Monday, May 18, 2009

Not trying to be "indie" but...

I think people too often attach themselves to certain products of culture (cult films, authors, TV shows, etc) and then hold onto those things for dear life. I'm not saying I'm not guilty of this, but I get these silly emails from Urban Outfitters almost everyday telling me to buy this "mind-blowing" Kerouac or Palahniuk book and suddenly I'll be "cool." No thanks Urban Outfitters, I can pick out my own books and make my own decisions about what is cool.

But speaking of cults, I watched Jim Jarmusch's, very self-absorbed, "arty-indie-comedy" Stranger Than Paradise yesterday. I realize I am judging it from a contemporary perspective, and this type of film now seems really mainstream to me and my peers. But once you get over the pretentious quiet indie plot, the real beauty is in the images. This film is seriously a photographer's dream -- it's like attending a moving photo gallery for an hour and a half. Each shot is given so much care and is deeply layered with meaning. And the compositions are really incredible and dynamic. Plus, part of it was shot in Cleveland, which gives it even more points on my coolness scale.


To wrap this up, what I'm trying to say is we need to look at the gifts culture gives us (in books, films, images, etc) more carefully for the specific parts that truly and individually move us . We need to look past the "labeling" that goes on online and in print by big lifestyle companies like Urban Outfitters. We need to appreciate words, images, and sounds for the way they can produce  feelings of pure enjoyment. We should definitely not use culture as a way to make us just look cool -- that's wasting resources. Seriously, be bold and make your own opinions. Even if they eventually come out the same as your friends', at least you arrived at them using your own mind and own sense of judgement.

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