67 minutes | Feb 12, 2020

Martha Coolidge's “Valley Girl”: A Valentine’s Day special film exploration of all things love, sex, romance and the nature of, true love.

From Mitch's Notebook

"I have an archivist’s passion for things past and largely for aesthetic rather than political or sociological reasons - and the fact that it is aesthetic makes all the difference. I suspect that my psychological state is really about the same as the Thora Birch character’s response to the old artifacts she discovers from her friendship with the Steve Buscemi/Seymour character in the wonderful film version of Ghost World.

She instantly falls in love with the objective beauty of the old blues vinyl record as well as animations and illustrations from the thirties to which she is exposed. Her curiosity and openness is essentially the aesthetic capacity of the human being and it is not coincidental that her character is someone in her late teens.

The film Ghost World is discussing the first time you experience a work of art as much as it is discussing first friendships and loves. (The main reason I am taking this time to emphasize it in this context). There is a special understanding that you can have for something by it being completely new to you while you are also aware that what happens to be new to you in particular is in actuality old to many more other people and and is not tied to your actual lived experience.

This is how I suspect historians and anthropologists must feel towards some things, as well as art preservationists. Conversely, there is a way to know something by virtue of having directly experienced it that is superior in ways to not having experienced it. But my main point is that you need both, contrary kinds of responses and reasons in your interaction with the culture. You need both the observer distance and participant closeness, not necessarily at the same time or for same things of course, but in the fullness of lived experience over a lifespan. 

Thus when Laurie Jill Strickland gave me this wonderful present of the original artwork for the poster of Martha Coolidge’s Valley Girl a powerfully similar state as in Proust’s Madeline took hold of me - because the dress the illustration depicts being worn by Deborah Foreman was identical to the one worn by a girl I had loved in my teenage years. I always have reservations about discussing the subjects of both love and sex, not out of any coyness on my part: to put it bluntly I am about as opposite a prude as you can imagine a human can be. I am not much less reserved when it comes to the subject of my personal life in general. 

You could chalk it up to my Libran sense of diplomacy. Or you could say it is my (inordinate) need to be loved, much like the part of me who plays piano. It is also most curious, even ironic, that something so universal as love can also be so controversial. Then again, universal things involve the most people which increases the chance of disagreement. I am anxious about all of these things.

And yet….On the other hand, here we are in February and both love and sex are inevitably on everybody’s mind at this time. As well as movies of course, surely one of the most romantic of art forms. What I am really saying is that this movie Valley Girl is a beautiful and fun movie; it is as much entertaining as it is edifying in about equal measure. "

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