Thursday, June 23, 2011

Classic movies--priceless?

I just bought one of my favorite movies, one of the most influential movies of all time, Bonnie and Clyde, for five dollars. My friend and I were at Wally World, buying some blank DVD's on which to put our latest slasher creation (more on that later,) and there was a big bin of movies for five dollars--the best place for finding terrible low budget horror films, which I love. The bin was not organized in any particular way; simply a three foot wide, royal-blue, mesh cylinder filled to the brim with cheap entertainment. And buried somewhere in the pile was the classic, Bonnie and Clyde.

The good thing about this is, I now own and hour and a half of Faye Dunaway and I didn't even spend as much as I would have to buy a small sandwich. The bad thing is, this terribly important movie was tossed away into this bin and that isn't how movies should be treated.

This makes me displeased about, well, the way movies are presented to us that so many people just accept. A lot of things make me displeased about this, but this particular incident is a nice punctuation to my thought sentence that warranted a blog post about it.

According to my very intelligent film studies teacher, as well as, well, film studies in general, Bonnie and Clyde is a pretty important film. A super important film. It changed how violence was depicted, it cemented the place of two legendary cultural icons, it launched Fay Dunaways career (guys, I LOVE Faye Dunaway. She was the most beautiful woman in the world in 1968,) it won too many awards to count, it changed cinema (and America? yes?) forever. It is not only a classic, it is one of the few movies that I think can be considered one of the classics. But more on that later.
Is it right for this movie to be thrown in a bin while other, more recent movies like Red Riding Hood or Gnomeo and Juliet are displayed and played on display televisions? What message does that give?

Considering how many mainstream audiences seem to feel about old movies, in that, they refuse to watch them or understand them in context, it gives the message that old movies are unimportant and new movies are important. It's amazing how many of my very intelligent friends believe that many movies coming out today are brilliant and amazing, but also refuse to watch or respect anything made before their lifetime--where, I think, many of the best movies were made.

Obviously, this is a necessary marketing technique to keep the movie industry running--arguably we should sometimes end up with a movie that has the potential to be a Bonnie and Clyde forty seven years from now, and without all the stagnant movies in between that wouldn't be able to happen.

However, classic films such as Bonnie and Clyde are a part of our culture--nearly just as much as classic literature--or, as much as I'd hate to see this, more in upcoming generations. So much so, I believe, that major cultural and educational changes in the way we look at film are warranted: at the very least, stores selling films should have a "classics" section where films like this are displayed and treated with the respect they deserve. Really, they should be displayed with other films and noted as being more important--slap Bonnie and Clyde next to Fast Five on the shelf with a note: Vin Diesel wouldn't be allowed to carry a gun if this movie didn't happen. At the most extreme level of treating these movies as culturally significant, I think film should start holding more weight in regular school curricula. Not only would this connect to literature--it is hard to find a modern cultural facet more influenced by literature than film--it would provide a basis for understanding so much about our popular culture and social culture, just as literature does. I'm certainly not saying that traditional English classes should be replaced by film studies classes, (even though I do have my own issues with traditional high school English classes,) but I think we're going to begin seeing, if we haven't seen already, film becoming an even more massively important part of our culture--it is very possibly already as important to us as books were important to the centuries before us (please, oh culture lord in media heaven, do not let films replace books.) Film is also a fantastic way to learn about history--there needs to be more emphasis on modern history in schools, as well, and there is no better way to learn about life in a specific time than to watch a film, fictional or non fictional, from then. There are so many cultural references and segments of history that I understand because I had the opportunity to take a film studies class and therefore watch a lot of great films that I may not have watched otherwise--however, not everyone has that opportunity.

Which brings me to my last point, another good thing about Bonnie and Clyde being on sale for five dollars at Wal-Mart. If movies are just as culturally relevant and important as books, then they should be readily available to everyone--even though being buried at the bottom of the five dollar film bin isn't exactly readily available. I'm somewhat appaled that this fantastic film was selling for so little while standing next to some Katherine Heigle formla film being sold for probably four times as much. However, part of me feels like movies this important should be available for free--like classics on Kindle. We are only three years away from the 100 year anniversary of the first full length feature film, meaning, I believe, if it were in book form, it would enter the public domain. It's only so long before lots of influential films gain that status--and should the same idea be applied? Should Itunes advertise free classic flims, to encourage young people to watch them? Should they just advertise them anyways? (yes.) Does making these films cheap make them more accessible or simply lower them to a status below new unimpressive films and next to low budget horror movies? Can any price be put on viewing a piece of culture that affects much of our media today? Is culture truly priceless?

I'm conflicted about it, but regardless: Bonnie and Clyde. In a five dollar bin. Seriously? Get with it, Wal mart and customers.

Also, Faye Dunaway in the sixties. So beautiful. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

MTV Movie awards.../why on earth does this happen

I haven't posted in forever, I'm a terrible blogger, etc, etc, etc.

