A quote attributed to Ben Affleck in Rebecca Keegan’s 3.16 THR interview mentions his 17 year-old daughter, Violet: “I like the fact that she has this silver rapier tongue. [Then again] she lives her life largely in opposition to the work her parents have spent their lives dedicated to, where she’ll say things like, ‘I’m not sure film is really…do you think it’s a genuine art form?”
HE to Violet: “Movies have been, at best, a haphazard art form, which is to say one that occasionally detours into art or at least an attempt at same. A half-assed, now-and-then art form. Or at least during awards season until Everything Everywhere All At Once, the equivalent of a cinematic hydrogen bomb or mass cyanide capsule, came along.
“But on the audience side of the equation, the occasional communal appreciation of movies and least a semblance of a belief that movies can at least potentially deliver some kind of artful reflection of what it’s like to live and struggle on this planet…that communal tradition is pretty much over, and it’s been killed by your generation (GenZ) along with the Millennials.
“People have been communally watching proscenium-arch plays since the Greek and Roman eras, and feature films since 1915 or thereabouts — call it a century and change. And then you guys arrived and settled in and pretty much killed the whole togetherness aspect. Not altogether but, you know, mostly.
“Now it’s mainly about streaming content in your living rooms or on your Macbooks and iPads, but not really ‘watching’ because you’re constantly texting and multi-tasking and checking out TikTok videos whenever your attention wanders.
“So to answer your question, film used to satisfy the measurement of being an occasional art form until you guys dropped in. Commercial movie theatres used to be regarded in some quarters as churches…no longer! Now they’ve pretty much become gladiator arenas. People used to sit there for 115 minutes or longer and actually pay attention for the most part…no longer for the most part!
“Nowadays the only way to savor really good films in a theatrical environment with people who ‘get’ it and love the worshipful aspect is to attend an upscale film festival (Cannes, Telluride, Toronto, Berlin, Sundance). Have you ever attended one of these? Maybe you should think about doing this. Can’t hurt.”
(Obviously the same laments, scoldings and heartbreaks apply also to Gen Alpha, born between 2010 and 2025.)