SharkhamAsylum

Video Essays and Film Theory YouTube

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SharkhamAsylum
2 hours ago, Robotic said:

I'm waiting for someone to cross the bridge from media criticism into pure aesthetics. I don't think video is an overly fitting format for doing philosophy, but aesthetics seems like the natural exception to that rule. There's a ton of interesting things I want explained to me, but the problem is that the audience for such content is tiny, and the amount of people both qualified to teach the subject and young enough to know how to use video editing software falls close to zero, I imagine.

There's definitely some aesthetic analyses out there, but I'm on mobile so I can't be assed to look for some right now.

But I don't appreciate your use of the expression "crossing the bridge" or your implication that aesthetic analysis is some graduated level above critical analysis, when they're just two different methodologies. Apples and oranges.

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Robotic

A bridge goes both ways. I didn't mean to imply that there was a pecking order in regards to importance. That said, I think we might be working with differing conceptions of "aesthetics" if you think it's irrelevant to/incompatible with Critical Theory. Critical Theory owes a huge debt to Kant's critical aesthetic philosophy (and Kant in general, to be fair) and the traditions borne from it, culminating in Adorno's work, among other things. 

So I'm confused when you say they're two different methodologies. Aesthetics is a field subservient to a methodology.

 

 

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SharkhamAsylum
43 minutes ago, Robotic said:

A bridge goes both ways. I didn't mean to imply that there was a pecking order in regards to importance. That said, I think we might be working with differing conceptions of "aesthetics" if you think it's irrelevant to/incompatible with Critical Theory. Critical Theory owes a huge debt to Kant's critical aesthetic philosophy (and Kant in general, to be fair) and the traditions borne from it, culminating in Adorno's work, among other things. 

So I'm confused when you say they're two different methodologies. Aesthetics is a field subservient to a methodology.

Thanks for clarifying. I took your original comment as kind of supposing a dichotomy of opposite poles, with critical theory being about interpretative meaning and aesthetic analysis being more about pure execution of art—analyses of function as opposed to form, if you will. I've always thought it's impossible to judge something on purely artistic merits (just because why the art was created, by who and how, are unignorable factors in determining what the art is), so I agree with you in that they're something cooperative and intermingled. "Angles of approach" might be a better term than "methodologies." Which ideas are conveyed by this artistic element while at the same time asking which artistic elements convey this idea; "the medium is the message" and all that. I got chuffed because "purely" aesthetic analysis has a not uncommon reputation for assessing media in a cultural vacuum and de-politicizing its integral political origins and/or consequences.

Anyway, this came out a while ago but here's some pretty thoughtful, scattershot praise of The Shining by celebrated film theorist...Dunkey?

 

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The Pope

Yeah, seeing the Dunkster put out a relatively joke-free, honest and positive look at a movie was surprising to say the least. @G ☆ is right in that I mostly watch him for funnee meme not even close baybee, but at the same time he's a pretty smart and insightful dude, and even when I don't agree with his positions, he's always able to get what he's feeling across in an insightful and entertaining way.

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JazzDanceForChildren

I think aesthetic theory can be kind of difficult to present to a general audience because the linchpin for many philosophers' views on it are found in their theories about metaphysics, and certain thinkers like Plato value beauty very strongly, yet are extremely critical of art as a pursuit since his simplified metaphysical theory is essentially that the most fundamental plane of reality is the static and immaterial "noumenal" world which can only be apprehended through thought alone whereas the "phenomenal" physical world that we apprehend through our senses is a constantly changing and decaying imitation of those ideals. It's not impossible to contextualize these theories in more modern art or film, but it can be challenging because the implications of a certain theory need to be laid out as their own thing before you can really tie that into a certain work. The fact that this info needs to get filtered through so many lenses which are largely unfamiliar to anyone who hasn't studied at least someone of it already also poses some serious issues with editing and just finding the best way to present a huge amount of material at once. But some aesthetic theories are so interrelated with theories of ethics and epistemology that you can still give people some really interesting things to think about even if you just give them the simplified digest-sized version of it.

