Sometimes it’s good to have a voice pushing back at the critical commentariat that push boomer favorites like Bob Dylan and The Godfather as the “greatest of all time.” Unfortunately, articles like this one by Natasha Vargas-Cooper are going too far in the wrong direction:
History does not inform the value of a film; you need never see a stylized Godard flick or Cary Grant comedy to understand the enthralling power of Fargo or Independence Day. Movies are a mass art and everyone should have opinions on them regardless of if they’ve seen The Deer Hunter or not. We are a generation weaned on television and movies, we were moviesgoers before we were citizens, it’s too long to wait until the purists die off to talk about the accomplishments and missteps of Paul Thomas Anderson in a serious way. So let’s plow our cart over the bones of the dead and take stock of our new frontier.
First, Independence Day? Don’t get me wrong, I did think it was the greatest film ever made when I was 11, but still.
More importantly, though, I don’t think cinephiles that have watched The Deer Hunter necessarily dislike Paul Thomas Anderson movies (or Independence Day, for that matter). In fact, watching more movies gives you more perspective on the movies you have seen, are seeing, and will see, in the same way that reading more books or meeting more people informs the books/people that you encounter.
This reminds me of Sarah Palin’s “Real America” snobbery. Refusing to read Foucault or listen to Puccini because of the reputations of the people who do such things (“non-Real-Americans”) is exactly as snobbish as refusing to read Guns & Ammo or listen to Brooks & Dunn because it’s beneath your station. I can’t even believe that someone would voluntarily choose not to experience something and then use that experience as a source of pride:
The rules of the game (Ha! That’s the name of a classic movie I have never seen. Eat it ,1939!): Both low and highbrow movies are allowed in.
Really? Eat it, 1939? Of all the film snobs I know, none of them would say “Eat it, 2011!” as if no good films worth discussing were released this year. They might lament about overall quality, or complain about 3-D, but no one would write off a whole year.
Being a snob is not any better if you’re just a snob about lowbrow/recent culture.