Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Corner...

Overheard yesterday @ Café Pamplona, post-seminar:

"I don't know if movies like American Pie 
are, like, mimicking American culture or, 
like, making it."

Now. Far be it from me to wax overly critical of this inquiry --- but I will say this: the sad truth is the answer is neither. It is, in fact, both. Sha-whaaa? A double answer? A non-answer?

Consider this, one can fill in just about any piece of art in the blank: "______ makes modernity, and modernity makes ______." My own esteemed Pedagogue uses this governing dictum to navigate through a course on Shakespeare and Modern Culture, and I purport that such a symbiosis between art and culture is the imperative, and not the exception. According to another Cultural Savant who espouses the essential nature of this cyclical relationship, endeavoring to understand culture by understanding a particular work “is part of the social contract with appreciating anything artful”. Your making that art a part of your life “is the most transcendent thing any kind of art can accomplish". While in his book, the Author happens to be talking about Saved By The Bell (a mildly less compelling example of artfulness than, say, Hamlet), the concept, as Lacan wrote, engenders the thing. Modern culture’s contract with _____ is that it will endeavor to understand itself, through _____. This is the proof and pudding all in one.

So now back to you - Sidewalk Philosopher, Cinephile of the Late-90s Persuasion, Tea Drinker - did American Pie mimic us, or make us? The low-culture (a term I mostly despise for its divisive tendencies) gems of Pie-Copulation, Acronyms-for-maternal-Copulation (I'm starting to see a trend...), and yes - Stifler's Mom outcries all aside (trend verified, btw), if American Pie made us, we made it first. And before we made it, it made us too.

See the problem with the question you ask?

What's to glean here - what's absolutely germane - is that the question is vastly more important than the answer. Answers diminish potentiality, and that, unless thoughtfully considered can diminish the perpetuity of the very art (a term, perhaps, loosely applied to American Pie) you consider. But so long as its got you thinking, asking, wondering, and "considering" - its done the job it set out to do. And that's the point.

Let me put it to you like this, isn't anything cinematic, like, ten-times more interesting before you know how it ends?