|English: Susan Sontag's tomb, Montparnasse cemetery, Paris Deutsch: Susan Sontag Grab, Friedhof Montparnasse, Paris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Comparisons of this kind are pernicious and possibly invidious, but I am not absolutely uncomfortable with the idea that - in the great hierarchy of genre - TV is where it iz and movies are where it wuz. Though there's precious little soul in appealing to authority, I can find plenty of folk to back me up:
Even in cine-mad Manhattan, where the admonitory ghost of Susan Sontag haunts theaters by night, the new movie that everybody’s talking about is being talked about by a shrinking number of everybodies. It’s seldom the presiding topic of cocktail chat and intellectual quarrel, as it was when critic Pauline Kael led the wagon train. (Her successors at The New Yorker, David Denby and Anthony Lane, might as well be tinkling the piano in the hotel lobby for all the commotion they create.) Movies divide and stratify; television, like sports, is the democratic includer. Mention Breaking Bad, Madonna’s Super Bowl halftime Cleopatra-a-go-go procession, Abby Lee Miller’s latest volcanic diatribe on Dance Moms, or Downton Abbey and all the birdies start to pipe up, except for the one pill present (there’s always at least one), who takes pride in declaiming that he or she never watches television—they only listen to NPR. Pity these poor castaways. They must stand there with glassy, uncomprehending eyes while the rest of us tongue-flap about the latest installment of a favorite series down to the last crumb, like Proust scholars.
That's from an article in last year's Vanity Fair called Prime Time's Graduation by James Wolcott. I will not spoil the excitement of your own journey through his argument - and wasn't that a graceful evasion of responsibility - but the density of his examples is persuasive, particularly if you think Art (whatever that is but we have some idea) should be Democratic (what that means but we have some idea, in particular that it should make for good conversation, conversation as play, with equals for fun and games).
Anyway, this idea makes me feel better about starting the class with fillum and moving on to teevee. I wish we had asked David Thomson - who came to our class this week as water comes to the desert - to flesh out this topic. He implied he agreed? Kind of?? I recall he mentioned HBO as one of his top two film studios. Ah well. I left my notes at work, but blog posts exist in the here and now, not the wait and see.