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The next generation of movie goers don't care about classic movies

07.17.2012

There is a brilliant new article by Neal Gabler over at the LA Times regarding how the majority of the Millennial Generation (people born in the late 1980s through the 1990s) doesn't care about old movies.  Now, I am not talking about silent cinema here, I mean Scorcese and Coppola and even Raimi.  If a movie was not made within the last five years, it is not worth watching.

I am 31 years old and I have loved movies since I was a little kid.  I took film classes in high school and college.  I never had aspirations to be an actor but I did love to write and to discuss movies.  I have every ticket stub from every movie I have seen since 1996.  At one point, my Netflix history showed that I had watched over 3.000 different movies.  I love everything that cinema has to offer.  That includes old movies. I don't know where my film perspective would be if I had never discovered Alfred Hitchcock or Orson Welles or even Roger Corman.

Some people complain that they don't like old movies because they are boring.  I would then ask what "old movies" did they see?  Generally they cannot name a specific movie at all.  Then there are those that say they will not watch anything in black and white?  My wanted response is to shake them as hard as I can until they come to their senses. You cannot judge hundreds of movies because of the lack of color on the celluloid.

My all time favorite movie is Hitchcock's NOTORIOUS. Ask the average person to name a Hitchcock film and I doubt any of them would name this masterpiece. If I refused to watch black and white movies, I never would have seen one of the best every made. Sure, you could argue that there are countless movies made today that are worth 120 minutes of your time, but there are movies made before you were born that are just as worthy.

Cinema does not have the same level of reverence that literature does.  No matter how popular a current bestseller becomes, we will always look back to Shakespeare, Dunne, Shelley, O. Henry, Austen, and every other classic author from our past.  But when it comes to movies, which are just over a hundred years old, each succesive generation seems to forget about the movies that came before.

Gabler's article says "One has to acknowledge that part of this cinematic ageism is the natural cycle of culture. Every generation not only has its own movies, it has its own aesthetics, and the contemporary aesthetic might be labeled "bigger, faster, louder" because our blockbuster movies are all about sensory overload — quickening the audience's pulse. It is the same force that drives video games. Still, the difference between the attitude of boomers and that of the millennials is that boomer audiences didn't necessarily believe their aesthetics were an advance over those that had preceded them."

Frank Darabont would not exist without Frank Capra.  Steven Spielberg would not exist without John Huston.  Hell, superhero movies as a whole would not exist if we never had Richard Donner's SUPERMAN and his film owes just as much to the black and white superhero movies that came before him.

Remakes have proliferated in the last twenty years because of this Millennial phenomenon. A studio can easily remake a classic film with a young, hip cast without needing much extra work. They could literally shoot the movie scene for scene, like Gus Van Sant's PSYCHO experiment, just to capitalize on the generation who don't watch black and white movies.

The point is this: Hollywood feeds off of what the movie watching audience wants.  As long as those paying to see a reboot of SPIDER-MAN pony up the dough, it will happen again.  I fully expect a new Batman movie to hit theaters within the next five years and those teenagers will barely remember BATMAN BEGINS.

We cannot forget about the movies that helped create the cinema we know today.  I urge every single person out there to watch as many of the American Film Institute Top 100 movies before they begin to criticize today's films.  The old adage that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it works for movies as well.  The next time you flip through one hundred channels and say there is nothing on, I beg you to turn on Turner Classic Movies and watch at least one whole movie.  I am pretty sure you will discover an entire world of stories you didn't even know existed.

What do you Schmoes think of this phenomenon? Do you love old movies as much as new ones?

Source: LA Times

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