Surrealist Research

favorite person, a short film by miranda july In all the hours in all the days in the over two years I worked at Opinion Search I think one of my biggest fantasies was to call people and just ask them the questions I felt they would want to answer. The kinds of questions that would make them feel good about themselves and help them learn their value. I wanted to thank them for the work they did and tell them that we all appreciate it.

This short film has a little of that in it, although it’s also a little bit sad. It was written by Miranda July, who also made Me and You and Everyone We Know (trailer link), which will make you happy and sad simultaneously, and which you should probably see immediately if you haven’t yet.

(The short film is at so you’ll probably have to choose “watch an ad” or whatever to get a day pass, it only takes a second and it’s worth it.)

9 Replies to “Surrealist Research”

  1. after watching ‘me and you and everyone we know’ i wanted to switch academic directions, because good god if i ever end up like miranda july (or if i ever use the term ‘media artist’) i should hope i come down with a deadly case of tuberculosis.

  2. hey! that’s totally not fair.

    I’d give anything to be in Miranda July’s shoes (the new pair that don’t chafe) – a hugely successful independent filmmaker with a deal to make a few more – A list actors lining up to be a part of them.

    Yeah, I did just say I would give anything to wear women’s shoes.

    Jer, I think I speak for all the Jerheads when I say, update!

  3. consider it in this light, though: now i’m no card-carrying feminist by any means, but as an art student i recognise that i’m trying to make my way into a field dominated by men. granted, female artists are making their mark and receiving a fair bit of attention as of late, but the museum and gallery circuit is still dominated by male artists. miranda july is a female artist with enough clout to make her mark BEYOND the art world (in this case, ‘me and you and everyone we know’ succeeded in reaching a crowd that perhaps doesn’t typically do the gallery thing), and it’s hard to digest or respect that she’s reinforcing stereotypes. her two teenaged girls who use their new found sexuality to tease older men? or, in her own scenario, her pathetic and helpless attempts to involve herself with a man? and she is not doing this ironically, she has said in interviews that she tried to bring honesty to the film. furthermore, as a female ARTIST, the way she portrays the process of getting her work exhibited at her local contemporary art museum is a complete joke and i should hope that the quebecoise artists the montreal contemporary art museum choose to support have better methods of getting their work recognised and aren’t such pansies when their work is turned down. for someone on a mission to disseminate art in a more mainstream fashion and to a more diverse public, and who seeks to challenge preconceived ideas of what art is and how it reflects culture, she sure is helping female artists take a few steps back.

  4. well put, and I’m certainly considering a few of the things you’ve said – but I still completely disagree with your basic point:

    which (and correct me if I’m wrong) is that Miranda July has a responsibility to her fellow female artists?

    To state the obvious, which I’m worried you might have over-looked – Miranda July is not a character in this film, however; Christine Jesperson is.

    Christine Jesperson is a flawed character, like so many of the others in this terrific film. She is not as strong a person, apparently, as you and it is in her character’s nature to need the love of another individual – be it the museum curator or John Hawkes’ character, Christine seems to need approval from others in her work and life. She needs to feel that she and her work is worth something to others; that she doesn’t deserve to feel the pain she has (her cheesy plot, not mine).

    I agree with you that Miranda July has a responsibility as an artist – it’s just that I feel she is responsible to her characters. By her own decision she owes her characters honesty in their lives, mistakes or otherwise. I believe you just dont like her characters as individuals because you don’t believe Christine Jesperson should want to find acceptance.

    As for the two teenage girls – I’ll agree that they were the weakest element of the film but since when do you get to be the judge on what they do with their “new found sexuality”. Would you have Miranda July make an effort to defy all stereotypes in her characters? Should they be perfect? When Miranda July said she was trying to be honest, she meant with herself as an artist and as a writer – not with individual audience member’s perceptions of what ought to be.

    July has never put herself up on a pedestal as a leader of anything and it is completely unfair to judge her because of mistakes which you feel, she isn’t entitled to make.

    Believe it or not, I genuinely tried to restrain myself from freaking out and being insulting here.

    good talk.

  5. it’s been awhile and i can’t remember which write-up it was, but i’m going to go out on a limb and figure it’s the hour article. in any event, july went on to describe how her character in the film is in many ways, if not most ways, a representation of her true self. yes, christine is a flawed character. and july herself might be equally as flawed. and that’s fine, i’m a flawed character myself, and just as she may feel a need for acceptance, i too have certain insecurities. but, you called me out for shooting down july’s work as a weak piece from a media artist and i’m telling you just why exactly it’s weak.

    i think a good artist carefully thinks every aspect of his/her work through and questions why he/she is saying something or promoting any given values. i think july got lazy and chose to reinforce old stereotypes. she made an entertaining film that kept my attention for an hour and a half or so. but it’s by no stretch a strong piece of art, and she is by no means a particularly interesting artist. her concept is weak and underdeveloped, and she’s totally pandering to the late 20s to mid 30s art hipster crowd.

  6. With an attitude toward art like that I’m assuming you’re either as Greek as Plato, or as Jewish as Levinas, both of which wrote their best shit long before the late 20’s-30’s crowd were even out of diapers.

    Interestingly school-marmish. Eagerly awaiting your forthcoming tract on manners…

  7. in all sincerity: do you actually have anything to say about the film or its content, or just comments of that variety?

    what i am suggesting is that july’s film is neither art for art’s sake, nor very well conceived art. if you are going to reinforce old stereotypes or portray a female artist in that light, so be it. you can make a huge statement with that if you like (or small statement if that’s what you’d prefer), but july’s not really saying anything at all. for instance, if you focus on christine/richard. i sit there and think, ‘okay, as an openly lesbian artist, is she trying to comment on the dynamic of interpersonal relationships vis-a-vis a culture saturated with certain expectations from heterosexual relations. or, entirely removed from her orientation, is she trying to explore the gender stereotypes she presents?’ and so on so forth. but, i come up empty and consistently get the distinct impression she’s saying nothing at all. so while it’s an entertaining film, i don’t think one can really hold it up as a particularly good piece of art. i don’t even think it would survive an art crit. it’s one thing if your art is intentionally trying to say nothing at all, because then you’re doing that for a very specific reason. in july’s case, if you are trying to say something and you’re just coming up short, well, that’s weak, poorly conceived art. good film, not so good art.

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