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PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2016 6:06 pm 
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It's an "edgy" satire about race relations. The dubbing decision is in keeping with the tone of the film; if it was a callback to minstrelsy it was to turn it on its ear. See also that episode of Stella where the cast wore blackface.

P.S. For the record I'm with domino as to the merits of the film.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2016 6:08 pm 
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tartarlamb wrote:
carmilla mircalla wrote:
You seem to be backpedaling hard because you either don't want to face or don't know how to respond to actual questions towards your argument.

What does being a cinephile have to do with discussing race in movies?


Yeah, I don't know the answer to my question. That's why I asked it. And I'm not backpeddling because I really didn't set a hard position other than that a certain part of this film made me uncomfortable. And it still does.

I also don't understand your second question... wouldn't having an interest or knowledge in film be an asset in discussing movies?

EDIT: Yes, thank you domino. That is exactly what I meant.


domino clarified for both of us. I thought you meant because they weren't cinephiles they were less valid in their opinion of discussing race in the film medium.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2016 6:13 pm 
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Gregory wrote:
One thing I've read several times in various places (including here on this forum, a decade ago) is that Downey dubbed his own voice into the film not because Johnson had forgotten too many of his lines but because Downey thought Johnson didn't sound "black enough," though I've never been sure whether this statement came from Downey himself or was instead just a falsely ascribed motive.
Whether or not Downey ever stated that as his motive, it kind of a puzzling statement because, to my ears anyway, the dubbed Putney voice is gruffer (and probably funnier) than Arnold Johnson's voice, but not even a little more "black"-sounding. He just sounds like a crusty old New Yorker, so it seems like playing up stereotypical blaxploitation inflections in the voiceover was a pitfall Downey avoided.


Here he mentions that he did so because Johnson couldn't remember his lines, which I have read in many of his other interviews. He does also mention that Johnson was upset about the decision... and then curiously offers that Johnson may have affected the gravelly Downey voice afterwards. I would be interested to know if maybe the story on this has changed over the years, or yeah, if more than likely it was just a case of people ascribing that motive.

EDIT: Not to trip out further, but this story is an onion. Johnson's obituary in the LA Times remarks about Johnson's "delivery" of a snappy line in Putney Swope, apparently unaware that it wasn't even him.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2016 7:05 pm 
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swo17 wrote:
It's an "edgy" satire about race relations. The dubbing decision is in keeping with the tone of the film; if it was a callback to minstrelsy it was to turn it on its ear. See also that episode of Stella where the cast wore blackface.

P.S. For the record I'm with domino as to the merits of the film.


I'm very open to the idea that, intentionally or not, it has the function of self-satirizing the film, or at least providing another nested satire within it. (And yeah, I also did not care for the film regardless of this issue).

carmilla mircalla wrote:
domino clarified for both of us. I thought you meant because they weren't cinephiles they were less valid in their opinion of discussing race in the film medium.


Oh, I see. I apologize, maybe I was not being clear.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2016 9:04 pm 
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So- I feel like tartarlamb is being jumped on unfairly here.

First- however much it may have been conditioned by circumstances, overdubbing an actor who didn't know that would happen is pretty generally agreed upon to be shitty, if only for professional reasons- as I recall, a number of major British actors signed some petitions to that effect when it was being considered to de-Cockney bob Hoskins in The Long Good Friday. It's not necessarily inexcusable, but it's certainly taking an aspect of the performance away, so I think the answer to 'did the actor agree to this' is effectively no- the part that we see isn't the one to which he agreed, Frankly 'puppet' seems reasonably apt for a situation in which someone's voice has been taken.

Second, the satire defense is mutually contradictory with the defense that it was just material necessity, and implies that it IS something worth commenting on- if the movie is making a satirical point by literally putting a white dude's words in a black actor's mouth in a film satirizing ideas about black liberation, than that in of itself would argue that this is a subject of concern. I don't buy it, though- if it's satire, it's subtler than anything the movie actually does, and is horribly unclear in the point it is making.

Third, I think that the issue that cinephiles have a bad habit of reflexively dismissing concerns about how racist or sexist or whatever else a movie night be by arguing that such things weren't the intent of the filmmakers, or that the social conditions in which it was made were different, is one worth raising. Nobody is arguing that this or anything else should be banned, and the question of censorship here strikes me as very much a straw man- I can discuss things I think are shitty about a movie, dislike a movie for them, or even get upset if a movie is shown at a school or film festival or whatever else that I am part of without the question of censorship or banning a movie ever arising.

