#MeLikewise

Here’s one I can definitely get behind:

Ageing cinema audiences looking for intelligent dialogue are being let down by a male-dominated industry obsessed with blockbusters filled with violence and special effects.

My only quibble with an otherwise excellent sentiment is the “male-dominated” part, even though it might be true. The fact of the matter, though, is that male domination is irrelevant: Hollywood (and the movie industry in general) can’t rely on domestic audiences anymore because the real money is to be made in the vast Asian market. And dubbing is expensive, so instead they make action movies — and by resorting to comic-book characters and storylines, they get a double bonus because the US market can be counted upon to supply a large number of retarded neo-adolescents who are still reading comic books at age 30+. Hence the success of Transformers 27 , Fast & Furious 51, Spiderman Meets [Super-Villain #16] , and similar childish bullshit.

Aldous Huxley would be laughing hysterically right now, because his “feelies” have materialized — only instead of actual touching, movies’ audio tracks are cranked up to 15 so that the senses can be literally assaulted by sound.

And another thing, speaking of artificiality: CGI special effects should not be used for reasons other than logistical (e.g. CGI-generated fleets of C-47s ferrying paratroopers into Normandy in Band of Brothers: good; making CGI characters / machines the heroes of the movie: bad — no, awful). Given the trend towards the latter, it’s no surprise to me that movie directors are already talking about simply transplanting well-known actors’ faces onto CGI bodies and being able to make movies entirely in a digital studio as opposed to on an expensive studio lot — hell, that’s already started in the porno industry (always an innovator and ground-breaker in technology, by the way), much to the consternation of actresses like Meryl Streep, Scarlet Johannson or Kathy Bates.

Whenever I’m asked why I haven’t seen the new Masters of the Galaxy (or whatever it’s called) movie, I simply reply that I quit reading comic books at about age 11*, as should every adult. The storylines are boringly repetitive, the action equally so, and the characters’ emotions are, well, set at comic-book level (which is what’s required for a preteen audience who don’t have the mental software to appreciate or even recognize complex emotional issues). It’s fine for kids, in other words; but if someone age 50 tells me he’s still seriously into comic books and/or their movie derivatives, I actually start to wonder about his mental maturity. Love of comic books by adults, at best, signifies a lazy intellect and at worst, immaturity. (Yeah, I know. Sometimes the truth hurts, dunnit? Please spare me the lofty rationale why you still act hysterically like a preteen fanboi every time there’s talk of replacing Robert Downey Jr. with Will Smith in the next Iron Man. And don’t get me started on the Star Wars industrial complex.)

Small wonder that the SJW movement is so into simplistic entertainment like RPG online shoot-’em-up fantasy games, Marvel comics and Michael Bay’s crappy automotive transmogrification movies. It’s a logical extension of SJWs’ entire snowflake persona which is so easily seduced by bumper-sticker slogans and -philosophy.

And yes I know, it’s just escapism. I don’t care. Escaping reality into a sophisticated Billy Wilder or Ernst Lubitsch comedy is one thing; escaping into the latest Iron Man extravaganza, even with Robert Downey Jr.’s excellent performance, is no better than downing a bottle of tequila — you come out of it with your senses reeling and a faint taste of nausea, not to mention shame that you allowed yourself to be seduced into this nonsense so easily. (If you come out of the latter feeling spiritually enriched, then you’re beyond help.)

And speaking of seduction: I have no idea what women’s role is in all this, hence my dismissal of “male-dominated” as irrelevant, earlier. As a rule, women don’t do action movies (note, please, that NAWALT, but as a generalization, it’s true — just look at the attendance / fan base breakdown by sex). My guess is that younger women are being assaulted by the combined force of intellectual laziness and militant feminism (which I suspect considers romantic comedies as yet another manifestation of the Patriarchy — fuck, I am getting so sick of that trope). The outcome is just going to lead to an endless stream of 50 Shades Of Grey and Twilight replicas. The awfulness of the original 50 Shades wish-fulfillment fantasy and the vampire-struck Twilight in itself means that the sequential wannabes will be so dire that audiences and readers thereof will have to be issued barf bags. Anne Rice’s dreadful supernatural soft-porn novels of the 1990s were just a harbinger of worse things — and boy, are we seeing them now.

For myself, you can count me in Imelda Staunton’s “grey pound” (or in US terms, “grey dollar”) group. As she so correctly puts it: “There are a lot of people who want to listen to intelligent dialogue and see films that make you think, but also [with characters] that don’t just go around killing.” I agree completely. As much as I enjoy a good occasional killing in a thriller (book or movie), I can live without them — witness my affection for modern movies like A Good Year , Hope Springs and Midnight In Paris, to name but three that could be classified as romantic comedies, but which are actually stories of character development. No special effects, no CGI, no explosions or car chases: just simple themes with complex characters facing life-changing challenges.

So you’ll forgive me if I can’t converse knowledgeably about the latest Marvel movie which combines classical mythological figures like Thor and Loki with modern mythological figures like Iron Man and Captain America — good grief, the whole premise makes me want to reach for the single malt — because the chances are that I won’t have seen it. And as for the female type of fantasy escapism, this picture encapsulates my sentiment exactly:

Actually, you can substitute any of the current comic-book genre movie titles into that meme, and you’ve got my position.


