Saturday, September 24, 2011


It's best to just ignore these things because they tend to go away on their own if we do, but I also think GQ needs a public shaming for hiring Natasha Vargas-Cooper as a film columnist. Read this typo-plagued column and see if you agree with me that this woman is the worst writer and stupidest thinker ever to appear in an international publication.
I have a strong personal belief that critics need to understand the history and canonical works of the medium they choose to write about, which is unfortunately unfashionable with a certain breed of loud, twentysomething critics who are surprisingly getting work from a lot of mainstream and prominent alternative publications terrified about the future of print media and scrambling for relevance in all the wrong places. I like long, thoughtful pieces from critics with a lot of knowledge. I guess I'm a dinosaur. If Vargas-Cooper, Karina Longworth, and Nathan Rabin are the future, I'm happy being a dinosaur. Also, hire a fucking copy editor, GQ.
Here are some highlights (lowlights?) from Vargas-Cooper's column if you have better things to do than read the whole thing (and everyone clearly does have better things to do):

"Let the film school prigs, art house snobs, and the better half of film critics publishing today slavishly catalogue the classics and engage in numbing debates over who did it first and who did it better. Whether reverence for movies from a bygone era is rooted in merit, nostalgia, or neurosis about film being an inferior medium to literature, movies keep pace with social mores of a time and deserve to be free of the tastes and prejudices of people who grew up without Quentin Tarantino."

"Let's be untethered from history, ignore the tug of the familiar, and resolve that any movie made before, say, 1986 has received its due respect and move on."

"History does not inform the value of a film; you need never see a stylized Godard flick or Cary Grant comedy to understand the enthralling power of Fargo or Independence Day."

"This column will survey the new movie canon. The rules of the game (Ha! That's the name of a classic movie I have never seen. Eat it ,1939!)"

Boy, I bet 1939 is really stewing over that zinger. She really stuck it to 1939 good. Yeah, she really did say that "any move made before ... 1986" has received its due respect and should no longer be discussed. I can think of at least 500 pre-1986 movies off the top of my head that haven't received their due respect. Finding these films has been one of my life's greatest joys. Isn't the Internet saturated with more writing about post-1986 films anyway? I think you'll find that The Dark Knight has already received its due respect and then some, while Raoul Walsh's The Man I Love (1947) or Wim Wenders' The State of Things (1982), to pick just two random examples that came to me quickly, haven't been written about enough or even released on DVD in this country. When Joe Strummer sang, "No Elvis, Beatles, or the Rolling Stones in 1977," he was making his case for the present and the future in a way that Vargas-Cooper may think she's doing now. They're similar positions, I guess. The difference is, Strummer knew his history, was a hell of a lot more eloquent, had more at stake, and knew he was being a bit of a liar. (He loved those three artists.) Strummer spent the rest of his musical career incorporating the rich history of the past into the present and the future. Vargas-Cooper brags about her lack of knowledge of film history like it's some kind of intellectual badge of honor. That's a stupid thing to do. Why close yourself off from any part of the past or the present? Why be proud of narrowing your interests? Why gloat about it? I've already given her more of my time than she deserves. Articles like these don't matter much. The proliferation of articles like these, though, matters a lot in the long run. If our culture decides the present is the only thing worth investing in, the past becomes economically unattractive and some of it disappears from availability. Everything is not available on the Internet, despite a sometimes overwhelming belief in this myth. I don't expect most people to care about esoteric 1940s films. We have different hobbies and interests. I don't care much about furniture or baseball. Some people live for those things, though, and I don't want their passions and histories to disappear.


Anonymous said...

i hope she finds a lump in her armpit.

Plop Blop said...

This is really gross on a lot of different levels. I can't wait until we just have Jr. High school students reviewing each others tweets in the culture sections of websites.