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Pleasantville, Bradbury and positid morality
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posted
I know that Pleasantville isn't a Bradbury adaptation, but I find the question about where authors draw the line to make their points and to tell a story to be relevant in looking at Bradbury. Other than "Junior" where there are allusions to things moving "down there" Bradbury appears to be free of any kind of gratuitious and graphic nudity or sex. (While he references the nudity of the wife in "The Next in Line," there is no graphic or titillating description of the body anywhere in the story.)

I find it interesting that growing up reading a ton of Scifi in HS, we (young, hormone-driven males) would pass around passages from various Scifi authors that did include depictions of nudity and sex in the novels and stories we were reading. But in Bradbury's short stories, there just wasn't anything sexually titillating. (Intellectually titillating, yes!)

I shared Nard's reaction to "Pleasantville". I loved the special effects of the movie -- the depiction of life in color and a kind of drabness in B&W and the manifestation of the fact that people would, in essence, see the world in color as they became more "alive".

The problem I had when I watched it was this: In EVERY single instance of a person going from a B&W to a color version of the world, sex was involved. The woman touches herself in the bathtub and flowers appear in color. The guy paints female nudes, and color appears in the paintings. The girl reads "Lady Chatterley's Lover" and she sees the world in color. I have no problem equating life, vivacity and joy in sexual relationships. I would be hard-pressed to think they don't enliven us. But what troubled me was the fact that EVERY manifestation was tied to sex. For example, what if the painter had just painted beautiful, impressionistic landscapes or seascapes. Why could this not have been shown to represent an awareness of a kind of Romanticist view of the world that would make a person more alive? In the guy's sister's selection of a book, did it have to be "Lady Chatterley's Lover"? (A book I thouroughly enjoyed, by the way.) Why not a book by Hemingway or Steinbeck? Why not showing that literature makes us come alive?

That was my problem. Not that one of the paths for "coming alive" involved sex -- but that ALL the paths leading to a newness of life involved sex. There is great beauty and life in art and literature that can make us come alive -- it is not all about sex.

That's my two cents worth, anyway.

I pulled this thread over into a new post because it had nothing to do with the book review anymore.

Also, the idea of a B&W drab world and a color happy world is depicted in a great song by Paul Simon called "Kodachrome". In this song, B&W represents a very drab world, color represents joy and a full life. He begs society (mama) not to take away his Kodachrome. "Mama, don't you take, my Kodachrome away!"

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Nard Kordell
Member posted 08-11-2003 01:53 PM
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If anything, it is this Pepperidge Farm comment that makes me consider the ineptness of the reviewer...
Similiar reaction I got from the movie, 'Pleasantville'...which I considered the most dangerous movie of this generation... Why?
(A) Totally 'immoral' movie making itself look like its moral.
(B) An absolutely stupid portrayal of people living right after a War that claimed 70 million lives world- wide. They are depicted as if they have no sense of common-sense.

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pterran
Member posted 08-11-2003 02:28 PM
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Nard,
I know this isn't a Pleasantville site but you touched on something about that movie that bothered me in some ways. Since it was broadcast the other night, I got a chance to watch it finally and was disappointed, to say the least. On a parable level, it worked fine, but on a broader level, it seemed to be telling me something that was much more disturbing. I don't know if I'd call it the most dangerous movie of this generation but I would consider it dishonest.

I don't know exactly what my comment has to do with Bradbury but there it is.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled discussion. . .

Pete

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Celestial
Member posted 08-11-2003 04:00 PM
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About the movie, "Pleasantville", I immediately found it provocative because it supported the premise that we live in Technicolor only when we embrace certain aspects of humanity. The black and white reality was confined to a cookie-cutter existence. The visual effects in this movie were nothing short of intoxicating.
Clearly, there were disadvantages and advantages to each existence,( i.e., promiscuity and sexual awareness in one reality, morally-straight families and male-dominant society) through the other. Since we all want to live each day in Technicolor, the plot forced the audience to chose one existence over another. There was no gray area. And that�s why it bothers some people.

What I find amazing about Ray�s work, is that he embraces the best of all options, breathing a Technicolor life into his characters like those in Dandelion Wine while giving dimension and individuality to them. Do we really want to know about Douglas� sex life anyway?


