them often quite as clueless about any movie which does not put male concerns front and centre. The reviewers I read were all pretty rude about 'In Her Shoes' - Time Out was more reliable - and it was mere bloodymindedness that made me go and see it.

I mean, Toni Collette and Cameron Diaz as estranged sisters - what's not to love? And Shirley Maclaine as their grandmother...And there was some efficient plotting demonstrating long before you realized what you were seeing that Cameron Diaz's character was not so much a ditz as Collapse ). Of course, it's a big girly film in which the men are mostly there as plot devices, but guess what? No-one ever complains about the reverse.

Given its reviews, I raced to see it and was pleasantly surprised by how long it lasted in the multiplexes. Anything which makes P. Bradshaw and A.Quinn look less than omniscient and omnipotent is fine by me. (I don't even mention the reviewer for a major daily with whom I used to be desperately in love when young, and whose opinions I rarely like.)

I am particularly irritated by their complete failure to like or understand 'Breakfast on Pluto', a film about which I cannot possibly be objective. Collapse )
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