*Not all comics are for kids. I’ve never quit reading Asterix and Tintin stories, for example, for the simple reason that like earlier Looney Tunes cartoon movies, the humor is not just aimed at children, but in many cases it’s seriously adult-oriented. And if you don’t understand Latin and Roman-Gallic history, a lot of Asterix is going to sail right over your head.

13 comments

  1. Go see The Darkest Hour if you haven’t already.

    But for many of these movies, the likes of you and I are not the target audience. Unfortunately too few people of our generations pay to watch these films. So fewer films get made and it becomes a vicious circle.

    1. Watched it this weekend. Good movie and I think it captured something that many people aren’t aware of, and that is that after the fall of Poland and before Dunkirk, there was deep ambivalence about the war among some Britons who felt that what happened in Poland “wasn’t our war” or anything that the Britons should by dying for.

      Looking back, you get the idea that Britons were “all in” right from the get-go. Incidentally, the series “Foleys War” (Which is or was on Netflix) captures much of the same ambivalence.

      My only real gripe with Darkest Hour is that courtesy of 23 years in the military, many more years of listening to loud music and riding motorcycles without hearing protection, my hearing has suffered and that made Gary Oldman’s (likely accurate) Churchill mumbling difficult to understand.

      Any more, I’ve simply come to accept that as an inevitable feature of aging and so when I’m at home watching Netflix, I always have the captions on, as it seems to me like EVERYBODY is mumbling their lines these days.

  2. While I’ve enjoyed the mindless comic-book movies on occasion, they got old pretty quick. At this point I’m coming to agree more and more with Cancer Man (from _The X-Files_, and how’s that for irony?). I’d rather read the worst book ever written than watch the best movie ever made.

    Not *quite* there yet, but the urge to see anything in a theater is pretty much gone. I see no reason to voluntarily give any of my money to Hollywood anymore. If I want to watch something I’ll check it out from the library.

  3. I’m with you except for the library thing.

    I hate pubic libraries. I boycott them. I write silly angry letters to the editor opposing them, opposing the new half billion dollar plus one my home town claims to need.

    Why do we pay taxes to entertain middle class people and their kids? To give bums a place to pretend to read and secretly take drugs? To allow left wing librarians, and that’s damn near every one of them, to subsidize lefty authors and media and poison the cultural well even more?

    Why do we need more than 1 national online library to store important reference works such as building codes, scientific and mathematical fundamentals and the cultural bases of our society? Go on, try to find a book by a conservative author in a public library. If you’re lucky, you’ll find one, in the branch on the far side of town. But for damn sure you’ll find 5 or 10 copies of every piece of trash Naomi Klein, Margaret Atwood et al. ever wrote.

    jabrwok, I don’t know you and if you are reading here you are almost certainly a decent conservative person, so please re-think using the public library and rent what you want to watch.

    Getting the state to offer freebies is just another lefty honey-trap.

    1. Heh, I don’t use the public library, but that’s because I’m a librarian at a community college library. Fortunately the Left hasn’t completely dominated the school at which I work, and I try to ensure a balance of material is added to the collection (we’ve got several Thomas Sowell works, some Dalrymple, _Clinton Cash_, etc.).

      I agree that public libraries are probably less useful than they were 100 years ago, alas.

  4. The fact that the CGI medium currently is by-and-for subadolescents doesn’t prevent it from becoming a serious dramatic vehicle. The same insights and instincts, and analytical skills, that make an actor great could also manifest themselves in a graphics programmer. I’d really prefer to see a “digital director,” whatever they may be called, get the fame and rewards currently lavished on the scene-chewing meat.
    After all, where would you find a mere human to play Lessingham?

    1. Didn’t Michael Bane once write that he wanted to do a biographical movie about Elmer Keith? I think it was him. He could not get any traction for the obvious reasons, but also at the time, “nobody is making cowboy movies”. That’s a movie I’d love to see; I still occasionally pull out an old magazine with one of Keith’s articles (or stories about him by others).

      I admit, I enjoyed the first Iron Man movie. I want one of those suits (mine would be stealthier though). And the first Avengers movie was surprisingly not bad with moments of excellent. Can’t say the same for any of the sequels though, or the other movies in the genre.

      The second Transformer movie had the good bots and the US military fighting together, a naval rail gun (bestill my heart!) and the closing scene of the bots heading back to the US on a carrier. Small sparks of good in an otherwise forgettable set of movies… Man of Steel had a heartening pro-American vibe that brought on massive criticism from the left. You just have to give some credit to a movie and director who does that.

  5. I am old, I like old movies with sound that is not too loud but I can understand what people are saying, the mixing makes sounds muddy to me. A little bit of realistic special effect stuff can be great as long as it is so good I am not really aware that it’s being used. Also I like movies where I know who the good guy is and he ends up winning, preferably shooting the crap out of the bad guys without special effects. I like good guys who look like guys, Charles Bronson and Eastwood is OK, the movie Tombstone comes to mind with great bad guys and good guys.

    The last sci-fi I liked was the first Star Wars about 40 years ago, not much since then and Die-Hard is my favorite Christmas movie.

  6. I marvel at the level of true acting in “Twelve Angry Men”. No special effects. Limited settings. Just twelve actors conveying a believable story.

  7. Happily, the Coen brothers are still making good movies with good actors- I got a kick out of “Hail, Caesar”, not the least the part where George Clooney gets slapped for being a commie stooge.

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