Sunday, July 19, 2009

Appreciation vs Enjoyment

At dinner tonight, my mother and I had a (it wasn't an argument) a debate about movies and music. We were talking again about a recent movie we watched together as a family: West Side Story (1961). She talked about it as a cultural artifact as much about race as about the dancing or the music. I told her that I could not relate to it as much as she could because she grew up in that time and I didn't and I had seen other things, more current things that meant more to me.

I steered the conversation from there. I told her about SOME of my friends in New York and San Antonio who were unwilling to create an all-time Top 10 List, citing excuses such as "films are created in different time periods," "films are created for different cultures and people," or "how do I reconcile differences in genre" etc. In short, I say, "make a decision!" Decide what you like and CHOOSE! Don't hide behind chronology and what or who came first. PICK!

Just because something came first doesn't necessarily make it better. If it is indeed better, then okay, but not just because of temporal precedence. Part of this comes from my tendency toward an aesthetic film history and generally being able to take a film at face value. Film history books mention a deficiency with this approach's inability to take into account a grander, wider-reaching film history.

To this accusation, I say, take a look at my previous two posts regarding my own personal state of the union. My concern is with contemporary American cinema. But let me say this. Does this mean, I do not like old things. No. I like Hitchcock movies because I think they are the best at what they do. But as I have said, I want to know what is moving the current culture. I'd rather read The Da Vinci Code because its popular now, than engage with THE GODFATHER because it was popular way back when.

Perhaps I need to change the title of this blog yet again - The Barstool Academic. That's what I like, the barstool conversation and maybe this is where my true passion lies. A what-kind-of-movies-do-you-like-conversation. But not without some discussion. Tell me why (just like a Backstreet Boys song!)! Just don't try and tell me why I should like something. Don't try and convince me of the genius of The Beatles. Yes, I know I SHOULD like them because they influenced a lot of things. I say screw that! With the exception of Yellow Submarine (hardly the bastion of Beatles grandeur, I gather), I enjoy every cover of their songs more than the original. Good writers? Maybe. Good performers. Not in my book. Everybody else just sounds better.

Does it still boil down to entertainment value for me? Yea, I think that's it. Entertain me dammit! If you can't keep me watching, then historical, technical or any other value be damned, I can't count you among my favorites.

Come on, come up with a list. There HAVE to be 10 films/artists that you like more than any other. No such thing as a guilty pleasure. In the end, I just want you to make YOUR picks. And I do want you to make them. Make a decision!

1 comment:

Chris said...

What about the inability to make a top ten? At all? Not based on problems of time and/or origination, which I agree with you are easily overcome (all you have to do is take whatever film on its own terms; a top ten isn't necessarily in order - nor do any of the items on it need to be conversant with one another)...

but because I am not very good at feeling anything consistently? I assume top ten to mean of all time, but all time is never able to be compounded into one time - so you'd have the top ten movies when I was 19, the top ten movies of when I was in this or that mood, etc. A single, omni-applicable top ten is maybe too much to ask of someone who cares about answering you honestly? Or taking that question seriously?