Armond White on cinema/visual illiteracy (QUOTE from the Armond White book “The Resistance: Ten Years of Pop Culture That Shook The World”)


91)  Armond White on cinema/visual illiteracy      -1993-







“If people can learn how to watch movies from watching good ones, then the past decade of corporate formula, inflated pulp, and critically




acclaimed drivel must result in a visual illiteracy of frightening proportions–something even more alarming than the statistic of Indecent Proposal’s grossing an embarrassing $100 million.  Consider, just to start at a suitably ludicrous level, the Sharon Stone defense.   Sharon Stone saturated the media last spring, feigning shock about the beaver shot in Basic Instinct



She got away with her victimized starlet role (her best acting yet) because no one–critics or paying customers–seems to know how to look at movies anymore.  Director Paul Verhoeven and cinematographer Jan De Bont did…”


George Holliday’s videotape of the assault by policemen on Rodney King overwhelms movies and TV series as the decade’s single most indelible, conscience-haunting spectacle.  Though real, not a product of “artists,” and through video, not film, the Rodney King video redefines visual aesthetics.  So far Walter Hill’s videological Trespass





has been the only Hollywood movie to consciously manipulate post-Rodney King spectatorship.  (Spike Lee’s use of the footage in Malcolm X was merely agitprop, documentary.) 


















Walter Hill alternated film and video imagery in a postmodern allegory about race war, deliberately invoking the audience’s awareness of race and politics as objectified by visual media. 





























































But the lack of other references doesn’t mean that the Rodney King video has been ignored.  It has, in fact, been pervasive.  It’s in the country’s bloodstream, changing the pulse—the connotative rhythm—of everything we watch.  (It palpitates, subliminally, in Martin Scorsese’s Cape Fear






when authority figure Nick Nolte arranges a gang attack








































on Robert DeNiro and watches the assault from a—now familiar—distanced vantage point.)










































To read more of Armond White’s take on visual illiteracy and the films Basic Instinct, Broadcast News, The Purple Rose Of Cairo, Sherlock Jr, Trespass, Cape Fear, The Last Action Hero, and more, purchase a new or used copy of The Resistance: Ten Years of Pop Culture That Shook The World.


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