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March 25, 1999 - Image 17

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-03-25

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12B - The Mihigan Daily -Weeke , etc. Magazine - Thursday, arch 25, 1999

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The Michigan Dail-Weekend, etc. Magazine Thursday. March 25.190 - 5B

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etc. Weekend, etc. Column
CIRC
clsure," she said, eliciting in me a Which brings us back to the conse-
wave of anxiety that grew steadily quences of choice. Choice is a terrifying
stronger in the following silence, building thing, as I've said; and though it almost
up by slow tides of dread to terrible crest; seems inadequate
what if she was right? There's really no for the subject at
way to prove or disprove that kind of accu- hand, I think the
sation; once made, the statement lingers example presented
and ferments in themind, a sort of mental to us by the MSAR
halitosis that continually offends the psy- elections reveals
che, invading and disrupting thought just why the
prcesses, paralyzing the individual. prospect of making
a decision tends to 0
loosen the bowels
Qffset printing - in me, and by
*o e induction in people ANDREW
Ph t~ i s generally. (Don't MORTENSEN
bother me with the BiG IDEAS
flaws in this think- (IoN'T G
ing. There isn't time ANY
to consider them.)
Big savig $ Onl neWslefters I think it's no secret that MSA is one of
a number of running campus jokes.
a l 4% #, usinesses,o n (Other notables include BAMN and the
org dniza fionls dumpy little potato-faced man who stands
surreptitiously in Mason Hall and mutters
to blank-eyed passersby the unlikely ques-
tion, "Are you interested in subversive
politics?") Off hand, I can't think of a sin-
gle person who doesn't relish the opportu-
nity to heap abuse on the much-maligned
student "government." And much of the
401 E. Hres St. (walking distance
4a EaaH :. 769-0560 abuse is probably warranted. The tiresome
from campus) :* 76 9-0 560

:ULAR REASONING

posters that paper the walls ofnearly every
campus building are-- in certain circum-
stances - grounds for justifiable homi-
cide; they offend the eye and the intellect:
Practically every last poster is printed on
paper the color of which sears the retina,
and the slogans on each fight mighty bat-
tles in a desperate attempt to achieve
greater and more widely appealing wit
than rival parties. (Which attempts, I need
hardly say, fail miserably on all sides and
produce a condition of multicolored
claustrophobic banality that makes it a
trial even to traverse from class to class.)
But the slogans aren't really the worst
of it. We are so frequently bombarded by
slogans and commercial jingles that
we've developed a sort of mental imper-
viousness to the effects. Call it Jaded Post-
Modern Cognitive Fortification or some-
thing; it doesn't really matter. The point is
that generally slogans have a difficult time
making any lasting impression on us
(besides a few commercial songs from
early childhood, which, please, for God's
sake, don't bring up, because some awful
tune touting the virtues of My Little Pony
is bound to rise from the depths of uncon-
scious memory and plague you for days).
What really terrifies me are the so-called
party platforms the aspiring MSA mem-
bers have developed. I can't help but

notice that the platforms tackle issues
remarkably similar to those found in ele-
mentary school student council elections
("Vote for Thomas Snitkow for Student
Council Prez! He'll make hot lunches
taste good! Doors on the bathroom stalls!
Longer recesses!"). And that's what
unnerves me: No matter how I approach
the subject, I can't shake the notion that
MSA is just a glorified Student Council,
playing at Responsibility and other
solemn Grown-Up Business, dressing in
their parents' clothing while they hold
mock-serious debates over the merits of,
say, Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls ver-
sus Hostess HoHos. (The bad thing is that
this isn't too far off, e.g. the description of
one of the MSA projects on its Website:
"Student Government Think Tank -
MSA needs to ... rethink its structure,
and it needs to reach out to more 'student
leaders.' By creating a think tank of all the
schools student government presidents
and interested students, we can accom-
plish both needs" Which means nothing.)
The candidates encourage all students
to get out and vote their conscience. But
the act of voting in MSA elections is,
quite simply, a farce. Like the old student
council elections, members of MSA are
elected arbitrarily, drawing votes from
people they know, from people who saw
their poster once and remembered the
candidate's name. I know they'd like to
believe they're elected based on personal
merit, but that's as absurd as claiming
people join the Greek system because
they want a deeply scholastic atmosphere
in which to spend their collegiate days.

