An infrequently updated dumping ground for one culture junkie's thoughts on film and whatever else

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

In which we take a firm stance against a certain proclivity among bloggers (and then casually rescind it)

Why does m——core (I don't like typing out the full name) always inspire so much prognostication? It feels like every piece I read is either announcing its death, or proclaiming its rejuvenation, or some other damn projection of the unknowable. Today's variant, courtesy feisty blogger Karina Longworth, seems to carry the unwritten tag "M——core Gone Mainstream" (Ms. Longworth would never write such a tacky headline as that, but she did write one that illustrates my point about bloggers' prognostication fetish).

Okay, so Noah Baumbach is putting m——core muse / hipster sexpot Greta Gerwig (pictured) in his next movie, and he's bringing along the (non)movement's contentious kingpin Joe Swanberg as a cameraman. Karina is convinced that This Means Something. For her, it portends that "the m-word might cease to exist as a stand-alone concept" as "its stars and spirit are being assimilated into mainstream indie film." I dunno. Steven Soderbergh shoots a couple of DIY-style features on video and all of a sudden we're talking about assimilation and existence-ceasing? Unless Karina has intel she's not sharing, there's no indication that Baumbach's Greenberg will be DIYish or shot digitally or bear any m——core signifiers. Isn't it possible, even likely, that Baumbach merely wanted to make use of Gerwig's talents as an actress and wanted to give Swanberg experience on a professional set?

It's been acknowledged many times over that m——core exists more in the minds of critics than in the intentions of filmmakers, and that the tag has become an albatross for movies that want nothing to do with it (see one of my favorites of last year, Joshua Safdie's entrancing The Pleasure of Being Robbed, which was interesting largely for the ways in which it broke from m——core tradition yet still was lumped in with the "movement"). So can we further acknowledge that this relentless prognostication—a symptom of the blogosphere's instantaneity—about m——core and The Future of Indie Film isn't really any more useful than, say, Oscar predictions?

I don't want to target Karina, who I think was being at least slightly tongue-in-cheek with that headline about The Future, and I'm grateful to her for bringing this item to my attention. The prospect of Greta Gerwig paired up with Ben Stiller (!) is more than a little intriguing, and I liked Baumbach's last two features enough to follow him pretty much anywhere. (I've avoided most of Swanberg's features, so I'm not as, erm, intimately aware of Ms. Gerwig as I could be, but I liked her a lot in the Duplass Bros.' funny genre mishmash Baghead). But if bloggers and critics (and filmmakers) are all so eager for the m——core moniker (and associated talking points) to go away, why don't they stop talking about it?

Because that wouldn't be any fun, stupid. (I'm addressing myself as stupid, for the record, not Karina or anyone else.)

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