true grit and rough justice: wild west as arcades project

Charles Baudelaire incarnated, in his bohemian manner, the democratization of poetry. It was a new language that lacked an academic subtext; totally alien to he Academie Francaise to which he aspired. It was the language of the “flaneur” to which he and later Walter Benjamin discovered within the experience of life in the metropolis. Central to this new visual language was a re-conception of the female figure, that reflected the anxiety and contradictions that heretofore had been repressed, and that expressed themselves around the polarization that dangled like a corpse in a public lynching ,swaying, in the breeze between alienation and stimulation.  In the urban setting,where all is reified, not even women could escape the fate of “the male gaze”, the objectification and commodity in transaction mode. And, at the heart of this romanticism, it was not possible, despite ostensible optimism, to find salvation in love for women and art. Shock, then, became the cornerstone of the artistic endeavor, and trauma with all its defiant overtones became part of this representation, particularly of women…

"I am a middle-aged feminist living in 2011. I think that is important to mention while writing this because one thing that this Coen-driven piece did was showed how a very smart young girl matter-of-factly dismantled the men around her but there was a price to pay which you will understand if you watch True Grit. I couldn’t help but be skeeved out when Damon’s character, Le Boeuf, sat in the corner of her room at the beginning of the movie where they had a very clever battle of wits. When his character mentions that he thought about stealing a kiss but instead would like to give Mattie a spanking, I sort of grossed out." Read More: http://newscoma.com/2011/01/03/true-grit-a-feminist-perspective/

…What Benjamin understood was that how we act in the present could change and influence the meaning of the past. The past does not literally and tangibly exist, it is a construction, that lives on in its consequences, which are its legacy, essential utility, and framework for much of individual identity.  To what extent can it be tinkered with?  Benjamin also applied this reasoning to works of art. To him, the meaning of a work of art is something that evolves over time.By extension the feminine,this obsession with relationship as a commercial consideration and its uneven history contributed to the present condition of women, in a kind of struggle between the reactionary and the creative. With relation to feminism, its obvious that disingenious reform, as in the past,without revolutionary challenge to white patriarchal, archetypal male values actually confirmed the status quo.  A tyranny of the majority?

… For Benjamin, it is as though there are meanings secreted in works of art that only come to light in what one might call its future. Every great drama, sculpture or symphony, like every individual person, has a future that helps to define what it is, but which is beyond its power to determine…

"In 1918 Benjamin wrote "eros, love, tends toward none other than the joint death of the lovers." Yeah, he had a nice positive attitude towards women and romance, but who were the women in Benjamin's life?- Louise von Landau - who died whilst still a child, and became idealised by Benjamin. Madame X - Benjamin's first fiancee who dumped Walter and then married his best friend. Dora Kellner - Benjamin married Dora on the rebound and they were desperately unhappy together; arguing most of the time until she dumped him and went off with his best friend. Julia Cohn - Who was repulsed by Walt's advances...." Read More: http://theleedsarcadesproject.blogspot.com/2007_10_01_archive.html

“Baudelaire was the first to realize that the bourgeoisie was ready to strip the poet of his social role which he had enjoyed although it was forced upon him – since he has experience regarding the true nature of merchandise – to recognize the market as an objective circumstance. Therefore, the theory of the demise of aesthetic art, as one of the obsolescense of specific art forms, can be almost paradigmatically shown in Baudelaire’s lyricism….The mass would then be the secret character of Baudelaire’s poetry; although it is never fully presented, it is nonetheless obsessively present within his work. We needn’t search for it within the poetry’s content….

"In the end, Mattie faces what may be her biggest challenge: accepting help, and being helpless. As Rooster carries her unconscious body across the prairie, I was relieved that he had become a father figure. Once again, a lesser movie would have sexualized their relationship, because as a rule women are not allowed to be in movies unless they are sexualized. And finally, the Coen Brothers stood up for Mattie, in an industry which is openly hostile about female protagonists. (I wish I could find the anecdote by the female screenwriter about the time in film school when her professor informed her that she would have to change the gender of her protagonist, because "men won't see a movie with a female protagonist.") By allowing it to remain Mattie's movie, and not giving into the pressure to make it partly Rooster Cogburn's movie, or LeBoeuf's movie, the Coen Brothers have - dare I say it? - shown their own true grit. " Read More: http://femaletalk.com/news/true-grit-feminist-oscar-contender image: http://movies.about.com/od/truegrit/ig/True-Grit-Photos/Hailee-Steinfeld-Photo3.htm

…or theme, but in the poetic form, the nervous rhythm of Baudelaire’s verse. Baudelaire was the first to realize that the bourgeoisie was ready to strip the poet of the social role he had enjoyed up until then. It was because of this that Baudelaire assumed the role of seeking out the poet’s dignity in a society that was devoid of room for dignity of any
sort. Baudelaire was obliged – as he had experience in regards to the true nature of goods – to recognize the market as an objective circumstance. Because of this, through his mask, he presented the reification of art in a grotesque manner. A woman could not avoid reification in such a social context. The poet attempts to find salvation within the
love for a woman, the ideal of beauty and art. But the attempt is in vain. In Baudelaire’s case, Dante’s Beatrice necessarily assumes different contours. It is surely not accidental that the main symbol, the incarnation of modern urban landscapes, one appearing as an allegory within Baudelaire’s poetry, is a prostitute.( Saftich)

