Yesterday Hitfix’s Drew McWeeny tried to dispute the indisputable, statistically fortified and hardly radical concern (recently voiced in rant-form by myself, Bill Maher, Roger Ebert and N.Y. Times critic A.O. Scott) that a significant sector of the under-25s out there haven’t exactly shown themselves to be paragons of intellectual vigor and spiritual curiosity, and that their enthusiastic support for boon-to-humanity movies like G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and Transformers 2 along with their corresponding disinterest in hardcore gems like The Hurt Locker (because Summit hasn’t bought enough TV and print spots to remind them that it’s playing as part of a specific youth-market campaign) is a fairly depressing and deplorable thing.
McWeeny has argued against this, primarily, by playing the age card and describing what’s been written as the result of generational bias and illusion. The age-old “damn these kids!” phenomenon that every older generation has bitched about since the hey-hey day of the Greeks and the Romans, etc. Older farts do this so pay them no mind, etc. The title of the article is “Why do older movie critics suddenly want everyone off their lawn?” and the lead image is that of Clint Eastwood snarling in Gran Torino.
Playing the age card is easy, of course. Just point or allude to the ages of the people you’re disagreeing with and go “wow, crankheads!” and “these guys need to flush out their arteries” and so on. Throw in some patronizing attitude for emphasis and people your age and younger will buy it. The filmgoing world is fine. People my age (especially the bulky geek types wearing corporate-brand T-shirts and cutoffs and ugly sneakers) are a lot smarter and wiser than these guys realize. Kids who wouldn’t pay to see a well-reviewed film with a gun at their head unless their peer group said it was okay can’t be blamed if the ad guys don’t try and target them specifically. These old guys basically need to grow some fresh perspective by jumping into Rod Taylor‘s time machine and becoming 33 years old again.
So go for it. Read McWeeny and buy into the generational bullshit he’s selling. Ignore everything your mind tells you when you go to the mall on a Friday night and watch the wildebeests and grapple with those kneejerk thoughts about how they seem to be from a genetically separate planet. Purge your head of all the signs and hints and indications and statistics about how things are getting more and more putrid and common and corporate and de-individualized. Forget the whole cultural downswirl notion that’s been obvious to anyone with a smidgen of observational acumen for at least the last 20 to 30 years.
I have two sons, 21 and 19, who aren’t representative of the above-described tendencies among the under-25s and who inform me by word and deed and implication what’s going on (and not going on) out there. They know what goes, I know what goes and I’m not Lionel Barrymore in Key Largo so don’t tell me. I’m an X-factor guy with an obsessive lifestyle and a taste for edge experience and the freedom of mind to buy a pair of dorky-looking yellow sneakers if the mood strikes. Three computers, a motorcycle, no property, a thriving business, nothing settled.
Whatever. Be my guest. I’m played out on this topic for now. The batteries are drained. Maybe I can jump into it later. But McWeeny needs to be fair and link to my “Morlocks Are Feasting” piece and not just the “Eloi” thing, which is strictly an Ebert-quote thing with a tiny little closing-graph riff about how I briefly surrendered to vague feelings of disgust when surrounded by a herd of three-toed sloths from Fairfax High School during my last L.A. visit
Some Came Running‘s Glenn Kenny has also weighed in along these lines. I don’t know what to say about this except that I understand how it’s much easier to write a stark contrarian piece than to respond to things in some curlicued or tap-dancy middle-ground way. Whatever.