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Standing Tall

I don't necessarily want to be the guy who tries to hang a discount-store T.S. Eliot essay about the Death of Culture on yet another mediocre Hollywood sequel, but there's something a little depressing about all the hype and excitement surrounding "X-Men: First Class," the new Marvel-Fox product that's expected to be among the summer's biggest hits.

[. . .]

Oh, OK, I know why. I'm just playing Socratic idiot. It's summertime in spirit if not in fact, and people are covered in beer and bug-juice and have collectively lowered their expectations. They've convinced themselves that they want to see a big, exciting adventure with cool guys and pretty girls and maybe the faintest hint of moral significance but not much resemblance to real life. I suppose a ridiculous yarn about how a group of superhuman genetic mutants in silly costumes intervene to resolve the 1963 Cuban missile crisis (after starting it in the first place) fits the bill, somewhat. But I'm pretty sure that those who are claiming that "X-Men: First Class" is actually good are engaged in the kind of brainwashed magical thinking that goes along with a culture where the entire media and most of the public have to behave like savvy insiders all the time.

[. . .]

It looks good and has some nice acting moments; as a friend of mine used to say about poetry readings, it's better than some TV. If it makes a butt-load of money, all of us parasites on the sweaty underbelly of the film industry are hypothetically better off, so we might as well like it.

[. . .]

While the whole film is professionally executed and goes down smoothly enough, the underlying stupidity of its subject matter can't help but show through in the end. I was left wondering why I'd spent more than two hours in the dark watching a story about how a kid who survived the concentration camps grew up to be an adult who wears an embarrassing faux-Spartan helmet and calls himself Magneto (rhymes with neato). (Andrew O’hehir, ‘"X-Men: First Class": Slick, dumb big-screen candy,’ Salon, 1 June 2011)

I suppose a more charitable way of saying what I said about the collective lowered expectations of summer is that summer movies are meant as a communal escape that's libidinal and visceral and not really subject to intellectual analysis. Believe it or not, I don't want to interfere with anybody's enjoyment along those lines -- but on the other hand, it isn't my job to congratulate Hollywood. (Andrew O’Hehir)

Standing tall

Leave out the part about you not wanting to be the discount store T.S. Eliot essay contributer. Also the part about your bud nudging you on how poetry readings are better than some tv. Also the (actually self-effacing) estimation of yourself as a parasite on the underbelly of the film industry. Also the part in your reply about you knowing that you haven't any influence on box-office returns. You've seen crap; know you can will yourself to speak against a crowd, against true T.S. Eliot types (Ebert's so casual, so American, but this Pulitzer Prize winner qualifies a bit, doesn't he?) when it speaks to Truth; and you know deep-down this all speaks FOR you. Communicate this. "This is crap; and if you mostly like it, something is quite wrong with you. I understand this means I think I'm better than you. I do; I am. Now use what I've given you to start bettering yourself."

Also, in your reply, I don't get how you can argue that you don't want to interfere with anyone's enjoyment along these lines (i.e., libidinal and visceral enjoyment of a film, rather than intellectual), when your whole review suggests that that this is in fact your drive. I think you'd be better again to not be charitable, and EXCLUDE the film entire from ones that do SO satisfy libidinal needs -- something not only more basic or needed/required but more mythic (deeper?) as well -- to put those who'd just make wry cuts on the film on absolute defence: everyone knows they're missing something essential -- Laputans.

I think you saw the film and knew that that if it became popular it would not do to have it excused even by critics as owing to relaxed summer expectations. I think you knew that this meant that something very wrong was happening to people that they actually found satisfaction -- or worse, meaning -- in this kind of shallow offering, and had in mind to be amongst those who'd try and let them know they were going wrong. I like that.

Link: “X-Men: First class” (Salon)


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