Over the weekend I got to go to the what is it called– not a rough cut, something more polished than that but still in progress– screening of a film at _______ films in the _______ neighborhood of sf where I never go except to see the free view. I got to go because ________ , a really nice neighbor, is associated with ________ via _________ gave us tickets, which makes me personally both “thank you” and a little edgy re “handling my ambitions/ avoiding sensations of starfucking.” The film, which I am not to talk about publicly, was all style no substance, hollywood and the wacky folk therein. It made me think about the criticisms of lit that is “writing for writers” or “masturbatory.” I’m always defending against those criticisms, saying something like one or another work in any mode can be bad or good, it’s not the mode that’s good or bad. I think I can love a film about- hollywood-for-hollywood, as an outsider. I guess I think Day of the Locust is an example but maybe I just got into that movie because I liked that book. Or because that movie doesn’t exactly carry the thesis “hollywood is phony but all our hearts are stupid and we love it!” ie this movie just reminded me of everything that grossed me out about that world (except for the cool collection of stuff photographed stylishly) when I was dating a woman peripherally associated with it (the Industry) a few years ago. The other day I looked at the website of a guy I did theater with and fooled around with a few times in college who became a famous sidekick on a sci-fi tv show and now has a business helping people succeed in the Industry and it just grossed me out, or seemed sad or something. Including the part where I loved that cheesy show. So when people call books bad for being masturbatory what they are saying I think is that they hate the culture/community/ personality type they associate with where that creative product comes from. They don’t want to hang out with those people, or those people make them feel bad about themselves or the world in a ‘what has become of us’ sort of way. Because if you LIKE someone, you probably LIKE watching them masturbate, after all.
When I think about it, all the movies about hollywood that I love are largely send-ups, with a sheen or bubble of plaintive affection.