Somewhere in between pretension and foolishness
by Nathan Arel
I grew up in a world with two kinds of people. First, the people who believe movies are nothing but delectable little two-hour distractions from the emotionally crippling boredom of everyday life, meant to entertain the masses and be forgotten a week later. Second, the people who believe movies are an all-encompassing grandiose art form that sings to the heart of human experience, and may only be enjoyed with a glass of wine and a pinky held high.
To be completely honest, I don’t understand either of these perspectives. Of course they are both right to a certain degree. Some movies are made purely for art. Some are made to simply be enjoyed. But I have been caught in the crossfire of an endless war waged between these two kinds of people. One calls the other “pretentious” while the other calls the former “plebeian.” But these are obviously two sides of the same scratched up, worn-out, over-opinionated coin. What I have come to believe is both these sides struggle against each other because of a lack of understanding in the difference between what one “enjoys” and what is “good.”
For example: I believe everyone has the right to enjoy the “Transformers” series without being criticized by absolutely every single person who qualifies as even the least passionate film enthusiast. But if someone were to claim the “Transformers” series was “good,” their sanity may come into question. Likewise, I believe everyone should be able to admit “Citizen Kane” is “good,” very, very “good.” But I would never expect anyone to enjoy it.
Regardless of what I think is a fairly moderate and non-confrontational way to make everyone happy about others opinions of films, I still am attacked by the pretentious film zealots because I don’t enjoy “A Clockwork Orange” and I still get attacked by the plebeian popcorn-eaters because I don’t think “American Sniper” is good. I’ve grown extremely tired of it, and I think I am going to find a small place to hole up and stream movies alone until the apocalypse comes.
I think movies are important. Movies, music and video games are a representation of our culture. They define the types of people we are and where our values lie. I understand the pretentious are angry because bad films degrade our culture to something less shiny and intellectual. And the plebeians are angry because the pretentious want to make every movie excruciatingly boring. But I also think movies are still just that — a representation of culture. There are more important crises. Kids are still starving, drugs are still being trafficked, Trump is still in the election. But I’m just a lowly film student and am both uninterested and, at the present moment, unfit to deal with greater national issues. So, I’m going to grab my computer, buy a few years worth of corned beef hash, and hide from the raging mobs of angry film-goers in my mother’s basement until the entire human race has become impotent from reading too many YouTube comments.