Soundtrack: The Buddy Holly Collection, Disk One
Mein Gott!! Ya throw out a little Triumph of the Will reference and everything goes crazy! Laura Gjovaag and Johnny Bacardi both objected strongly to the comparison I drew yesterday, and I’ll just come right out and admit it–I could’ve found a less sensational way to make my point…
Now–what was my point? Well, as Sean Collins has surmised, it was that “Ross’s work promotes uncritical valuation of heroes for their hero-ness”. I will stand by the statement that Ross & Riefenstahl both do this–but, of course, so have a lot of other artists, and most of them are/were not Nazis (and I never called Ross a “Nazi” or a fascist). Gosh! Can you believe I actually thought I was taking a break from the “aesthetics & politics of comics”/Captain America stuff that I was doing last week? But I guess I was asking for it, wasn’t I?
Anyway, what I really wanted to establish is that I, personally, find nothing to cherish in works that treat their subject matter reverently… Nor do I get anything out of narratives that look down upon their characters. For instance, it would be putting it very mildly to say that I am not a fan of William Faulkner. And I just can’t take anything seriously that veers too far in the direction of satire. As a critic, I privilege an “eye-level aesthetic”. What I mean by that is that, if you’re gonna shoot people’s chins all the time, you can at least yoke the visuals to lines of dialogue or narration of some kind that put all of this in perspective. Maybe Ross’s Superman drawings would rankle me less if we could somehow arrange for some nasally Dorothy Comingore rants (“Sure I’ll save ya Metropolis, but ya gotta love me!!!” ) to accompany them wherever they go…
Even better than this though (imagine!), is something like Capra’s tracking shot of Jimmy Stewart pondering his next move, after learning that his brother will not be returning to Bedford Falls to relieve him of the burden of running the Bailey Building & Loan (I’m talking about It’s A Wonderful Life here, of course, and I’d better stop it–that discussion must not be opened until X-Mas!). For me, Capra is the ultimate practitioner of “eye-level” narrative storytelling, and I think all of the writers/directors/artists/musicians I love fit into this category, at least to some extent. Early Ramones music may be the perfect musical embodiment of this aesthetic (and wouldn’t an all-Ramones soundtrack have suited the Spider-Man movie so much better than that Elfman stuff? Elfman & Ross are pretty similar in my opinion…) For tomorrow, I’ll try to come up with some instances of “eye-level excellence” in the comic book medium. Off the cuff, I’m thinking Lee-Ditko Spidey & Doc (and, really, any 60’s Marvel lettercol), but hopefully I’ll be able to cite specific examples–and I’d certainly welcome suggestions, if anyone actually finds him/herself caring about this topic!
Good night friends!