Friday, September 5, 2008

against mimesis

All the reviews I’ve seen have mentioned Pierce Brosnan’s terrible singing, but I haven’t seen much criticism of Meryl Streep’s performance, which is much worse, and also does more to explain what’s wrong with the film.The problem with her acting in the film is precisely that it is acting, or rather Acting with a capital A, an emoting that suggests that the only way of conveying emotion is through mimesis.

Watching Mamma Mia made me think about what it is I like about Abba. Two common responses to the band are the deflationary one, to say they are “just a great pop group” (or a guilty pleasure); and the inverse, to reject the idea that Abba were a superficial pop group and emphasize the emotional depth of their songs. Neither of these responses is quite right, because it’s the pop elements, the glossy artifice of production, that give Abba their emotional charge. So much of the emotion resides in the carefully constructed production, while the voice, far from expressing emotion, is strangely blank; the effect is to produce an externalization of emotion, a sense that the music carries the emotion for the singer, perhaps because these emotions are so powerful that the only way to deal with them is to, as Jay-Z puts it, make the song cry.

from Voyou Désoeuvré

1 comment:

"Post-Google" by TAR ART RAT said...

I don't know what it is about ABBA... they DO keep it fairly simple, and there is a lot of simple truth to some of what they are saying. I like them, not in large doses, but in-general... then again, i started young