Gore Vidal and Willaim F. Buckley Jr. – Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures
Thinking is not to agree or disagree. That’s voting. — Robert Frost
It may be odd to like what disturbs us but it is clear that Best of Enemies is meant to provoke, and in that sense it is most successfully engaging.
In 1968, while trailing NBC and CBS – to debate the Democratic and Republican national conventions – ABC hired two commentators, the conservative William F. Buckley Jr. and the liberal Gore Vidal Vidal; the strategy worked and the ratings jumped way up!
Almost every night the sparks were flying all over, not by the fireplace but on the small screen: two of the most articulate public intellectuals – in the days when such individuals still existed – were brilliantly sparring around the politics of those conventions. And then everything blew up. It had gone too far: what had started as entertaining theater became a bloody spectacle. Watching was no longer innocent; television had changed, the two talented debaters had gone beyond the limits of decency. And nobody ever recovered.
Bound to stay with you, with the electoral season about to start, this is a wickedly timely re-visiting of these debates. Includes interviews with Dick Cavett, Christopher Hitchens, and Todd Gitlin.
From the film:
Argument is sugar and the rest of us are flies. — Richard Wald. Former ABC News senior Vice President
I think these great debates are absolutely nonsense The way that they’re set it up there’s almost no interchange of ideas, very little even of personality, there’s also a terrible thing about this medium that hardly anyone listens. They sort of get an impression of somebody and they think they figured out what he’s like just by seeing them on television — Gore Vidal
Thus television in America there is an implicit conflict of interest between that which is highly viewable and that which is highly illuminating. — William F. Buckley Jr.
You’re doing theater when you should be doing debate. — Jon Stewart
BREAK THE SURFACE
To ride the unbalance* between:
1. excellence and a kind, singular and porous identity that contains some of the scruples, humor, humility, musicality & the beauty of a harsh and confusing, yet benign and rich reality - away from distractions.
2. the stupidity and blindness of complacency, violence, injustice, pretense, egos, short-term... wishful... and group "thinking," and empty talk - in all of their surprising embodiments. And the false sense of fullness all of this provides.
An appeal for a world NOT so caught up in anthropo/ego/euro/ethno/oculo/esthetico -CENTRISM.
1. Beware of those who claim to be strong - they are often dangerous.
2. Unmask the hoax of "centrality" - ask an "EX-centric" for assistance?
3. Perceive the arrogance of normalcy: everybody, in one way or another, is handicapped... which brings us back to 1.
*Not unrelated to "There is beauty and there are the humiliated. Whatever difficulties the enterprise may present, I should like never to be unfaithful either to the second or the first." --- Albert Camus
___________________Screens Reveal AND Conceal
Presently the Unlearning Specialist at the School of No-Media, Pier Marton is a speaker/writer/artist/educator and film consultant. He was born and raised in Paris and moved to the U.S. in the early seventies to live and teach in Los Angeles, Chicago, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco and, more recently, St. Louis. In parallel to teaching media at major universities, his many video-art activities have included video installations, performances and documentaries (with works in prominent museums like MoMA and Beaubourg).
Both as an artist and as a teacher much of his work has focused on our consumption of images which, because of his family history, has taken him into questioning the representation of the Shoah. After spending most of his life around the avant-garde of media (i.e., video art), now that new media offers more and more a form of pseudo-challenge to the status quo, Marton wonders whether it is “no-media” that needs to be considered the next frontier; can we look beyond media and most concepts, however "practical" those may appear to be?
He is available for presentations and workshops on:
Non-Images & No-Media - Slow Cinema - Shoah and Film- Experimental Cinema and Video Art - Film Painting in Sound/Movement - Non-Violent Media - Imperfection in Film - Unclassifiable Music/Arts - Blinded by Sight - The Shoah in 1,000 Years - A Porous Reality - Secular Jews (Broken Tablets and Broken Noses) - Taking it the Hard Way - Exhilarating Creativity - and anything else that may be ignored by society at large.
Remnants from recent presentations: Images of the Other (at the School of Visual Arts Alguonquin Annual Conference), Resistance (at an annual St. Louis Yom HaShoah/Holocaust Commemoration).