Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Most Movies are only considered great if 99% of America Hates Them

Why do we trust “experts” to tell us what is “great”? Gastronomes sing the praises of escargot and foie gras, things that were only ever eaten because snails were slower than deer and if you could catch a duck a few hundred years ago well, you might as well eat the whole thing. Oenophiles tell us that we aren’t living unless we’re drinking that $100 bottle of Chilean Merlot we probably can’t distinguish from the $9 version at Sam’s Club and movie critics call us “coarse” and “unrefined” if we don’t immediately proclaim Sideways the greatest movie of the past 25 years (Obviously it’s Roadhouse) I am sorry but other than the naked guy (which I won’t go into detail on but it was fairly funny), the movie just wasn’t that great. It actually combines two things I can’t stand, pretension and overweight people who constantly end sentences in prepositions.

I had entered the theater expecting, once again, to be blown away by a thoughtful exposition on life and love. I was treated to a fairly obvious plot with slightly better than average acting by Paul Giamatti. What did I miss? Obviously I must be unschooled in the “craft” of acting. (I can’t stand that actors call it a “craft”. Acting is pretending and I did that in a sandbox when I was three. Did I get paid for it then? And guess what, plumbing is a craft too but they don’t gather in a dark theater to be fawned over by some obsequious “professor of plumbing” and asked to pontificate on the intellectual demands of pipefitting which, incidentally, is 1,000,000 times more difficult than acting.). The number of movies proclaimed “masterpieces” by movie critics and subsequently ignored by the public in general has steadily increased over the past 6 years. This is in stark contrast to the actual number of incredible movies over the past 6 years (See Graph Above. Note the Malthusian exponential increase in the number of movies critics have deemed “awesome”. I suppose this indicates that a serious war, bout of disease, or terrible famine is going to have to occur in the ranks of movie critics to establish a natural equilibrium.).

Having lived with a movie critic, (His middle name was “Gooch”. Seriously, I couldn’t make that up) I can assure you that their tastes are nothing like the normal moviegoer. A movie critic, for example, probably watches something on the order of 15 to 20 movies per week while a food critic might go out for nearly every meal (Like me, although I still don’t like foie gras.). When you are that immersed in your field you are no longer looking for what the person who might go to the movies once a month or to a nice dinner every few weeks desires. You do the same thing so much you are just looking for something different. The same old steak doesn’t do it for you anymore, you need pâté made from horse testicles or a movie that concerns a man who doesn’t realize that he’s old, way too obsessed with wine, and can’t keep his air of pretension if he hasn’t published an advertising flyer yet let alone a novel. So, the person who goes to the movies everyday is naturally going to look for things much, much different than the average person (And apparently what they are looking for is an extremely boring plot coupled with little, to no comedy).

The cultural pressure to conform to these “experts” is absolutely enormous. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard horrible movies described as “brilliant” by people just because it was shown at Cannes (Barb Wire opened there as well, was that “brilliant”?). If you don’t believe me about cultural pressure just think about the fact that at one point piano neck-ties were considered high fashion, people actually “vogued” at clubs, and for some time the citizens of the US were convinced that afro-sized pubic hair was the height of sexiness. People want to conform to what the “experts” tell them is cool or acceptable when in reality what these “experts” deem as “cool” is simply the opposite of what has been popularized at the time. It really is a stereotypical cycle that is as predictable as it is boring. To all of you plebeians out there I say if you like NASCAR, watch it (I reserve the right to make fun of you in future columns). If you enjoy Burger King then eat it (But I will write an article on why you should be paying more for your health insurance). Most of all, if you want to go see Queen of the Damned then do it guilt free. Let the experts hang out in the art house while you enjoy Aaliyah in a leather outfit. Trust me, it’s better than subjecting yourself to something you hate just because some “expert” tells you it’s great.


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