Sequence of Events on the Train in "The Purge"

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I rewatched "the Purge" tonight, and something occurred to me this time that, while it might be obvious to some, seemed to puzzle me since I first saw this 12 years ago (my god, has it been that long?!)

I've always wondered about Aeon's motivations during the choices she makes on the train in the beginning. Now I think I have a better idea. At first she's willing to help the guy in the stall out with some toilet paper, perhaps because she's enjoying the leisurely thrill of tracking bambara, and doesn't yet view him as a threat. Besides, how can you let a guy down in a situation like that?

But when she encounters the child strung up, she realizes that her actions have consequences, and her dallying might have cost someone their life. (The fact that it's a child is significant; she feels less urgency at the loss of whoever got knocked over when Bambara blew his way into that first traincar. Perhaps Aeon believes that adults are no longer as innocent as children.) But now she's in a tough place (which you can see in her face here): does she save the child's life, or does she move on after Bambara, so that she might prevent yet another potential loss of life?

She decides to move on, but in the next car finds yet another dilemma: an animal is in danger! (Because what's more innocent and worthy of saving than a child? Why, man's best friend, of course. Note that when an animal dies onscreen in a film, it often elicits more audience reaction than the death of a human.) But Aeon resists even this temptation, and moves on after Bambara.

I haven't yet completely worked out this episode, but I thought I'd share this tidbit, which became so suddenly clear to me tonight. Aeon's riddle is long and convoluted, indeed. (12 years?!)

Matt Rebholz, Sunday, 20 May 2007 09:31 (ten years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

She chooses to take advantage of objects as they are useful in her pursuit of Bambara.

The kid's coin to open the lock; The cripple's crutches to prop up the electric gate. The toilet paper is of no use to her, so she gives it to the guy in the stall. In each case, she decides to violate someone's rights in order to pursue what she considers a greater cause. (You could say it's the same logic behind the patriot act.)

Bambara does the same, as in stealing the kid's gum to use as an adhesive to attach the bomb to the door.

Peter Chung, Monday, 2 July 2007 12:42 (ten years ago) Permalink

And if she'd succeeded in capturing Bambara as a result of these smaller sacrifices, we might agree that the cost was worth it-- since he goes on to kill a man at the construction site.
So on what basis might we judge the morality of her actions? Do the ends justify the means only when the goal is achieved? Or is there some kind of absolute rule-- "do not steal"-- that must never be violated. The idea of absolute morality is intrinsic to a theistic world view in which morality is laid down by authority (in this case, Trevor).

It was my attempt to illustrate the ol' deontological vs. teleological debate on morality.

Peter Chung, Monday, 2 July 2007 12:53 (ten years ago) Permalink

By virtue of scantily clad women shooting one another?

forksclovetofu, Wednesday, 4 July 2007 16:13 (ten years ago) Permalink

Wow-- such an original retort!

So I guess the seriousness of any artist's themes is somehow correlated to the degree of modesty of the dress of his characters?

Well, in the Biblical account of the origin of morality, the myth is played out with the participants wearing nothing at all.
(And by the way, Trevor spends a good portion of this episode picking at his navel while dressed in a jockstrap-- so I don't get what point you're driving at.)

Peter Chung, Wednesday, 4 July 2007 19:14 (ten years ago) Permalink

Hehe, touche.

Matt Rebholz, Wednesday, 4 July 2007 23:40 (ten years ago) Permalink

It's nothing personal dude; I grew up watching your stuff on liquid tv and still like your (company) style. It's just the use of the phrase "deontological vs. teleological debate on morality" in reference to pop culture cartoon shoot-em-ups that sets off the old bullshit detector.
I will agree that Aeon Flux is at least equal to the Old Testament as a moral teaching tool though.

forksclovetofu, Thursday, 5 July 2007 03:19 (ten years ago) Permalink

Oh, come on, is Aeon Flux really just a pop culture shoot-em-up?

Matt Rebholz, Thursday, 5 July 2007 03:38 (ten years ago) Permalink

Well, I've been for a few days now considering that answer of Peter's, which I find very interesting. I'm glad you asked the question, Matt, because the Purge is very puzzling in moments and if I hadn't read this I'd be thinking those incidents are lost on me to maybe there was no specific meaning.

But the question of "deontological vs. teleological debate on morality" is a very interesting one. Out of mere Pavlovian conditioning one wants to assume Aeon, the central character, is naturally moral somehow.

But she's got depth like the rest of us and it's not easy to figure out the premise 'absolute rule' in regards to morality.

Oops gotta go see the fireworks, more on this when I think about it better.

