Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

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knives
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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#151 Post by knives » Thu Apr 05, 2018 5:51 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:
Brian C wrote:
mfunk9786 wrote:Because the Japanese characters in Isle of Dogs are othered by their lack of subtitled dialogue and gags about how the dogs can't understand them?
Should the dogs be able to understand them? Or should the movie just not make jokes about how different species don’t communicate well? If Anderson took this communication gap more seriously, would it be ok?
I don't think those jokes with the dogs would be a problem if the audience could understand that dialogue. But both in tandem absolutely serves to make the Japanese characters feel like the "other" in comparison to the dogs and the English-speaking American character, in a film set in and about Japan. That remains so strange to me.
Would it then be better for her to be speaking French or German?

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Brian C
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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#152 Post by Brian C » Thu Apr 05, 2018 6:33 pm

What if the tables were turned? What if a Japanese filmmaker made a movie where the dogs spoke Japanese but the American kid wasn't subtitled? Would it occur to you to feel "othered", mfunk (or anyone)?

By the way, I know I'm being kind of a jerk in saying this, but I'll just be upfront about it: if you answer "yes" to that last question I'm not really going to believe you. It's really meant as more of a rhetorical question, frankly.

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mfunk9786
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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#153 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Apr 05, 2018 6:53 pm

I feel like your whole 'film by a Japanese filmmaker' thing is more rhetorical than the follow-up question, I'm not sure how to respond to whataboutism except... not to

As for your question, knives: Wes Anderson is an American filmmaker, so what you propose is similarly sort of irrelevant to this specific film and this specific issue

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Shrew
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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#154 Post by Shrew » Thu Apr 05, 2018 7:05 pm

I'm not mfunk, but to restate my earlier post: Atari and the dogs are fine, but the film's use of language in problematic in the Megasaki scenes precisely because there are no dogs to hear it. Thus the film's language conceit twists from linguistic gulf between dogs/people to linguistic gulf between the audience and the Japanese. That this is then filtered by white actors voicing Asian puppets adds an extra note of cringe.

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Brian C
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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#155 Post by Brian C » Thu Apr 05, 2018 7:07 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:I feel like your whole 'film by a Japanese filmmaker' thing is more rhetorical than the follow-up question, I'm not sure how to respond to whataboutism except... not to

As for your question, knives: Wes Anderson is an American filmmaker, so what you propose is similarly sort of irrelevant to this specific film and this specific issue
Well, let me shift gears somewhat then, non-rhetorically: are there any movies (or whatever other medium) that made you feel "othered" in the way that you're describing Anderson doing to the Japanese?

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Gregory
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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#156 Post by Gregory » Thu Apr 05, 2018 7:17 pm

Yes.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#157 Post by Mr Sausage » Thu Apr 05, 2018 7:26 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:I feel like your whole 'film by a Japanese filmmaker' thing is more rhetorical than the follow-up question, I'm not sure how to respond to whataboutism except... not to
Wait--you're not sure how to respond to a hypothetical question?
mfunk wrote:As for your question, knives: Wes Anderson is an American filmmaker, so what you propose is similarly sort of irrelevant to this specific film and this specific issue
I think the question is worth asking: is this a universal issue, or just an issue you take with white filmmakers? That's the thrust of BrianC's question, as I understand it, and it bears answering.

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soundchaser
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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#158 Post by soundchaser » Thu Apr 05, 2018 7:28 pm

With the caveat that I won't be seeing Isle of Dogs until this weekend...Playtime takes a similar approach with its American actors - I'm thinking specifically of the business magnate in the back of the restaurant. It *does* feel deliberately other-ing there, but not with Barbara, one of our point-of-view characters in that world. Would you say Tati's punching up, though?

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Shrew
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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#159 Post by Shrew » Thu Apr 05, 2018 7:43 pm

Yeah, the problem here is power dynamics, but also experience under a foreign ''gaze''.

So, most Americans aren't offended by critical portrayals of them in other cultures because they don't often see themselves in that way. It's a novel experience in a system mainly dominated by American media. Likewise, I doubt many Japanese people will take issue with Isle of Dogs. That said, Asian Americans exist in a different media dynamic. They are much more likely to be sensitive to this ''othering''.

A better analogy would be some Dutch guy living in Japan getting angry at the Samurai Champloo episode about a Dutch man pretending to be a samurai so he can enter the "paradise of boy love".

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Brian C
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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#160 Post by Brian C » Thu Apr 05, 2018 7:54 pm

Shrew wrote:A better analogy would be some Dutch guy living in Japan getting angry at the Samurai Champloo episode about a Dutch man pretending to be a samurai so he can enter the "paradise of boy love".
Honestly, nothing could make this discussion seem sillier than the idea that this is a good analogy for what people are being offended by.

Good grief.