One theory that I think could be contextualized with film is Schopenhauer's aesthetic theory which is built on a distinction between the beautiful (objects which are clear and determinate representations of an underlying form that transition the observer to a tranquil and will-less state of aesthetic contemplation), the sublime (things that bear a hostile relationship to the observer and are so overwhelmingly powerful that they disrupt aesthetic contemplation by threatening to reduce the human existence and consciousness to nothing. Examples would be desert canyons and distant planets), and the stimulating (objects that resist contemplation, but because they run counter to the goals of art, such as porn that excites lust but has no deeper significance). I don't have a thorough enough background with film to make any serious examples, but I believe that a lot of this information could also be extrapolated into things like editing style and shot composition.

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SharkhamAsylum
1 hour ago, JazzDanceForChildren said:

One theory that I think could be contextualized with film is Schopenhauer's aesthetic theory which is built on a distinction between the beautiful (objects which are clear and determinate representations of an underlying form that transition the observer to a tranquil and will-less state of aesthetic contemplation), the sublime (things that bear a hostile relationship to the observer and are so overwhelmingly powerful that they disrupt aesthetic contemplation by threatening to reduce the human existence and consciousness to nothing. Examples would be desert canyons and distant planets), and the stimulating (objects that resist contemplation, but because they run counter to the goals of art, such as porn that excites lust but has no deeper significance). I don't have a thorough enough background with film to make any serious examples, but I believe that a lot of this information could also be extrapolated into things like editing style and shot composition.

Another reason why I think aesthetic theory is much rarer ia because theories such as these may not even be able to reach an adequate pinnacle in the vast majority of, shall we say, "normative" film. Not necessarily mainstream, just normative, following familiar filmmaking conventions like...having a narrative. Or straight-forward visuals.

Is a truly Beautiful film really going to be one that's concerned primarily with a plot? How can a film achieve sublimity with shots of say, a great canyon, that won't be overshadowed by the real deal? Stimulation may be the best we can achieve directly, through the visceral body genres.

My keyword earlier was "adequate pinnacle." 2001: A Space Odyssey is widely considered a "sublime film," for example. Maybe Andy Warhol's Empire, too, for its sheer unflinching persistence. There's a film I can't remember the name of that's just that - a blank film strip, scratched on and splashed with paint in some places. Is that the purest form to which "film" can achieve? But of course, that's just the art, we're supposed to refer to the artform as "cinema."

In a way, film is still a very new medium, with mainstream sound film still less than 100 years old. Perhaps we're still figuring it out, which is why theory like this is more important than ever.

But, and while there'll always be some overlap I think, it's an angle of approach that's definitely distinct in its goals from articulating what the aspects of dystopia in Blade Runner 2049 imply in a larger context, for example, or analyzing what Paul Blart Mall Cop's eponymous buffoon proposes is comedic about consumerism, the American working class, and law enforcement.

 

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Robotic

It's a cliche at this point, but I definitely feel that Terrence Malick's stuff comes closest to the Kantian/Schopenhauer-ian conception of the beautiful and the sublime. I don't think it's a coincidence that his films at the very least least de-emphasize story and traditional character focus, and often completely disregard them altogether. I also don't think it's a coincidence that Malick was a Heidegger scholar and translator before he became a filmmaker (and obviously tons has been said about how Heidegger's phenomenology is all over his movies). 

The fact that storytelling is the dominant use of film is an interesting topic in itself, because it didn't have to turn out that way, and it really limits the art form. I'm sure someone has written about that.

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Deaniac

I started listening to Lindsay's "Whole Plate" series on Transformers at work, and in a word, it's fascinating. As I write this I'm on Part 5, and I'm surprised by how insightful and analytical it's been - far more than a movie franchise with dry humping robots, wrecking ball testicles, and John Tuturro's ass deserves.

Anyways, KaptianKristian is my go to for video essays. His editing style is slick, his voice is calming, and he talks about subjects I'm interested in for the most part, not just film but animation, music, and comics. I find myself mirroring a lot of his opinions throughout his videos...for the most part.

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SharkhamAsylum
35 minutes ago, Deaniac said:

I started listening to Lindsay's "Whole Plate" series on Transformers at work, and in a word, it's fascinating. As I write this I'm on Part 5, and I'm surprised by how insightful and analytical it's been - far more than a movie franchise with dry humping robots, wrecking ball testicles, and John Tuturro's ass deserves.

Anyways, KaptianKristian is my go to for video essays. His editing style is slick, his voice is calming, and he talks about subjects I'm interested in for the most part, not just film but animation, music, and comics. I find myself mirroring a lot of his opinions throughout his videos...for the most part.

