Saturday, October 15, 2005

Flightplan

Ever since I began writing B4K with me and my brothers, I've been paying more and more attention to how stories are told and the conventions that dictate their readability.

Because of the nature of the world that B4K takes place in, I'm trying as much as possible to avoid the traditional ways comics are structured, stories told and even how worlds operate. Its difficult however, as too often when you are creating a narrative, you'll find yourself adding in certain things, or altering things to match some expectations of how a story is told.

For example, too often in Hindi movies one gets the feeling that one or two songs are "extra" that they were added in, not to ehance the plot, but merely to fill the space in order to meet the "conventional" number of songs in a Hindi movie. But then, in some directors films, such as Nasin Hussain's, the style dictates certain elements in certain places, such as an outrageous over the top fight scene right before the film's last minutes.

Ultimately, the form in which something is made, is never nuetral. Whether or not one picks a genre, one will ultimately be subject to specific ideologies of interpretation and understanding. We can define these ideologies, based on how we anticipate what certain things will mean from their place in film. For example, the creaking of a door opening, will mean something different if its in a horror movie, a comedy or a porno movie.

But of course, these expectations often go beyond the form themselves, but into the very representations themselves. One could refer to this as stereotyping, but by using that term, you would just be stereotyping these forms of representations. It goes far deeper than just superficial images, these expectations can be intricate, beautiful, artistically intense, and still follow a very obvious logic.

For example, stories of Ancient Chamorro life all tend to reproduce the same events and meaning. A beautiful, simple people, living as one with nature, yet all the stories that I have come across emphasis the same basic narrative, that of the fall from this native state, as symbolized by a heroic death (most notably the story of I dos amantes, or the two lovers who jumped from a cliff together). Is there no other way of portraying this period of time? Why do artists and writers consistently to this type of narrative, which re-enacts the death of the Chamorro, and thus like The Passion, says its intent is one thing, but in reailty communicates a far different message (for Chamorros, the message becomes an obsession with this death, which prevents an obsession with life from taking place (thus perpetuating the same old narratives)).

Most recently I saw the movie Flightplan, from which a discussion about one logic of strong female characters can be discerned. I wanted to watch the film, because of a similar movie that came out last year The Forgotten. Both of them, deal with hysterical mothers, who lose a child, which everyone around them says does not exist. I was intrigued when another movie came out which had the same basic narrative impossible twist and so decided that if this was I trend, I should try to follow it. Both films portray strong female roles, whose strength is derived from their maternal bond, which refuses to give into social reality, but instead clings to something which is dead and disconnected, because the social refuses to recognize that it existed. My question after watching both films was, does this type of strong role, require that hyper hysterical moment, where the woman can only be thought of as hopelessly delusional? Without intentionally attempting to avoid this very critique, could this character be created without a stop-over in psychosis?

But these sorts of limitations take on all forms. In film noir for example, the trajectory of the femme fatale is often times the same. For most of the film she is an aggressive, manipulating and powerful woman, before whom the protagonist is just putty to be pawned. At some point in the narrative this woman, who at one point was so powerful and controlling is broken down, and she is revealed to be nothing more than a thing manipulated by something other man, who is either impotent or hidden away. One can find similar stories with female warriors in martial arts movies. Where the price of being a strong warrior, who exceeds her role, is usually her death or humiliation.

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