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Kino Korner September 6, 2002
 
Spielberg Needs A Stalker
By Mark Ames Browse author Email
 
Page 2 of 4
 
The problem with Steven Spielberg is that he is someone who clearly never felt pain in his life. A desire to please, an ambition to be loved, but never real pain or fear, never spite or envy. He was a nice, talented California Jewish boy with nice upper-middle-class Jewish parents, a family who cared for and nurtured him and helped, financially and emotionally, to raise him up to the exalted position he's in today. I'm sure that that Spielberg was rarely criticized in his home, that he was one of the rare Jewish-American boys whose parents never tortured their child with the esteem-shattering multiple-mind-fuck technology that most J's rain on their children from the day they're born till the day they flee (which is usually never).

I understand Spielberg's background because he graduated from my high school. It was an incredibly cruel school even by suburban California standards. Where the surfer world, the shitkickers, middle-class hippies and the obscene nouveaux riches all intersected. I can still remember Spielberg's senior class photo: a classic 4.0 twerp with an inappropriate long 70s hairdo. It was a compromise 70s hairdo, just as Spielberg has lived his life as one perfect compromise. Spielberg lets his hair just long enough to appear almost rebellious to his peers to minimize the milk carton launchings in the quad, yet not too long/rebellious as to scare his parents at home. Even when I arrived at Saratoga High, ten yeas after Spielberg, they still talked about him as a quiet, unmemorable twerp. The Saratogans were proud that he couldn't conquer the savage social ladder there, yet Hollywood was a breeze.

Spielberg got his revenge. It's a funny story about the depths of shamelessness that ambitious, shallow people will go to. When Schindler's List came out, a few critics had the balls to question how a pampered upper-middle class Californian like Spielberg, could imagine himself qualified to take on a subject so big and awful as the Holocaust. How did he have the right to presume himself capable? The obvious answer is that he didn't: it was a shitty movie unless, like me, you were rooting for the doomed Nazi commandant. Up till Stalingrad, let's face it: Fiennes' camp commandant character lived the life every male teenager dreams of leading: total power over thousands of people, free license to fuck, beat, and murder (even from the comfort of your balcony) anyone you wanted at any time without fear of consequences. The commandant behaved exactly as Beavis would behave if handed the keys to a death camp during the Reich's salad days. Again, Fiennes is the only interesting character in that film because Spielberg is only in touch with his 13-year-old self -- perhaps that's where his creative talents froze, like some Tin Drum kid -- totally lacking in self-awareness, yet still simplistic and raw enough to transmit that fantasy world of good and evil almost unmediated. Spielberg is only formulaic in the sense that all 13-year-olds are formulaic. Other directors are formulaic in that they copy Spielberg's adolescent formula.

Anyway, back to Spielberg's revenge: when a few cheeky critics who refused to be cowed by the Holocaust plot dared question what right Spielberg had to tackle that subject, Spielberg came out and did the unimaginable: he claimed that he had been the victim of brutal anti-Semitism oppression at, yup, you guessed it, Saratoga High. My alma-mater. It was one of the sweetest moments of vengeance for me on that most terror-worthy target of targets. Spielberg landed a WMD, contaminating it for years. You have to understand: Saratoga is one of the most obnoxiously pretentious enclaves in all of Northern California, often lobbying the San Jose Mercury News to write stories affirming that it is the "Beverly Hills of San Jose," a lie that only Saratogans believed, like Bucharest calling itself the "Paris of the Balkans." When Spielberg said that he was a victim of anti-Semitism at Saratoga High -- a complete lie, by the way -- he gave Saratoga the gift it had always sought: nation-wide recognition. Only now, as some kind of white supremacist enclave. Like Waco, Texas or Birmingham, Alabama. I laughed, literally laughed, for years.


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Ames
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Email Mark Ames at editor@exile.ru.
 
 
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