Wednesday, March 22, 2006

"What WE want"

You know, I like junk food. It's pretty obvious just by looking at me. Still I know that junk food isn't good for me and that I really should eat something better. From Roger Ebert's latest Answer Man column, some people don't have similar realizations about movies:

Q. I must take issue with your response to Jay Leno's question about whether Hollywood is out of step with the mainstream public. Your response was, "Maybe the moviegoing public is out of step with good movies." How incredibly insulting and arrogant! Your comment illustrates an obvious belief on your part that the people involved with financing, writing, directing and acting in films -- most of whom live in the unnatural and aesthetic environments of Hollywood and other cloistered situations -- know better than I and the rest of the public what WE want and need in entertainment! Many of us are TIRED of the continual diet of political, environmental and societal issues forced upon us by today's moviemakers. The overwhelming and continual box-office success of the lighter fare vs. the others proves my point.

Donna Larson, Princeton, Minn.

A. No, I think it proves my point. These 2006 films "won" their weekends or placed second: "Hostel," "Underworld: Evolution," "Big Mamma's House 2," "When a Stranger Calls," "Madea's Family Reunion," "The Hills Have Eyes," "Ultraviolet" and "Date Movie." Only three of these, by the way, were "lighter fare," unless vivisection and evisceration make you smile. During the same weeks, these films were not embraced at the box office: "The Matador," "Cache," "The New World," "Transamerica," "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada," "Tristram Shandy" and "Tsosti." If I prefer the films on the second list, does that make me arrogant? Moviegoers "tired of the continual diet of political, environmental and societal issues" are finding lots of films that entertain them, and those of us who prefer more challenging films have to look a little harder.

I've noticed that the same people who claim that "it's good to relax with something that doesn't strain your brain" are the people who are most in need of a good mental workout. Wes just wrote about the poster boy of witless entertainment, "the single unfunniest person since Pol Pot, Larry the Cable Guy." The fact that Larry's not living out of a dumpster behind an all-night KFC pretty much confirms that, yes, "[m]any of us are TIRED of the continual diet of political, environmental and societal issues forced upon us," and it shows.

It's depressing when college students complain about poetry full of hard words and obscure ideas, especially when they're referring to Robert Frost. In the birth of drama, back in the days of the ancient Greeks, it was expected that entertainment should make the audience--even an audience of illiterate farmhands--think. Today that's box office poison.

I'm not crusading against junk food or junk entertainment. God knows I love them both. But it sickens me that people are proud of the fact that they love crap and are offended by people who don't.

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