But the MTV Movie awards just happened, and I have some stuff to say.

I did not watch the movie awards, but while it was happening I happened to look at a live feed online of what movies were winning. And I was upset.

Granted, some good things did happen--for instance, my favorite actress Chloe Grace Moretz winning Best Breakout Star as well as Biggest Badass, two things that are incredibly true. Yay! Also, Emma Stone won for best comedic performance in Easy A, and I love her and that movie as well so that was also good.

HOWEVER.  The thing that really upset me was that The Twilight Saga: Eclipse won Best Movie of the Year.

Wait: it gets worse.

Kristen Stewart also won for best female performance, beating out fellow nominees Emma Stone, Emma Watson, Jennifer Aniston, and Natalie Portman who WON THE OSCAR in case anybody missed that. Just to fill out the prom court in as stereotypical a way as possible, Robert Pattinson also won Best Male Performance,  over his fellow supernatural beings Taylor Lautner and Daniel Radcliffe, but also his fellow teen hearthrob Zac Effron, and, most surprisingly (though should it be?) Jesse Eisenberg. Pattinson and Stewart also won Best Kiss, (triumphing over Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis, among others,) and, most upsettingly, Pattinson, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Xavier Samuels won Best Fight. Seriously? Not Chloe Grace Moretz beating the living daylights out of a grown man drug dealer? Not Joseph Gordon-Levitt beating the living daylights out of some guy while upside down? Are you kidding me?

Confession time, I have not seen Eclipse, so I don't know anything about it's merit or lack thereof, but I think it says something very strange about MTV Movie awards. With nominees including multiple Oscar winners as well as two of the most money making themes of the film decade--Harry Potter and Christopher Nolan--it's incomprehensible that Eclipse won nearly fifty percent of the awards. (38%, to be exact, 5 out of 13.)

Some questions come up, one in particular--who decides who wins these things? Who is voting? Is it the MTV audiences? Is it the washed up celebrities who attend the evening?

According to Wikipedia, the "general public" is voting through a link on the MTV website, which now is rather difficult to get to but before the show was probably on display on the  home page. is indeed people who watch MTV who voted for this, but more importantly, people who spend their free time browsin' around the MTV website. ...yeah.  (Note: the nominees are chosen by some apparently arbitrary excecutives at MTV.)

Time to make grand assumptions! I know when I had time to browse around television networks websites, I was about thirteen years old. Maybe fourteen. I know that those years were also the only time in my life where I watched MTV regularly, (oh geez. Not especially regularly. I watched "Next" sometimes on Saturday mornings. I'm not proud. Don't judge me,) and the same goes for my little brother. I also know, or can infer, that it is mostly middle school girls who like Twilight so much, because, as I've said, that is when I liked Twilight.

So...can we extrapolate that MTV's main audience is, in fact, middle school girls? Yes?

Further research should be done on this subject, for MTV's sake, because they mostly advertise to what I can only imagine some statistics have shown is their target audience--college aged people, mostly men, who are not, in fact, in college. Their commercials are mostly for late-night flavored Doritos and Axe that makes you smell like you don't have a hangover and colleges that you can go to online if you pay them hundreds of billions of dollars.

We have some indiscrepancies here. The people voting for these movie things, (the "Golden Popcorn Awards) are so clearly middle schoolers, and yet MTV is perfectly successful targeting its programming towards older people. And I haven't even mentioned TV shows, but perhaps if I look into that i can find a common theme.....

On MTV on any given day (today), we have a healthy helping of "hot" and "Killer" music videos, followed by the Reese Witherspoon chick flick, Uptown Girls (on Sunday, Witherspoon one the MTVMA's equivalent of a lifetime acheivement award.) After that we get into our daily dose of teen pregnancy, with some Teen Mom followed by some Sixteen and Pregnant: Where are they now? (which I thought was the premise of Teen Mom, but whatever.) Next is what appears to be some reruns of Teen Wolf, then a re-run of the awards, then a mixture of Real World XXX, Jackass, That 70's Show,  and just a little bit more Sixteen and Pregnant until midnight.

MTV. Such classy programming for our 12-24 year olds.

The question now is, who is watching these shows? And the answer is easy, but unfortunately leads us in an unpleasant circle of teen romance: the same people who watch twilight, for the most part. Teen Wolf is an immediate Twilight parallel, which was worth giving two hours of afternoon time, and the teen pregnancy shows, more subtly, share the common themes of acting like you're an adult when you're in high school and also having terrible creepy boyfriends. Twlight fans watch MTV, Twilight fans vote for award.

Who are they? I don't know....

also, this is a pretty great and relevant article from the (I think usually) wonderful Film School Rejects. He swears a little bit but articulates his point well...MTV is catering to their target audience, which clearly has to be sixteen year old girls. Regardless, this is upsetting, because not long ago I was a sixteen year old girl and the smart ones should not have the misfortune of being surrounded by people with such dreadful tastes in pop culture and media.

In my opinion.