Movies are Supposed to be Fun: A Response to WaPo

Movies are Supposed to be Fun: A Response to WaPo February 4, 2012

Dear Moviegoers:

Movie critic Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post thinks you’re an idiot.

She resents you not only for texting during the sacred liturgy of the movie but for choosing to see the third loud installment of the Transformers franchise over an artsy movie in which pioneers don’t talk or do anything much as they walk by foot across the desert for two hours.

I’m talking, of course, about “Meek’s Cutoff.” Don’t see it. You’ll feel like you crossed the desert yourself by the time you’re done watching. My son almost broke the TV screen in anger when it ended as it began and continued…with nothing happening.

I respect Hornaday and often find after reading her work that I wish I had written it myself.

Nevertheless, I have never read a more clear example of the cultural divide between intellectual elites and America’s masses, as described by Charles Murray in his Wall Street Journal article, as I have reading Ann’s directive to moviegoers in today’s Washington Post.

It’s not that she’s wrong, entirely, that bothers me. It’s more the tone she takes toward moviegoers.

“Expanding their horizons? What a quaint idea. More and more, it seems, that’s the last thing filmgoers are interested in doing. Powered by fandom’s technologically amplified voice, they instead prefer cinematic experiences that simply confirm their own assumptions of what a cinematic experience should be,” she writes.

She leaves just one thing out: Fun.

Movies are supposed to be fun.

A couple from Paris, Tennessee, just to use a random example, who finally has grandma watching the kidlets for an evening, giving them just enough time to hit Applebee’s and grab a movie, doesn’t want to be challenged. They want to have fun.

And that’s ok.

They also might need to check their texts to see if the little darlin’s have choked on a Lego or set grandma on fire.

That’s ok too.

Life is challenging enough when you’re juggling children and career and money and home repairs and a dog who just won’t stop eating last night’s chili out of the trash.

When we American masses escape to the movies and plunk down $11.50, we don’t want to risk our hard earned cash (that $23.00 is a lot to some couples) unless that “cinematic experience simply confirm[s]  [our] own assumptions of what a cinematic experience should be.”

Sometimes you just want to see things blow up.

Ann gets this, I know, and she considers the average moviegoer in her usually excellent reviews. She’s right, too, about the basic idea of politeness at the movies and everywhere. No one wants to hear you tell your BFF about your weird rash on the subway, at WalMart or in the movie theater. That’s just manners.

But critics aren’t better than the rest of us. They (I suppose I should include myself in this group.) just have a different perspective. Critics become critics because they love cinema and get euphoric about camera angles and plot structure. Good for us.

We should give the masses a break, though. After all, they pay our salaries.

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