"In one of his shrewdest sayings, Benjamin remarked that what drives men and women to revolt against injustice is not dreams of liberated grandchildren, but memories of enslaved ancestors. It is by turning our gaze to the horrors of the past, in the hope that we will not thereby be turned to stone, that we are impelled to move forward. Benjamin was greatly interested in the work of a fellow Jew, Sigmund Freud, who also saw remembrance as the key to emancipation. In Freud's view, human beings are naturally amnesiac animals. It is forgetfulness that keeps us going. We survive only by repressing a great deal of unpleasant material from our past. For Freud, it is oblivion that is natural to us. Remembering is just forgetting to forget." Read More: http://www.newstatesman.com/ideas/2009/11/past-benjamin-future-obama image: http://pushedbuttonsburning-in.com/?p=2969

Is True Grit’s young protagonist a modern feminist or just a shrewd repackaging oscillating with flashing lights that masks a true grit of conformity against the grain? Sarkeesian: “Mattie is a breath of fresh air, as Rebecca Keegan points out in her LA Times article, “Given that female adolescents are frequently depicted on-screen as vapid (“Mean Girls”), angst-ridden (“Twilight”), pregnant (“Juno”) or merely decorative ( “Spider-Man”), Mattie Ross is a remarkable role. She never shakes out her braids in a makeover montage, swoons over a cute stable boy or frets about the daunting task at hand.” I wholeheartedly agree however, I’ve been a little dismayed by some mainstream media articles and some blog posts that are quick to label Mattie a feminist character. Personally, I think this is a bit of a leap. While it’s certainly true that Mattie possesses a number of admirable traits rarely seen in female movie roles, I’m just not convinced that she’s a feminist character. Read More: http://www.feministfrequency.com/2011/03/true-grit-mattie-ross-and-feminism/#more-1396

"Benjamin, in 'Paris, Capital of the 19th Century' writes of the prostitute as a figure of pure commodity, “saleswoman, and wares in one”. The Harajuka girls are prostitutes of commodity, they are the consumer and representations of consumption, in one, all coated in a mixture of racism, sexism and the prostitution of the methods of consumption. They are the natural whores of the consumerist and money-centric culture of the modern world. They dem

rate the stereotyping of Japan as a sort of Utopian, technological, futuristic, sexy, other world. This is some distorted version of Yellow Fever and Orientalism, a kind of Cyber-Orientalism. Or in the case of the Harajuka Girls a kind of Consumer-Orientalism, where the girls Whore-up by shopping." Read More: http://theleedsarcadesproject.blogspot.com/2007/09/walter-benjamin-and-oriental-consumer.html

Sarkeesian: It is never questioned that maybe an eye for an eye is not such a good idea. We don’t see Mattie questioning capital punishment ie. the death penalty or really considering any other potential forms of justice. Even after she kills Chaney she still shows no emotion, in fact, no one in the movie seems to be emotionally affected by brutality, death or the suffering of others.

As we know, all people regardless of gender are capable of the entire range of human behaviours but since we live in a male dominated, male centered society traits stereotypically identified as masculine are most valued and consequentially more celebrated by Hollywood while traits stereotypically identified as feminine are undervalued and often denigrated….

"Böhme, as mentioned above, was German novelist whose brand of melodramatic realism could be toned grim. As in Tagebuch einer Verlorenen, she often wrote about the lives of young women, and prostitutes...." Read More: http://louisebrookssociety.blogspot.com/2010/03/walter-benjamin-his-and-this-arcades.html

…This maybe one of the reasons why people are quick to adopt Mattie as a feminist character and other female pop culture characters who are considered strong and tough. The feminism I subscribe to and work for involves more then women and our fictional representations simply acting like men or unquestioningly replicating archetypal male values such being emotionally inexpressive, the need for domination and competition, and the using violence as a form of conflict resolution.Read More: http://www.feministfrequency.com/2011/03/true-grit-mattie-ross-and-feminism/#more-1396

ADDENDUM:

Saftich:And so Baudelaire introduced experience in terms of shock as the heart of his artistic endeavor. More so, it was he who learned to parry the blows, enabling existence for himself and others despite the earthquake cancelling out that possibility. Thus, Benjamin arrived at the conclusion of the people’s loss of experience in a highly developed society as well as the substitution of that lost experience by shock reception. In modern society, in other words, the increasing number of blows in place of individual defense mechanisms, there has raised a series of mechanical replacements that, although they shield us partially, also strip us of the possibility to understand and assimilate that which is really happening.

