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as a reproach to the cynical openness that Hollywood has begun to employ in the meantime to discuss itself) confronting it with the obligation to tell a big, fat lie. True, at the heart of this plan lies a reactionary idea, which, as so often happens with that which is reactionary, comes across very soothingly and naturally also contains a kernel of truth; a well-equipped, ideological machinery, which of course fuses relationships out of masses of inverted and twisted reflections of power relations, is ultimately a more attractive and worldly opponent than one, who is cynical and enlightened. Schnabel’s helpless grandiosity is, despite its embarrassments, certainly more sympathetic than disillusioned cynicism. Yet perhaps it is not the glitter of ideology or the appealing consistency of the lies, which have empowered the «other» cinema. Perhaps it is the riveting failure of these qualities in the face of the introduction of a completely unexpected subjective factor — and «Traffic» is certainly in many ways an ideological film, but one that does not fail.


8. Star-quality

In the Winter of 2000, Anette Michelson moderated a roundtable discussion with Stuart Klawans, Richard Pena, James Schamus, and Malcolm Turvey [9] —that is, with some contemporary theoreticians and producers who represent the so-called independent cinema. In her introduction, Michelson first established a relationship between the old nouvelle vague and the independent cinema of today. Then she accused the nouvelle vague of not having questioned the structures of the culture industry, but simply of having demanded «access to that system in the name of an oppositional stance with respect to the nature of cinema as an artistic practice and, eventually, of its theorization.« [10] Combining her argument with my own, this means they simply replaced the director with the auteur in the division of labour, in order to guarantee the survival of a particular notion of art. In the discussion in question, however, a similar critique was implicitly levelled at the contemporary practitioners present. They then made a counter strike directed at Michelson as the representative of the old, experimental avant-garde, accusing it of having committed two original sins, so to speak, with regards to a theory of contemporary

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