Barb e., Thursday, 5 July 2007 04:12 (ten years ago) Permalink

Dear forksclovetofu,
Please advise me then, what appropriate aesthetic form should be employed for an illustration of a "deontological vs. teleological debate on morality", and I will happily take it into consideration next time. Then explain to me how I'm supposed to get MTV to pay for it and put it on the air.

By the way, thanks for joining the discussion.

Peter Chung, Thursday, 5 July 2007 11:15 (ten years ago) Permalink

My Bible teacher when I was 17 gave me private lessons in a philosophical approach to theology.
Deontological (necessary) morality is defined as absolute, derived from the authority of God (again, Trevor, in the case of the Purge.)
Teleological (goal-driven) morality is relative, derived from a calculation weighing the ends against the means (ends-justify-the-means.)
The debate between the two types is pretty basic Ethics 101 -type stuff. I don't get the accusation of bullshit at all.

I guess forksclovetofu can't actually believe that an animator went to the trouble of thinking about these concepts before devoting about 5 months of his life to putting them in an episode of a TV show. I can promise you that I did.

Peter Chung, Thursday, 5 July 2007 12:04 (ten years ago) Permalink

I've not got a lot more to say about the AF episodes. (Though thinking about the Purge, now-- I'm remembering that Trevor cleaning his navel was a clue that he wasn't implanted with a Custodian at that point.)

But I am interested in this broader topic of the uses of pop culture and the apparently deeply entrenched attitudes some people have about the division between high and low art. (And where these preconceptions come from.) I've come to expect it from studio execs. What I don't understand is why so many members of the audience seem to be offended by the idea that movies and TV (especially animation) might aspire to do more than merely "entertain". Though I suspect it has to do with people's general desire for categorization.

Peter Chung, Thursday, 5 July 2007 12:55 (ten years ago) Permalink

This reminds me of Camille Paglia, who I'm a big fan of, and her desires to bring pop culture under the same microscope of analysis as classical art. I agree with her in thinking that there really is no division.

It's funny, but I never once considered that Trevor might implant himself with a Custodian. But why wouldn't he? He's always been within the sights of his own surveillance cameras and cosmic rays...

Matt Rebholz, Thursday, 5 July 2007 18:51 (ten years ago) Permalink

Hi Peter,

Multiple points:

First of all, I'm a serious pop-culture geek. I've gotten into long rambling discussions about the mythologies of Mobius and Jack Kirby, the themes of isolation and nationality in Satoshi Kon's work and the motivations and appeal of "acquisition games" such as SimCity and Katamari. I have, as noted, been aware and appreciative of your work for quite some time; your "look" has been pervasive and influential in a generally positive way. I don't think I'm the one making a distinction between "high and low art" here, but I do think you're making a lot of assumptions as to what I meant by an off-hand remark.

When your lead characters are dressed in bondage gear and engage in regular orgies of wholesale slaughter against impersonal and faceless individuals, I can't help but think that any sort of moral instruction or philosophical discussion is way past secondary to your story. This is not a specific beef I have with you; it's the same problem I have with the host of would-be mind-expanding sci-fi parables that make their way to big and small screen; there's considerable de-personalization of the other in favor of an ugly, Matrix-esque mystical cult of invulnerable self that I think leads to a sicker subconscious undercurrent. When your heroes are mass murderers and your villains are genocidal, I start to lose track of why I have a vested interest in the outcome. It's not an impossible style or medium to make this kind of statement in and I don't resent you trying, but it raises the bar on the degree of difficult tremendously; Phil Dick did it well, but he was a rare star.

In short, it's not a matter of what's "appropriate" in my mind as much as to what's effective. If the crux of Flux is that you wanted to explore moral issues, I'm not entirely sure what all the window dressing is about (I would also question the usefulness of placing a "deontological vs. teleological debate on morality" on MTV in the first place, but it is your story). If you wanted to tell a pop culture sci-fi shootem that has elements of those themes, then more power to you; I would just question your defensiveness if somebody points out that you've set your tale in a Grand Guignol to begin with.

In any case, the message board milieu leads to unnecessary brusqueness and I certainly wasn't meaning to be quite as much of a dick as I've likely come off as. If you'd like to talk about what your reasoning and methodology is/has been for attempting to marry hyperviolent kink with more lofty principles, I'd love to discuss further.

forksclovetofu, Thursday, 5 July 2007 18:56 (ten years ago) Permalink

Also, and this is very much mea culpa, please bear in mind that earlier broadsides were not directed at your specific response on this, but rather toward the overarching sensibilities of Flux.

forksclovetofu, Thursday, 5 July 2007 19:04 (ten years ago) Permalink

Just a quick couple of comments:
I've gotten tired of having to stick up for my chosen medium of animation against detractors. If you want to criticize AF, I've got no beef. Put me down for making "cartoons", I push back. That's what your comment sounded like.

