Bugs Bunny, on the other hand, is perfectly accessible to just about anyone in any culture. Any cultural context is provided by the art.
Continuing that thought, anything accessible to children is accessible to all children.
Beyond the fact that you’d need to speak english and be familiar with the culture in order to catch many of the refences, Bugs Bunny is as ethnocentric as anything else.
I’ve never seen Ten Skies, but I think House is on the right track.
A movie that could be universally understood? Un Chien Andalou. I don’t think everyone can appreciate it, but I’m pretty sure everyone can understand it, whether they know it or not.
^ Christ, I don’t even understand THAT!
I agree with Hellshocked on Chaplin. Another one in the same vein would be Keaton.
Is it possible for a work of culture to transcend its humanism?
Yes, this succinctly asks what I was attempting to get at.
I think it’s possible to make a film that can be understood by everyone. But you’re never going to find a ‘universal taste’ that appeals to everyone.
Yup. In bringing up the Wire, I felt like it was one of the few examples of a film/show being able to cross racial barriers and connecting with people. The tenor of the Wire reverberated with a wide spectrum of humanity.
Masculinity and femininity work better than “male” and “female”.
@HELLSHOCKED But that cultural context to appreciate The Wire covers a wide swath of people. It is unique in its diversity. No token players….REAL diversity. You quibble with me saying that it is applicable world-wide. Perhaps more so for US cities and even Western developed nations. But still, there are themes explored in the show that I would argue could be representative of say…..Sao Paulo vis-a-vis the police force turning the other way and allowing illegal things to go down in only certain areas of the city. I think a drug kingpin in ANY city would relate to the Wire.
Yes. It is before they have been indoctrinated into the culture in which they will grow up in.
@CINEMATIC CTEVE I have not seen the film you mentioned. Read a description of it.
You say that it makes profound statements about humanity and civilization versus the natural world.
But to whom is that statement aimed at? Can a filmmaker make such a statement that someone living in the suburbs of Atlanta Greenwich Village NYC as well someone living in South Central LA can both pick up on?
IMO it’s nearly impossible to engage both those demos on the same level.
There is a communication barrier.
No one understands it. Everyone understands it.
>>Can a filmmaker make such a statement that someone living in the suburbs of Atlanta as well someone living in South Central LA can both pick up on?<<
One of the reasons people go to films is to try to relate to people and environments they are not a part of. Of course, you can’t know first hand without living it, but you can learn and develop empathy for other cultures and living situations. I’m not much of a fan of Koyaanisqatsi, but it argues that industrialization has become a force of chaos and disruption in the natural world. Unless you have been exposed to no industrialization or nature in your life, you’re going to get the concept.
I think a drug kingpin in ANY city would relate to the Wire.
Well, you’ve already moved it down from universal to universal for drug kingpins. You’re still assuming the cultural context of drugs and drug dealers is universal though. Poverty in the US means, for the most part, still having access to schools, running water and enough food to at least survive on. This is not true in the vast majority of the world even for drug dealers. Beyond that, to even appreciate it at its most generic level (cops and robbers) you need to be at least moderately familiar with the way the US political and justice systems ideally work, since the show is constantly subverting idealism in these institutions. I suppose any businessman, drug dealer or not, could identify with dealing with underlings, competition, maximizing profits, etc. but is this really specific to The Wire? Plenty of films/shows/books about drug dealers would have the same effect, I’m sure. If a plot/premise/situation is general enough then it can be appreciated by a very broad spectrum of people. The more specific it is, the more reduced its potential audience will become.
What you seem to be saying is not that The Wire is universal but that it is a show with mostly black characters that is beloved by all sorts of white people. Keep in mind that its ratings were always shitty while it was in the air which is the reason it barely got a 5th season (and why it was so truncated) and it was nominated for very few mainstream awards (and won even less).
I think some kind of language translation is assumed by this topic.
Bugs Bunny at its worst had a lot of terrible cultural stereotypes, but in the more famous of bugs bunny cartoons, the humor was physical, and not racial.
I don’t think you do need the cultural references. Don’t know that you can only hunt rabbits during rabbit season, and can only hunt ducks during duck season? No problem, it’s obvious immediately by the context. Bugs Bunny does have cultural references, but those references are always made obvious by the context of the joke.
I understand what you’re saying but how do you think some of his WWII cartoons would play in Japan? Or that one above in Ghana?
Much of the humor of the more contemporary episodes may well be physical but the cartoon does not exist in a vacuum. It was created in a culture that found those depictions acceptable fora culture that found those depictions acceptable. Even when it shifted its focus toward physical humor (not that it wasn’t always a big part, if not the biggest) it still required a modicum of familiarity with US pop culture (Yosemite Sam, Elmer Fudd, the references to monster movies, the double-entendres). To view it without any sort of context is to see two cartoons beating the hell out of eachother for no apparent reason. The beauty of the images and the anarchic tone may be enough to get many of these children to sit down and watch it but what do they get out of it other than eyecandy? It says nothing to them, especially nothing they can identify with.
The offensive Looney Tunes cartoons are no longer relatable to any culture. There’s a reason they don’t run anymore (and haven’t for decades), so when we think of Bugs Bunny, we’re not thinking of the shorts you’re referring to. I agree with Jirin that the context of the joke makes its references plain. I didn’t know who Peter Lorre was when I was eight, but I could still enjoy the silly characterization.
What you seem to be saying is not that The Wire is universal but that it is a show with mostly black characters that is beloved by all sorts of white people.
@ Mogambo: You should consider viewing Koyaanisqatsi and then tell me whether you agree or disagree with me once you’ve seen the film.
IMO, unless someone is living in an undiscovered and isolated corner of the earth, with no knowledge of any industrialized nation — which I suspect is now only a miniscule fraction of the earth’s population — then, yes, Koyaanisqatsi is the transcendent film you seek that will most definitely touch everyone who sees it.
There is no dialog or any other significant cultural barrier. It is entirely a visual, non-verbal experience.
And if it is not accessible to some obscure tribe in Brazil or some such, then they probably don’t need to watch it, anyway.
To understand what I mean by that last sentence, you’ll need to watch the picture, which then becomes self-explanatory. Give it a try.