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300 reasons to burn out your retina

Heh heh. Periodically I like to tweak the earnest hedonists over at Ace of Spades HQ. Here's what I left in the comments to the above-linked post, which reports the box office success of the current nekkid shouty men killing each other movie 300:



I mean really, who cares how much money movies make? Who cares how many people go see a movie you happened to like? I like movies hardly anyone else on earth seems to even know exist -- does this bum me out? Do I sit here wracked with pain because the moviegoing American public let me down for not going in droves to see (insert some light romcom or silly scifi title or whatever) making its actors huge stars etc. etc.??? Do we really care that much how much the movie industry is making?

Me, I'd be happy if all the movie cameras in the world spontaneously disintegrated. I am sick of movies. I am sick of actors. I am sick of "film critics." I am sick of the whole megilla. Thanks to the movies we are no longer able to think outside of a frame of reference that doesn't include closeups, dramatic reaction shots, and climactic scenes in an hour and a half.

Open a fucking book, America. One without pictures -- yes, put down your beloved comic book, that's not "reading."

However, I meant it. I can vaguely recall a time when no one much cared about "box office returns" and so on. When movies were just a pastime you could choose, instead of, apparently, an essential part of American life without which you are crippled. It's the same thing as the attitude towards cars. Once it was quite normal for not everyone in the whole goddamn universe to need a vehicle once they turned sixteen. An old post of Udolpho's slammed the late Art Buchwald for writing stuff like this:

People are broad-minded. They'll accept the fact that a person can be an alcoholic, a dope fiend, a wife beater and even a newspaperman, but if a man doesn't drive, there's something wrong with him.

-- and that is crap. It's also not quite right: the truth is, people, at least Americans, don't approve of alcoholics, dope fiends, wife beaters, or newspapermen, and they don't really trust an adult who doesn't own a car either. (Unless they live in a place like New York, where the rules that govern the rest of the US are basically inverted, but that's another story.) I have held off on buying a new car, despite the inconveniences of living in a standard pedestrian-unfriendly American city, because I have come to enjoy occasionally being able to pay my rent on time. When I had a car I was always worrying about either being able to pay my car payments and rent in the same month, and then add the insurance (which costs the earth in macho teen male and senile snowbird riddled Florida) and then there was gas and the inevitable repairs. Now all I have to worry about is getting to work on time either via a succession of buses or rides from coworkers, and as I plan to move to an apartment within walking distance of work when my lease here is up that will cease to be a problem.

I also have another, more personal reason (no, not my incompetent way with money) for not wanting to get back into the driving fray just yet: every time I see one of those grossly obese people -- and I see them all the time -- you know, the ones who when they sit down are so fat their legs can't go together? The ones that are basically rotund? -- I get the urge to walk and walk and walk. I am already too fat, but at least I can put my legs together when I sit down in public, and wattles of flesh don't hang down below the backs of my knees. And I plan to keep it that way.

But anyway, I still sense my carless state is an occasion of worry for some people, even though I am an able-bodied woman in (as far as I know, I don't make a fetish of going to the doctor as is now the fashionable thing either) good health. This isn't the way it used to be -- my mother quit driving because she just couldn't deal with Miami traffic anymore and no one treated her like a retard.

So it goes with movie-going. You tell people "I don't like movies as a general rule" and they don't get the idea there are exceptions, they get the idea you are some kind of freak from outerspace. I could enjoy the movies -- I used to enjoy them -- but all the talk about how much money they made and how high they are on this week's top ten has undercut most of the enjoyment.

Also, if you ask me they are just tapped out. Films apparently aren't a constantly renewing source like novels are; being a much more simplistic medium (there are only so many things people can see when they look at something, as opposed to being forced to use their own imagination under the restrictions of black type on white paper) they had to run out of steam some day. If you ask me today is that day. The same tired plots, the same hackneyed dialogue, the increasing reliance on flashy computer effects and comic books, the substitution of screaming for acting -- all add up to a dry fart of nothing.

As for 300, I haven't seen it, but by all reports -- favorable and un- (but not stupid -- the reviewers who are bleating about the movie being "fascist propaganda" and screeching about "Nazis/racists/awk! awk! awk!" are just moronic and should be ignored except for purposes of mockery) it's got all the problems I have listed above. Personally I think Xerxes and the whole Persian Empire have been getting the short end of the stick from people for a while too. Sure, they might have been that era's version of totalitarian zombie rule, or were they? Remember, this was the "Middle East" before it got boring (ie, before Islam); the Persian Empire lasted for a gajillion years and must have been kind of interesting at the very least. I find it odd the way they are treated like cartoon villains in our accounts of the Greeks' conflicts with them (the Greeks may have been our philosophical forefathers, but we don't have to take on all of their attitudes). It would be interesting to see a historical treatment on some aspect of the Persian Empire -- at the very least we could figure out in part where those nutty Iranians are coming from.

But we'd probably turn it into a romantic comedy starring Owen Wilson and whatever stick figure with breasts is giving the casting couch a workout.

Update: forgot to link to this. Heh.

Second update: I did wonder whether I should leave out the "read a fucking book" line, as it seems kind of like a non-sequitur, but as so far the reponses (along the lines of I should "lighten up" and lists of all the Real History Books people are reading) have been pure comedy gold I'm glad I decided to leave it in.

Third update: oh, it just keeps getting better and better. Geeks do not like having their pwecious comic book collections mocked. I'm waiting for one of these flabby retards to threaten to come to my house and beat me up (or rather, girl-slap me with their pasty, ink-stained paws).

Last update, because I'm just having too much fun: OMG the perfection of this:

On the subject of lowly comic books and Greek legend, am I the only one who sees a similarity between the comic book form and bas relief/pottery ornamentation the Greeks used for graphic narrative? Just wondering.

I never thought Ace's commenters would rise to the occasion like they have here. Gentlemen (and ladies, and those of, um, unknown or unfixed gender), I bow to you. You have made a boring Sunday just a little more special than normal.

Comments (4)

The biblical story of Esther depicts the Persian empire at the time of the Persian wars from the perspective of the Jews as protected minorities in the kingdom.

I know about that one. They also made a movie about it recently. Maybe it will go in my Netflix queue one of these days.

Kerry [TypeKey Profile Page]:

I saw the movie about Esther recently (One Night with the King). Not bad. Neither was 300.

I have to admit I giggled at the line "(f)ilms apparently aren't a constantly renewing source like novels are"; personally, I can't read a novel published past 1940 without throwing it across the room in disgust at some point. I guess we all have our lines in the sand.

I'm getting to the point where I agree with you re novels. But make that 1840.

(And psst: I'll tell you a secret -- 300 actually sounds like a fun romp... well, a stomp, like drunken punk rockers stomping on a hippie. I may just rent it out when it becomes available. I don't go to the movie theater. But don't tell anyone!)

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