Monday, December 4, 2017

The Win Loss Economy of Capitalism over Feminism in Contemporary Popular Film

I also had three other titles for this post.
Try them out:

Four Titled Blog on Heuristics and Capitalism
Sneaky Capitalism: How Money Hides Behind and Successfully Exploits Heuristic Politics
How Heuristics are Failing the Value of Economy

I gave up and settled on the title I posted.
Because this blog is about economics, not heuristics.

About the essay:
I got it and read it, a cultural critique of a film, lauding the increased presence of women on the silver screen.  The critique claimed a change from the 1950’s to the 1980’s.

Was this a win for women?

Next Question (not the same question): 
Was this a win for feminism?

Third Question (different again): 
Was this a win for our common, capital, market economy?

Fourth Question (following the train of thought of this short essay): 
Were there any winners that matter to us as persons, as members of families, to those of us who seek to compromise, understand our place in the world, and create economy between parties that is mutually reinforcing and ecologically sound?

Now, I know the fourth question is a biggy; the subconscious integration of capital economy in our social gene bone marrow code is a big problem.  So therefore I am stuck with a biggy kind of question.

Anyone who wants to help me along with a more incisive question, please do!  Contributions welcome!

As a bit of back bone to this film industry invective.  I looked at numbers, not an equal number of directors, not an equal number of invitations to the ‘awards’, not an equal this that or the other.  So my math is good enough to know that one kind of equal puts the same number on each side of an equal sign (5=5).  Equality, however, not measured in equal signs or balanced equations.  Call it too many beers, too few scruples, and too much loose cannon noise in my brain.  Maybe my math is not good enough.  I consent to my limited arithmetic balance and assume responsibility that this invective is wholly mine.

And a final backbone addendum before I start, I would like to quote from Alan Jacobs’ “How to Think”.  Check it out: 

Here’s the quote:

“… we are all inveterate taxonomists, and go through our days lumping and splitting like crazy.  And we tend to taxonimize according to the heuristics – the strategies of simplification that relieve cognitive load… identifying ingroups and outgroups, deploying keywords and the like…” (p. 114)

The care to be taken when we write or discuss matters (or argue most likely as the case too often is) is to acknowledge that we use keywords (plastic words – Ivan Illich would have said) to express or describe a position or an idea, without really thinking too hard about what the keyword might mean.  In which case, we use the keyword because we understand that, without buttressing and clarification, the keyword will be accepted as understood, the writer and reader assume a shared social platform and mutually agreed political position.  Unfortunately, what happens is that the argument presented is accepted without critique.  The thesis passes untested.

Depending on these plastic keywords, that really could mean anything and so mean little to nothing, we judge the world quickly with heuristic language; too often it is sloppy thinking and self serving of our social and political group identity.  And we end up failing to understand a deeper truth behind our daily experience.

Wondering what heuristic might mean?
Try:  a cognitive or linguistic shortcut to get to the judgment (answer) quickly, without any laborious computing.

When I use heuristic words I am saying, “Come on guys.  I know you all agree with me.  So let’s get on with tromping on those who don’t!”

Do I need to mansplain any further?  If so, send me a comment.

Now, on with my indulgence.

Once upon a time, it is proposed, male actors dominated the silver screen.  Today, it is less so, though still the number crunchers aren’t quite happy.

To explain that imbalance, using feminist discourse, I would dive in with words like agenda, gender, sexuality, misogyny, subservience, active-passive duality, heteronormative, oppression, white patriarchy, violence, alienation, fear, men, women, spaceships, race, assault, sex and sexual, hierarchy, colour, culture of domination, and girls and you name it.

Discourse and clear thinking, however, are not synonymous terms .

Which means only to take care to acknowledge that gender does not equal sex does not equal male does not equal female does not equal race or power or hierarchy or dominance or society etc.

