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Dead Poets Society Is a Terrible Defense of the Humanities
The Atlantic ^ | 2/19/2014 | KEVIN J.H. DETTMAR

Posted on 02/19/2014 1:54:25 PM PST by Borges

I’ve never hated a film quite the way I hate Dead Poets Society. I expect that them’s fighting words, at least in some quarters; at least I hope they are. Because I’m 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 didn’t have the money to spare, slipped my wife Robyn & me a ten-dollar bill (these were simpler times) and told us he’d 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 bachelor’s degree, why I’d 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. Andrew’s School, Middletown, Delaware). But I walked out horrified that anyone would think that what happens in Mr. Keating’s classroom—or outside of it, because so many of his poetry-derived “life lessons” are taught outside the classroom, after all—had 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 ...


TOPICS: Books/Literature; TV/Movies
KEYWORDS:

1 posted on 02/19/2014 1:54:25 PM PST by Borges
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To: wideawake; discostu

Various discussions at various times.


2 posted on 02/19/2014 1:56:56 PM PST by Borges
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To: Borges

This one is well worth reading the full article. It is a great essay, as few are these days.


3 posted on 02/19/2014 1:58:19 PM PST by KC Burke (Officially since Memorial Day they are the Gimmie-crat Party.ha)
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To: Borges

For later


4 posted on 02/19/2014 2:02:05 PM PST by Doctor 2Brains
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To: Borges
I think I hate Dead Poets Society for the same reason that Robyn, a physician assistant, hates House.

FWIW, Hotshots was a good movie about The Navy.

5 posted on 02/19/2014 2:03:43 PM PST by Jacquerie ( Obama has established executive branch precedents that no election can reverse. Article V.)
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To: Borges

Well, sure. A lot of people said so when the movie came out. This article is too much too late.


6 posted on 02/19/2014 2:05:02 PM PST by x
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To: x

It was written to mark the films 25th anniversary which is coming up this summer.


7 posted on 02/19/2014 2:07:12 PM PST by Borges
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To: Borges

Long article. Can you just give us the cliff notes?


8 posted on 02/19/2014 2:08:48 PM PST by MNDude
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To: Borges

Dead Poets society was weird. A bunch of college guys go to a cave to... read poetry?

Don’t any of them have girlfriends?


9 posted on 02/19/2014 2:10:47 PM PST by Mr. K (If you like your constitution, you can keep it...Period.)
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To: KC Burke

i wonder what he thought of, “The Emperor’s Club,” with Kevin Kline...


10 posted on 02/19/2014 2:11:37 PM PST by latina4dubya (when i have money i buy books... if i have anything left, i buy 6-inch heels and a bottle of wine...)
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To: Borges

One of my sons was an extra in the movie. He’s in the scene coming out of the movie theater.


11 posted on 02/19/2014 2:13:20 PM PST by NTHockey (Rules of engagement #1: Take no prisoners. And to the NSA trolls, FU)
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To: Borges

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 ;)


12 posted on 02/19/2014 2:13:25 PM PST by reed13k (For evil to triumph it is only necessary for good men to do nothings)
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To: MNDude

[ Long article. Can you just give us the cliff notes? ]

They resisted conformity by conforming to the whims of their non-conformist loony teacher....


13 posted on 02/19/2014 2:13:53 PM PST by GraceG
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To: Mr. K

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.


14 posted on 02/19/2014 2:14:01 PM PST by rbg81
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To: GraceG

I have always been an unconformist.


15 posted on 02/19/2014 2:34:35 PM PST by MrEdd (Heck? Geewhiz Cripes, thats the place where people who don't believe in Gosh think they aint going.)
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To: Borges

There is nothing rational that is the product of Robin Williams. Everything he touches is diseased and should be rejected.


16 posted on 02/19/2014 2:34:41 PM PST by dirtymac (Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country)
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To: Borges

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.


17 posted on 02/19/2014 2:57:16 PM PST by MWFsFreedom
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To: dirtymac

He did a good turn in “Insomnia”. But then he had a great director (Christopher Nolan) and he didn’t play himself.


18 posted on 02/19/2014 3:11:16 PM PST by who_would_fardels_bear
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To: x
Well, sure. A lot of people said so when the movie came out. This article is too much too late.

So, it shouldn't have been written? I think some reminding is in order.

19 posted on 02/19/2014 3:59:54 PM PST by BfloGuy ( Even the opponents of Socialism are dominated by socialist ideas.)
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To: Borges

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.


20 posted on 02/19/2014 4:03:17 PM PST by Tijeras_Slim
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To: Borges

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......


21 posted on 02/19/2014 4:10:14 PM PST by CharlesWayneCT
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To: MrEdd

“Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson.


22 posted on 02/19/2014 4:31:09 PM PST by Unknowing (Now is the time for all smart little girls to come to the aid of their country.)
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To: MrEdd

I became a nonconformist in order to fit in.


23 posted on 02/19/2014 4:35:08 PM PST by WayneS (Respect the 2nd Amendment; Repeal the 16th (and 17th))
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To: Unknowing; WayneS

Nonconformist?
Thats how all the conformists say it.
I’m an unconformist.


24 posted on 02/19/2014 8:28:13 PM PST by MrEdd (Heck? Geewhiz Cripes, thats the place where people who don't believe in Gosh think they aint going.)
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To: MrEdd

;-)


25 posted on 02/20/2014 5:54:50 AM PST by WayneS (Respect the 2nd Amendment; Repeal the 16th (and 17th))
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To: MrEdd
I’m an unconformist

That's unpossible.

26 posted on 02/20/2014 11:17:23 AM PST by laotzu
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To: BfloGuy
So, it shouldn't have been written?

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.

27 posted on 02/20/2014 5:41:51 PM PST by x
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