Why relaunch my blog with a specific emphasis on film and politics?
Inspired by such declarations of purpose as Dogme 95, the Oberhausen Manifesto, Dziga Vertov’s We: Variant of a Manifesto and Charles Foster Kane’s “Declaration of Principles,” I’d like to outline my reasons below in a little manifesto. I’ve always liked such proclamations. Pretentious and polemical, sure. But they’re also passionate and alive.
So here are 6 reasons for ReelPolitik’s being:
1. Because over the next 16 months, we will enter a contentious period of political skulduggery, with lies, distortions, and propaganda from both the right and the left. And filmmakers, film lovers and the film community need more places to exchange ideas, vent, and respond to the political-ideological formations of that mass entertainment machine known as the movies. As a community, we must also remember that there’s strength in numbers, and if we don’t want the country (and the world) to go to hell, we must stay politically involved.
2. Because we have lost sight of what film can do. And I don’t mean that sort of middlebrow agit-prop activist way, where shoddily-made movies get people to think about a social issue for about 20 minutes, feel good about themselves for doing so, and then go back to their apathetic lives. I mean a cinema that artfully opens people’s eyes to issues, ideas, history, culture and humanity in a profound way.
3. Because international conglomerates and telecommunication giants increasingly define and dictate our entertainment options and offerings. Despite the new digital all-access content universe, there are forces working to squelch our media freedoms, and I want to add to the chorus of vocal opposition to those controls and censorship.
4. Because the film industry establishment can be useful to film artists, helping to cultivate talent, but they can also squelch that talent, destroy that talent, and usurp that talent. And we need to hold those destructive individuals and institutions accountable.
5. Because Hollywood can be strongly reactionary, perpetuating racist, sexist and xenophobic attitudes that percolate and reinforce these beliefs in our culture. And if you don’t think a progressive blog is necessary to address the supposedly “left-wing” leanings of Hollywood, check out my article (“‘Secretariat’ Isn’t Hollywood’s Only Secretly Conservative Blockbuster“), which I think offers sufficient evidence that mainstream culture–and the corporations that control it–deserve watchdogs of all political persuasions.
6. Because, as John Waters once told me in this indieWIRE interview: “Going to movies is political, how you watch them is political, why you like them is political and how they are distributed is political.”
And while I don’t yet have the audience of right-wing political film websites such as Andrew’s Breitbart’s Big Hollywood or Libertas Film Magazine or Drudge, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to provide an equally impassioned counterpoint.
I look forward to the dialogue, debate, conversation, and controversy this blog brings. Please feel free to comment, and tell me what you’d like to hear about or discuss.
I’d also like to thank indieWIRE contributor Bryce Renninger for suggesting the name of this blog. I think it’s pretty catchy.