[Marxism] Re: V for Vendetta

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Apr 2 11:41:11 MDT 2006

Thomas M. wrote:
>WSWS usually has the snobbish attitude of a film professor towards 
>mainstream movies.

As a rule of thumb, I only review films that I really enjoy--like "Whisky". 
I make the occasional exception for something that irks me so much that I 
want to get off my chest--like Martin Scorsese's "The Aviator". I think 
that Walsh's need to attack so many movies goes hand in hand with the 
general "left opposition" stance of WSWS.

That being said, Walsh can be a very perceptive and fine writer, even when 
he is panning a film. For example, his take on Woody Allen is pretty 

The Allen persona wore thin a good many pictures ago, but it carried him 
through until the early 1990s. Various factors, including personal ones, 
may have caused him to lose his way so dramatically, but no doubt social 
changes played a decisive role. The milieu that he lovingly, if 
sardonically, chronicled has disintegrated. At its upper, wealthiest end it 
has become a source of support for law-and-order, free-market Republicans. 
Many of New York City’s so-called cultural intelligentsia signaled their 
shift by supporting Rudolph Giuliani in 1993.

New York City’s official web site explains: “His [Giuliani’s] message of 
fiscal responsibility and attention to quality of life concerns [i.e., 
shunting the homeless off the streets and subways] resonated with New 
Yorkers, who elected him over incumbent David Dinkins. ... To reduce crime, 
he implemented a ‘zero tolerance’ approach, placing an emphasis on 
enforcing laws against nuisance crimes as well as serious offenses. ... To 
stimulate the city’s stagnated economy, Giuliani reduced the tax burden by 
eliminating the Commercial Rent Tax in most areas of the city, reducing the 
Hotel Occupancy Tax, and eliminating the Unincorporated Business Tax. ... 
[A] national financial magazine named New York City the most improved 
American city in which to do business. ...

“Faced with a $2.2 billion budget gap upon taking office, Giuliani lowered 
projected spending by $7.8 billion through a series of cost cutting 
measures and productivity improvements. He reduced the city’s payroll by 
over 20,000 jobs without layoffs. ... In 1993, 1.1 million New Yorkers were 
receiving welfare. To bring an end to a philosophy that encouraged 
dependency on public assistance, Giuliani implemented the largest workfare 
program in the nation. Since his welfare reforms were enacted in March of 
1995, 340,000 people have been moved off the rolls, saving $650 million 
annually in city, state and federal funds.”

It would be hard to improve on this as a guide to the general evolution of 
certain upper middle class layers in Manhattan. One would perhaps only need 
to add a graph showing the meteoric rise in the stock market in the 1990s. 
Allen’s milieu largely threw its lot in with the barbarians some time ago. 
And he goes on pretending as if nothing has happened. But these 
developments have had consequences for his art, hollowing it out, rendering 
it lifeless.

One scene stands out: the party at which the ‘tragic’ Melinda (at least I 
think it’s the tragic one) meets her new love. First of all, the vast, 
sumptuously decorated Upper East Side apartment would be out of reach for 
nearly anyone but a millionaire these days. A leisurely medium shot takes 
in the guests standing around, in their blazers and ties and tasteful 
evening dresses, sipping drinks, listening to classical music skillfully 
played on the piano, presumably discussing love and psychoanalysis and 
literature and who knows what else, and one suddenly realizes why it all 
looks so terribly, terribly unreal, almost touchingly unreal—this is a 
gathering of phantoms. One can see why the camera remains at a certain 
distance; if it were to move in too close one would surely be able to see 
right through what must be paper-thin, two-dimensional figures.

This is light from a dead star. The party only exists in Allen’s brain, as 
a memory or perhaps a fantasy, a crowd of cultured, moneyed, sophisticated, 
liberal-minded New Yorkers.

It is impossible to accomplish much of anything, comic, tragic or 
otherwise, on such a basis. It may be painful at times to look life and 
reality in the face, but they remain the only basis for art.

full: http://www.wsws.org/articles/2005/apr2005/meli-a06.shtml 

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