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[Missing the Point] - How Much of a Concern is Message Misinterpretation?
I saw "The Wolf of Wall Street" earlier this week. I came away from it fairly confident that Martin Scorsese's intended message was "Jordan Belfort and everyone like him are terrible human beings; don't sacrifice the well-being of others for personal gain, even if the system will let you get away with it." However, some critics are concerned that the movie will come across to many as glorifying the lifestyle it depicts. Chief among them is Christina McDowell, the daughter of one of the men involved in the real life events that "The Wolf of Wall Street" is based upon.
So here's the deal. You people are dangerous. Your film is a reckless attempt at continuing to pretend that these sorts of schemes are entertaining, even as the country is reeling from yet another round of Wall Street scandals. We want to get lost in what? These phony financiers' fun sexcapades and coke binges? Come on, we know the truth. This kind of behavior brought America to its knees.
And yet you're glorifying it -- you who call yourselves liberals. You were honored for career excellence and for your cultural influence by the Kennedy Center, Marty. You drive a Honda hybrid, Leo. Did you think about the cultural message you'd be sending when you decided to make this film? You have successfully aligned yourself with an accomplished criminal, a guy who still hasn't made full restitution to his victims, exacerbating our national obsession with wealth and status and glorifying greed and psychopathic behavior. And don't even get me started on the incomprehensible way in which your film degrades women, the misogynistic, ass-backwards message you endorse to younger generations of men.
Original Article: An Open Letter to the Makers of The Wolf of Wall Street, and the Wolf Himself
This is the latest example of an ever-present critical concern, which McDowell herself states quite clearly: "Did you think about the cultural message you'd be sending when you decided to make this film?"
For me personally, and I assume for most of you here on this forum, the cultural message "The Wolf of Wall Street" sends is a clear indictment of the type of behavior it depicts. How many viewers miss the point, though? Are there large numbers of people that see this film and leave the theater with Jordan Belfort as their newest hero? Should Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio be blamed for not making the film's message even more blatant? Should David Fincher and Brad Pitt be held accountable for giving Tyler Durden an audience? Should Brian De Palma, Oliver Stone and Al Pacino be condemned for the continuing tributes to Tony Montana in hip hop?
This type of criticism extends to other forms of media. The video game Spelunky, for example, features a damsel in distress that the player is supposed to save, but can also put in harm's way. I personally would feel a little guilty whenever I caused the damsel to come to harm, but some critics are concerned that this feature of Spelunky can lead players to attitudes that condone the infantilization and abuse of women (and in the XBLA version, dogs).
She will never be angry with you. You can slap her or throw her around, in the end she will want to kiss you. But if you overdo the hitting or the using-as-projectile or if you plant a bomb too close to her...she dies. The only negative consequence here is, that she is now too dead to give you a kiss. But you still can pick up her corpse and use her as an object.
(Regarding the optional pug skin for the damsel) Animal abuse is quite real, so smacking a dog around and using the dog as a shuriken, maybe accidentally killing him, really does not feel any better than doing it with another human being. Remember the outrage over that video where a US soldier threw a puppy over a cliff? That's the pug's role in Spelunky in a nutshell.
Original Article: It's Not Okay, Spelunky!
I'm sure the rest of you can come up with many, many other examples. So, when a creative person is working on a movie, or a video game, or whatever, should they be as concerned with the possibility of people wildly misinterpreting their message as they are with any other aspect of the creative process? Are they to be held accountable for not anticipating audience interpretation if viewers come away with unintentional, culturally problematic messages? How commonplace is such misinterpretation? Are these misinterpretations not primarily produced by the mindset of the person making them?
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