"But I want those characters to fit into over arching themes where they’re not stuck into stereotypical roles such as the damsel in distress, the girlfriend, or the love interest or on the other hand I don’t want them just to recasting tough male roles for a woman to play which we’ve been seeing a lot of lately. In True Grit, Mattie is certainly subverts expected gender roles by being witty and smart and competent and independent yet she’s not challenging the set of patriarchal archetypal male values ever present in most mass media narratives – she’s actually adopting them." Read More: http://www.feministfrequency.com/2011/03/true-grit-mattie-ross-and-feminism/#more-1396

In that sense, media also acts as an anesthetic against the blow of novelty, Grlic writes: If shock can be accepted, experience will occur after all. However, as consciousness is mostly preoccupied with defending against the blow, repulsion of stress, experience related material is suppressed into the unconsciousness. Experiences lived through allow us to rationally elaborate life’s shocks and defend our consciousness from their attack and deeper permeation. In that sense, experience is simply the immediate result of shock, lacking any medium: this is the case of Baudelaire who repeatedly experiences blows caused by the passing masses, the lights of the metropolis and other situations typical for the life of a modern city. The philosophical and esthetic value of Baudelaire’s poetry lays the fact that he elevated the experience of shock reception to an esthetic principle.(Saftich)

The concept of experience, as the reception of a blow, notes Grlic, is what Benjamin tried to render plausible through one of Freud’s hypotheses: consciousness’ primary function is not accepting stimuli, but attaining protection from stimuli. Accepting Freud’s differentiation between unconscious memory and the conscious act of recollecting, Benjamin, as interpreted by Baudelaire, bestows a special place to the thesis that full consciousness and abandoning traces of memory are abhorrent, as well as the claim that consciousness’ primary function is the organism’s defense against blows, shocks from the external surroundings. It is then, when the consciousness is no longer able to process the shock, the creation of traumatic symbols arises. And what saves man within modern society, as we have witnessed, is a continuation of the series of mechanic substitutes which protect us, even if only partially.( Saftich )

"In 2009 New Zealand fashion outlet Superette wanted to make the point that if you are actually going to be caught dead in something, it would probably be better if you were wearing something truly stylish. The Auckland boutique's "be caught dead in it" campaign featured several different images of "dead" models in uber-cool frocks - who had met violent deaths. The gory ads appeared on billboards, newspapers and fashion magazines and instantly created controversy across the internet. " Read More: http://www.fashionist.ca/2010/11/controversial-advertisements-violence-in-fashion-ads.html

This idea of defense and mechanical substitutes is actually fairly coherent. It seems the basic template of mass media that almost functions like a padded cell. Issues such as feminism at its most raw and gender specific nerve becomes doped through a blending with disparate though plausible other issues  such as  multiculturalism,  organized religion,-particularly the Moslem faith-celebrities, the economy etc. which in sum act to euthanize any real discourse, even through well meaning pundits:

Robert Fulford:Like all revolutions, feminism is at war with itself. Many one-time feminists have quietly abandoned that term after watching former comrades flock behind every dubious new faction in the grievance culture. Radical feminists consider feminism a failure because it has not wiped out poverty, which should have been its goal. Events have so addled the radicals that they believe anyone who calls feminism a success is a covert enemy. Radicals believe we are living through a long dark night of conservatism and therefore have a right to be miserable, indefinitely. Celebrating anything, even the success of a movement they helped start, would rob them of their bitterness. The world still needs the feminist spirit. It should shine a consistent light on the many millions of women who are caged by misogynistic religions and male-made dictatorships. Freeing them should become the central feminist project. Read More: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/03/05/robert-fulford-how-feminism-changed-the-world/

"The prostitute, as Walter Benjamin notices, is the only merchant who, along with his merchandise, also sells himself. Today, this privilege might be lost, writes Sead Alic: That which once determined prostitution, has become a constituent of the modern world. Man breeds a prostitute within himself in order to claim a place within the social division of labor which realistically, belongs to him already" Read More: http://arthistory.about.com/od/from_exhibitions/ig/glitterdoom/gad_08.htm

..or at an even lower level, the bottom-feeders of insecurity that seems patently misogynic and which craves a deliverance into the arms of authority; objectifying, marginalizing, and extolling women as some commodity brand issue, one among many without a trace of the poetic:
David Frum: “On this 100th International Women’s Day, the challenge for feminists has become both imperative and anguishing: Will they argue forever against American television sitcoms of the 1950s — or are they morally and intellectually capable of recognizing the dangers to women’s aspirations in the 21st century? Can they transcend their inherited ideology, and recognize that the best and only guarantee of women’s equality is Western liberal democratic capitalism? Will they accept critics of Third World misogyny — such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Irshad Manji — into the pantheon of feminism along with Mary Wollstonecraft, Susan B. Anthony and Simone de Beauvoir? Can they perceive that the people who would destroy Israel hate women even more than they hate Jews?…

In short, can they accept that the irony of history has reoriented feminism into a fundamentally conservative movement? Or will their inherited ideological prejudices entrap them forever in a vanished world — dooming feminism to obsolescence and subjecting the dwindling rights of women to the aggressions of “multiculturalism”? Read More: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/03/05/david-frum-feminists-need-to-admit-that-western-men-are-not-the-enemy-of-women/

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