It also seems like you haven't watched the show all that carefully. There is very little "shoot-em-up" stuff, and what there is is pretty clearly intended as a send-up of the kind of "regular orgies of wholesale slaughter against impersonal and faceless individuals" you complain about. You may have a working bullshit detector; you might look into getting yourself an irony detector next.

In general, I agree with enough of what you wrote to be happy to continue the discussion in a more civil tone. On the point of whether or not it's useful to present a debate on morality on MTV-- I'll just say that I can't really think of a more appropriate venue.

Peter Chung, Thursday, 5 July 2007 23:43 (ten years ago) Permalink

I'm referring to the revelation at the end of the episode, when a Custodian pops out of Trevor's neck.

Peter Chung, Friday, 6 July 2007 00:00 (ten years ago) Permalink

Ah, okay. To me, the Custodian popping out at the end suggested that Trevor was somehow avoiding being implanted himself, which must be why it never occurred to me that he would do such a thing.

Matt Rebholz, Friday, 6 July 2007 00:41 (ten years ago) Permalink

(I took the "Trevor" in the final third to be nothing more than a robot, a Custodian with a disguise on.)

Matt Rebholz, Friday, 6 July 2007 00:42 (ten years ago) Permalink

Quick responses:

Nobody's criticizing your decision to work in cartoons, dude; least of all me. I've got a long list of heroes who are in the field and any number of films that stand up to serious scrutiny. Nothing in my past notes suggested anything of the sort, but it's pretty clear you have a big chip on your shoulder about it.

I've seen enough of your work enough times to recognize that it's clever, but not made of moral teflon. There's enough mindless intense violence (played for "irony" perhaps, but equally enough for audience jollies) to make you culpable of at least some of the sins I spoke about earlier.

I can't help but note that you didn't really respond to my central point: "understanding your reasoning and methodology for attempting to marry hyperviolent kink with more lofty principles," I'm not criticizing AF; I'm saying that it's a tad disingenuous to lay too great an intellectual burden at the feet of a pop culture shootemup, so I'm interested in why you set the sights so high. My hope for further discussion was to talk with you a bit about why you chose not ANIMATION but scifi murderesses in leather straps as a vehicle for that kind of thinking. I'd also be curious about what those issues look like if you take away all the trappings and why you haven't made that story... or, if it's in progress, to talk about what you're doing to make that story now or in the future.

RE: MTV as moral arbiter; I'm not sure I'd leave a wolf to watch the sheep, but again, it's your story. Considering Viacom's sometimes iffy contract practices (I'm thinking of, off the top of my head, Mike Judge here), I'm curious as to how strong your relationship with that company is for new work and your time with AF.

BTW, civil discussion goes both ways; if you feel the need to opt for a tone of condescension, we can stop the discussion flat. I'm not interested in playing a zing game of "I'm smarter than you" (cause I'm likely not... you're RICH) and I ain't got beef. As an occasional fan, I'm just genuinely curious as to your rationale on the above points.

forksclovetofu, Friday, 6 July 2007 05:26 (ten years ago) Permalink

I'm happy to engage in this discussion. I'll rein in the attitude, if you agree to a couple of things:

1. Don't call me "dude". Sorry, since you may not intend it that way, but I take it as a sign of condescension in itself. I have bad history with a guy who used to call me that-- (M Finch, who was MTV's first choice to write the AF live action movie).

2. Introduce yourself. I want to know your name, your age, what you do in life. I just can't go on addressing you as forksclovetofu.

Other than that, I'll just say that, as Matt points out, AF was made a long time ago. I did the first shorts in 1990. I was 29. The LTV shorts were made screaming for attention. Shock value was its stock in trade. I'd do things differently now. I have no desire to discuss the series, and there are other places online where I've explained my intent and process in detail.

The questions on using violence and moral ambiguity remain interesting to me, and at this point, I'd rather do it in reference to other films.

As for addressing this --""understanding your reasoning and methodology for attempting to marry hyperviolent kink with more lofty principles," and "it's a tad disingenuous to lay too great an intellectual burden at the feet of a pop culture shootemup, so I'm interested in why you set the sights so high." -- I have no idea at all what you're bothered by. It's hard for me to respond to a judgment that proceeds from a non-sequitur. Why I "set the sights so high?" And that's a problem for you how? Are you charging me with dishonest methods? Like you'd be happier somehow if I'd just stick to mindless action for its own sake? I don't get it.

