wtorek, 1 czerwca 2010

Movies made for your money

For people from United States tt's problably an odd situation but for people from Europe it's just as obivous as the fact that the day comes after night. Here's what I'm talking about: in my country an artist in order to make a movie is taking money from a state institution. It's called State Institute of Cinematography. There's a commission which is judging which scenario is worth subsidizing. Commission consists of people from different field: directors, actors, producers, photoprahers., etc. The idea is based on the assumption that "experts" in the given field of art are able to find new genuine artists.

SIC, when introduced, got a lot of criticism for using taxpayers' money for such abstract purposes but now public opinion or journalist - the people who think they know what others think - are more friendly and willing to justify its existence. Why? Since SIC has been working we had a lot more of new 'our' movies in cinemas and according to some - there is more good movies than in the past. That is assumably thanks to SIC activity.

I think that what we can question here isn't the fact that there is a lot of new movies thanks to SIC. It's true. But it's also obvious that when you giving money to many directors you will get many movies. We can't even argue at the point of the quality of movies. Despite philosophical argument that art is a subjective sphere we can truly say that people are watching local movies more willingly and critics are claiming they're truly better.

What we can ask here is the fundamental question: what if there was no SIC, if we let people be creative not only in writing scenarios but also in finding financial resources to bring their project off? What if we lay our trust not in artificial acceleration of market but in the natural maybe slow (not always) process of evolution?

Here we meet contrargument: it is impossible to find financial means to make a movie when you're not living in USA. And it's impossible to have a profit from that movie. Why? Because you have to have theaters to play it - not only on a local but also on the international scale. But there's no theaters to play it - they prefer something which guarantees the profit - Hollywood movies - to something which is a certain loss. No matter how silly the first part of the argument sounds, the second is more important. Is the market the right instance to judge the quality of a work of art or maybe it can't be like this and in order to save the world's artists from dissapearance we should finance them? Are there no objectives in life to which we can sacrifice the standard property rights understanding?

Those are provocative questions but they should give birth to the line of arguments that would be able to this simple ethical fact visible: you can't steal in order to make the world more beautiful place. The first and very concrete argument that can be made on the basis of my country's experience. No matter how good new movies are and how big is their number - their success is still limited. It's still local. They still don't pay off. Also they rarely win foreign festivals, some small ones maybe - if any. That should be the reason to think that maybe subsidizing artists and accelerating their development is something quite opposite to our intentions - it's making them handicapped.

poniedziałek, 31 maja 2010

Who's a real extremist, anyway?

I'm a journalist whose magazine has just got a new editor in chief. It's nothing personal but, sadly, after reading his first article I know that he belongs to the category of people who do not fully understand ethical statements they make. He wrote his aim was to make our magazine open to any view but without going into any extreme. It seems to me that the preassumption here is: "The truth lies somewhere in between". But let's get this straight: there's only few people who understand what it means. Partly, because they don't know that this ethical opinion came from... Aristotle.

The simplified aristotelian ethics is the source of the popular conviction that in any argument the truth is not present on only one side of the argument. Why? Because it would be extreme - it's believed. Nevertheless what Aristotle wanted to say was: the truth in ethic lays between lack and excess. This is the framework in which we can use The Golden Rule. So for example - bravery is somewhere between insolence and cowardice. This is true aristotelian ethics. Nowhere we meet the statement that we can find a golden rule in murder, theft or in lie. Some things are just bad or good without any in between. And this is a matter of formal logic and meaning of specific words not of so called "point of view". That implies one strict consequence:

- some people who claim that every moral situation should not be judged in a radical, say, binary (good/bad; true/false) way and that there are ALWAYS some exceptions are simply wrong.

Example: Assume that someone (person A) holds the view that abortion is wrong because every life is equal per se but at the same time he/she holds the view that there is no point in be persistent about that because there can be situations in which the life of a fetus is less/more important than the life of a mother. If we look at this from the logical point of view we see that person A believes that p (every life is equal) and not p (not every life is equal, which follows from: there are situatins in which lives are not equal). That means A believes two contradictory statements. Funny thing is that when somebody tries to make a clear statement about abortion (pro or contra) is very often called an extremist which I consider quite riduculous. Think about that! We have a logical person called and extremist (obviously negative word) and an illogical inconsitent person called reasonable one. We observe this while talking about capital punishment, taxes, euthanasia, homosexual people, etc.

I got I suggestion: let's change the popular meaning of the word 'extremist'. I guess that it is an adequate name for all the people calling themselves "centrists" or 'reasonable'. Why should we offend logically thinking people by calling them names and why should we respect people who have never done a proper course in formal logic and ethics?