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September 30, 1993 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 1993-09-30

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. - Thursday, September 30, 1993
That is the question

Since I got to college I've noticed
a lot of yammering from the women-
folk. Marginalized this, and oppressed
that, phallocentric this, and monopo-
lization of authority via male imposi-
tions of identity upon the female re-
flecting how male emotional effect
distorts its own conclusions in a man-
ner predicted by the Heisenberg un-
certainty principle and by Derridean

philosophy and exemplified by the
fictive postulation of penis envy that I
realize this will offend many of you
and because of this offensive opening
(which, incidentally, was inserted by
my crass editors) probably nobody is
going to take me seriously - if in fact
anyone does read the Daily. Hallo out
there? Hallo?
But all hyperbolic irony aside, I've
been struggling to understand femi-
nism and its near relative political
correctness since becoming an under-
graduate. In seriousness, the monopo-
lization of authority by the white male
throughout European history really
has meant a monopolization of the
voices in written and spoken dis-
courses. The literary, scientific and
common representations of human life
in general and of disenfranchised
groups of people in specific have thus
been subjected (consciously or un-
consciously) to the psychological and
socio-political agendas of the group
doing the representing.
The image, or identity, of disen-
franchised groups has not been con-
trolled by the groups themselves, but
by this monopolizing authority. I think

it is this cultural phenomenon which
feminism and political correctness
seek to address - and it is both an
interesting subject for study and an
important one for the progress of our
social organization, probably.
The problem, however, is that most
of what I hear is not a sophisticated
attempt at patho-psychology or gene-
alogy, not an attempt to understand
and thereby defuse (or deconstruct)
damaging mythical representations.
Most of what I hear is an angry and
totally misguided attempt to forcibly
suppress the symptoms of this cul-
tural pathology without addressing the
causes. PC seeks to prevent certain
ways of thinking by censoring them,
rather than by explaining them, which
might check the pathology; symptoms
will persist in the presence of the
This sort of futile and reactionary
assault is really an effort to appropri-
ate authority over discourses by mak-
ing the disenfranchised the new con-
trollers, the thought police, the im-
age-arbiters. (I'm allowed such elu-
sive abstraction because that's what
you're supposed to do if you major in
English and also, since I'm attempt-
ing to deconstruct the would-be
deconstructors- very English majory
- some amount of nonsense is ex-
pected; deconstruction was invented
when Jacques Derrida slipped on the
stairs at Ferdinand de Saussure's sum-
mer home, and, after suffering a brain
hemorrhage, emerged from a coma
babbling aphasically about paradoxes,
binary oppositions and endless defer-
ral of the referent, and proceeding
generally to annoy everyone). Any-
way, if ways of mass-thinking can be
influenced at all from outside, it will
never be by virtue of the PC dis-
course-lords. Such yammering, aimed

at language and not at mindsets, sup-
presses negative representations with-
out changing the pathological atti-
tudes which produced them.
Furthermore, PC yammering is not
only misguided in principle, but in-
discriminate in its targeting. PC-sters
seem often to read malice toward the
disenfranchised where none can rea-
sonably be construed, such as in the
disciplinary action last year against
the University of Pennsylvania stu-
dent who shouted "water-buffalo" out
his dorm window.
In such cases, a perhaps under-
standable paranoia couples with the
inexcusable delight in PC power over
what representations will and will not
be permitted. The result is a kind of
unfair and unproductive aggression
from the PC, directed at the supposed
The new discourse authorities have
generated a fictional image of their
own to supplant the old ones. In that
image a ubiquitous oppressor mean-
ing insult and violence in every word
can continually be stopped and pun-
ished by the appropriated powers that
PC be. It's a symbolic victory which
I'm sure pleases PC-sters with its sig-
nified power -but the power and the
victory are not real.
PC in the end is an abuse of power
akin to that practiced by the historical
authority-monopoly - the very au-
thority to which PC was first a re-
sponse. It seems to me that in address-
ing the problem of one's representa-
tion of another, the goal should be an
elimination of the tendency toward
pathologically characterizing other
groups; and that is perhaps best
achieved by examining and defusing
pathologies within oneself, rather than
enforcing PC points of view in others
as part of a reactionary fiction.

Coming out of the closet
Confessions of a 'Beverly Hills 90210' addict

'Proof' offers pointers in perception

There's a game kids play, called
Blind Man's Bluff. One player is
dragged around by the other, trusting,
or at least hoping, that his well-being
is secure in the hands of his leader.
"Proof," a 1992 Australian film
recently released on video, is a com-

When Andy is describing the pho-
tos, the film's intensity makes it pos-
sible for the viewer to appreciate the
content of the pictures as Martin does.
The descriptions are simplistic, but
Weaving's sincere performance as a
blind man makes their accuracy be-
lievable. Similarly, a scene at the or-
chestra abruptly claims the attention
of the viewer by blasting Beethoven's
Fifth and in a sense drowning the need
for the camera's scanning of the musi-
cians - the camera work becomes
almost ironic.
In a more abstract sense, the char-
acter of Celia (Geneviere Picot),
Martin's housekeeper, personifies hiss
need for truth by representing all forms
of deceit. Picot works as an obsessive,
almost sadistic, character who
counters Martin's ideals of truth in
such a way that the viewer, watching
Celia watch Martin, is uncomfortable
knowing something that he does not.
It becomes obvious that Martin's need
for truth is grounded by his blindness.
However, Martin is not a sympathetic
character due to his lack of sight, but

because of the brilliance he develops
in spite of his handicap.
Flashbacks to Martin's childhood,
unobtrusively worked into the plot,
give effective background into his
constant state of distrust. Each flash-
back scene is recalled throughout the
film, giving Martin's past and present
a necessary cohesiveness.
Although "Proof' is a dramatic
film, it is not without humor. Martin is
portrayed as a man with serious inten-
tions, but his character comes out with
several harmless puns about his own
inability to see. After their first meet-
ing, Andy says, "See you around," to
which Martin replies, "So to speak."
It is a credit to writer, Jocelyn
Moorhouse, that she establishes an
appropriate balance between the sig-
nificance of blindness in Martin's life
and his ability to laugh at himself like
a real human being.
"Proof" is a movie about a blind
photographer, but more importantly
it's a lesson in perception. Without
becoming preachy, it teaches its audi-
ence to be aware of the details of life
without bypassing the truth, a mes-
sage deserving the medium of film.
Proof is available at Campus Video
and Liberty Street Video.

