*** RYAN TATE: Shocking secrets--revealed! ***





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Monday, October 20, 2003

I saw Vol. 1 of Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill this past weekend, and today read the New Yorker's Oct. 20 profile of the director. The profile showed for me how personal weblogs like this one are natural extensions not so much of anything in network communications, journalism, literature radio or even diaries but of Seinfeld and Pulp Fiction. Personal webloggers are above all celebrating and accelerating the rise of minutiae as an object of cultural fascination. Although she does not reference weblogs, the New Yorker's Larissa MacFarquhar describes this phenomenon well within the profile:

The minutiae thing didn't start with Tarantino: it started in the summer of 1989, with the release, in August, of Steven Soderbergh's film "Sex, Lies, and Videotape," and acquired critical momentum with the debut, the following May, of "Seinfeld," the show about nothing. "Sex, Lies, and Videotape" began with the voice of Ann, played by Andy MacDowell, talking to her therapist. "Garbage," MacDowell said. "All I've been thinking about all week is garbage. I mean, I just can't stop thinking about it. I just, I've gotten real concerned over what's going to happen with all the garbage. I mean, we've got so much of it. You know, I mean, we have to run out of places to put this stuff eventually." It wasn't the first time, of course, that a character in a movie had spoken in such a startlingly normal, kitchen-table way, but it was surprising to hear that kind of speech so foregrounded, placed not at a slow moment in the middle but right at the beginning of the movie. When Tarantino did the same thing, beginning "Reservoir Dogs" with his infamous, over-discusses monologue about Madonna, minutiae became institutionalized as a routine in nineties movies, as Seinfeld has institutionalized such routines on TV. They had always been a staple of comedy, especially standup, but Tarantino introduced them into genre movies, where they were surprising. It was the "Don Quixote" move: to make comedy by combining a rigidly stylized genre with the humiliating banality of everyday life.

This may overstate matters. It seems to me Woody Allen, to take one easy counterexample, was putting minutiae in the foreground of genre movies -- romance, musicals -- back in the 1960s. Sure, they were comedic genre films, but genre nevertheless, and only arguably more comedic than Tarantino's work. It is also possible I am overstating the importance of minutiae to personal weblogging, as opposed to melodrama, which is well represented and distinct. But I still reserve the right to retitle this particular weblog, Tsome future date, "The Humiliating Banality of Everday Life."


Robots, robots, robots, robots


Wow. Ouch. Hmmm. In the meantime.

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