February 05, 2004

Secondhand inspiration is my favorite kind

Yesterday, I read a post on Pamie.com about people crying at the end of Win a Date With Tad Hamilton, or better say, the kind of people who cry a movies like Win a Date with Todd Hamilton. The post spawned a comments thread which bubbled with indignation, some of it from people who were all, "Rock on! Fuck the Sappy! Thin the Herd!" and some from people who were all, "I like those movies. They touch me in a warm and fuzzy place. AND DON'T YOU DARE JUDGE MY WARM AND FUZZY PLACE! Rrrrraor!"

Reading all this brought out the english major in me.

The pseudo-political english major, no less.

Is the movie objectively bad?

If it is, is it wrong to watch it?

If it's not wrong to watch it, is it okay to be pissed off because people who uncomplainingly consume "bad" movies encourage the creation of other bad movies, and discourage the creation of "good" movies?

I honestly don't know what to think about all of these questions. Part of me --- the part that continually makes fun of everything that's on television --- wants to scream, "Yes, this crap is terrible! Awful! Predictable! Sophomoric! It should be banished! Banished, I say!"

The other part of me clears its throat and quietly reminds me that a lot of stuff I like was considered worthless schlock in its day --- Raymond Chandler got his start in the pulps. And that a lot of other stuff I like I like precisely becuase it's so outrageously, unbelievably, inconcievably bad. And yet in such deadly earnest. Beyond the Vally of the Dolls* comes to mind....

Would I want to live in a world that was all quality? All stuffy, stodgy, occassionally boring and guilt-inducing quality, becuase yes, I really should go see this thing, and think about it, becuase it's Metaphorical Capital Letter Important and the fact that I am extremely bored means I suck and am a bad person. The Art As Objectionable Vegetable Experience, ("Aw, ma, I don't wanna see The Pianist!" "If you don't go see that film, missy, you're going to stunt your intellectual growth! Sprinkle some Adrian Brody on it and shut your pie hole!")

But, on the other hand (dude, I am Vishnu, keep up) what's the point of trying to be a good writer if there's no such thing as good? What's the point of struggling to come up with the perfect way to phrase something, to come up with a new, original story or idea if people are content --- quite content, thank you very much --- with old, re-treaded stories told in patches of dialogue so worn a child could see through them?

It makes me want to shake people when I see the trailers for some movies out there --- Along Came Polly? That movie has been released five times in the past five years --- first it was Forces of Nature, then A Guy Thing, now it's Along Came Polly. I know I'm forgetting a couple. And they're all the same damn movie. The newest one just has more shit jokes, presumably to satisfy the boyfriends being dragged to it. Bringing Down the House: My, but black people are sassy, aren't they! And so different from white people! That Queen Latifa, she's so earthy! And wise! I bet you she knows a lot about birthing them babies!

Mostly I want to shake the people who make movies like that, but partly I want to shake the people who go see movies like that in the theater, becuase I can't help but think if they didn't go see them maybe they wouldn't get made...to indulge in a tired metaphor myself, these are lowest common denominator movies. And a good movie can be so much more than that; it can be hugely enteraining and yet, oh, I dunno, plausible, heck, why not go for the double whammy, plausible and a little unpredictable. It's not so much the formulas that bother me; it's that the whole trick of doing something well, all the fun in it, is in executing the formula in such a way that it still surprises you, a little bit. All you have to do is try, a little bit.

Ay, there's the rub. They're not trying! And you're not making them try, Annonymous Movie-Going Consumer! And my trying is therefore a huge waste of time! I hate you! I hate you all! Recognize my genius!

I ----

Well, that ended up in a weird place. Because when you curl up on the couch at the end of a long day, you're not really intersted in validating my self-worth as a writer, are you? Care more about your own entertainment, don't you, you selfish bastards?

I know. I've been there too.

(Which is weird, because it's my self-worth. Like I said, Vishnu.)

*Those of you who've seen BtVoTD, can we just share a meditative minute considering the fact that a) that movie was written by Roger Ebert, and b) Roger Ebert is one of the world's most famous film critics? These two facts in conjunction say something deeply disturbing about our universe. Also, drink the black sperm of my vengence.**

**You really have to see the movie.

Posted by Diablevert at February 5, 2004 11:34 PM

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