I'm afraid of the overwhelming indif-
ference that goes into voting for MSA
representatives. I think that's clear by now.
But it's not just a localized fear, beginning
with and limited to the student govern-
ment here. What's dangerous about the
habit that MSA elections help students
develop is that they're likely to take it to
the national level. The implications of this
self-trained behavior are appalling: First,
that MSA is a microcosmic reflection of
"serious" government and that the gentle-
folk running the nations of the world are
nothing more than slightly more obese
and slightly randier versions of their ele-
mentary and secondary counterparts, still
dressing in their parents' clothes; and sec-
ond, that the voting public, at whatever
level, cannot comprehend the effects of
their decisions. They don't think enough,
and then they complain that they dislike
the choices they've made.
Of course, some say overthinking a
matter is just as much a cause of folly as
snap decisions. I remember revealing to a
friend my anxiety regarding people's pro-
clivity to avoid considering consequences
when making decisions, and she just
laughed at me, saying if people were to
follow my example, nothing would ever
get done and the human race would have
contemplated itself into extinction long
since. I heatedly said that it was better to
take a bit longer and think things through
than to do something that might have
awful results. At this she laughed again
before replying: "I think you just fear
-Andrew Mortensen can be reached
via e-mail at admorten@umich.edu.

etc Weekend, etc. Commentary
Stanley Kubrick goes down fial path
By Ern Podolsky as the first footage from the film played less than what Kubrick deserves. No other fall 1999 release, "Bringing Out the
Daily Arts Writer on the television. And I wept - because director had such autonomy over his work Dead."
One of the more vivid memories I have that's the Kubrick I know: The man (and I doubt that any director ever will) to Each of Kubrick's 12 films is the work
from my early childhood is sitting on the behind the image. I don't know the man the point where Warner Bros. basically of a painstaking craftsman - it's no coin-
couch with my father one Saturday after- that all of the obituaries describe, because handed him a bunch of money and cidence that nearly every article and obitu-
noon watching a movie on television. He Kubrick was such an intensely private allowed him to go make his film, and ary for Kubrick contains the word "metic-
had called me in, sat me down and person that he hadn't given an interview come back when and only when it was ulous"-an amazing visionary and a tech-
informed me that I wasn't getting up for in 20 years. finished. And no other director demanded nical innovator. He worked closely with his
the next two hours. I sat there expecting to What I do know is the man who made such autonomy; Kubrick had control over cinematographers and other techies to cre-
be subjected to an episode of "StarTrek," several of the scanest and blackly comedic every detail of the making and distribu- ate the look ofhis films, and he knew every
but there were no tribbles on the schedule films I've ever seen. I know the man who tion of his films, right down to how the lens and film stock by heart. He started out
that day. Instead, the most wondrous created whole universes and post-apoca- film was matted by projectionists in the- as a teenager shooting pictures for Life
images played before me. It was Stanley lyptic futures aters. He would magazine, a job which he eventually par-
Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey." without the aid of KubrcWs fijmography cut his own trail- layed into his film career. He was known to
I was nine. And I was in awe. today's advanced E , ers and had run the cameras himself
Two weeks ago, at 2 p.m., my heart computer effects. "Full Metal Jacket" (1987) approval over Film and video studies Prof. Hubert
sank. A story came across the wire with I know the man / "The Shinin " (1980) artwork and Cohen recently spoke of the ageless qual-
the headline, "Film director Stanley who directed one BarryLdon"197) advertisements ity of Kubrick's films: "They seem to be
Kubrick dies in Britain." I thought that of the most pow- "A Clockwork Orange" (1971) for each film he out of time. There's a sense of a master-
maybe it was a mistake; after all, last sum- erful Vietnam ' '2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968) made. He was piece, almost when it's made,' Cohen
mer the wires picked up a false story that films ever made "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to able to command said. "Very few filmmakers have that kind
Bob Hope had finally checked out, but without even set- Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" (1964) who saw what of satirical, critical approach to life."
he's still teetering around at the ripe old ting foot in Asia, /"Lolita" (1962) and when. Film and video studies Prof. Frank
age of 95. Kubrick is young, I thought, let alone outside / "Spartacus" (1960) Aside from Beaver said, "Stanley Kubrick for me was
only 70. He couldn't be dead. of London. I / "Paths of Glory" (1957) that, no other one of those filmmakers whose small
But it wasn't a hoax. The man who was know the man / '"The Killing" (1956) director made as body of work was always greeted with
unequivocally the greatest living who shot scenes / "Killer's Kiss" (1955) many classics in great excitement. Whether I liked the new
American filmmaker - despite the fact by candlelight such a span of one as much as the previous one, you
that he hadn't left British soil for decades simply because he just knew it could be time while making so few films. Kubrick always knew was that you weren't going
- died of natural causes in his sleep. It's done, no matter how difficult it was. I made 12 feature-length films during his to be bored by his films. They took
ironic that Kubrick died that morning, know the man who had the audacity and nearly-50 year career; in the last 20 years, chances." Beaver feels a very personal
mere days after the first true screening of the genius to show the world 90 seconds of he made three. attachment to Kubrick's work, having
his final gift to the world, "Eyes Wide uncut footage of mega-stars Cruise and For comparison, Steven Spielberg served in Vietnam. "I think that 'Full
Shut" played for two Warner Bros. execu- Kidman, naked before a mirror, engaging directed 12 films between 1983 Metal Jacket' is one of the greatest war
tives and the film's stars, Tom Cruise and in explicit foreplay, as an announcement of ("Twilight Zone: The Movie") and 1998 films ever made,'he said. "I liked the way
Nicole Kidman. For all intents and pur- what his final film will be. ("Saving Private Ryan") alone; Martin the particular idea of a moral dilemma for
poses, his work was done. He knew it was And I wept. Scorsese, heir to the title of greatest living humankind became one of Kubrick's cen-
time to go. This might seem like an extreme reac- American film director, made 12 between tral themes."
When the news of Kubrick's demise tion. It is, I freely admit. It's also nothing 1983 ("The King of Comedy") and his There's a definite thematic unity to

