Skip to comments.Dead Poets Society Is a Terrible Defense of the Humanities
Posted on 02/19/2014 1:54:25 PM PST by Borges
Ive never hated a film quite the way I hate Dead Poets Society. I expect that thems fighting words, at least in some quarters; at least I hope they are. Because Im trying to pick a fight here.
I was in the last year of my English literature PhD program in the summer of 1989, when Dead Poets Society was released. My younger brother Scott, who really didnt have the money to spare, slipped my wife Robyn & me a ten-dollar bill (these were simpler times) and told us hed watch our kids so we could go out to see it. No one in my family quite understood what I wanted to do for a living or, having finished my bachelors degree, why Id spend seven more years in school to do it; but having seen Dead Poets Society, Scott believed he finally had an idea of what I wanted to do with my life, and more importantly, why.
We went to the movie and watched, often swept up in the autumnal New England beauty of Welton Academy (the real-life St. Andrews School, Middletown, Delaware). But I walked out horrified that anyone would think that what happens in Mr. Keatings classroomor outside of it, because so many of his poetry-derived life lessons are taught outside the classroom, after allhad anything to do with literary study, or why I was pursuing a graduate degree in English. I think I hate Dead Poets Society for the same reason that Robyn, a physician assistant, hates House: because its portrayal of my profession is both misleading and deeply seductive.
(Excerpt) Read more at theatlantic.com ...
Various discussions at various times.
This one is well worth reading the full article. It is a great essay, as few are these days.
FWIW, Hotshots was a good movie about The Navy.
Well, sure. A lot of people said so when the movie came out. This article is too much too late.
It was written to mark the films 25th anniversary which is coming up this summer.
Long article. Can you just give us the cliff notes?
Dead Poets society was weird. A bunch of college guys go to a cave to... read poetry?
Don’t any of them have girlfriends?
i wonder what he thought of, “The Emperor’s Club,” with Kevin Kline...
One of my sons was an extra in the movie. He’s in the scene coming out of the movie theater.
I get the jist of what he’s saying but every dramatization of every profession is this way... the writers and actors must exercise their craft after all and not merely represent reality... where would be the escapism in that after all ;)
[ Long article. Can you just give us the cliff notes? ]
They resisted conformity by conforming to the whims of their non-conformist loony teacher....
It wasn’t college kids, it was prep school kids. That being said, the part that bothered me the most was the borderline glorification of suicide.
I have always been an unconformist.
There is nothing rational that is the product of Robin Williams. Everything he touches is diseased and should be rejected.
I loved that article. I used to hate poetry without really knowing why. I later realized that I hated all the touchy-feely sentimentality that surrounded it, and the inane, unrhymed, unmetered drivel that often passes for poetry these days. When I spent more time learning how to analyze poetry, when it became more than feelings and reactions, when it blossomed for me in all its glory, I was finally able to appreciate it. Some of it, anyway. The humanities are not weak or soft, but our treatment of them today sadly usually is.
He did a good turn in “Insomnia”. But then he had a great director (Christopher Nolan) and he didn’t play himself.
So, it shouldn't have been written? I think some reminding is in order.
I don’t know which is worse, this pompous, preachy, self indulgent movie... or that this guy has obsessed and navel gazed for a quarter century over it.
He’s real pHD material alright.
Well, one of the actors (Robert Sean Williams) in Dead Poet’s Society was also an actor in House (Wilson). That ties the two shows together.
I loved Dead Poet’s Society, but certainly not because I thought it was a realistic portrayal of anything. I mean, maybe there were parents who would want to beat their kid for performing in a play......
“Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson.
I became a nonconformist in order to fit in.
Thats how all the conformists say it.
I’m an unconformist.
You said it, not me.
It isn't that hard to come up with a defense of scholarship and academic criticism against Robin Williams's movie. When a professor does so at great length, though, he runs the risk of becoming everything the movie attacks. I didn't like the movie, and I've always hated Robin Williams, but the article made me think a little better of the film (though not of Robin Williams).
Williams is sort of a Sixties guy. We can rage against the Sixties and the changes they brought and the leftover Sixties people, but over the years some of that spirit has become a part of us. We can cringe at literary fandom or the popular teacher who builds a cult around himself, but the dryasdust professor who's always publically taking offense at such things also wears out his welcome pretty quickly.