Cinema Psycho

"You know what? You have a losing personality." – Manhattan

2004: The Year That Wouldn’t Die

Posted by CinemaPsycho on December 30, 2004

This is the time of year when virtually all of the media outlets release their annual lists, recaps and “best-ofs”. The virtual shutdown of the entertainment industry during the holiday season necessitates these articles and programs, because there’s virtually nothing else to write or talk about.

However, I’m not going to do that. Why? Because I think it’s stupid, uncreative and redundant. Not to mention the fact that nobody really cares.

Honestly, do we really need the “highlights” of the past year to be repeated ad nauseum? Is anyone really thrilled about being constantly reminded of such non-events as Janet Jackson’s nipple or the NBA brawl? Didn’t we suffer enough when these lame excuses for newsworthy content were put on a seemingly endless media loop for months? Is anyone else starting to feel like Alex in A Clockwork Orange, stuck in that chair with his eyes pried open?

I don’t understand this need to regurgitate the so-called “big stories” of the year just because that year happens to be ending. We all know what happened in 2004. We were there. We lived through it. The election was last month, for cryin’ out loud. Enough already. Please.

All of the film-related articles are saying the same obvious thing: Mel Gibson and Michael Moore’s movies made a shitload of money this year. Gibson’s movie appealed to religious people, while Moore’s movie appealed to liberals. Turns out, there are a lot of each group in this country. Duh. Is there some kind of journalism award for telling people what they already know?

Guess what, a lot of big-budget Hollywood blockbusters made a ton of money this year, while a few smaller indie films broke from the pack and became cult favorites! Wow, what a shocking revelation! Are you on the edge of your seat yet? How about this – all of these films, big and small, had huge marketing campaigns behind them! Try to keep yourself from having a coronary! This doesn’t happen every year…oh, wait a minute…

Oh, and by the way, movie stars made a lot of dough in 2004 as well. Generally the ones who demand the biggest paychecks, even if their movies bomb. Of course if they were in a hit film or even two this year, their price actually went up! Go figure. A few relative unknowns actually broke through and became stars, at least for now. Some of them will probably last a good while. The others will wind up making straight-to-video movies in a few years’ time. Maybe they’ll do a TV show and make a comeback. After rehab, of course. Fascinating, isn’t it? I can’t think of any other year when this was true…except for every other year.

Yeah, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas made a few hundred million too. They’re right up there with Oprah, who has more money than 99% of the world’s population, and she gives out maybe 1% of that to make herself look compassionate. Ain’t life grand?

Seriously though…there truly is nothing new under the sun. If anyone’s surprised by any of this showbiz crap, may I suggest some serious psychotherapy? Not the kind you read on this site. I’m talking electroshock.

The same goes for critics’ Top 10 lists. They all put them out, and we all read them. And we all know that they’re completely arbitrary indications of that particular person’s own taste, and nothing more. Pretending otherwise is pure folly.

Will I put mine up on the site? Of course I will. You better believe it! But I make them up every year purely for my own amusement. I don’t pretend that it signifies anything more than a simple list of the movies I liked the most and meant the most to me personally. Or that anyone really cares about it other than myself. My list will probably be different than everyone else’s on Earth. Even if someone picks the same 10 movies that I do, they most likely will be in a different order. Which is perfectly fine. You’ll probably make up your own list, which will greatly differ from mine. In fact, I encourage you to do so. It’s fun.

(By the way, you can expect to see my list on the site in late Jan. or early Feb. You see, because I live between the two coasts like most people in this country, I don’t get to see many of the year’s best films until the following year. These are Oscar-bait movies that open in the major cities at the end of year to qualify for Oscar consideration, but only gradually roll out to us yokels in January or even February. But I still consider them to be films of that particular year, not of the following year. In some cases, I don’t get to see them at all in theaters. Right now there are a ton of films out that would probably make my list if I got to see them, but I can’t until they reach “a theater near me”. But Feb. 1 is my cutoff date, so any films that don’t make it here by then…too fucking bad.)

I guess I’ve just never understood this need people have to define everything by the year or even decade it was released. Whether it’s movies, music or even TV, I feel like everything comes from a natural, progressive flow. It’s not like everyone in the entertainment industry gets together and says, “here’s what we’re going to do for the next 10 years.” You never hear people talk about literature that way, like “oh, that Dickens is so 1800’s” or “Norman Mailer is so five decades ago!”

That’s why these “decade” shows that run on VH-1 and other networks constantly, like “I Love the ‘90s” really annoy me. Why do we have to label everything by date? As someone who enjoys films and music from various decades, it baffles me that people want to categorize their entertainment choices by how many years ago a work was produced, like counting the rings of a tree stump. Nothing is “dated” if it’s GOOD. I wasn’t alive when the Beatles made most of their music – that didn’t make me like it any less when I first heard it. I first saw Romero’s Dawn of the Dead in 1996 (I know, I was a bit late to that party) and it blew me away. It was just as relevant to me then as it was to the people that saw it when it was first released. The worth of a work of art isn’t determined by misguided nostalgia for the decade in which it was produced – it’s determined by how GOOD it is when you first see, hear or experience it.

Besides, anyone who really thinks they can “define a decade” by pointing out a few things that were made during it is either incredibly superficial or insane. If you really think you can sum up the ‘80’s by saying “Molly Ringwald, Miami Vice, leg warmers, Flock of Seagulls, Rubik’s Cube”, then you obviously didn’t live through that time. (By the way, VH-1, play some fucking videos already.)

In a few years’ time, probably before we know it, shows like these will be “looking back” at 2004. They’ll cover all the big media events, talk about a few hit movies and mention who sold the most CDs. What they’ll probably completely miss is what it felt like to LIVE through this year. That’s a subject too wide-ranging and all encompassing to fit into a stupid TV show. But they’ll attempt it anyway, and fail miserably.

I could sit here and type tons of stuff about all the things I liked and disliked in the year gone by. But you know what, I’d just be another asshole telling you what was good and what was bad. Who needs that? We all lived through 2004 – you don’t need me or anyone else to tell you what happened. (And I won’t try to disguise my opinions as phony “Awards” either, like “The Sellout Award For Most Shameless Actor Goes to” – that’s become just as tiresome as all the other bullshit lists and recaps. Unless you’re giving out an actual award, complete with gold statuette, don’t call it a fucking award, OK?)

So do me, and yourselves, a big favor. When you look back on this year, think about the things that meant the most to YOU. Think about the movies you loved, the bands that rocked your ass, even the TV shows that you liked. Don’t worry about whether or not anyone else felt the same way. Think about the great books you read, even if they weren’t written this year. Don’t let the media tell you what was good this year. Remember the things that YOU cared about, that were most important to YOU. Don’t go by someone else’s list. Make up your own, and be proud of everything that’s on it, no matter how cheesy or “uncool” it may be. What we love is part of what makes us who we are. If something affected you in some small way, made you laugh or cry or both, that’s an important thing. That’s what it’s really all about.

And don’t think about Paris Hilton or Donald Trump. Ever again.

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