Saturday, May 31, 2008

Snuff films, graduation, and new lit mag

So tonight I watched Tesis ("Thesis"), a 1996 Alejandro Amenábar film about the snuff boom in Madrid. It starts off with a girl writing her thesis on violence in film and television. Her thesis adviser dies watching some heinous video he picked up from the archives for her (it tuns out to be a snuff film). The girl finds her professor dead, and instead of calling the police, she steals the tape (oh, what a rebel!). Then it becomes more about a couple of idiotic film students trying to figure out who murdered one of their classmates two years prior to the distribution of the digital-shot camera. As it turns out, there were six murders overall, and as it also turns out, one of the film professors was in on the snuffing. Basically, in the end, the girl kills the guy who was making all these snuff films (and her buddy kills the professor who helped) and she abandons her thesis. Smart girl. If you don't mind a little brutality and a lot of subtitles, I recommend watching.

Some friends and I have been really into spending nights kicking back with a good horror film instead of writing final papers and so on (if you're not getting laid, getting a group of people to watch awful movies is the next best thing to an orgy, right?). This has been one of the best horror flicks I've seen so far (my experience in the genre is limited), mainly because of the fine arts metaphor--your professors may not have the exact hand in pulling the trigger on you or your work, but they have no problem watching the confused look on your face while they're editing, dismembering, or making pudding out of your thesis. This makes me think of the MFA experience in general and with Graduation only a week away, I was wondering if Amenábar attended a fine arts program himself... so I wiki-ed it of course, and apparently Amenábar attended the Universidad Complutense in Madrid (where Tesis takes place), and dropped out. I knew I liked this guy for a reason.

The irony is, my MFA experience has been pretty good. Wrote a lot. Read a lot. For the most part, I've been left to myself. And none of my professor have threatened to kill me (although, they my be plotting). I mean, that's why I wanted to go--so no one would bother me while I sit with three lit cigarettes hanging out of my mouth in my dimly lit room and write poems. But not everyone is so lucky. There is a lot of heckling that goes on. For example, the "critical" essay is problematic for students getting an MFA in creative writing. For one, you have to actually read criticism, or at least appear as though you have read some criticism. Then you have to jump through the hoop of writing a thirty-page paper, which will almost definitely fall short of being any good at all, because what kind of critical paper is compelling if the author is tied to a desk and forced to write it? I don't know about other MFAers, but I don't plan to take steps to publish my paper unless Maxim takes it, which is also very unlikely. You get an email days (or the day) before a deadline, expected to have all your shit together to hand in when you didn't even realize there was a deadline. The whole "deadline" idea just doesn't work. You've either never heard of this magical deadline, or you haven't heard from your committee in months, possibly the entire year, and then what? You look like an ass is what. And people either laugh or feel bad for you. Both are awkward.

Needless to say, I am happy for Graduation. Balloons and booze to celebrate. It marks the end of a very enlightening period in my education. It also marks the beginning of other things. Keep checking for reports of a new lit magazine I'm starting with people who are much smarter than I.
Nothing is written in blood yet, but soon.

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