Hey folks, sorry about the late post today, not feeling a 100%. Since I was feeling a little under the weather today though, I thought I’d talk a little about movies though. Who doesn’t love feeling a little crappy and spending the whole day in front of the TV rewatching DVD’s that generally go unwatched due to our busy lives. I actually can’t think of what else there is to do when you’re sick. Sure reading is good, but a person can only read for so long. When sick, reading can be too much of a “cold” media, to borrow from Marshall McLuhan.
For those not familiar with McLuhan’s idea of hot and cool media, the idea is simple. It all comes down to the amount of participation on the part of the user. In a book for example, to achieve the maximum amount of experience from the piece of work, you need to read and process the words, creating the image of what is happening in your head. The words may spell out everything that is going on but how you process it is up to you and requires a great deal of user participation. Of course some more abstract films do this too, but who watches those when you are sick? Of course, what is a “hot” and “cool” can be up to the users’ interpretation. A cartoon for example could could be considered “cool” since it can provide very little information and we are then forced to fill in some of the blanks. If we, on the other hand, simply allow ourselves to tune out and take everything in the cartoon at face-value, one could argue that the cartoon is a “hot” media.The general rule for this distinction is after the jump:
“Hot media usually emphasizes one sense. Hot media favour analytical precision, quantitative analysis and sequential ordering, as they are usually sequential, linear and logical.”
“Cold media require more active participation on the part of the user, including the perception of abstract patterning and simultaneous comprehension of all parts.”
So what then is considered a traditionally “hot” media? Probably the best example is a photograph. A photograph is simply there, unchanging. It will never shift so your mind can stop and simply be fixated on it, never having to keep up. There are no blanks to fill in, the blanks already being filled. Obviously a film emphasize more than one sense, traditionally sight and hearing. I would still have to argue though that some purely escapist films operate as “hot” media though. Your indie dramas and experimental art films will be “cool” and require a lot participation on the part of the watcher. Something like “Bad Boys II,” “Armageddon” or “Die Hard” require no necessary participation. Everything is spelled out for you. Now, if you want to question the logic or reality of the film, that might put it into the “cool” category. This remains the users choice though, it is still very much possible to experience an escapist, “Popcorn Logic,” film at its very base level. And face it, you only need one sense for those movies, you know exactly whats going on it even with the sound turned off.
So, sick days should be “hot” media days. Books are too much work. They are always a very participatory, “cool” media for me, the visual blanks of the written word being constantly filled in by my head. On sick days I prefer to watch movie that don’t challenge me. Actually I prefer to watch those anyways, but that’s another argument for another time. All I have to say art-schmart, if your movie doesn’t blow anything up I want nothing to with it. Well, not always true. However, I find that making something truly accessible is a lot harder than making something that’s only accessible by a small full-of-themselves niche group. That’s why “Die Hard” will always be a better movie than any David Lynch movie, and I love “Blue Velvet” and “Lost Highway” to death. Sitting in front of those three DVD’s though, I’ll always pick up “Die Hard.”
The good thing about reading this though is that I’m going to help you out a little bit. I was passed along a link to a bunch of good deals on Criterion Collection movies. Normally these things can be so ludicrously expensive that it’s mostly left for Netflix. I’d suggest pickin up “Brazil,” one of my favorites and a really great 3-disc set from them. Unfortunately that site isn’t selling the Criterion editions of “Armageddon,” “The Rock,” or “Robocop.” You’re probably laughing right now, and thinking everything I said was a joke. Sorry, those do really exist, Michael Bay is awesome if you let him be and stop analyzing everything, and those were really the first three I checked for. They are selling the Criterion of “Videodrome” though and that is another amazing movie by one of my favorite directors, David Cronenberg. It’s a movie that looks like this, by which I mean “amazing”:
LONG LIVE THE NEW FLESH!
Go watch some movies!