Saturday, May 27, 2006

The Anti-Populism of the Coen Brothers

"O Brother Where Art Thou?" Blackface Minstrelsy equivalent of Southern peasants. C'est ça. C'est tout. C'est de l'humeur "slapstick" aux dépens d'une population pauvre du Sud. C'est complètement de la nature du "blackface minstrelsy" dans laquelle les minstruels blancs ont parodiés une population noire pour rigoler et pour maintenir leur domination. C'etait une imaginaire tout à fait stéreotypique des noirs aux E-U par des blancs qui les ont représenté comme dans leurs fantasmes, avec plein d'effets sociaux. Donc, O'Brother est un film consommé par des amèricains et des Européens cultivés pour des rires au sujet d'une population qu'ils connaissent pas. J'aime bien certains films des frères Coens (Barton Fink, par exemple, ou le Hudsucker proxy) mais ils sont dans le fond anti-populaire, la plupart de ces films. Ils exploitent la figure ancienne du "agroikos" pour montrer une vision du monde dans laquelle des fois il arrive une personne d'origine populaire qui est doué, mais quant à la plupart de cette population, il faut se méfier d'elles. Le rire a des origines idéologiques une fois qu'elles sont dévoilées qui deviennent dérangentes. Les personnages de George Clooney et de John Goodman sont plus rusés que le reste, comme Ulysse, bien sûr. Quand même, leurs performances sont magnifiques comme acteurs. Donc les frères Coens construisent bien des histoires, mais leurs personnages revèlent une vision des artistes qui n'est pas très basé sur le terrain social mais dans un univers du bon et du mal (en effet, y a des fois qqch. de surnaturelle qui intervient ainsi a la fin du O Brother, sur le point de pendre. Et la plupart du temps le mal se situe dans une classe particuliere. En tout cas, je continue a adorer surtout The Big Lebowski. Ces films sont très amusants, même si on ignore souvent la question du public.

6 comments:

le Meg said...

Ils sont très divers, ces frères. Diriez-vous que le même s'applique à Fargo? Que diriez-vous de la fin opposée du spectre, Intolerable Cruelty?

They're very varied, these brothers. Would you say that the same applies to Fargo? What about the opposite end of the spectrum, Intolerable Cruelty?

Jayson said...

I think it applies less to Fargo, but the whole thing is full of stock figures of stupidity, from the goofball who hires the thugs to kidnap his wife, to the girls in Bemidji who describe "this guy" in the local accent as "real funny lookin." In "Barton Fink," "Hudsucker Proxy," "O Brother" "Raising Arizona" there is always a redeeming character from humbler origins amid a majority of buffoons. But the buffonery is not spread equally among social classes and they seem to be interested in a more classical notion of good and evil and figures of the bumpkin for comic relief, instead of stories based on a knowledge that draws from the reservoir of contemporary sociological analysis. That said, I find them a guilty pleasure. I'm laughing, but I know at whose expense.

Stronger Than Dirt Pete Moss said...

I've always been kind of fascinated by your long-term indignation with this movie. And by "fascinated," I mean "slightly puzzled." Not that I disagree with you outright. I pretty much can't settle on a conclusion. The debate makes my head hurt a little, because I thought that movie was funny (and I have a hard time not striving to defend anything that makes me laugh) ... but I think you make some valid points about it. And then other people disagree with you ... and they make some valid counter-points, too. (Or not ... maybe they just say "Screw you, Harsin, you wet blanket!" and I mistake that for good argument, perhaps due to excessive exposure to lawyers, who all pretty much argue that way.) Ouch! Mi cabeza! So kudos to you for bringing it into another language. Still, the movie is almost six years old now. Maybe time to move on to a new target? Like the Coen Brothers' cruel treatment of sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome in "The Ladykillers"? Talk about kicking 'em when they're down ... them Coen Bros. is mean and evil boll weevils ...

Jayson said...

STDPM,
You are the messiah. I didn't know you read French. Yeah, I know, re: datedness. It's just that I've been on some French lists lately where the worshipful seem to recite O Brother in their sacrement. So, I've been provoked. Again, it's not that I don't like it in a sense. I laugh. But since I'm an egghead and have been trying to think about the socio-political implications of humor, I've been forced to ask myself some questions. And that is the conclusion I have.
By the way, have you found any plaid pants to cut off?
xxxo
Get thee to Gaul

Stronger Than Dirt Pete Moss said...

I can't read French any more than I can save the souls of humanity. Except for the cognates. And there were enough of those for me to recognize the rant. I figured you had a good reason -- just funning with you a little. No plaid pants yet, but the weekend is young. Painfully hot and humid, but young.

Here's a little French -- the White Sox suque. Loseurs.

Une équipe de base-ball très mauvaise à l'heure actuelle. Décevoir. Je suis fâché.

OK, I used Babelfish for that last part. So I'm a cheater.

Stronger Than Dirt Pete Moss said...

Of course, now that I went and posted that piqueish (piquey? pique-ant?) little gripe, the Sox manage to hit a grand-slam in the 9th and break their losing streak. C'est la guerre, I guess.