Dead Poets Society
Light-based media

Dead Poets Society is a terrible defense of the humanities

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.

For what Keating (Robin Williams) models for his students isn’t literary criticism, or analysis, or even study. In fact, it’s not even good, careful reading. Rather, it’s the literary equivalent of fandom. Worse, it’s anti-intellectual. It takes Emily Dickinson’s playful remark to her mentor Thomas Higginson, “If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry,” and turns it into a critical principle. It’s not.

For all his talk about students “finding their own voice,” however, Keating actually allows his students very little opportunity for original thought. It’s a freedom that’s often preached but never realized. A graphic example is presented in one of the film’s iconic moments, when that zany Mr. Keating with his “unorthodox” teaching methods suddenly leaps up onto his desk. Why? “I stand on my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way,” he helpfully declaims. How bold: He’s standing perhaps 2½ feet off the ground.

Keating then has the boys march up to the front, of course, and one-by-one and two-by-two they mount his desk and they too “look at things in a different way”—exactly the different way that he has.
Kevin J.H. Dettmar on Dead Poets Society


If you enjoy that critique, you may also enjoy this one:

I Rewatched Love Actually and Am Here to Ruin It for All of You:

Some fucking guy is running around throwing sandwiches at people and asking female office workers if they want his “lovely nuts.” It’s possible that he says something important, but I couldn’t tell you because the music is louder than the dialogue because #competence.

Oh, looks like his name is Colin, and he’s terribly terribly oppressed because no ladies want to sit on his ginger ween (idea: could it possibly be because you wear a shirt that says “Satisfaction Guaranteed” and call complete strangers “my future wife” in a professional setting and then whine about not receiving immediate intercourse?). Colin decides to go to America in order to locate skanks. This is his entire plotline.

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