Similar to our discussion on highbrow/lowbrow culture this weeks reading selection contends again that the consumer of a particular media text is what puts the labels associated with it onto the work itself. This week’s discussion however took a look specifically at how audiences interact with indie movies that categorize them as such. Much like highbrow/lowbrow culture is created because of our need to categorize things hierarchically, I believe that the idea of an indie counter culture was created to explain the break in artistic strategies and creative flexibility that is commonly found between majors and independents.
Certain strategies can be used by consumers of indie movies that create a coherence within the diverse category that is “indie”. These strategies include viewing characters as emblems (think Brokeback Mountain), viewing form as a game (Memento for example), and reading the story as anti-Hollywood. While all these strategies are equally valid, I believe that the last point is especially helpful in linking his particular discussion of indie film to the highbrow culture arguments we are all familiar with. Viewing something as anti-Hollywood creates a good vs. bad mentality that pervades our society no matter if you stand on the major or independent side. The very existence of these strategies, however, serves to perpetuate the very idea he is trying to get across. Just by allowing yourself to believe that something is independent of an established order causes you to analyze every minute detail for meaning and depth, even if none existed originally.
Implementing these strategies earlier during our screening of Buffalo ’66 did prove to be quite an experience. I found myself questioning everything from shot selection to word choice. For some reason just knowing that this film was “indie”and “highbrow” made me dig deeper and take note of, for example, the overwhelming lack of character development of Layla or the creative use of flashbacks that both told their own narrative but related to the discussion at hand.
Ultimately, I think that the very concept of “indie” perpetuates the image of “indie” which has led the genre and culture to merge with highbrow culture or maybe even vice versa. This argument seems strangely reminiscent of the silly argument of whether the chicken or the egg came first, and I have to admit that in this case I don’t know if i truly know the answer.