|Spongebob Squarepants: Disproving the myth of stuffy academics|
This leads me on to my main target - the (frankly, idiotic) mantra that some films were never meant to be 'over-analysed'. This is something that I have heard repeated over and again from intelligent, normally open-minded individuals, and it has to stop. Firstly, let me start with the word 'meant'. This is misleading because is presupposes that the mantra-chanter somehow had access to the inner-motivations of the film-makers when they wrote, directed, filmed and edited their work. You might well think that Michael Bay's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was never meant to be watched as anything other than entertainment, but, how exactly do you know this? Did Bay consult with you beforehand, wringing his hands over whether he is an artist, or entertainer (as if those things are mutually fucking exclusive to begin with)? No? Well then sit the fuck down. More to the point, the intent of the artist doesn't bloody matter. In scholarship / criticism / whatever, there's a rule called the Intentional Fallacy, which, in short, states that 1) We can't ever really know the intentions of an artist so there's little point in trying to decipher them, and 2) there will inevitably be meanings and subtexts in any piece of art not necessarily consciously inserted by the artist. Did Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster consciously invoke Christian iconography when they created Superman? Maybe, maybe not, but it's damn well there and you'd be a fool to deny it on the basis that the creators didn't intend it to be there.
|Gremlins is only fit for entertainment, you say? |
There is no such thing as over-analysis. You can analyse something well, and you can analyse something badly. You can make your points in a measured articulate way, or you can ramble incoherently. You can make complex ideas clear and accessible, or you can obscure simple ideas with impenetrable prose and a contempt for your reader. You can look at every facet of one frame of a film, or you can discuss the movie's big themes. You can make a value judgement based on a historical or purely aesthetic basis. You can hate a film because it's pretentious and self-indulgent, or because it's violent and over-crammed with unnecessary CGI. You can take whatever opinion of a film that you like, but you can't accuse critics of over-analysis because it's nonsensical, and this silly, embarrassing fallacy of taking criticism 'too far', whether it's for The Three Colours Trilogy or Uncle Buck, has got to stop. It's just bloody stupid.