I was chatting with a friend the other day about Quatermass and the Pit; a film both of us shared as one of our favourite horror films and how I’ve never seen it on a big screen as I’ve never had the chance to. He mentioned he did have the chance to but after going to a cinema showing of Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue where the audience laughed throughout the film he couldn’t muster the energy to go sit in a cinema full of wankers sneering at an old film.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t laugh at old, bad films like an Ed Wood classic, or somesuch rubbish like Troll 2, but if you’ve paid money to go and see a classic film like Quatermass and the Pit, and all you do is sit there with your 21st century viewpoint (and fail to appreciate it as a film) just sneering because others are doing the same then it frankly makes you a bully and well as an idiot. There will be people there who want to see the film and watch it without your snarky commentary but your entitlement means you make people’s experience awful for a few seconds jolly.
There is an argument that some people, mainly Millennials, don’t see film as art but as a fashion so whatever film is trending and fits what is fashionable this week. I don’t quite buy that as the sole reason (though I think it plays a part) but this has something that’s been discussed for a few years now. This somewhat sad piece titled Stop Laughing At Old Movies, You $@%&ing Hipsters outlines the problem when during a viewing of Mario Bava’s Hercules in the Haunted World, this happens…
The guy behind me munching Sour Patch Kids and wearing an ironic Hawaiian shirt kept up the chuckles for 91 minutes, long after I began to beseech Zeus to throw a non-styrofoam boulder at him. His stubborn laughter was an advertisement for his own superiority, like it’s heroic to refuse to be “suckered” by a fake rock that’s obviously fake. But there’s nothing triumphant about being too cool to dream.
And this is the problem. People can’t suspend their disbelief as after all, that involves putting effort into it. If you’re used to seeing film as two hours where you’re spoon-fed what you want and when you see what films people have laughed at (including John Carpenter’s The Thing, which would have driven me to murder had I been there) you do wonder if it is a case where people really have lost the ability to imagine or understand nuance, or even put things in the context of the time.
Another article points out the reaction to a showing of From Russia With Love.
“It’s sad to think that there was once a time when Hollywood released dozens of movies like this each year, and millions of people went to see them, and enjoyed themselves, and laughed, and sang along, and got wrapped up in the story, and that if the same kind of movies were released right now, people would laugh at them and call them unsophisticated. That so many of you could sit there and snicker at ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ for being unsophisticated depresses me beyond words. This movie is not unsophisticated. You are.”
This is I think the problem. People are no longer sophisticated in the sense they can put themselves in a time and place, or understand film as an art. Who needs nuance when you’ve got <insert this months blockbuster here> to fill your needs and this is a pity because of ignorance and peer pressure people are losing the history of their culture. Also if people just put themselves into the moment they may find themselves enjoying something their peers may not, but fuck their peers think for yourselves & that’s something I hope people do more of.