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๐ŸŒˆ Abstract

The article explores the author's personal journey of discovering and appreciating the films of director Robert Altman, particularly his lesser-known works, and how this process helped the author find connection and meaning during a difficult time in their life. It also discusses the broader themes of how our cultural tastes and preferences are shaped by social and economic factors, the role of storytelling in providing a means of dissent against these influences, and the impact of technology on the way we consume and engage with films.

๐Ÿ™‹ Q&A

[01] The author's personal journey with Robert Altman's films

1. What prompted the author to watch all of Robert Altman's movies and make a zine about them? The author was living in Connecticut and needed a "small, good thing" during a difficult time. Watching Altman's films, even the lesser-known ones, became a way for the author to find connection and meaning.

2. How did the author's perception of Altman's "pies-filled-with-cake" movies change over time? Initially, the author was critical of these films, describing them as a "total slog" and claustrophobic. However, the author came to appreciate them, seeing them as coming from a similar mindset to the one the author was experiencing, and finding comfort in relating to Altman's perspective.

3. What did the author mean by the statement "If an Altman movie is bad, it's your fault too"? The author suggests that Altman's films have a unique quality that makes the viewer feel like they have as much control over the experience as the filmmakers. Even if an Altman movie is not successful, the viewer feels a sense of shared responsibility.

[02] The influence of social and economic factors on cultural tastes

1. How does Thorstein Veblen's theory of the leisure class relate to the author's discussion of cultural preferences? Veblen proposed that our cultural tastes are determined socially, with preferences drifting down from the upper echelons of the economic ladder. The author suggests that even the rise of the consumerist middle class did not truly democratize tastemaking, as the ingrained aesthetics of the past still constrain our choices.

2. What is the author's view on the potential for stories to provide a means of dissent against these social and economic influences on our tastes? The author suggests that while the aesthetics of stories may still be socially determined, the way we relate to them comes from a "stranger, deeper, more ancient" place. Telling and retelling certain stories can provide a form of dissent against the control exerted by our "long-dead social betters."

[03] The evolution of movie-watching and the role of technology

1. How did the rise of home video and streaming services impact the collective, immersive experience of watching movies? The author argues that the shift from movie theaters to home viewing has led to a move away from collectively immersive storytelling and toward social isolation. However, the author suggests that Netflix's DVD rental service briefly allowed for an audience pushback against the control of the storytelling experience.

2. How did Netflix's recommendation algorithms and the shift to streaming impact the way viewers engaged with and discovered new films? The author suggests that Netflix's DVD rental service encouraged viewers to explore the depths of their own tastes, while the streaming service used algorithms to guide viewers towards content, potentially constricting their choices and diminishing the role of personal exploration and discovery.

3. What is the author's perspective on the value of obscurity and the importance of unearthing forgotten or marginalized stories? The author believes there is value in obscurity, as it allows for the discovery of voices and perspectives that have been suppressed or overlooked. The author argues that this can complement the popularity of mainstream content, providing a more diverse and inclusive cultural landscape.

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