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John Holbo - Editor
Scott Eric Kaufman - Editor
Aaron Bady
Adam Roberts
Amardeep Singh
Andrew Seal
Bill Benzon
Daniel Green
Jonathan Goodwin
Joseph Kugelmass
Lawrence LaRiviere White
Marc Bousquet
Matt Greenfield
Miriam Burstein
Ray Davis
Rohan Maitzen
Sean McCann
Guest Authors

Laura Carroll
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Miriam Jones

Past Valve Book Events

cover of the book Theory's Empire

Event Archive

cover of the book The Literary Wittgenstein

Event Archive

cover of the book Graphs, Maps, Trees

Event Archive

cover of the book How Novels Think

Event Archive

cover of the book The Trouble With Diversity

Event Archive

cover of the book What's Liberal About the Liberal Arts?

Event Archive

cover of the book The Novel of Purpose

Event Archive

The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Happy Trails to You

What’s an Encyclopedia These Days?

Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Intimate Enemies: What’s Opera, Doc?

Alphonso Lingis talks of various things, cameras and photos among them

Feynmann, John von Neumann, and Mental Models

Support Michael Sporn’s Film about Edgar Allen Poe

Philosophy, Ontics or Toothpaste for the Mind

Nazi Rules for Regulating Funk ‘n Freedom

The Early History of Modern Computing: A Brief Chronology

Computing Encounters Being, an Addendum

On the Origin of Objects (towards a philosophy of computation)

Symposium on Graeber’s Debt

The Nightmare of Digital Film Preservation

Richard Petti on Occupy Wall Street: America HAS a Ruling Class

Bill Benzon on Whatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhat?

Nick J. on The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Bill Benzon on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Norma on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Bill Benzon on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

john balwit on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on That Shakespeare Thing

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

JoseAngel on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on Objects and Graeber's Debt

Bill Benzon on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on Objects and Graeber's Debt

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Monday, January 02, 2006

Memoirs of a Geisha

Posted by Bill Benzon on 01/02/06 at 05:37 PM

I want to take a break from theorizing and engage in a bit of practical criticism. I went to see Memoires of a Geisha with mixed expectations: gorgeous, but flawed plot. My expectations were met. While I was having doubts during the film itself, after thinking about it I concluded that there was something about the whole setup that seemed like high-class mud-wrestling. In ordinary mud-wrestling—so I’m told—bikini-clad women wrestle in a pool of mud for the entertainment of patrons at the bar. Here the women were dressed in gorgeous silks and, while there was some physical combat between them, the fighting was mostly over power and position in the geisha world. Some of the sets were gorgeous as well—though I don’t know this for sure, it looks like some of the scenes may have been shot in the Japanese garden at Huntington Gardens in LA.

Has anyone here seen the film? Do my remarks make any sense? That is, do they answer to anything you saw/sensed in the film?

I often read several reviews of films, especially ones I find problematic, in an effort to account for my impressions. I’m certainly not the only one who’s bothered by this film, though I’ve not seen anyone else compare it to mud wrestling. Here’s a URL to the IMDB entry; it has a bunch of links to reviews:

http://tinyurl.com/bzj7c


Comments

I agree. One big cat fight. Sexist, Orientalist tripe. I got dragged into it by relatives I was visiting for the Holly Daze, and I couldn’t stop squirming and sighing with the desire to walk out. Dragon ladies and hot exotic sex-toy-girls. Hentai writ large, with bluish filters. Oh wait, hentai girls look white. Okay, hentai from the other side then. But the central character did have blue eyes--a remarkably unremarked-upon miracle--just so the largely white audience could relate a little more. And ugh, the terrible, terribly vague English they spoke--not like Chinese speakers of English (which might at least have fit the nationally inappropriate actors) nor like Japanese speakers of English--just like lazy old Hollywood depictions of chop-chop Asian talk. Anyway, a sad example all around of the stalled state of race relations.

By willie mink on 01/03/06 at 12:28 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Let me push just a little further. The movie uses exoticism to mask support for male subjugation of women. And asks us to believe that the women wouldn’t want it any other way.

By Bill Benzon on 01/03/06 at 07:14 PM | Permanent link to this comment

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