This is a response to Ted Pigeon's post on Minority Report from March 2, Minority Report: Shameless Product Placement or Scathing Social Commentary?
Read it first.
Ted discusses the contradictory politics of Minority Report's view of the fascism of the market, and the way that consumer society takes over our lives to the exclusion of dissent. Minority Report's use of product placement as the embodiment of this market fascism is undercut by the film's use of real advertisements and product placements. Ted asks, "Is it not possible to use the elements of an unacceptable system to in a sense comment on it and potentially reach the people that it manipulates? Call me an optimist, but I think so." I think Ted's most astute comment in the article might be his summation of the opposite viewpoint: "any act we do to work within these massive systems of the corporations that run the 'free' market to turn their own elements against them is just playing into them further."
Here is why the second statement is closer to the reality of image-consumption:
Spectacle functions by way of presenting knowledge for consumption. The consumption of knowledge sets up a disconnect between large-scale dissent and small-scale assent. Capitalism is a series of small transactions, where the "wisdom" of the market is the aggregation of individual decisions made by consumers at specific moments. Even when we all "agree" on the large-scale solutions in theory, we can still sabotage them through our actions. Global thoughts are subverted by local action.
The commodification of rebellion increases this hierarchy of knowledge above action.
In a movie about the creation of reality and factual dissent, the viewer is given the illusion of intelligence about the (film's) world through MR's 'critique' of the film's social order. This critique is false because it is limited to the realm of knowledge.
Rebellion is not seeing, but doing. Critique does not exist without action.
"The images detached from every aspect of life fuse in a common stream in which the unity of this life can no longer be reestablished. Reality considered partially unfolds, in its own general unity, as a pseudo-world apart, an object of mere contemplation. The specialization of images of the world is completed in the world of the autonomous image, where the liar has lied to himself. The spectacle in general, as the concrete inversion of life, is the autonomous movement of the non-living."
- Guy Debord
"Theory" is the failure of the process of theory. To call something "theory" is to condemn its failure as praxis, to describe it as revolution tangled up in means. Film that functions as theory sets itself up as "an object of mere contemplation" when it ends its critique before the final frame. This is the realm that the cinema resigns itself to when appending a resolution to the narrative of a previously critical film. All happy endings are counterrevolutionary.
In watching a movie, we enter a world which resembles our own (often as a negative/pessimistic image). In the counterrevolutionary pseudo-critical film, the film then resolves the conflict that allows for the pessimistic association, leaving us its obverse optimistic image. It resolves the dilemmas of the negative image, expunging them in favor of the positive image - and that's how you walk out of the theater.
"Thought must play a catastrophic role, must itself be an element of catastrophe, of provocation, in a world that wants absolutely to cleanse everything, to exterminate death and negativity."
- Jean Baudrillard
A film is an emotional journey for the spectator (in most films, mirroring that of the character(s)). The happy ending of the pseudo-critical film restores order and resolves the conflict of the society's flaws. Whatever allegory may have existed in Minority Report is lost in the psychology of resolution. The criticism lives only in the realm of theory, which remains "theory" insofar as it is the failure of praxis. A film with a resolutionary epilogue eliminates the need for action (praxis).
This is Baudrillard called a "trompe-l’œil negation" (in an interview with Le Nouvel Observateur discussing The Matrix). Like The Matrix, Minority Report traffics in these illusions of antagonistic criticism that by their nature as spectacle -- and the audience's fascinated adherence thereof -- forbid any true praxical alternative.