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mfunk9786
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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#161 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Apr 05, 2018 8:00 pm

Mr Sausage wrote:
mfunk wrote:As for your question, knives: Wes Anderson is an American filmmaker, so what you propose is similarly sort of irrelevant to this specific film and this specific issue
I think the question is worth asking: is this a universal issue, or just an issue you take with white filmmakers? That's the thrust of BrianC's question, as I understand it, and it bears answering.
As Shrew touches upon, it's an issue with this particular film, any attempt to inflate it or complicate it in an effort to squash the specific concerns with this particular film seem fruitless to the point of not warranting any particular engagement, because they're totally hypothetical a la "Well what if someone killed someone with a fork? Should we ban forks?"

There are plot points in this movie for which some of Anderson's stylistic choices do not work. In my opinion. I've stopped short of calling the film racist or even particularly racially insensitive. But it is not as good as it could be, and part of the reason for that is because of its strange relationship with the culture it depicts.

And no, as a straight white male, I find few opportunities to feel "othered," but that doesn't mean I don't empathize with the idea that someone might be when they're watching popular culture depicting puppets of their race behaving cartoonishly without subtitles for the amusement of a mostly white audience. Just because that's not something I have a 1:1 comparison for doesn't make it an invalid critical concern.

I do flinch every time at the line about bald men in Phantom Thread, though. :-|
Shrew wrote:Likewise, I doubt many Japanese people will take issue with Isle of Dogs.
At the end of the day, this is probably correct. But it still shouldn't serve to stifle any conversation around the way this film handles anything. Nothing should be immune to critical discussion merely because "hey, see, they're not offended!!" The name Washington Redskins is still insensitive regardless of how many poll respondents state that it doesn't really bother them. None of these things just go away because the most people aren't bothered by them. In the case of Anderson not subtitling much of the dialogue in Isle of Dogs, the awkward result is right up there on the screen no matter whether 1 person is irked by it or 1,000,000.

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Brian C
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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#162 Post by Brian C » Thu Apr 05, 2018 8:27 pm

mfunk9786 wrote: Nothing should be immune to critical discussion merely because "hey, see, they're not offended!!" The name Washington Redskins is still insensitive regardless of how many poll respondents state that it doesn't really bother them. None of these things just go away because the most people aren't bothered by them.
It's true that nothing should be immune to critical discussion, so if I see whatever strawman is suggesting that, I'll be sure to mention that to them.

But, actually, "hey, see, they're not offended!" is pretty much a checkmate to the assertion that something is ... offensive. I mean, I think the "Redskins" name is obnoxious, too, but if it turns out that American Indians aren't actually offended by it so much, then why would I take it on myself to complain about how offensive it is to American Indians? Am I to presume that I just know better than they do? How stereotypically white-guy arrogant is that?

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Mr Sausage
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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#163 Post by Mr Sausage » Thu Apr 05, 2018 8:28 pm

You've used both "squash" and "stifle" now to describe the people in this thread who disagree with you. You complained earlier about rhetoric--well, you yourself shouldn't use rhetoric so offhandedly to negatively characterize those engaging in a critical debate. No voice here is being either squashed, stifled, or suppressed through any kind of force or authority. This is a standard and so far very polite disagreement.
mfunk wrote:As Shrew touches upon, it's an issue with this particular film, any attempt to inflate it or complicate it in an effort to squash the specific concerns with this particular film seem fruitless to the point of not warranting any particular engagement, because they're totally hypothetical a la "Well what if someone killed someone with a fork? Should we ban forks?"
I gather it serves your point to treat this film as though it exists in a vacuum (and how appropriate for a Wes Anderson film). But your argument cannot, because it's fundamentally a moral one. It became one the moment you talked about people being othered. Now it's fair to ask how far this moral idea extends, what are the ideas behind it, is it held consistently or are there double-standards, etc. Any moral argument that's critical has to refer to something outside of the work being discussed. So it's open to hypotheticals, as moral questions generally are.

And you're wrong to say BrianC's question is 'totally' hypothetical. It's only slightly hypothetical: a variation on an existing film. I can understand refusing to answer a hypothetical question so abstract that the answer is arbitrary. But I suspect that's not why you're refusing to answer this one. I think you just find it to be inconvenient.

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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#164 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Apr 05, 2018 8:42 pm

What is the intended result of this disagreement if it's not one side of it attempting to stifle or squash the idea that this film might be misguided or insensitive? Why would Brian be disagreeing with the idea that it is unless it's because he disagrees with the idea that it is?

And you said it yourself, Sausage - this film absolutely exists in a vacuum. It is a meticulously created animated feature by someone who controls every pixel, every millisecond of what goes on in the frames of his films to begin with. The difference with an animated film is that he actually can achieve this level of making exactly what he wants, and he chose this. I didn't think it was all that great of a film. Not going down a rabbit hole that doesn't exist merely to drag out this pedantic exercise does neither myself or Brian any good, because it has nothing to do with this film. And because I wouldn't classify this film as immoral, even knowingly or unknowingly, I disagree with you that somehow this opens it up in the way that you propose. It's innocently misguided at best, carelessly cavalier at worst. The bar is set much much higher for a film to be classified as immoral, just as it is to classify it as offensive. Isle of Dogs is neither. Doesn't mean people here or elsewhere can't explore the uncomfortable spaces that Anderson created to their hearts' content without feeling as if they've touched some kind of intellectual electric fence.

