For some time now, Roadside Theater has been concerned about the lack of a rational debate about the role of art in a democracy. Here are three critical perspectives on the same movie.
What's Up With Those Southern Beasts?
"[Beasts of the Southern Wild] is the latest film fantasy about the rural South. I think it's a depressing film, so I'm wondering why millions of viewers and the critics find it so exhilarating. ... [W]ho feels exhilarated by a film that appears to be a grab-bag fantasy about the end of time, poverty, and alcoholism? I hope rural Southerners, despite some affinity for the Book of Revelation, know too much about themselves to swallow the concoction."
"Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hahn tells students that putting images inside our heads is just like eating. And if 'you are what you eat' it is equally true that to a grave extent we are what we see. Having read wonderful reviews of the film, pushed by friends and colleagues alike to see it, I was amazed that what I saw, they did not see... Sadly, all the vibrancy in this film is generated by a crude pornography of violence.
"My aim in bringing up Dudley [Cocke]’s adverse reaction to a film that by any other account has and will continue to impact viewers, receive critical acclaim, and circulate as example among film school students of a brilliant artistic rendering of the emotional residue of natural and social loss is not to argue simplistically that insiders are always right and outsiders always get it wrong. It is neither my goal to argue that there is a no-trespassing zone about race and poverty, rural life, gender and violence that urbanite Eastern seaboard artists must never attempt to cross.