April 28, 2012

Is this the right way to exploit "17-year old blogging prodigy Bebe Zeva"?

I stumbled across this article in the Washington Square News, which is the NYU student newspaper, because my Google alert on NYU School of Law (my alma mater) brought in a headline — "V.P. Biden visits NYU, praises Obama" — that made me click over to the site.

Okay, first, the Biden stuff:
In his speech, Biden framed the victories the president has won. He also discounted Romney's remarks against Obama's foreign policy. "Romney wants to take us back to the past we've worked so hard to move beyond," Biden said. "He is looking through the glass of a rear-view window."...

CAS sophomore Danielle Herring left the talk convinced that she will be voting for Obama in November. "I was expecting more of a speech on foreign policy in general, more of an overview on what America is planning on doing in the future," Herring said. "But I think it did a good job of explaining our foreign policy and what America has done in the last four years."
So then Biden was looking through the glass of a rear-view window. Whatever. At least he convinced Danielle Herring that she will be voting for Obama.

Now, check out the article about the filmmaker — Tao Lin, an NYU alumnus — who's made a documentary about a 17-year old female blogger. The film "tails the up-and-coming blogger through one night in Las Vegas, her hometown."
"The simple, utilitarian storytelling set against the absurd, over-the-top backdrop of Vegas calls to mind the similar tone of Lin's books," reads a description of the film on MDMA's website. "Bebe Zeva provides an opportunity to see [Tao Lin's] literary aesthetic translated into the world of cinema."
Sounds interesting. But then I clicked through to the trailer for the film and... wow...



That is not the right way to use a minor. The literary aesthetic translated into the world of cinema literally nauseated me.

27 comments:

traditionalguy said...

She says that she is donating her existence to social commentary.

She has NO boundaries.

That is a suicidal way to waste life's possibility to become a unique person.

bagoh20 said...

It's just too deeply "post ironic" to be accessible to the masses. I got the deeper meaning, but I would be robbing you of the value of the journey if I just came right out and explained to you.

edutcher said...

Stimulus that didn't work, an economy going down for the third time and a health bill everybody hates?

Those victories?

Or the Arab Spring that's turned into the Moslem Brotherhood's dream come true? And let's not forget Zero's doing all he could to throw away all the hard-won gains in Iraq and A-stan.

God, if she's that easily convinced (by Halo Joe, no less), she must be the easiest lay in history.

PS Ann's right. The Chinese guy's a slob.

Palladian said...

CAS sophomore Danielle Herring left the talk convinced that she will be voting for Obama in November.

Now was that eventuality ever really in doubt, honey?

bagoh20 said...

"She says that she is donating her existence to social commentary."

Me too. Isn't everyone lately? We got a damned pandemic of social commentary. A good grid-frying solar storm would be nice about now.

bagoh20 said...

If Joe Biden talks me into anything, then anyone nearby has my permission to just liquidate me - right there, no warning, no mercy, no hard feelings. Thanks.

wyo sis said...

It's good to have a purpose.
"donating my existence to social commentary"
I think Lin is expecting a larger payoff.

harrogate said...

"So then Biden was looking through the glass of a rear-view window. Whatever."

Um, no. That's a bizarre distortion to toss out there, from one who is so "analytical," so "neutral."

Even the "whatever" doesn't quite make the comment work, somehow.

Palladian said...

Are you really that stupid, harrogate? Or just a dishonest hack?

Nevermind...

bagoh20 said...

". "I sometimes feel I am missing social acceptance, so I try to prove myself on the Internet by getting more Facebook friends and Twitter followers," she said.

But Lin was drawn to Zeva precisely because she defied the norm.

"Bebe is so unique," Lin said. "She is much smarter than her peers.""


The internet is like a blender: It mixes everyone together so the cream is no longer at the top. Fame and even success appears to be completely random.

harrogate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
EDH said...

"Is this the right way to exploit "17-year old blogging prodigy Bebe Zeva?"

Is there a "right way" for a filmmaker to exploit a 17-year old?

harrogate said...

Palladian,

I just don't see the point of the "rear view" snark that Althouse makes. If she or you or whomever, thinks he's wrong about foreign policy--a position many of you have long espoused, then, to quote Althouse, "whatever." Or if you prefer, "whatevs."

But there's nothing structurally off about his comments, in the way she implies. Snarky deconstruction, when used, ought to at least have Some grounding in reality. Otherwise it's just evidence of--what was your word for it?--hack[ery].