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Brian C
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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#165 Post by Brian C » Thu Apr 05, 2018 8:46 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:What is the intended result of this disagreement if it's not one side of it attempting to stifle or squash the idea that this film might be misguided or insensitive? Why would Brian be disagreeing with the idea that it is unless it's because he disagrees with the idea that it is?
All I can say to this is that you're revealing more about your personality here than you probably would wish.

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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#166 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Apr 05, 2018 8:47 pm

Thanks for the tip, but MoviePass already has a full profile on me, I don't care whether CriterionForum.org does

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Mr Sausage
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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#167 Post by Mr Sausage » Thu Apr 05, 2018 8:58 pm

mfunk wrote:And you said it yourself, Sausage - this film absolutely exists in a vacuum.
And yet so many of your comments are about things this movie hasn't invented, such as the languages it uses and the cultures it represents. One of the things you've persistently avoided doing is treating this movie as if it were sui generis. You're almost always comparing it to our shared reality and evaluating it against that. True sui generis works cannot be compared to anything but themselves, which is one of the reasons many people find those kinds of art works difficult to assess.

I don't think you quite understand what you're saying, either. If this film does in fact exist in a vacuum, then all of its characters, Japanese, American, whomever, are by definition othered because they are grown in a private world unconnected to our shared reality. You can't have it both ways here.
mfunk wrote: And because I wouldn't classify this film as immoral, even knowingly or unknowingly, I disagree with you that somehow this opens it up in the way that you propose.
Moral argument, not moral judgement. I didn't mean you were judging the film; I meant you making arguments about how well it conforms to certain standards and principles of representation, specifically its representation of other cultures next to what you generally think to be the way they ought to be represented. People don't care if a culture or race is othered unless they hold as a standard of conduct or behaviour that other races and cultures oughtn't to be othered.
mfunk wrote:What is the intended result of this disagreement if it's not one side of it attempting to stifle or squash the idea that this film might be misguided or insensitive? Why would Brian be disagreeing with the idea that it is unless it's because he disagrees with the idea that it is?
If this is true, then most of the arguments you've engaged in on this forum are attempts to squash and stifle the other side. Indeed, you do frequently enter threads to bemoan that this or that discussion is even occurring. And considering how many arguments you've been in as a moderator, that must mean you've been abusing your added power to squash other people's speech.

Or we can throw away that nonsense and go back to admitting that using reason and argument to convince people that something isn't worth talking about is a very, very different concept from using force or power to stop people from being able to speak, which is what squash (smash an object through force) and stifle (physically restrain someone's mouth) actually mean.

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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#168 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Apr 05, 2018 9:10 pm

You win!

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Mr Sausage
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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#169 Post by Mr Sausage » Thu Apr 05, 2018 9:13 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:You win!
I prefer the AvP tagline: "Whoever wins, we lose".

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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#170 Post by MoonlitKnight » Fri Apr 06, 2018 5:09 am

Mr Sausage wrote:
mfunk9786 wrote:You win!
I prefer the AvP tagline: "Whoever wins, we lose".
I thought that was the tagline for virtually every presidential election that's taken place during my lifetime. :|

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whaleallright
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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#171 Post by whaleallright » Sun Apr 08, 2018 5:48 pm

never mind
Last edited by whaleallright on Mon Apr 09, 2018 5:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#172 Post by OldBobbyPeru » Sun Apr 08, 2018 8:48 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:Despite the fact that much of the initial parts of the conversation were relevant to the film, they were also relevant to what followed as well, so I moved everything regarding cultural appropriation in this film, "free speech" issues in general, and pedantic weeping muppets to the previously established Jordan Peterson thread.

You can continue the discussion of appropriation in this film here though if it's a part of a review of it and it's relevant to your thoughts about it, it'll just now be easier for folks like Luke M to find... you know, posts about the movie in the thread for the movie.
This thread is not without irony, just speaking as one of the pedantic weeping muppets that was stifled off to some other thread.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#173 Post by Mr Sausage » Sun Apr 08, 2018 9:00 pm

In fairness to mfunk, I think "pendantic weeping muppets" was only describing Peterson, whom he'd called kermit-voiced earlier. Though I could be wrong.

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mfunk9786
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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#174 Post by mfunk9786 » Sun Apr 08, 2018 10:09 pm

Correct.

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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#175 Post by OldBobbyPeru » Sun Apr 08, 2018 10:39 pm

That's good to know, but the irony remains, as I keep coming back to find... you know, posts about the movie in the thread about the movie.

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