Yesterday, on Skype, Dave told me that he knows tons of guys in San Francisco who make games and they all want to make real narrative movies, not games. “It’s just the way it is here,” he said, “tons of them making games and they all want to make movies.”
Dave works at Pacific Film Archives in Berkeley and moonlights teaching a class on Avid at Art Academy University in San Francisco (AAU) where I’m working on an MFA in music for visual media. Dave and I were skyping about unpredictable behavior of the Avid program. I’ve decided that Avid is a hoax that targets nerds who want to make movies, it’s like one of those parasites that promotes its life cycle by programming the behavior of the hosts they infect with the result that they commit suicide. It makes zombies.
Gretchen Winkler, another AAU student also working on an MFA but in illustration, posted a lament on Facebook about the stereotyping of Germans, “as if we’re all Nazis”. I commented that it isn’t Germans but bureaucrats that organize mob behavior to carry out pogroms and German culture is quintessentially bureaucratic.
Last night, I watched John Huston’s screen adaptation of Carson McCuller’s “Reflections in a Golden Eye” after first disappointing myself watching the tragic acting performances of Clint Eastwood and two of his girl friends in a soft porn piece called, “Play Misty for Me”. Huston’s adaptation of McCuller’s book with Brando, Taylor, Harris, etc., disturbed my dreams and in the morning I beheld the context that cements Avid’s effect and Gretchen’s observations into an idea about the relevance of narratives, at least for a small fraction of the human population that reads books and likes Woody Allen’s films.
Everything about “Play Misty…” typifies pornography, a melodrama made for the box office: shallow story heavy on spectacle and everything about “Reflections…” evokes feelings that reveal the kind of confusion we suffer that leads us to become thoughtless bureaucrats. Eastwood’s shallow film tried for box office success playing on a stereotype of mental illness. Huston’s movie tells a story about the ubiquitously unbalanced mental state that suffuses all bureaucracies. McCuller’s story is a description in detail of the phenonmenon that psychologist Eric Fromm called, escape from freedom. Call it voluntary zombi-ism, Nazism, neo-conservatism, call it what you will.
Dave’s game-makers don’t aspire to make pornography in narrative form, they long to tell a relevant story. Like Eastwood when he made “Misty”, they may not know the distinction that divides kitsch from art. Though they can render a script and film a story, there is nothing in their experience nor education that might compel them to produce art while they live in a whirlpool of kitsch. Historically, good stories are uncommon. McCullers was in her teens when she wrote “The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter”, one of the most poignant, beautiful and powerful stories reflecting racism in America and anywhere.