Nard Kordell
Member posted 08-11-2003 04:12 PM
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Celestial:
I still stand my own personal vendetta of 'Pleasantville'.
I was so irked by the showing of it I nearly asked for my money back at the ticket counter. Actually, I don't know why I didn't. Perhaps I figured the ticket girl or manager wouldn't care much if I did and that wasn't the point. I wanted someone else to REALLY know how it bothered me.

I find it very dangerous because.... another generation is always on the horizon, dumb as bunnies. Unless God gives out grace beyond measure to one's intellect, or surrounds with total protection from the morass of wrong decisions, human nature will embrace 'Pleasantville'. What makes color to ones life... is sex. THAT is all the movie is teaching.

Quite a few years ago I had a short story appear in a small publication in Sausalito, California. It had to do with a society where everything is absolutely squeaky clean. No illness, no sickness, no disease. So, no one ever knows the 'experience' of such affliction. But there is a man, hidden away, who actually has a terrible rash, and it is a story about one person driven to find that person, to acquire the transmitted rash, and discover an emotion gone from society. Illness.

Did you ever read Ray Bradbury's,
"The lllustrated Woman"?
We are forced to look sexually where we might not look otherwise, and find NO offence. Now ...THAT'S 'ART'!


[This message has been edited by Nard Kordell (edited 08-11-2003).]




[This message has been edited by Mr. Dark (edited 08-11-2003).]

[This message has been edited by Mr. Dark (edited 08-11-2003).]
 
Posts: 1964 | Location: McKinney, Texas | Registered: 11 May 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Mr. Dark,

Okay, here we go.

You and Nard make some very valid points about this movie but I'll put up a bit of a defense for it before I move on to talk a little about my problems with it.

Since film is a visual medium, perhaps the screenwriter/director chose the sexual metaphors as simply the easiest way to visually show enlightenment. Although you make some very good suggestions, I think the sexual overtones were chosen simply because of their ease and provacative nature. How better to show the real reasons for the black and white world than to imply it all comes from sexual Puritanism?

Granted, the special effects were extremely well done, and goes a little towards what we briefly touched on in another post of style versus substance. But I cannot recommend this film solely on its flair for visual style because I think it's ultimately dishonest.

Your argument that enlightenment comes through sexual means is one instance of this dishonesty so I won't go over the several very good points you make there. But my view was that things were going pretty well in the old black and white world until it was usurped by outsiders. Oh, sure, they have the best of intentions. After all, they know more than everyone else and feel it's their duty to convert everyone to their point-of-view. (Uh, oh. I think I may be stepping into Nard territory. Bear with me, Nard. I'm not talking about sharing the Gospel, of which you and I see eye-to-eye as our Christian duty.) They characters from the "colored" world know what's good for themselves and, thus, it must be good for the unenlightened, whether the unenlightened want it or not.

Except for the mother, there seems to be no one who's really unhappy about their current circumstances. That is, until the "coloreds" come along to show them the error of their ways. Of course, once everyone's converted, this new-found freedom has nothing but a positive effect. Time doesn't allow the movie to more fully explore the consequences and responibilities of freedom but, instead, spends all or most of its time denouncing the drab black and white world. A world that seems to have gotten along pretty well, thank you very much, and must have some kind of knowledge of sex because of the number of young people running around.

I know this movie is better appreciated as an allegory rather than hard-core reality but another problem I had with it was it's snobbish tone towards the 50s. Or, rather, sitcoms from the 50s. Of course, it's easy to look back at the era and say it was stifling when compared to the explosion of the 60s but when you look at the times, it was exactly this time where Bradbury flourished, where jazz was evolving into rock n'roll, where the Beats reigned supreme. Reactions to the restrictions of the time? I don't think so but an argument could be made, I guess. But my point is, if the times were truly so stifling, nothing would have come from them. And the fact is, some very great art was created then. Which can be said for virtually any era. (Oh, okay, the 70s are lacking. But that's an exception. So I think it's unfair to paint an entire era with such a broad brush.

Finally, I'm not entirely sure the characters from the colored world received anything from the black-and-white world. The sister may have realized the error of her less than virtuous ways but that seems to be the sum total of what they brought back with them. You'd think that in such a clash of culture there'd be something valuable to bring back. Shoot, even in The Brady Bunch Movie, when we're laughing at the naivete of the times of that sitcom, we're thinking in the back of our head that maybe that time wasn't so bad. Not so with this movie. It seemed to preach a message of tolerance but tolerance that only worked one way.

Nice quote from Paul Simon, Mr. Dark. Perhaps he said best in a 3 minute pop song what this movie failed to do in nearly 2 hours.

