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Discussion of "Memories of Underdevelopment," at the NewYorker Movie Facebook Club








Kristy Eldredge
New Yorkers: Did any of you catch Memories of Underdevelopment at Film Forum this past week? (Today is the last day.) It is indeed extraordinary, as Richard Brody said. It shows Cuba right after the revolution through the mind of a disaffected man. It's filmed in black-and-white and at times brings to mind Breathless by Godard. One thing I found striking was how the main character blamed his own torpor on his locale. Cuba, being in the minds of Americans anyway an image of freedom from Puritan strictures, and a serious experiment with socialism, isn't often derided as a limited backwater, as this character moodily saw it. But he was intensely critical of his surroundings. Anyway, did anyone else see it and have any thoughts?
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Bjorn Arvidsson
Bjorn Arvidsson It still fascinates me, how Americans can discuss pretty much any subject in an adult fashion these days.. other than "socialism" and/or "communism" I really don't want to make enemies here, but every time I read an American take on Cuba or any "communist" country my blood boils; because none of you have any idea what you're talking about beyond the propaganda you learned in school, or college. Sickening, and it proves that y'all are as indoctrinated as "they" were. Do us all a favour; talk about movies; a subject Americans are masters at, but leave the politics, especially politics you have no hope of comprehending, to either Americans who've studied it deeply and openly, or to foreigners.
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Kristy Eldredge
Kristy Eldredge I included the Slant link for "important political context." I knew my comments were very uninformed from a political and historical perspective, but I still was moved enough by the film to want to make them. Why don't you choose a different group to be in instead of one that includes a lot of Americans, since we're so ignorant?
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Patrick McEvoy-Halston
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Welll, I was talking about how Americans perceive Cuba, how they use the country to satisfy their fantasy needs. This would seem to be a fit point for someone deeply versed in America, not Cuba. What Cuba actually is, was exactly NOT something I was getting at.

You very much might make enemies by shaming people the way you did here. You can study something deeply, but still be quite ignorant... there are enormous numbers of historians who are politically conservative, politically retrograde, for instance. One would be a fool to defer to them; be cowed by their extensive "knowledge." Knowing this, I'm not sure I want anyone to inflate the importance of study, for it alone might not be key... at all.

What might be key is degree of empathic reach, which you in your conflating us into those who need to stick to the superficial/fantasy and leave the complicated, big boy stuff -- the "actual," the "real" -- to others, don't much demonstrate. So if a foreigner is someone who is better prepared to discuss Cuba than we are, as you argue, to be persuasive to us, they'll need to know enough about, not Americans, but people in general, to approach us avoiding well-known means of categorizing which leaves one party feminized/infantalised and the other, masculine/adult, in order to have a chance of being persuasive. We here understand your approach as what is now considered troll-forum shaming, and which was one considered typical male ways of rendering woman away from after-dinner, drawing room, "serious" conversations, which in this time of anti-bullying and #MeToo is not being heeded anywhere in the world right now.

We don't want people to become scholarly or to become more international, less base American, in identity, so they can hoist themselves arrogantly over other people, silence a crowd, though shame, when an intolerable amount of enduring ignorant talk makes it seem now absolutely called for. That's a lesson we've learned from many a Hollywood movie, the pleasure in being this person, and it needs to be unlearned.
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Adam Capitanio
Adam Capitanio What if I told you there are Americans who are communists?

For a guy expressing the sentiment of "one world, one home" you seem awfully interested in degradingly generalizing a massive group of people.
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Kristy Eldredge
Kristy Eldredge I realized as soon as I read the Slant article that I'd missed all the political commentary -- obviously a huge part of the film, so that was embarrassing. I never studied Cuba in school, which seems like a bad omission by the U.S. educational system but on the other hand I was educated in Canada, so blame Canada. (Cue South Park song.) Certainly any thoughtful adult should read a book about recent history in Cuba, and I plan to after being painfully lambasted for my ignorance. But it's harsh to sneer at a massive group in a dismissive, even rageful way. There are many committed leftists here though no one ever seems to notice them. But also, do you think we're proud of being poorly educated? There is no money put into education in this horrible backwater we live in.
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