Old Man Yells at Cloud, and People Listen by R.P. Lauer - Distant Web

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Old Man Yells at Cloud, and People Listen
Old Man Yells at Cloud, and People Listen by R.P. Lauer - Distant Web
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10/22/2019
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I don't normally care much about someone else's opinion, after all, what they say about opinions is absolutely true; we all have them, and they all stink (just like something else). I'm also not that into nitpicking an improper choice of words; the average person these days can barely string together a coherent sentence as it is (thanks in part to Social Media), so it just seems proper in my opinion to at least try and understand the point behind a thought, and not focus too much on the specific words chosen.

However, when a renowned professional, someone extremely articulate and highly regarded in their field misspeaks about that field, it's extremely difficult for me to hold my tongue and not point out a poor and absolutely invalid choice of words.

So not too long ago, director Martin Scorsese was asked about the Marvel films and he said "I don't see them. I tried, you know? But that's not cinema. Honestly, the closest I can think of them, as well made as they are, with actors doing the best they can under the circumstances, is theme parks. It isn't the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being."

(Before I move on, I just want to point out that he claims that the Marvel films don't 'convey emotional, psychological experiences' of human beings, yet he also said he does not watch them. How can you make that kind of claim if you don't watch the movies? Personally, I would say that there are a LOT of emotional and psychological experiences expressed throughout the films, having actually watched them myself.)

Then, Scorsese doubled down on his comments, adding "It's not cinema, it's something else. We shouldn't be invaded by it. We need cinemas to step up and show films that are narrative films. Theaters have become amusement parks. That is all fine and good but don't invade everything else in that sense. That is fine and good for those who enjoy that type of film and, by the way, knowing what goes into them now, I admire what they do. It's not my kind of thing, it simply is not. It's creating another kind of audience that thinks cinema is that."

Now, I have issues with some of what he says to one degree or another (he kind of says a lot in such a short statement), but for right now I'm going to focus on a specific aspect, because a specific part of it is absolutely, one hundred percent false. Before I do however, I may as well lump anothers words in as it's the same falsehood.

Sometime later, Scorsese's fellow director and friend, Francis Ford Coppola, chimed in adding his failure of speech to the mix. His words were, "When Martin Scorsese says that the Marvel pictures are not cinema, he's right because we expect to learn something from cinema, we expect to gain something, some enlightenment, some knowledge, some inspiration. I don't know that anyone gets anything out of seeing the same movie over and over again."

Again, I have some issues with his statement; for one thing, who is the 'we' he speaks of? Is he just talking about himself and Scorsese? Or is he trying to speak for more outside of that duo? But right now I'm going to focus on the very basic thought that both directors expressed, an opinion that is being presented as some kind of fact. One could definitely argue that both statements were the result of poorly chosen words, and that definitely is a possibility (though it gets harder and harder to really say that as they pile on). However, I do feel I should point out that that argument would also insinuate an inability to choose words correctly, which seems odd for filmmakers of their caliber.

The base of both mens statements boils down to this; "The Marvel films are not cinema."

Now, allow me to take that false statement, a statement of opinion that is masquerading as fact, and fix it by adding just three small, little, teeny tiny words; "The Marvel Films are not my idea of cinema."

There, see how easy that was? Because guess what, one version of that statement is completely false, and the other (as long as it's expressed by someone who truly feels that way) is absolutely correct. And it's not only false what they said (how they said it), but also painfully irresponsible of them considering their own careers; not only have they both faced criticism of one work of theirs or another, but their entire field once had to struggle for years (if not decades) to validate itself as a form of art.

And in case you are wondering what one has to do with the other, the definition of 'cinema' as it relates to their statements is the art of making motion pictures (aka moving pictures, aka films, aka movies).

I cannot believe how short sighted these once great filmmakers can be of their own field, not to mention their colleagues (whether they want to acknowledge them as colleagues or not).

It's funny how much history repeats itself; the 'old guard' has constantly fought with the changing of times, like how print media once scoffed at the very idea that broadcast news could possibly be considered 'journalism', poets once ridiculed those newfangled novels claiming to be literature, Roger Ebert lamenting how Video Games are not 'Art', and George Lucus (with Steven Spielberg) claiming that a video game cannot by its nature have a 'plot' (because, football? Honestly I kind of want to tackle this as well because of how stupid this statement was, and it makes me wish I could show him some games dating back to the NES and have him seriously tell me there's no plot).

Now we have filmmakers so high on themselves that they think that just because a film is not their own cup of tea, it cannot be 'cinema', nor can anyone gain anything from it (again, because they don't like them). Ones inability to perceive something does not actually invalidate it; but their insistence that that is the case just proves ones own disconnect.

The bottom line here is that you, whoever you are, do not get to decide what is or isn't 'art', what films are or aren't 'cinema', or what is or isn't 'literature' (just throwing that last one out there because it seems relevant). You absolutely can decide and/or acknowledge your own personal distaste for something, but NO SINGLE PERSON is the supreme authority on art.

And if you think for even a second that this has anything to do with me being butt-hurt that someone doesn't like a comic book movie; personally I think that that person is either looking to be offended, or is simply offended that I besmirched their precious idols. I mean, they are both still crying about their buddy Lucas wasting so much time with Star Wars; I'd be shocked if they did like Marvel Movies; it makes me wonder why they (or at least Scorsese) were even asked in the first place.

But allow me to do my best to clear up any misunderstandings: The Room, Tommy Wiseau's godawful movie, absolutely is cinema, and I am saying that as someone who doesn't even like it ironically. Shark Boy and Lava Girl, a movie possibility worse than The Room (that's a tough call to be honest) is also 'cinema'.

Just because you don't like a movie, or understand its appeal, doesn't mean it's not cinema/art. You don't get to make those decisions. And I will repeat something I already said, because it bears repeating; no single person is the supreme authority on art. PERIOD.

Now, to end on a more positive note (somewhat at least), one point they make is that there are maybe too many of these types of movies being made, and that it's detrimental to variety in films. I actually agree with that; Hollywood in general is in a pretty bland state of prequels, sequels and remakes with very little originality being made. However, before blaming Comic Book movies exclusively for that, maybe look a little deeper and see that there may be other factors killing the movie theater experience?

For starters, if you don't want to go and read my other writing on this matter, going to the theater is extremely expensive compared to just buying a Blu-Ray when it comes out, and that's not even taking into account IMAX or 3D or 4D or whatever the hell this is! Especially when I have a great TV and a nice surround sound stereo at home where I can watch in my PJs and eat popcorn that only costs $0.50!

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