Wednesday, January 04, 2006


jessica asks, "Am I the only person who thought Lost in Translation was sexist, racist trash? (I know I am not the *only* one)"

You are not alone. Pieced together from some old emails....

Subject: all the fuss
Date: Tue, 29 Jun 2004 16:33:38 -0400
From: oranget
To: heavylid


well i have finally seen lost in translation and am left wondering what all the fuss is or was about. i mean yes it's refreshing to see a kind of hollywood love story in which they *don't* end up having sex fifteen minutes after meeting -- or at all for that matter. that there can be some chemistry between two otherwise lost and lonely people regardless of age difference or whatever. and the way it was left open at the end -- what did he whisper into her ear at the end -- was a nice touch i thought, also unconventional hollywood in terms of leaving it open, ambiguous, mysterious. but...


Subject: re all the fuss
Date: Tue, 29 Jun 2004 23:44:00 -0400
From: oranget
To: heavylid


i guess with LIT, cuz i went online to to see what if anything people were saying about it on bulletin boards. some folks saying it was overrated, others saying no no it was great brilliant etc. it does seem to have this word-of-mouth property to it, like people are maybe sceptical at first and then someone asks what you think or should i go see it and you say yeah, go check it out. someone on a bulletin board described it as a coffee-table book, pretty to look at but that's all it's really there for, to look at. he's goofy and funny and sweet and handsome. she's pretty, looks great and sounds great smoking, has a great ass (or at least one worth bring front and center in the opening shot).

but it's REALLY slow going. nothing REALLY happens. it's almost painfully boring how bored the characters are. the efforts to make japanese culture look alienating border on making it look really really stupid. BM's character borders on being the ugly american. there's not really much to charlotte, i mean she's vaguely interested in buddhism.

i think whatever chemistry does come about b/w BM and SJ does, yr right, come from the spontaneous, aside nature of the dialogue. and i think that's mostly BM's doing. we know so little about their characters tho, and even less about the others in their lives, and it seems like it's supposed to be that way. like it's all supposed to be anonymous like a one-night stand, but there's no one-night stand! (which is the whole point.)

i think getting lost in a big open space is appealing -- but only if you find someone else to be lost with. there is a great kind of solace or solidarity in that. it's an escape, it's the two of us in our own little world. and in some kind of larger (dare i say transcendent?) way, nothing else matters: love, sex, even simply really getting to know someone -- none of that matters. which is what to me he whispers to her at the end.

and that's part of the movie's appeal to i think: everyone gets to make it mean what they want it to, make him whisper into her ear what they want. we get lost in it. it invites us to get lost in it. and the whisper at the end is this "great moment," right? like it plays to the moment junkies in all of us. whatever it is they agree on at the end -- i love you, i'll never see you again, you're a great human being, i wish i'd met you 15 years ago, i'll never forget you, we'll always have our memories, we shoulda had sex -- whatever it is, in fact it's all of these things and none of them, it's a completely empty moment, completely void of anything real and it begs us to fill it with whatever we choose.


i think now that that whisper is lacan's object petit a in a nutshell: a completely void, vacant, vaccuous moment into which each subject pours his or her desire. take that, zizek!


Jessica Smith said...

well tom, that was much more interesting than the movie.

the "dumb blond" that SJ's bf is hanging out with. the "dumb blond" trope has been done to death.

the strip club scene

the scene where a japanese woman comes to BM's room to accuse him of raping (or molesting, same difference) her. i'm sure this happens once in a blue moon but of course much more common is that male celebrities *do* rape/molest female fans and aren't falsely accused.

i don't like that they kiss at the end. like SJ would ever kiss that ugly, pathetic old man. I think the movie sells out to the patriarchy at this point.

John Sakkis said...

i took the "dumb blond" character to be a send up to young hollywood rather than any specific gender type...

are you saying strip clubs are inatly sexist or that the strip club scene from the movie was sexist? also, note that the girls are striping to a Peaches song...a feminist rapper a la Miss Kitten...

"the scene where a japanese woman comes to BM's room"...again, not sure how this is sexist within the context of the movie...or without for that matter...(maybe you could explain more)

personally i liked the kiss scene...i thought it was lovely...nothing sexual about it...just connection...

(not directed at you Jessica) and the "boring, nothing happens arguement"?...come one...i'd rather watch Star Wars than Godard anyday but that doesn't mean i think "nothing happens" in the latter's films...