EDH said...

harrogate said...
But there's nothing structurally off about his comments, in the way she implies.
Comment deleted
This comment has been removed by the author.
4/28/12 11:55 AM


Althouse was pointing out the disconnect between Biden's critique of Romney and the take-away from Biden's speech by the student who said she'd vote Obama-Biden.

Biden: "Romney wants to take us back to the past we've worked so hard to move beyond," Biden said. "He is looking through the glass of a rear-view window."

Herring: "I was expecting more of a speech on foreign policy in general, more of an overview on what America is planning on doing in the future. But I think it did a good job of explaining our foreign policy and what America has done in the last four years.

Althouse: "So then Biden was looking through the glass of a rear-view window. Whatever."

chickenlittle said...

That is not the right way to use a minor.

That was not the right way to use a mirror--not in the film nor in Biden's metaphor.

Romney is not "looking through the glass of a rear-view window"--that implies that he has his head on backwards or is doing a 180 while driving.
Romney just has one eye on the rear view mirror while looking straight ahead--better to keep an eye on the thugs trying to overtake his slight lead.

Wasn't Biden a diversity hire--picked to "balance the ticket"? Out here, I've heard more about his wife Jill's good works than anything he's done. He sucks at whatever he does. JMHO

harrogate said...

EDH,

Here's a hint for you: repeating it doesn't magically give it teeth.

It's clear WHY someone might, especially if engaged in hackery or on a good drunk, think that the student's "takeaway" line disconnects from the VP's comments. 'OMG OMG they're both about the PAAAAAASSSSSSTTTTT. Whatever.'

m stone said...

Better a rear view in foreign policy, or any view for that matter, than retreat.

Joe Biden sure is my idea of a visionary. He had implants before vanity was the rage.

Michael K said...

I didn't get to the end but it looked like videos my kids made before they knew how to use the camera.

Joe said...

How about Americans admit that most teenagers done with the "minor" thing at sixteen? Instead of coddling them into their twenties and making condescending remarks about how a girl of seventeen is incapable of making her own decisions.

(Yes, some kids aren't ready for adulthood at sixteen--my second son for example. Some aren't ready at twenty and some are never ready. But enough of this nonsense of trying to legally enforce an idealized childhood that was an exception in human history, not the rule. One point of being able to grow up is being given the opportunity to make mistakes. Protecting kids from doing so, does them and society no favors.)

Rabel said...

Maybe Biden was just trying to change the subject.

Look,a squirrel

Donna B. said...

That literary aesthetic is boring because it's meaningless and stupid. And yes it is a shame to exploit the stupidity of a spoiled 17 year old.

Freeman Hunt said...

Our society fails teenagers more than any other age group.

Freeman Hunt said...

How about Americans admit that most teenagers done with the "minor" thing at sixteen? Instead of coddling them into their twenties and making condescending remarks about how a girl of seventeen is incapable of making her own decisions.

There is nothing in modern culture or common methods of child rearing that would make her an adult in her teens.

You can't bring them up to be children and treat them as adults when it suits your purposes.

Joe said...

You can't bring them up to be children and treat them as adults when it suits your purposes.

I agree with you. However, despite the general infantilization of society, there are plenty of sixteen and seventeen-year-olds who are ready to be treated as adults, but aren't allowed to be.

(Heck, look at the proposed farm regulations which want to ban young people from working hard.)

dbp said...

I was nauseated too, but mostly by the bad sound editing and jumpy camera work.

yashu said...

Nauseating is right. Creepy for reasons I don't even want to go into.

It's one thing if a teenager were to make a movie like this about herself. It's quite another for an adult to do so.

Maybe Lin is gay, and he thinks that somehow gives him more leeway, lets him off the hook in a way? (NB I have no idea whatsoever whether that's the case, never heard of the guy before). Well, it doesn't. I think I'd find this just as creepy if it was a woman director instead of a man.

I allow for the possibility that this is a kneejerk reaction, and that if I were to see the whole film I might revise my opinion.

What's nauseating isn't even so much (or just) the exploitation of this girl's sexuality, or the precocious/ immature self-display the movie elicits from its subject, but something about how this movies flaunts the relationship between director and (minor) subject. The giddy BFF-ness of it. The question of trust/ betrayal between director and subject in documentaries is a fundamental and perennial one (which comes up in one way or another in virtually every doc). I've never realized this before (before thinking about this post), but I think something I may ethically require from documentaries is at least a momentary marker or acknowledgment of a boundary/ distance-- a moment of wariness/ distrust from the subject, a moment in which the director's position as necessarily unreliable narrator is foregrounded.

I don't see the slightest hint of that here.

Richard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.