of glory
Kubrick's work, and he often tread a slim
wire suspended somewhere between hor-
ror and hilarity. His films are filled with
images of terrible violence and abhorrent
actions, but he was like as not to reverse
the tables and make us question who real-
ly is the villain in films such as "Lolita" or
"A Clockwork Orange?"
There are so many Kubrickian images
stamped indelibly on my brain - images
he shot with those cameras that he loved
so dearly. Major Kong riding the bomb to
kingdom come in "Dr. Strangelove;"
HAL9000, memory banks aglow, omi-
nously singing "Daisy" in "2001:A Space
Odyssey;" Alex, eyelids clipped open,
being deprogrammed to the tune of
Beethoven's Ninth Symphony in "A
Clockwork Orange;" Elevator doors
releasing a tidal wave of crimson blood in
"The Shining;" Pvt. Pyle in the latrine,
about to blow his brains out, in "Full
Metal Jacket."
And finally, there's a picture in my head
of Kubrick directing, face full of unbri-
dled anger when something has not gone
his way, when the most miniscule detail
has gone awry, balding, bearded and
incomparably, unequivocally brilliant.
These are the pictures that I will never
forget, the ones that I will take to my
grave as their creator did. Kubrick was
more than just a filmmaker -he was an
artist, a man who took mere imaginings
and made them visible. He was a magi-
cian, a technician, a man of grand vision.
And after all of that work done in secret,
he ultimately gave that vision to us.
Thanks for the memories, Stanley.

U

0

C HESS
m THE 1980s ROCK MUsICA.

trickled in, I was too stunned to do much
of anything. And I stayed that way for the
next several days, lamenting the state of
the world and of film, trying to contem-
plate and digest the great loss. I didn't
even know the guy. But I knew his work
- and to Stanley Kubrick, the work was
everything.
So when the first images from "Eyes"
were released to the public three days
after his death. I watched, not breathing,
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