Pete
 
Posts: 547 | Location: Oklahoma City, OK | Registered: 30 April 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I'm afraid the women in b&w Pleasantville weren't as "happy" as their male counterpoints. In fact, I saw shades of "Stepford Wives" with the dutiful wife expected to fill the cookie cutter mold, having all household chores accomplished in time for a "June Cleaver" presence when her husband arrived home every evening.

The inuendos that sexual awareness and even adultery were her wake-up calls to break the mold, was demeaning to the essence of a real woman. A woman is not defined by her sexuality, although I'd be willing to bet many men are.

I agree with Mr. Dark's comments about using broader strokes to awaken the technicolor aspects of our lives with tasteful art and the like.

So, if you guys think life was so perfect in the B&W version of Pleasantville, think again.
 
Posts: 118 | Location: Gulfport. MS | Registered: 10 January 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I'd apoolgize for stirring up a hornet's nest, but I didn't stir it up. I just gave it a new home. :-)

Pete: Loved your comments.

Celestial: Appreciate your perspective on the limited options available to women then. I think if you add to it the fact that blacks were still being openly segregated against in parts of the US, then you have to accept that the 50's were more rosey for white males than for minorities and women. Thanks for the reminder.

My comments on sexuality being the wake-up call were not directed to women -- but to both. The diner had the nude paintings (which, by the way he displayed in public!), and the father had to have a sexual awakening, too. So I felt the entire romantic awakening was sexual for everyone -- not just the women. I certainly meant no slur there.

(By the way, loved your comments, too. I just had some clarification to do on my comments that prompted yours!)

General: I do agree with Pete's comments that the fifties were not all evil and stifling, though. While America appreciates greater personal freedom, it also deals with a much higher level of crime, divorce, suicide, alienation, drug addiction, etc. I'll not pretend to do the sociology to try to explain that.

I also like the comment that if the film were more balanced, it would be possible to have shown some cross-over benefits from each culture to the other.

I may just have to re-watch that thing, now.

But I still find it interesting that one of the fundamental themes of "Dandelion Wine," for example, is what it means to be "alive," and Bradbury manages to deal with that in the complete absence of any sexual controversy or gratuitous sexuality at all.



[This message has been edited by Mr. Dark (edited 08-11-2003).]
 
Posts: 1964 | Location: McKinney, Texas | Registered: 11 May 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Mr. Dark,

I wasn't refering to your inuendoes, but those of the production and screenplay writers of Pleasantville. If you do watch it again, I'd be interested in knowing if ANY feminine names appear in the production credits.

Want to take a side bet?
 
Posts: 118 | Location: Gulfport. MS | Registered: 10 January 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thanks for the clarification. I didn't want there to be any misunderstandings.

No side bets on the number of women in production. You're probably on to something there.
 
Posts: 1964 | Location: McKinney, Texas | Registered: 11 May 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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This is a great posting, Mr. Dark. My opinion on the whole is that the moral representations which Mr. Bradbury expresses through his work is why he is loved. I remember seeing in some afterword that he wrote that he is not an optimist but believes and acts with optimal behavior. Being an optimist leads you on a wayward path if you are optimistic of the wrong thing. That is an outstanding statement to be made. And if you believe that by summing up an idea by the most efficient method as Ernest Hemingway thought, you cannot want any better statement than Mr. Bradbury's on the reasons he writes the way he does.

I just began reading Tolstoy. And I thought there are parallels to what Mr. Dark stated to what the Russian said in his foreward to the works of Guy De Maupassant:

(exerpt - the whole work can be found here: http://www.geocities.com/cmcarpenter28/Works/maupass.txt

"But, to judge from the small
volume which I had read, he was devoid of the chief condition
necessary, besides talent, for a truly artistic production. Of the
three conditions: (1) a correct, that is, a moral relation of the
author to the subject, (2) the clearness of exposition, or the
beauty of form, which is the same, and (3) sincerity, that is, an
undisguised feeling of love or hatred for what the artist
describes, -- Maupassant possessed only the last two, and was
entirely devoid of the first. He had no correct, that is, no moral
relation to the subjects described. From what I had read, I was
convinced that Maupassant possessed talent, that is, the gift of
attention, which in the objects and phenomena of life revealed to
him those qualities which are not visible to other men; he also
possessed a beautiful form, that is, he expressed clearly, simply,
and beautifully what he wished to say, and also possessed that
condition of the worth of an artistic production, without which it
does not produce any effect, -- sincerity, -- that is, he did not
simulate love or hatred, but actually loved and hated what he
described. But unfortunately, being devoid of the first, almost the
most important condition of the worth of an artistic production, of
the correct, moral relation to what he represented, that is, of the
knowledge of the difference between good and evil, he loved and
represented what it was not right to love and represent, and did
not love and did not represent what he ought to have loved and
represented."