Lindsay Ellis is seriously just super good, maybe my favorite on the internet right now. As mentioned in her first episode of "The Whole Plate," it's very much kind of a Film Theory 101 class as far as the concepts discussed and introduced, but I love the hook of framing everything in relation to Transformers. It's such a perfect vehicle for this kind of thing and I give her a lot of kudos for making it so swell.

And KaptainKristian is stellar, although definitely a whole different style than Lindsay and the like's more analytic videos. I very much like his channel description: "visual love letters."

 

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SharkhamAsylum

One more thought on Lindsay Ellis: I'd love it if she ever wrote an autobiography. I think we're entering an age of the internet where those kinds of firsthand accounts of what it means to be an "internet personality" are going to be vital, as cultural chronicles, kind of. She's got the self-awareness, introspection, intelligence, and wit to pull it off, a great journey as a critic, and folks, look me in the eye and say you wouldn't want to hear what it was like to really work for Channel Awesome at its peak. A hundred whole pages probably couldn't even do the nightmare of Kickassia justice.

Anyway, here's a cool thing:

 

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Biodegradable

Fredrik Knudsen's got a new episode of his Down the Rabbit Hole series out. His longest one yet.

 

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TheOneManBoxOffice

 

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Deaniac

I binged the first season of Stranger Things before I saw the new It, and though they both share similarities in its embrace of 80's nostalgia among other things (Finn Wolfhard notwithstanding), Stranger Things does embrace the feel good, rose tinted aspects of that era while It definitely embraces the less picturesque, more cynical aspects of the era, especially with all the child abduction commentary.

Anyways, I totally forgot that Lindsay made that excellent Mel Brooks video, which I happened to find on Twitter coincidentally a while back, so I finally subbed her because she deserves it. I'm glad she's formed her own identity instead of just being remembered as "Nostalgia Chick", because man she does not pull any punches. 

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SharkhamAsylum

So, Patreon has instated brand new payment mechanics where the onus of processing fees is shifted from the creator to the customer. Instead of a patron making a $1.00 donation and the appropriate cut being taken out by Patreon, the a patron's donation automatically has the processing fees added to it, turning a $1.00 donation into a ~$1.35 donation by the current model. While seemingly insignificant, this can gut the ability of a low-income person to support a large number of content creators. It may have a ripple effect on a lot of great video producers.

Anyway,

 

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The Pope

Basically the purpose of the model is to encourage a handful of big spenders rather than an army of $1 supporters. Which if you know anything about the F2P economy is a fucking terrible and toxic idea to make a living. Exploiting rich people with addictive personalities is not only bad business (as even a decent amount of $100 per month donators can't top thousands of people dripping a dollar into the bucket), it's just mean to people who don't want to give more than a few bucks, let alone those who can't. It's called "crowdfunding" for a reason, rather than "rich donator funding".

If Patreon's got a single brain cell spinning in their head they'll realize they screwed the pooch and reverse this, quick. If not, well, we can probably expect Patreon to go down the toilet in 2018. Good job fuckos, you ruined it.

Oh, and to pour salt in the wound, Patreon's first tweet after the announcement was "This content creator provides tips on maintaining positive mental health!". You know, right after fucking over creators by causing waves of patrons to jump ship. Classy!

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SharkhamAsylum

What's so fucking unbelievable is that Patreon was fine before this. They were sustainable. They were doing okay and making money. But they weren't making enough money so they've fucked over half of their userbase just so that their machine could make more money with fewer parts. Part of their reasoning was literally that they thought having users on their site with less than a truckload of cash going to them made them look bad to high-income draws. There's a dozen Patreon-dependent content creators that I love, and this shameless cash grab is at all of their expense. Crapitalism strikes again!

Like every fucking content creator is just so goddamn desperate for literally any kind of service that will allow people to pay them for their work directly with no bullshit (I mean, no middleman at all would be preferable, but still) and Patreon fucking had it, they cracked the formula, and then they threw it in the fucking garbage.

Anyway,

 

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Whelt

Yeah I've heard about the Patreon thing from a bunch of artists I follow. I only actually pledge to a small handful of favorites on Patreon, because those pledges can add up quick, but I'm also seeing disappointment from the hundreds of others I follow on social media who have Patreons of their own.

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