Folks, we are not done with this cheating thing:
I’m not sure that there will ever be an end-point to finding film scenes in which authors and artists are brought in as the One and Only True Source of Information to Decode the Mysteries of the Art Object. I think that the idea of the author as the only legit source of decoding is tripe, rot, balderdash, hokum, bunk, crud, guttersnipe…in a word, it is fooey. I mean, hey, Shakespeare is quite dead and that has not stopped a constant flow of articles, books, films, poems, songs, and performances about him and his work–some, or even all, of which may be better than what Will himself could have said. Here is what I think about the author as the singular source of interpretive righteousness: what if–in some fantasy land–you actually get to ask William Shakespeare what the true meaning–the true essence–of a complex play like, say, Coriolanus (1605-6) is, and he happens to be working on a rather painful gas bubble, and all he is able to say is: “of course that play is really about how I wanted to French kiss Kit Marlowe, now leave me you smug, self-righteous, entitled, disrespectful, L-riding, tax-evader!”
Here’s a scene from Woody Allen’s comedy Annie Hall (1977). Note that this Author-As-Righteous-Owner-Of-All-Truths zinger may have influenced the director/writer of Back to School:
So, who is cheating in this scene:
1. Marshall McLuhan is cheating because he has a moustache.
2. Annie Hall is cheating because, just prior to this scene, she mentioned sex and therapy in a public place. And that combination is known in psych circles as the nuclear option.
3. Woody Allen cheats because he breaks down the Third Wall.
4. The Columbia prof cheats because he mentions Fellini’s Satyricon (1969) with an unlit cigarette dangling from his lips.
5. I cheated because I had to look up the correct spelling of Satyricon.
6. Lance Armstrong cheated not because of his will to win at all costs or his desire to stand on podiums in European countries, but rather because he had a rough time recovering from his two days of riding in the 2006 edition of RAGBRAI–which stands for The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (an annual seven-day bicycle ride across the state in which riders eat lots of pie and breakfast burritos and drink oodles of weak, warmish macro-brew beers) and thus had to up his EPO cocktail intake by 2 nanograms–this was the beginning of the end for him. I know, because I rode that Wednesday leg to Coraleville, Iowa, and caught up to his 6-man posse. Said Lance to us: “How did you catch us? We were going, like 21.” Said my friend, Geoff, in response: “We’re Cutters, we catch riders. It’s what we do.”