Vampire awaiting invitation in the doorway: Sean Chapman as Frank Cotton in Clive Barker's Hellraiser (1987). Image Source: Life for Films.
My last post on the demolition of French churches added to a sense of Millennial malaise this week. It came jumbled together on the micro and macro levels. A friend called to complain about a week of rude people and worse - people who are post-rude - who never knew what social conventions they violated in the first place. Another friend sent a link to a Gawker story about,
David Gilmour, the University of Toronto English professor who told a female reporter that he is "not interested in teaching books by women." "What I teach is guys," Gilmour continued. "Serious heterosexual guys."A news story in a nearby town reported on a pregnant woman who was raped by two men on a well-traveled path behind her house, while she was walking her baby in a stroller. The baby was unharmed. And these days, that is surprising. Another local news story - in a normally low crime area - involved a girl who was almost abducted from the sidewalk by two men in a black van with darkened windows.
In non-local news, 300 teenagers invaded and trashed the home of ex-football player Brian Holloway in New York state. They posted their party on social media. At first, Holloway responded with unusual grace, and offered not to press charges if the kids would show up and help him fix the damage. He set up a Website to make his appeal. Only four teenagers showed up (some accounts state that one showed up) to help Holloway; the parents of the teens "threatened to firebomb his house, and are now planning to sue" Holloway rather than see their kids charged. After that, Holloway began pressing charges. Nor is this an unusual incident (see here and here).
There was the Kenyan shopping mall siege; I wondered if this was a not-so-dry run for terrorist attacks at other malls elsewhere in the future, at Christmastime. A few other people thought the same thing (here, here, here, here and here). Then there was that island exposed by an earthquake off the coast of Pakistan, a bad dream made real, which is now emitting flammable gas.
Some entertainment news stories, like this and this and this, further reminded me that the cultural means for digesting the real world malaise have descended into an impoverished atmosphere. After that, I came upon a 2005 rant in the Guardian by the British actor Sean Chapman, in which he bemoaned the degraded state of the film industry in the UK.
Chapman's article ran in the same vein as the post, "On Declaring Moral Bankruptcy," which described collapsing standards across several professions. Chapman's commentary reveals how the real world Millennial malaise has infected a major cultural industry; but more, he identifies a core element of that malaise: a superficial, plastic, mass-media-hyped value system which sucks quick money out of youth and denigrates tradition, care, quality and experience. Chapman also sees this value system emerging from a generational problem, as others have done. From his Guardian rant:
Today's film students often come from technical backgrounds in which the "soft" elements of storytelling are a mystery. Unless you've been in a decent rehearsal, where do you learn the craft of coaxing a leading performance? Without theatre or TV training, film students have no knowledge of how to interact creatively with actors. We must bring this into their training.
Time and again some woefully inexperienced director "helms" a poorly budgeted movie, billed by the complicit industry press as a plucky "first-timer". In practice this usually means that a desperate twentysomething directs a film for no fee, payment deferred until some chimeric profit margin is reached. An inefficient funding system consisting of international presales and ad-hoc instalment plans means that even low-budget films are made in a compromising atmosphere of constant hysteria.
Too many films in this country scramble into production on a suicidally inadequate second draft, and this recipe of low budget, inexperienced director and half-baked script is devastating. Until we regain foundation habits of teaming well-crafted screenplays with experienced directors we will never be able to build a sustainable national production base. ...
I propose packages such as a Tom Stoppard screenplay shot by Nic Roeg. Perhaps a Hanif Kureishi script in the hands of Danny Boyle or Sally Potter. Is that so impossible? Are there really no backers for options like these? We have to focus on utilising such experience while our younger film-makers serve their apprenticeships working on films of integrity.
The irony is that Chapman is famous for his role as Frank Cotton in Hellraiser (1987), in which he played a cynical, corrupt and sadomasochistic sexual explorer and body vampire. Chapman tapped the subliminal themes of the real world malaise with his short performance, and has done so in subsequent roles. It is all there: the uncaring, self-indulgent, desensitized egotist, stabbing that vein of boundless narcissism, going past the realm of sexual experience into ruination. Perhaps it is because of his work in these roles that Chapman knows that the world should be a better place. The world should not be full of Frank Cottons. And Frank Cotton should not be the New Normal.Film-making is a hi-tech industry being run in the UK as a jumble sale. The Bafta denizens who've made fortunes out of their executive posts while presiding over the collapse of the industry must invest available funds not in luncheons but in training, connecting film students with writers, actors and experienced producers, immediately.