Peter Chung, Friday, 6 July 2007 09:56 (ten years ago) Permalink

I have had people complain that whatever critical intent I may have had in using violence ironically could be lost by a potentially apathetic segment of the audience who simply gets off on the visceral pleasure of watching sensationalized killing. I'm thinking this is what you're getting at-- which I fully agree bears critical debate. Though the objection usually doesn't include a chastisement against setting my sights too high.

I have my own cases of reluctance to accept the rationales offered by performers or artists for the morally questionable practices done in the name of irony or subversiveness. I could mention Sarah Silverman, who may be mocking racism in her standup, but who sure comes across to me as someone who genuinely enjoys saying racially offensive slurs - and getting away with it under the cover of post modernist deconstruction.

The instance I think is the most instructive is Stanley Kubrick's agreeing to ban A Clockwork Orange in the UK after incidents of copycat criminal behavior. He was absolutely right to comply, because no matter how justified his artistic choices in the movie (to my mind, portraying the full seductive power of violence is central to the film's importance), the real suffering of real world victims trumps any claims by an artist to freedom of expression. Too often, artists are only too eager to claim the positive effects of their work on public consciousness ("I'm hoping to raise awareness of __fill in the blank__") while denying that mass media bears any responisiblity for any negative effects ever. You can't have it both ways. Either you claim movies have an effect (positive or negative) or they have none at all. The latter position is, to me, entirely disingenuous.

Peter Chung, Saturday, 7 July 2007 00:30 (ten years ago) Permalink

Hey Peter,

Dude isn't meant as pejorative, but if you're sensitive about it, I certainly don't mind not using it.

My name's John, I'm in my very early thirties and I work in publicity and marketing for a concert venue. I've been on the collective ILX boards for over three years now. There are a great many sub-boards, but the Aeon Flux board is about as isolated and specialized as these boards get. You may want to stop by and explore some of the other extended discussions on ILE or the sort. It's often interesting.

Let me be clearer: I'm not charging you with dishonest methods and I don't want you to set your sights lower. I'm saying that with AF, you seem to have had some hopes of presenting the show as an intellectual moral fable. I'm suggesting that the tits and bullets provided too great a distraction for it to do that effectively. I would argue that tits and bullets will do that and that if your primary goal was to tell an intellectual moral fable, that you were setting yourself up to fail by wrapping your package in gunpowder and leather. I dig your argument that those trappings made it more appealing to the vox populi and I wouldn't argue that point. What I mean about "sights set to high" is that it is VERY difficult to present intellectual points embedded in a big ol' lump of meaty carnality. Very very few people pull it off (I mentioned P.K. Dick as someone who I think can) and for the gazillion others who try (yourself, Jim Cameron, Paul Verhoeven) the results are generally mixed at best. My question is: if you wanted to tell an intellectual moral fable, why cast it in Metal Hurlant clothing? And if you DIDN'T primarily want to tell an intellectual moral fable, why are you offended when I call your work a pop culture shootemup?

Honestly, I'm not bothered at all with your choices; I'm just asking about your reasoning. Part of my question is this: you're obviously a bright guy and you are in a position to make any sort of a film you'd like at this point in your career. Are you interested at all in telling a story about these sort of heady topics without the more fantastic elements? Because I'd be interested in seeing that.

And yeah, I do think a part of your audience responded solely to the bloodbath element in your work and, more to the point, I think it turned off a large segment of your audience that might've appreciated the other things you were bringing to the table.

All this however is sorta mooted by your comment here "I did the first shorts in 1990. I was 29. The LTV shorts were made screaming for attention. Shock value was its stock in trade. I'd do things differently now." That's pretty much what I was wondering about.

I'd be a lot more patient with Silverman's penchant for tweaking the nose of established decorum if she were just a little bit funny.

I'm surprised by your response on the instance of Kubrick's pulling Clockwork; what positive effect did pulling the film after a few sick people had acted out their sociopathologies have? I feel like that's a few moves away from thoughtcrime, which I'm very much not down with... and your work suggests neither are you... though if an artist wants the work removed because of what they believe it's doing to a community, by all means. I'm just wary of people taking that sort of declaration as a good excuse to start enforcing censorship.

My means of trying to steer the culture away from the sick undercurrent I talked about earlier has less to do with advocacy or civic restriction and more to do with personal boycott: I don't buy the ticket/game or I change the channel.

That said, I just came back from Ratatouille, which was immensely enjoyable and rife with real, honest human moments. Likely the best film I'll see this Summer. Seen it yet? Are you into the Pixar canon at all?

forksclovetofu, Saturday, 7 July 2007 05:11 (ten years ago) Permalink

I haven't seen Ratatouille yet. I always go to Pixar films with tempered expectations. They've been very hit and miss, though I'd count the Incredibles as one of their best.

