The first time it hit me that the public was starting to really rebel against allusive or metaphorical broad-brush movie titles was when it was decided in 1984 that Taylor Hackford’s remake of Jacques Tourneur’s 1947 film noir Out of the Past…a title with an obviously haunting quality…would be retitled as the dumbly-macho and aggressive-sounding Against All Odds. That was 21 years ago, and now things have downshifted to the next level of primitivism with New Line’s upcoming Snakes on a Plane (currently slated for August ’06). The fact that Samuel L. Jackson (a once-cool actor whose willingness to bend over for anything is putting him in competition with Cuba Gooding) is starring and former stuntman David R. Ellis (Cellular) is directing should give you pause. Don’t misunderstand: Snakes on a Plane is an unmistakably great idiot-level title. The Sydney Morning Herald‘s Garry Maddox reported a few days ago it “was a reader favorite after a Herald website discussion about film titles earlier this year.” And I’m not saying that if all film titles were reduced to their primitive childlike essence that the same brilliant-jokey effect would be realized. But I am saying we have truly arrived at a new stage of cultural devolution with the acceptance and celebration of this title. It represents the turning of another page in the great Will and Ariel Durant 21st Century novel called “The End of Civilization (As We Once Knew It).” How different, really, is Snakes on a Plane from “Camels”, which is what my son Jett used to call Lawrence of Arabia when he was two?