Table of contents

Alice in Wonderland 2

Poetry & democracy

Movies show us images of things, which we believe are real things to a sufficient extent to be moved to applaud or fear, to laugh or cry. The pleasure movies offer points to this ability to connect images with things & therefore to distinguish them. There is something inherently superficial about movies, which suggests that our usual concerns with depth are a mistake.

We see our world at the movies the way we see it in broad daylight. Right & wrong, greatness & misery, the stories show us the kinds of lives we live. People who love movies forget themselves & come to believe the movies are more real than life without them. This is the power that stories use to persuade us of right & wrong.

Tim Burton is one of the Hollywood directors who loves unrealistic stories. He knows that realism is not necessary for stories to move people, that a certain audience yearns for depth & sophistication. His eccentricity implies that American life is inherently bad: It blinds Americans to beauty &, moreover, to the sublime.

Americans reject ugliness intrinsically. Hence Burton’s appeal to Gothic imagery & mutilations. The deformities of bodies & perspectives are meant to show the deformity of American opinions about things.

The eccentricity of Tim Burton opens a great chasm between the entertainment put on for the American audience, which has to be thrilled & excited in order to pay for the tickets & applaud the movie, & the truth about what is beautiful & worthy of the attention of the artistic few. Hence the inclination to fairy tales, that peculiar vice of the Romantics…

Some call everything ugly in this film subversive, witty, sophisticated: Whereas the childish pleasure we take in imitation hides from us how ugly the world really is, how little able to offer us a reason to live. Burton’s films poison the American imagination. They promote the sickly & mutilated in order to foster non-conformism. But resentment is not the same as independent thinking.

Comedy is the genre of happy endings as such. It is more necessary to America than anything else having to do with stories, movies, & the popular audience. Burton is to Hollywood cinema what Salvador Dali’s works are to what people call painting. The sophistication is obnoxiously obvious.

The popularity in Hollywood of this sophistication suggests that moviemaking has been infected. American genre cinema has been corrupted by the call for authenticity. Given that producers thrive on their grasp of the public sentiment, we suspect the problem inheres in democracy. Democracy creates endless fashions, which confuse taste. This fickleness is open to sophisticated corruption, especially in the case of the young, who rule any democracy.