They are all quite different concepts or facts, as the case may be.
So if we are mixing things up in sentences to discuss equality, I suggest that it is healthy to try to keep a clear head on the competing ideological, practical, or, heaven forbid, economic interests.

Definitions matter and, with definition, the use of words can help construct platforms for discussion.

Without definition, reasonably accepted from a reasonably broad cohort of participants in that discussion, discussions become hazy and words obfuscating and then degrade into a platform for argument and debate arises.  Wherein we only aim to win our argument, not pursue meaningful and progressive mutual adaptation in our lives.

Check out this battle between three women.
The example topic is gun control in the US.
The example purpose is to show how far women, just like men, can slide down the slippery slope of debate, simply for the purposes of winning.
No discussion.  No common ground.  Only positioning and power mongering.

I found that little video clip somewhere close to hilarious.

Now, the parallel is that, when it comes to domination of an argument or stature in the film industry, a white female human dominating the scene in a film is no different than a black male dominating the scene.
Or any character with domination traits.
It is just dominance and displays of power and subservience.
Much like the feather ruffling in the video.

In a movie viewing population (regardless of sex or gender identity or political position) where most of us are sold on the economics of rational choice theory – survival of the fittest Darwinian stuff – we are going to love dominance of any kind, because that is what we have been taught to believe is an appealing place to be.  That’s who the wealthy, successful, and prominent people are, no?  The CEOs who run the corps?  The socialites who own the magazines?  Those who have climbed to the top.

If that were not the case, the feminist agenda would not be crunching equal numbers of who is a senator, who is a CEO, and who directs a film.

When being at the top is the measure of success, sad story for relationships between men and women and other loving people, family, community, and the ecology of this planet which we are ripping apart.

Some alternative reading in the direction of this last comment could include:

Elinor Ostrom – common pool resource economics
Ursula Le Guin – science fiction and the human condition

What are the top selling films?  Power and dominance are what sell well in the box office.  going it alone.  Relationships are all subservient.

Hollywood, I suspect, does not care a hoot if the dominant one is male, female, transgendered or whatever colour of the palette.

It follows that the more diversity Hollywood can show in any capacity, dominant or otherwise, the more folks they can draw into a box office, which is what I suspect is up in most films… how to draw everyone possible into a single film – mass appeal.

That makes the placement of a female (which I propose is a neutral biological term) in a position of power in a movie is an economic choice by film producers.  Dominant behaviours and scenes are precisely that, about dominance.  Very little to do with gender issues, I propose, or womanhood, or manhood etc.

Take the sci-fi genre.  The placement of any type of person and their hierarchy on a spaceship to travel through the galaxy is about successful mission, serving the corporate technocracy that produced the spaceship.  What the technocracy wants is successful mission.  They, like the Hollywood producers, don’t give a hoot about sex or gender.  They want their investment to be secured.  The last thing they want is for women and men to behave in a politically flat, mutually beneficial, democratic behaviour pattern that respects the differences and unique qualities that arise through gendered roles in any society or community.

The people on board that ship would quickly realize that each of them is expendable when push comes to shove.  Saving mission is their only priority.  So they subordinate their sexuality and gender in the interests of the corporation.

I know you are all thinking “Martian”.  No exception.  The film is about nothing but saving mission.  Everybody is a superhero.  Families of all characters are put on the backburner.

I see this as a classic example of the impact of capitalism on our personal and human lives – the elimination of sexuality and gender and community in the interests of hierarchy, corporate mission, and power.

Under the rubric of an ecological economy, one in which we as a species may well be interested if we wish to survive on this planet, we would produce a very different spaceship.  Might not produce a spaceship at all.

Back to Ursula Le Guin, visionary, non-corporate science fiction.  The question explored in “Always Coming Home” (1985) and the economy of the Kesh people.

A non-capital economy.  One in which adaptation, interlocutory evolution, open sourced problem solving, and equity are the values, not wealth, possession, or stature.  Imagine.

What would that movie look like?

Different dream.

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