plex dramatization of this childhood
game, which deftly guides the viewer
through the obstacles of the blind.
Martin (Hugo Weaving) is a blind
photographer. His pictures are proof
that he senses what others can only
see. Martin comes to rely on Andy
(Russell Crowe) to describe the con-
tent of his photos, and it is through this
ritual that Martin's obsession with the
truth is first revealed.

My name is Kim Gaines and I am an addict- an addict
to the Wednesday evening Fox 50 lineup.
I admit it, I know everything about the Kelly-Dylan-
Brenda love triangle, the almost-kicked-out-of-school
Donna, the sexually repressed David, the heartbreaker (or
heartbroken) Brandon, the "No, I'm not really middle-
aged" Andrea, and the (what's there to say about him)
Steve. I know because I watch them every week (yes, I
schedule my evening around them, if you want to know)
on "Beverly Hills 90210."
Why, you ask? Why do I expose myself to this shal-
low, superficial, pop culturistic degradation of the Ameri-
can teenager? Because I like it. And so, I might add, does
almost every woman on my hall who gathers in the loungd
at precisely 7:55 p.m. every Wednesday.
I'm not shallow or superficial (I swear), but I find
myself getting excited Tuesday evening about the upcom-
ing episode. I'm not even a television addict in general.
Actually, "90210" and the following young adult version,
"Melrose Place," are the only shows I watch regularly.
Men, do you find yourself wondering what it is about
these shows that has captured the attention of so many
females? I must say I wondered this myself in my pre-
"90210" days.
Last fall, I was a normal student who spent her eve-
nings studying (among other things) and laughing at my
roommate, who would go to our friend's room every week
to see the latest "90210" news. I shared my opinions of
that stupid, faddish, "Brandon, Brenda, Dylan, Kelly,
Steve, Andrea, Donna, David are the only students at West
Beverly High,"junior-high-audience-attention-span show.
She ignored me and kept watching. I sighed and felt sorry
for my poor roommate who had obviously been swal-
lowed up by another producer's attempt to cash in on our
Until I bought a television - little did I know how this
purchase would change my life. My roommate was thrilled
(she didn't have to walk those 14 steps down the hall to see
the Fox gang anymore) and I didn't really care because I
led a meeting with 15 nine-year-old girls every Wednes-
day night.
I didn't realize the exact time I would get back from my
meeting would be about 15 minutes into the "90210"
crises of the week. After spending an hour and a half with
a bunch of little girls, I wanted nothing more than to lay on
my bed for an hour or so. Lucky coincidence, right in front
of the TV and the problems, confrontations and relation-
ships of this California clique.
Soon, I wasn't laying on my bed putting up with the

show, I was arguing with my roommate about who Dylan
should really be with (Brenda), whether Brandon and'
Andrea should get together (I say yes, she says no), if
David and Donna will ever sleep together (sure, right
about the time Donna starts going to Weight Watchers)
and if Shannen Doherty is really the spoiled brat everyone
thinks she is (comment not necessary).
I realized my problem when I started cutting my
meetings 10 minutes short so I could run home and catch
the beginning of the show. My girls didn't mind, they
wanted to get home and watch, too. It's nice it appeals to
such a mature audience, don't you think? How, I asked
myself, did I get hooked on the one show.I'd thoroughly
enjoyed ridiculing all through high school?
Maybe it's because of the ultra-realistic approach the
writers take. It just warms my heart to know all of West
Beverly High would give up graduating just so Donna
could get her diploma. But with a valedictorian who gives
up Yale to stay at California U with her buddies, what do
you expect? Speaking of college, I don't remember decid-
ing where to go after high school commencement, I
thought that was a pre-graduation kind of thing, but maybe
that's just a midwest hang-up. I guess that's life at Utopia@
Or maybe the reason I watch it is so I can keep up on
the latest fashion trends. Where would we be without
Kelly's hairbun (perfect for those no-shower days),
Brenda's retro chokers and let's not forget the founders of
the sideburn craze, Brandon and Dylan.
In part I think we use it as an escape from our (com-
paratively) dull lives into the excitement of a lifestyle we
all sometimes wish for. A life filled with fast cars, cool
clothes, perfect bodies and (especially for us Michigan-i
ders) warm weather. I have to admit, the actors are not bad-
looking either. Really, we enjoy drooling over Dylan's
sexy smirk and screaming at Donna's anorexic-like fig-
While some of the ideas on "90210" may be a bit out
there, a lot of the topics they tackle on the show are both
realistic and relevant (pregnancy tests, dating, breaking
up, suicide, parental problems, death, etc). Everyone on
the show comes from a different background and they
have a variety of family relationships, from Andrea who
lives with her grandmother to almost parentless Dylan to
the perfect Walsh family. There's a situation each of us can
personally understand.
Now that the gang's at college, I think we can relate to
them even more. (We want to know how cute Kelly will
look after her first all-nighter.) But you know, I still laugh
every time I remember they're supposed to be younger
than me.

U -u

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