I've known John Lasseter and Brad Bird for many years. Oddly enough, Brad animated a couple of scenes for the Rugrats pilot I directed back when we were at Klasky Csupo. He was working on the Simpsons at the time and Gabor Csupo asked him to help out. So I'm probably one of the few directors of a film with Brad credited as an animator. I also did some storyboards for him on a title sequence he was pitching.

He had the hardest time for so long in getting to do his own thing. He used to harp tirelessly on how to make better animated films. It's great to see him finally getting the chance to show everyone what he was talking about. I suspect the fact that he's had to wait so long may have allowed his sensibilities to mature for the benefit of his output.

In that way, I identify with him and his career path. At this point, I feel like I've spent more time theorizing than actually practicing my craft. I have no desire to make the kinds of films he does, but I admire his talent and his passion.

Peter Chung, Saturday, 7 July 2007 18:26 (ten years ago) Permalink

Hmm. Rereading the above, I want to clarify.
I've spent more time in my career developing projects that didn't get made than actually making them. For a long time, the same was true for Brad.

The Incredibles is a masterfully made film in every aspect. But for me, most Pixar films, and most American animated features in general, suffer from being too polished, too manipulated, too slick. Every single moment has been tested and calibrated for a particular reaction from the viewer. It can get stifling, like the way classical music can feel stuffy-- too orchestrated, too rehearsed. I like films, as well as music, to feel more open, more spontaneous, with moments that feel rough and improvised, like controlled dissonance. That is what I mean by wanting to make a different kind of film.

Peter Chung, Saturday, 7 July 2007 22:52 (ten years ago) Permalink

Pixar tends to be more hit than miss for me, but yeah: they do occasionally go off the rails... I'm thinking about Cars here.

Incredibles and especially Ratatouille feel to me like Renaissance paintings in their richness and depth, but I understand your comment about their ultrachoreographed nature. I find that precision very beautiful (if occasionally claustrophobic), but there's something equally fascinating about the scruffy unpredictable line of, say, a Bill Plympton as well. That kind of "rough and improvised" animation has definitely found a home on the internet... are you impressed by any online animators?

Again, I'm curious to know what current projects you're working on.

forksclovetofu, Sunday, 8 July 2007 06:26 (ten years ago) Permalink

And, for that matter, find out more about the projects that didn't make it past the planning stage.

forksclovetofu, Sunday, 8 July 2007 06:27 (ten years ago) Permalink

I missed all the fun!!!

"I have had people complain that whatever critical intent I may have had in using violence ironically could be lost by a potentially apathetic segment of the audience who simply gets off on the visceral pleasure of watching sensationalized killing."

I disagree with both of y'all on this. I love the ultra-violent action sequences in Aeon Flux, and for you to write them off as an intellectual endeavor into the field of irony seems like a hindsight decision that was made to appease a more, dare I say, pretentious, and arguably, hyperactive sense of morality.
And you forksclovetofu, who speaks of few thing in very very many words. Cut down the diction! It's hardly necessary.
I don't see what's so reprehensible about having an art form that appeases both your baser pleasures, and your higher intellectual needs. To me that is the ultimate work of art. What would be better than hearing the meaning of life? Hearing the meaning of life combined with a really good fart joke. Yes!!
Or think of the show Jackass and think of Socrates. Alone they are both very two dimensional, and very specific and sectionalized forms of entertainment. But combine the two and you really give the work of art some sense of laying. That's why satire is so beautiful.

J. F. Aldridge, Tuesday, 17 July 2007 02:23 (ten years ago) Permalink

laying = layering

J. F. Aldridge, Tuesday, 17 July 2007 02:25 (ten years ago) Permalink

Alright, alright. I just made an alagorical story up that pertains to this discussion.

A philosopher is roaming across the land, searching for the meaning of existence, when he chances upon a crater that reaches so deep into the earth that even in daylight the naked eye cannot see the bottom. He sits at the edge of the crater, trying to spy into its deep reaches, wondering of the contents that lay in its cradle. The crater frightens him, but he's come so far from the comforts he was born into, and all he can see before him is the endless repetition of trees, bushes, rivers, and the occasional unfulfilling encounter with one of the lower life forms.
He looks down at his hand, clenches it tightly, and then spreads it out before the sun, shadowing his eyes. He then cuts his palm with a sharp stone and cringes, then drips blood on the edge of the crater before heading in.

