Wednesday, April 15, 2009
The wages of art
Frans Hals, a 17th century baroque painter, was reviled for his depiction of "vulgar" subjects. Crassness such as POOR PEOPLE and LAUGHTER shocked many possible patrons and left the poor man to die penniless and unappreciated. A few centuries later, a movement called impressionism reared its head and used many of Hals' shunned techniques and subjects. Unfortunately for Hals, he had not become a mummy or a vampire by that time, so he was not able to reap any rewards from his visionary style.
Imagine then, in the early 21st century, a group of last-year student teachers off to Berlin. Each one is assigned to organize a guided tour of a part of the city. One of the accompanying teachers feels she needs to stress the fact that sometimes genius just goes unappreciated. To illustrate this point, she like to use as a modern example that fantastic innovator Tarantino, not that... trash we were subjected to on the bus ride over here.
Oh yes, we certainly saw some trash. In fact, I dare you to pick out the trash she's ragging on two days after the fact.
Ice Age 2: The Meltdown
I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry
Shaun of the Dead
If you guessed that she was calling critically acclaimed horror-romcom Shaun of the Dead a piece of shit: bingo. At least offensive enough to use it as an example as the sort of drivel a TRUE INNOVATOR like Tarantino had to fight against.
This poor, delusional old lady can't really be blamed. Many, many folk don't really enjoy movies. They just use them as means to sound clever. Films, books, all kinds of art. Things like Ice Age 2 and Chuck and Larry are too unremarkable and by-the-numbers to really get any notice in the press. And how often does a really bad movie get a lot of press anyway? Gigli did, I suppose, but that was at least five years ago. Maybe the "Movie" movies do.
This lady just encountered a movie with humor slightly more complicated than your average sitcom and gory situations. Having never heard of the film, she must have been sure it was some direct-to-video cheapie only enjoyable by immature college students (not saying it wasn't enjoyed by that very segment of the population) and therefore safe to mock and belittle. The frustrating thing was that this woman held a position of authority, and thus pretty much also held sway over the minds of the undecided -- mostly female -- majority who didn't like it because it featured OMG BLOOD. Granted, a bus full of non-native English speakers might not have been the best venue for such a film, but it is that woman's arrogance and need to prove how knowledgeable she was that probably dissuaded the fence-sitters from giving it a second chance in more quiet surroundings.
Oh, frustration, if only thy bosom was more like Scarlett Johanssen's!