Okay, so it's been brought to my attention that I've used the term "postmodern" without explaining what it means, and have thus exposed myself to be the pretentious film student that I am. As though this whole blog didn't do that anyway. So instead of finding out what the deal with "chai tea" is, like I'd originally planned, you get this. Be sure to thank Stacy, everyone. ;)
Well, before you can define postmodernism, you have to define modernism. Which I don't want to do because this will take all night, and I freely admit that my understanding of this is not completely solid because I got a crash course in it for about a half hour one day, but here we go anyway. Modernism arose out of a huge social change around the end of the nineteenth century, with people like Freud and Einstein and Darwin running around, blowing huge holes in the established "common sense" of the day. The entire foundation on which people had based a lot of their beliefs about the world and even themselves and how they functioned were being soundly rocked and this created a lot of anxiety and uncertainty.
Modernism was the reaction to this, and to be quite honest, I'm pretty fuzzy on what exactly it entails. From what I understand, it shares many qualities with postmodernism, but modernism is always striving for underlying meaning, and a solid take on what is really "true". Postmodernism then takes the stance that meaning is subjective and "truth" and "reality" are shaped by an individual's perspective, not by any inherent qualities these ideas posses themselves. It also delves more into ambiguity, allowing for much more uncertainty and ambivalence than the more logical modernism does.
David Lynch is a quintessential example of a postmodern filmmaker because his works are very ambiguous in terms of meaning, and "truth" and "reality" are all very subjective. His stuff is also typically surreal, confusing, and in parts upsetting, so I wouldn't recommend running out to rent Lost Highway to see what I'm talking about unless you like that sort of thing. I tend to see Quentin Tarantino as postmodern, or at least partaking in postmodern elements, and there are loads of other filmmakers, artists, writers, etc. that do the same.
That's probably the best I can do to try and explain it, but it's a very significant movement in modern culture, so if you're still confused, there are probably some very helpful resources out there.
Also, next time you hear a word you don't know, write it down and look it up when you get a chance. Good way to learn stuff and you don't have to pay tuition rates.
Next time: What's up with this "chai tea" stuff, anyway?