Months pass and the philosopher has learned to live off of moss and moisture from the wet rocks. The sun has long ago become obscured by the mist, and now only a gray ambiance lights the rocky path at the philosopher’s feet, which have become bare and calloused. He looks down at them in pride, thinking how he feels nothing at all, where only a few months ago he had been burdened by such a persistent, stinging pain.
The philosopher jumps at the sound of a voice.
"Isn't it odd how the search for greater levers of intellectualism always seems to be accompanied by the ritual of systematically ridding yourself of everything that makes you human?" Asks an old man perched on a stone.
The philosopher tries quickly to recover his composure. He brushes himself off, and then glances at has hand, which has long healed, but become frail, and skeletal from his months of eating nothing but moss.
The philosopher hides his hand in a pocket, and glances down at his feet. He wells up with pride at the sight of the calloused skin and dried blood. He can remember which rock made which scar, and on what day the pain was worse where. He suffered through the worst of it and he now has tough enough feet to travel through any terrain. They are perfect, they are how feet should have been made from the very beginning.
The philosopher looks up at the old man with a clever smile on his face and asks, "what's human?"
The old man scratches has face and stares out into the distance for a long time before finally turning back to the philosopher and shrugging his shoulders.
As the philosopher walks away the old man calls out from behind him, "sir, can you tell me which way the sun is? Is it up or down? I seem to have forgotten."
The philosopher ignores the old man, and still smiling from his victory, he disappears into the mist.

Ahhhhh, my wrist hurts. Damn tendinitis!!!!!!!!!

J. F. Aldridge, Tuesday, 17 July 2007 03:44 (ten years ago) Permalink

Change: "Isn't it odd how the search for greater levers of intellectualism always seems to be accompanied by the ritual of systematically ridding yourself of everything that makes you human?"
To: "Isn't it odd how the search for greater levels of intellectualism always seems to be accompanied by the ritual of systematically ridding yourself of everything that makes you human? I wonder if there is a way around that?"

Damn lack of edit.

J. F. Aldridge, Tuesday, 17 July 2007 03:48 (ten years ago) Permalink

I saw a movie a few weeks ago called Honeymoon Killers that completely captivated me. If you've ever seen it Peter I'd like to hear what you thought of it. It's old and I think a little obscure, but directed by Lawrence Kastle, and it's his one hit wonder.

Barb e., Wednesday, 18 July 2007 04:54 (ten years ago) Permalink

Well, I was never much of a fan of fart jokes or Jackass...
I agree with you that an artist has no need to justify his work to his audience, and certainly not through a discussion of motivating theory.

I love the allegory by the way. Yes! I reject asceticism as a signifier of seriousness.
The work either provides aesthetic enjoyment to an individual or it doesn't. I'd stand by the opposite proposition-- that a work stripped of an appeal to pleasing the senses is no "art" I want to have any part in.

Peter Chung, Thursday, 19 July 2007 12:38 (ten years ago) Permalink

Thanks, I've recently decided that my nearly finished psychology degree isn't worth anything and I want to be a writer. Let's hope something comes of it. :)

I suppose fart jokes and jackass are probably bad examples, I think satire is a perfect representation. If you think of Jonathan Swift's "a modest proposal," which is probably the most famous example of satire, you can see the two levels I'm talking about. On the one hand you get the very base satisfaction of witnessing someone break a society’s sacred taboos, and probably even baser is the pleasure of imagining the shock it evokes in other people, but you're heightened sense of appreciation is at the same time appeased by its clever use of irony.
I'm sure you're tired of talking about Aeon Flux, but hell, if it comes up why not? Anyway, you say that your use of irony, or have said so, was in creating a show that satirized action flicks by pushing rowdy gun violence and overt sexuality to extreme limits within Aeon Flux. Which is probably true, they're your motives and really none of my concern as a viewer, but I think the motives never got translated to the audience because they are based on a false assumption. I don't think the staple that defines an action films degeneracy is really any of its excessive qualities, but rather the thoughtless predictability of the action film's recycled plot line.
Now, why this is relevant, assuming that it is, it's late and I'm not entirely sober, is because your and forksclovetofu's extremely wordy argument seemed to eventually distill into him simultaneously complementing your endeavor to pose philosophical questions, while insulting your "copout" use of sex and violence to appeal to a supposedly sub-forksclovetofu audience. Haha, I'm just joshing you fork-man, and then resulting in you're subdued response of writing off those qualities of your work to the fault of youthful tastes and aspirations.
But I would claim that the great irony of your work, and I'm quite certain I’ve butchered that word against the wall by now, is that you were able to take the mindless sex and violence and confined them within the mechanism of not the normal action plot, but well thought out philosophical debates and clever narrative techniques.
And I don't mean to massage your ego or anything, I know how utterly useless that is to a person, but I don't think you should be apologetic for all the extremes that not only gave Aeon Flux a sort of balance, but also created an interesting universe for us alienated weirdos to revel in.
Hah, geez.

