Edited by Solomon on 9/20/2015, 6:08 am
The theory-observation relation goes back and forth between the two. Pure observation without some sort of theory guiding the observations is probably a rarity, and possibly impossible. The earliest observations of planetary motions were probably guided by some ideas of what to look for and record, such as that the heavens revolved around the earth. That paradigm had to be altered and amended as new and more complete observations came in, and the amended theory in turn guided yet more kinds of tests and observations. I've seen this process at work in my own field for a number of theories.
Yes, the earliest noir paradigms or models have been crude, faulty and flawed. They didn't explain all the data, some of which was developed only later. Were they formulated before a proper time, i.e., were they premature? Well, what and where was the competition at that time? They stimulated more work, and with that came evidence of contradictions to what they were saying. They served a purpose for their time.
Now, because Schrader has stuck to his theory in the light of these contradictions and new evidence that demands a reformulated core idea of noir, he is simply going to be bypassed by newer students of noir who have free and open forums. The process within academia is more complex because of the influence of gatekeepers, established journals, professors who have power and have invested their careers in certain ideas. But sooner or later, even if takes new journals, the newer ideas will penetrate academia.
It does not surprise me in the least to learn from you that people, including or especially academics, have acted hastily both to affirm and deny the immature paradigm, not using all the data at their disposal and not thinking through what they have. The academy has a lot of problems. There are big risks for meticulous scholarship and pressures to publish. Tenure often requires numbers and the older profs won't and can't evaluate quality that well.
But being from an entirely different side of things than film studies, humanities, etc., I am really, really far away from this controversy -- and glad of it!
I can tell you what I think of a film and what I've chosen to accumulate, and very little more than that.