[This message has been edited by Ought Not (edited 08-11-2003).]
 
Posts: 135 | Registered: 22 July 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I've never had my ideas compared to Tolstoy before. I am flattered and honored.

I loved the quote you posted. I've gone to the site and cut and paste it into an email to myself and hope to read it tomorrow. I am absolutely fascinated by how much great stuff there is to read out there, and how many great ideas exist. I wish we could live to be a thousand just to do the reading!
 
Posts: 1964 | Location: McKinney, Texas | Registered: 11 May 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Celestial,

You might be on to something there with your point about the sexual awareness and adultery that were the mother character�s wake-up calls to break the mold being demeaning to the essence of a real woman. I agree with you in that it seems more like a male-oriented point of view. In fact, I�ll say that this point of view - and sometimes it�s expressed in literature created by women, like Erica Jong and her ilk - is more of a male view of sexuality than female. Apparently, Sex and the City has quite a female audience - and you might be a fan - but I�d argue the view of the most promiscuous character, what�shername, is more along the lines of a male view of sexuality. (But that�s the subject of a different thread, isn�t it?)

Mr. Dark,

Thanks for the kind words.

There was something else that you began to touch on that I never got around to addressing and that�s the subject of sex and science fiction. Since science fiction seems to be, for the most part, the domain of young males, you�d think there�d be higher presence of sex. One needs only to flip through a recent comic book or two (oops, sorry, graphic novel) to realize the how male sexual fantasies are played out in that particular art form. Not being familiar with the state of current science fiction affairs, maybe it still holds true today.

But I think the lack of explicit sex in Bradbury�s work only demonstrates his higher aim. I mean, Bradbury is as interested in sex as anyone else. (His praise of Playboy is a fine example as well as this little tidbit: a few years back I caught him on Tom Snyder�s show and Bradbury was talking about traveling to New York on a train. Snyder and Bradbury were trading a few pros and cons about the kind of travel when Bradbury pointed out the shower in his state room or whatever it�s called barely had room for two. Took Snyder only a half beat to catch what Bradbury was talking about.) But he just doesn�t find a need to dwell in that limited area. There�s so much more to life than that.

Besides, I�m an old fashioned kind of guy (All right. I'm a prude. There. I've said it.) and I like to think that if Bradbury was really interested in creating an explicit sex scene, with his love and control of metaphors, he�d give us something powerful and memorable without being explicit. Something more than curtains blowing in the window or waves crashing on the beach or a train entering a tunnel but not much more.

Pete
 
Posts: 547 | Location: Oklahoma City, OK | Registered: 30 April 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Hi Pete,

Never watched Sex in the City for the exact reasons you mentioned. Liberated women with promiscuous lifestyles is a male fantasy. Women have enough trouble keeping up with their own expectations.

I would imagine the thirty-something crowd is drawn to the premise of that highly over-rated series, and perhaps if I fit the demographics profile, I might have tuned in. There's got to be a reason it's been so popular for so long. Actually, there's not much on TV these days worth my time.

Btw, does Ray watch any TV? Just curious what, if any, he would consider worthy of his time on the small screen.
 
Posts: 118 | Location: Gulfport. MS | Registered: 10 January 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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My wife and I never miss Sex and the City. It is terribly true to life and well written. Yes, there is sex and lots of it, in all forms and partners to astound, but the humor is in the reactions of the participants to each new situation and how they should "play" the game. We have long since lost all prudishness and are not offended by nudity as long as it is not exploitive of either sex, or shows violence for the sake of violence, and not happiness, laughter and pleasure. As a couple of now older lovers, we enjoy the troubles of the young as they search for the "perfect Mate". I think Ray would approve.
 