Well I'm too tired to grammar check this, and I wrote it with speech recognition software so there's bound to be something awry. Ummm, so sorry.

J. F. Aldridge, Saturday, 21 July 2007 09:01 (ten years ago) Permalink

Well, I didn't mean to sound like I was trying to disown the AF shorts by my comments. They succeeded beyond my hopes in so many ways. I still use them often in my talks to animation students to talk about integrating personal artistic drives into a commercially viable form. The biggest problem I find in this field is the inability (or unwillingness) of professional artists to allow their deepest personal obsessions into their studio output. The result is that we get nothing but bland, impersonal, "appropriate" product. Professionalism is equated with disinterestedness.

Looking at the discussion above, the thing that ticked me off was John's first retort. I've heard that exact sentiment so many fking times, and have usually just rolled my eyes, let it slide, and walk away from whoever was making it. (like, "you just don't GET it").

Peter Chung, Saturday, 21 July 2007 22:25 (ten years ago) Permalink

By the way, I'm still not convinced that John has even watched the episode "the Purge", the original subject of this thread. "Shoot-em-up"? Huh?

Peter Chung, Saturday, 21 July 2007 22:29 (ten years ago) Permalink

My point of reference there was to the entire series; I already said that above.

forksclovetofu, Saturday, 21 July 2007 22:45 (ten years ago) Permalink

Also: I'm being "joshed".

forksclovetofu, Saturday, 21 July 2007 22:46 (ten years ago) Permalink

Well, in that case, since "It was my attempt to illustrate the ol' deontological vs. teleological debate on morality." referred specifically to the Purge, I repeat: Huh?

As far as: "Are you interested at all in telling a story about these sort of heady topics without the more fantastic elements? Because I'd be interested in seeing that."

The answer is no. I see no point in working in animation and placing a restriction like that on myself. I admire Takahata's "Grave of the Fireflies". I have no desire to make anything like it. As for Satoshi Kon, I find his films dull and masochistic (ascetic). I don't agree with the praise his work gets for expanding the range of the medium of animation. For me, his films do the exact opposite by being so literal-minded.

Peter Chung, Saturday, 21 July 2007 22:52 (ten years ago) Permalink

Haha, I actually love Satoshi Kon, but I guess we've already establish our differing opinions about the necessity of "literal-mindedness" when constructing a work of art back in the David Lynch thread.
I don't think I would say that he's necessarily expanding any medium, but I could argue he plays well within one or two of them.

"Also: I'm being 'joshed'."
I only pray the day comes when I'm being forked!

J. F. Aldridge, Sunday, 22 July 2007 03:11 (ten years ago) Permalink

The jab at the praise for Kon-san is not to knock his work, but to knock the critics who fawn over him, yet who ignore the vast range of more "popular" animated output from Japan. I mention it because it illustrates what I mean by identifying seriousness with asceticism.

Peter Chung, Sunday, 22 July 2007 06:43 (ten years ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

(Damn, its really difficult getting registered on here. That might account for the low activity lately.)

John, it seems like you need to re-watch the series. A meaty lump of carnality?? You make it sound like Heavy Metal…

Aeon Flux appreciation threads aren’t full of people raving about their favorite gun fights and how hot Aeon looks.

There is a remarkable wealth of stimulation to be derived from Aeon Flux besides shallow carnal offerings, and any one who tuned in hoping to dose up on the simpler pleasures would unlikely find enough of them to be distracted from the remaining content, which is, among other things intellectual - and they may or may not be drawn to these things instead.

You have said that P.K. Dick manages to effectively combine ‘meaty carnality’ and intellectual merit, where I assume you feel Aeon flux does not. If it’s your opinion that Aeon Flux fails at effectively delivering intellectual points, you’re obviously welcome to it. But if you want to discredit the shows ability to effectively deliver intellectual points, why don’t you try doing so in a way that utilizes and ideally demonstrates you have a grasp of the show beyond the limited one you've offered so far.

Well, this discussion may well be over anyway. But I wrote that way earlier and thought I'd post it anyway.

Sam G, Monday, 6 August 2007 10:18 (ten years ago) Permalink

Joshed again.

forksclovetofu, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 21:07 (ten years ago) Permalink

I can't believe Peter Chung actually posts on here; Aeon Flux is one of my favorites

Stevie D, Thursday, 9 August 2007 00:05 (ten years ago) Permalink

I finally saw Ratatouille. A very nicely crafted little film. That's about all I have to say about it.

