Thursday, April 15, 2010

Matt's 11 AM Section

Relevant Not Relic

This response is triggered from a fear of aging and Appadurai's essay Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy which discusses cultural reproduction in a rapidly changing global environment. Is it strange that at 21 I am already hearing my friends tell me that they are getting older, as if the prime of their lives is drawing to an end? Is it strange that sometimes I may find myself agreeing with them? It seems to me that whoever coined the phrase thirty is the new twenty was probably forty, and they don't know what some younger people actually think.

That being said, I feel like I am already preoccupied with time and aging. I see my grandparents, disconnected; I see my mother, getting connected; I see myself, connected; I see my younger sister, obsessed with being more connected. I wonder, is this difference in technological preference not only a disjuncture in terms of patterns of communication (phone vs email, talk vs text, vidchat vs IM, face-to-face vs voice-to-voice) but in terms of our cultural understandings and ultimately our cultural reproduction? How does the film re-make exemplify elements of this discrepancy, and through the Freudian understanding of the Death Drive, ultimately take the form of a heterotopia.

In the context of the five terms Appadurai denotes as ethnoscapes, mediascapes, technoscapes, finanscapes, ideoscapes, the term temporascape is a necessary addition to the list. A temporascape, as I want to define it, is best understood in the context of one piece of information or one disjuncture in the global cultural flow. The temporascape is a snapshot of disjuncture, information, and flow at a certain point in time as it relates to an individual or broader social group.

The temporascape provides a deeper understanding of the five other landscapes by highlighting the importance of time. For example, the introduction of a piece of information or technology during the acculturation process of a child may alter the actual experience of childhood in ways that create disjuncture in the simulated experience of what childhood should be as provided by the historical experience of their parents.

Thus, this can loosely be drawn to touch upon the film remakes that have been extremely popular in recent history; and in extension, how the idea of replication in cinema relates to the temorascape, the death drive, and to heterotopias. Consider for example, the socialized idealization of a superhero, like Batman or James Bond (yeah, whatever... he's not really a superhero), who's immortality creates temporal disjunctures across eras (eighties Batman vs. The Dark Knight, 70's Bond vs. millenium Bond). The acculturation of these immortal fictional figures takes place over time, and, more often than not, a child in the 2000's may be exposed to 70's James Bond or Eighties Batman.

The temporascape is the defining factor for whether this event is accepted or becomes traumatic. The child, exposed to the stunning visual form of contemporary film and, in a broader sense, temporascape of the technoscape in which his reality is situated, creates expectations for the representation of the immortal character which holds an idealized place within his society. Thus, if the technology that 70's James Bond uses is old-fashioned, his behavior culturally outdated, the video quality sub par by modern standards, or the plot line irrelevant in the contemporary landscape, then the child's expectations are not met. A tension develops between the child and his father, who may have introduced him to James Bond, or the child and society as a whole, who seems to hold James Bond in an idealized place.

The remake is a response to this traumatic experience where we attempt to create a contextual relevant reiteration of the character; however, we actually replicate the traumatic experience in the future by prolonging the character's life so that we see their age--not in the sense that they age themselves, but they become a relic of another time, unchanged and disconnected. It is a tradeoff between the trauma of aging and the birth of a new contextually relevant interpretation; however, it is also a heterotopia because the remake simultaneously represents, contests, and inverts the original film, situated in its own temporascape, to represent the landscape of the contemporary temporascape. In essence, it is a paradox because it does not extend the life of the character; rather, the character is a pheonix that requires death for life (This is why I refuse to watch the new Indiana Jones).

For me this has implications to my life. Stay relevant, do not become a relic of another time like Clint in Gran Torino. In today's rapidly changing society, letting yourself become disconnected is a precursor to death, and, more often than not, attempting to re-connect requires the death of the self in order to re-situate into a new temorascape. You must evolve with the changes of the society, and because it is changing so fast you really need to be on top of things or you'll bet left behind. Honestly, it seems like it makes sense to me, but I don't really want it to.

To use Oh Dey Su from Oldboy as an example, how traumatic is it to spend 10 years of life disconnected now as opposed to just one hundred years ago? Time is relative, is age relative to the speed at which technology evolves and global social change occurs? Is that why thirty might actually be the new twenty?

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