Working at Barnes & Noble offers me the opportunity to discuss films with a lot of different people. I get folks from all sorts of different backgrounds and in different stages of their lives. Unfortunately, they’re mostly white, but whatever. Anyway, I try to make it obvious to people that I suck at movies. OKAY, maybe I don’t suck, but I’m definitely not an expert. My all-time faves are pretty obvious. It all starts with the Star Wars flicks, a bunch of war movies and some kid shit. Really simple stuff.
Regardless, the most annoying statement anyone can ever say to me is, “They just don’t make movies like they used to. They were so good back in [insert stupid decade here].” Really? FALSE. That is false! The production of terrible films isn’t a new phenomenon. Although the availability of shitty films has grown, I don’t believe their production has increased.
I don’t understand how people can believe that one night the vicious and traitorous values of capitalism crept into the bed of the virginal/pure movie “industry” and defiled it with its aesthetics of profit and power. HOW DARE YOU, CAPITALISM! HAVE YOU NO SHAME?! According to this sentiment, filmmakers don’t care about how good their films are. They just care about profit. What? Fuh reel? Is that what companies are supposed to do? WORD?
People are too easily convince that the idea of crafting films for mass consumption and profit is a new idea. What ever you might want to tell yourself, Gone With the Wind was as much about the art as the profit. So was Meet Me In St. Louis, Holiday Inn, any movie starring Elvis Preseley and Anchorman. Even the first films to ever be shot were for material gain. “Hey, y’all, it’s Thomas Edison. I just invented da camera. Fuckin’ cool, right? I know. I can has money now? Also, Tesla is the devil. Watch me kill this elephant! BUY MY SHIT!”
People should understand that good things and shit will forever exist simultaneously. Shitty movies remind us of why we love the things that we do love. I encounter too many jaded older folks. Just because you live outside of a targeted demographic doesn’t mean it sucks. It means you’re fucking old, and you can just move on. Go watch Grease or something.
OK, I get it. We’re making films about video games and comic books a lot lately. There are a lot of remakes out there. But, I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention for the past 600 years or so, but nothing can really be original anymore. Can it? Every once in a while you get an great idea, that gets executed well and gets to enough people to make a great impact. But even then, a lot of stories are built on a framework influenced by our cultural manuals of how we deal with tragedy/hardship. Conflict exists at all times and purveys our storytelling from the beginning of humanity. Resolution can be turned on its head. How many times can that happen before we see it coming?
How can Film escape this cycle when we can’t even do it ourselves?
I don’t know what to call this point… but,
I watched Jurassic Park for the first time when I was 6. I cried my eyes out. I remember the exhilaration. I watched Independence Day when I was 10. Movie fucking ruled. I watched 101 Dalmatians when I was around 5. I’m sure that the people that took me to se these movies–parents, teachers, all adults– didn’t really care for them. They might have thought they were alright, but they wouldn’t put them in their Top Ten films of all-time.
But there was something there for ME. It was the wonder. It was new. It was changing me inside. I became fascinated with dinosaurs. I fell in love with cute puppies. I learned to get out of Houston as soon as possible because in the event of an alien invasion they’re going to nuke us first. I was learning. I was forming. I don’t believe this childhood phenomenon is restricted to just us, individually.
America, during the Golden Age of Film, was going through its own growing pains. Even though the country was about 150 years old already, it was finally getting its big boy britches. Early Film formed the United States’ psyche. It instilled common values across communities and regions–Not giving a damn; tap dancing rules. Because these movies and their era helped assemble so much of what it means to be a Modern American, they’re treated as untouchable. As a result of magnificence needing crap to compare itself to, people go about the black-and-white comparisons of then and now.
This is nothing. That was everything. I understand that many of my peers probably don’t feel this way, but I run into this sentiment all too often.
The practice of lauding the past has blinded us to the reality of that time and our present. There will always be the terrible and the magnificent. It will always be a huge gamble when you consume media. Maybe people should be mad at themselves for buying into something stupid. We should know better.
Just stop being mad that you bought the movie 2012, k?
PS: Anyone else wanna go see Hot Tub Time Machine?