However, I can't let the death of Michelangelo Antonioni pass without some comment.
I can honestly say that a day rarely goes by in which I don't think about his films.

At first glance, the rigor and discipline of his work may seem like precisely the "asceticism" I decry. I know I thought so the first time I saw L'Avventura as a teenager. That's only natural, since his films are, in the truest sense of the phrase, for adults.

They exemplify a soaring ambitiousness regarding the potential of film as an artistic medium which is what I'm always hoping and praying for everytime I decide to commit a couple of hours, sit down, and watch a movie. Not to mention how full of humor they are (OK, maybe not Red Desert).

Here's the thing-- a movie like Ratatouille is easily within the realm of what we'd predict a talented director might realize given its setting, characters and plot. L'Avventura, La Notte, L'Eclisse, Blow Up and The Passenger also begin with simple and familiar elements. What Antonioni does with them-- the places he takes us-- is off the map. It isn't a matter of possessing a higher degree of skill (which, by the way, he does too-- look at the more conventional Le Amici or The Lady Without Camelias) -- it's imagination of a different order.

Just keeping the discussion alive.

Peter Chung, Tuesday, 14 August 2007 09:16 (ten years ago) Permalink

In the posts above, I've said enough times "I have no desire to make films like so-and-so". And it's a pretty snooty comment, no doubt, so here's the missing rejoinder:

The thought of ever approaching Antonioni's achievements, using my chosen medium of animation-- that is what keeps me going.

Peter Chung, Tuesday, 14 August 2007 09:43 (ten years ago) Permalink

He sounds neat. I'll try to check him out.

J. F. Aldridge, Tuesday, 14 August 2007 16:58 (ten years ago) Permalink

"I can honestly say that a day rarely goes by in which I don't think about his films."
Come to think of it, there's a couple of shots in Tomb Raider Revisioned ep 1 where I swiped compositions from L'Eclisse-- the matching pair of eclipses using Lara's and Heinrich's heads during their argument.

Peter Chung, Tuesday, 14 August 2007 18:19 (ten years ago) Permalink

Thanks as always for your thoughts, Peter. I remember you speaking of Antonioni in the past, and after hearing and seeing some more of him after his death, I think I'll have to check him out in earnest.

By the way, the sequence you speak of in the Tomb Raider segment was probably my favorite scene. I love the zealousness and ecstasy Heinrich exhibits after seeing the afterlife -- it's one thing to be a zealot when you're just presuming to know what happens after death, but if you've really been there and "lived to tell about it"... hehe... that kind of changes everything, doesn't it?

Matt Rebholz, Wednesday, 15 August 2007 01:41 (ten years ago) Permalink

Well, for anyone approaching Antonioni for the first time, I'd recommend starting with Blow-Up, which is probably the easiest to "get", plus it's in English and in Color. Starting with L'Avventura might just kill any desire to proceed from the get-go.

Also, Blow-Up sheds a lot of light on L'Avventura's methods. I understood L'Avventura much better in the context of his later films. So I'd go:

La Notte
Red Desert
Zabriskie Point
The Passenger

Then back to:
Le Amiche
Il Grido (I prefer the Lady without Camelias, but it's not on video)

His later films, like Identification of a Woman, are not as sharply made, but by that time in his career, I'd say he'd more than earned the right to rest on his laurels.

As for my personal favorite, it's hard for me to decide between L'Avventura and La Notte. L'Avventura is the stately, ground-breaking masterpiece. La Notte is the most purely enjoyable.

Peter Chung, Wednesday, 15 August 2007 02:29 (ten years ago) Permalink

Wow, thanks for going through the effort of compiling that list, Peter. I plan on starting on it as soon as I get a chance.

I had heard that his later films were not as well-appreciated, and that he based his main characters from this period on himself a little to literally. (This was from an NPR story on his passing.) I had always assumed that artists only further refined their craft as they got older, but I found it interesting (and a little sad) that the opposite might actually be true. I guess, like everything in life, it's a matter of being in the right place, time and atmosphere for it to click. There are some moments and eras we'll never get back, but people will always continue to pine for them...

Matt Rebholz, Wednesday, 15 August 2007 04:33 (ten years ago) Permalink

L'Avventura came out in 1960, which means he was 48. That was when he had his first breakthrough hit. His output during his 50s were further refined than those made in his 30s and early 40s. He made his last great film, The Passenger while in his 60s. You could say he lost his touch (or his motivation) after that, but he was hardly an early bloomer.

Peter Chung, Wednesday, 15 August 2007 06:46 (ten years ago) Permalink

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