Posts: 257 | Location: Laguna Hills, CA USA | Registered: 02 January 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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patrask
I'm sorry! This is *#*!*. The word fits here.
Pornography is the extreme damager. 'Sex and the City' is the shameful stuff made acceptable in the main thoroughfare. No one says it isn't true and close to life. But there is no longer shame. No longer a conscience disclaimer to the audience. The wirters and directors don't give one iota about the audience's soul. You either know it or you don't. You either have a conscience of this or you don't.
PLEASE ...DO NOT put Bradbury into this cup of tea. Let his work speak for itself!!!
He terribly disliked Ralph Bakshi, the creator of 'Fritz the Cat' ,and other projects, because of his terribly vulgar take. You get me going on this topic and I'll have to open a new website......



[This message has been edited by Nard Kordell (edited 08-14-2003).]
 
Posts: 2280 | Location: Laguna Woods, California | Registered: 28 June 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Hate to see the board descend to emotional outbursts. It is a strong board -- compared to a lot of other bulletin boards out there -- in part because of the civility that has prevailed.

We live in a free country where people can disagree.

I have watched Sex and the City and find the dialog quite witty. If it reflects reality, they (the stars) associate with different people than I associate with, and their dating life is far more "vigorous" than is mine.

When I was younger, my dad used to tell us (his hormone-driven sons) that he didn't think a single Playboy magazine was a problem, but that it was the proliferation of these things, where boundaries of privacy and discretion were being broken down. When I watch this show, I do enjoy the dialog, but I also am uncomfortable with the fact that the entire series deals with the sex lives of these four women -- in ways that are often an encroachment of my own sensitivities. But every time I have watched the show, it has been my choice to watch them.

As for Bradbury, in his writing, he does not focus on the sexual side of life as do some "other" science fiction writers. Bradbury doesn't seem to write simply for sexual titillation (as do some other writers), and so I'm not sure how he would respond, as a viewer, to the show. Since he's not a tv watcher, he may have a kind of assumption that watching the show is not really living life, but passively observing it. But again, I can't speak for him. I've never read anything by him that I interpreted as being sexually puritanical or anything, it just doesn't seem to be something he writes about.

Anyway, this is an issue members of the board obviously strongly disagree on, but I hope respect for other persons -- even with differing views -- is a prevailing sentiment on the board.


[This message has been edited by Mr. Dark (edited 08-13-2003).]
 
Posts: 1964 | Location: McKinney, Texas | Registered: 11 May 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I've never seen Sex and the City so all I know about it is what I read. And I'll also have to take you at your word about the quality of the writing. But from what little I know, witty writing just isn't enough for me. Recently, I read a transcript of an interview with Kim Cattrall, the actress who portrays the, shall we say, more adventurous of the group, and the interviewer was gushing about how 15 year old girls were feeling empowered by the character and claiming they wanted to be like whatever-her-name-is. Neither the interviewer nor Ms. Cattrall thought this to be in the slightest way odd but it seems to me if the show is as explicit as it's been described, what are 15 year old girls doing watching it? (Yeah, yeah, I know, talk to their parents. Which is exactly the problem.) By permitting this kind of thing to become more mainstream by writing such programs off as "terribly true to life and well written" and, thus, okay, simply takes a further step to coarsening our culture.

Now, is there room for such a show? With a jillion cable channels available to the discerning viewer, of course there is. And if that's the kind of thing you want to watch and it does neither you nor others harm, well, that's great I guess. But my point is these kinds of shows DO cause damage in that the boundaries of good taste can be extened so far that the center can no longer hold. (Yep. Yeats. Smart, huh?) Before long, the norm will be nudity that's "exploitive of either sex, or shows violence for the sake of violence, and not happiness, laughter and pleasure."

As for whether or not Ray would like the show, you all know him better than I do so I can't speculate. (Sorry. That's the best Ray reference I could work into this post.)

Pete
 
Posts: 547 | Location: Oklahoma City, OK | Registered: 30 April 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I really enjoyed Kim Cattrel in "Big Trouble In Little China" with Kurt Russel. He even pulled off a John Wayne personna throughout the entire movie and it was mostly charming, adding a great comedic relief to the fantasy tale. He's a long-standing favorite, since I had a crush on him since his early Disney days.

Kim Cattrel also did a great job as the mommie in "Baby Genuis" with the smart, short guy from Allie McBeal. That was a series I did enjoy and can't help but wonder if Sex and the City is the more explicite version of Allie McBeal.

Obviously, there's tons of choices out there for everyone. Although, I firmly believe that the powers that be do not always have the best interests of our nation's morals as a driving focus in their choices. And we need to work on that. Maybe Mr. Terminator can do something about it!
 
Posts: 118 | Location: Gulfport. MS | Registered: 10 January 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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