The way y'all jumped down tartar's throat over this seems like something really designed to put him on the defensive and get him to shut up, I dunno.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2016 9:20 pm 
Dot Com Dom
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Speaking of straw men, what question of censorship? No one in this thread on either side said this film should be censored


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2016 9:35 pm 
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I was referring to this post, which associates 'non cinephile' opinions with attempts to censor film:

Quote:
I assume his point with that comment was that he asked non-film lovers about it and they disliked the idea of the film's methodology out of hand without considering its other virtues or contextual qualities, like a cinephile might. Kind of like how now there's a whole vocal group of people arguing for Birth of a Nation and Gone With the Wind to be eradicated regardless of cultural positives and non-racially-divisive virtues these films hold


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2016 9:39 pm 
Dot Com Dom
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You cannot seriously be misreading my post that way unless you are just willfully trying to miss the point


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2016 10:51 pm 
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domino harvey wrote:
You cannot seriously be misreading my post that way unless you are just willfully trying to miss the point


He misinterpreted your analogy. matrixschmatrix, Domino's point wasn't censorship he was using those two groups as examples of his actual point which was how people overlook certain qualities in controversial material that does not contribute to the actual controversy but serve other areas within the designated field of artistic expression.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2016 3:53 am 
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matrixschmatrix wrote:
Third, I think that the issue that cinephiles have a bad habit of reflexively dismissing concerns about how racist or sexist or whatever else a movie night be by arguing that such things weren't the intent of the filmmakers, or that the social conditions in which it was made were different, is one worth raising. Nobody is arguing that this or anything else should be banned, and the question of censorship here strikes me as very much a straw man- I can discuss things I think are shitty about a movie, dislike a movie for them, or even get upset if a movie is shown at a school or film festival or whatever else that I am part of without the question of censorship or banning a movie ever arising.

The way y'all jumped down tartar's throat over this seems like something really designed to put him on the defensive and get him to shut up, I dunno.


Yes, thank you. Very well put. And I am not against screening controversial or highly problematic films, but I am very mindful that if I do, I will have to defend that choice and have a proper way of preparing and contextualizing the film. I also have no problems considering even films I love as not right for screening, at least by me, for what I'm presenting. It's not censorship, it's just curation.

I don't know why my question drew such an intensely negative reaction, or if fears of censoring cinematic history or whatever played a factor, or maybe certain types of discussion are unpleasant to some. domino admitted that he didn't care for the film, then recommended that I screen it anyway because it might lead to a "more interesting conversation." At the same time he seemed to be trying to shut down that very same conversation. None of that makes any sense to me. Why recommend a film you don't like for a conversation you don't want to have?


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2016 4:50 am 
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tartarlamb wrote:
I don't know why my question drew such an intensely negative reaction, or if fears of censoring cinematic history or whatever played a factor, or maybe certain types of discussion are unpleasant to some. domino admitted that he didn't care for the film, then recommended that I screen it anyway because it might lead to a "more interesting conversation." At the same time he seemed to be trying to shut down that very same conversation. None of that makes any sense to me. Why recommend a film you don't like for a conversation you don't want to have?


It's because you didn't seem to have a set point, then got super defensive when people were actually questioning you as to what you were really trying to say and now you're doing that thing again where you "don't know why" the reactions you've had were made.

I can give you the benefit of the doubt that you genuinely may think people were attacking you but it's not the case. I just don't think you came prepared whatsoever to actually discuss your problem with this film.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2016 5:11 am 
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carmilla mircalla wrote:
It's because you didn't seem to have a set point, then got super defensive when people were actually questioning you as to what you were really trying to say and now you're doing that thing again where you "don't know why" the reactions you've had were made.

I can give you the benefit of the doubt that you genuinely may think people were attacking you but it's not the case. I just don't think you came prepared whatsoever to actually discuss your problem with this film.


Did I get defensive? My position was pretty clear. I thought it was inappropriate for Downey to have dubbed his voice over a black man. The responses that came afterward to me, that I was lobbing a "serious" charge against a white director, that I was trying to define racism, etc. seemed heated, irrelevant, or unwarranted to my concern, but I thought I was pretty polite in communicating that. I did back up my issue with authors who expressed similar objections. As for (my) victimizing of Arnold Johnson, I did show that he was unhappy with the decision. I don't think I was attacked per se, but I think it's disingenuous to say I didn't come prepared for a conversation that, as far as I can tell, was shut down.


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