Cinema Psycho

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

Archive for July, 2012

My Brief Statement on the Colorado Tragedy and Violence in Movies

Posted by CinemaPsycho on July 27, 2012

I haven’t really wanted to make a comment on this, mainly because I don’t feel it’s my place and because anything I could say would seem trivial at this point. Obviously it’s a horrible tragedy, and like millions of others I feel deep sorrow for the victims and their families. I truly wish this hadn’t happened at all, much less in a movie theater, a place I consider sacred. There are no words to express one’s feelings towards such an event, and I dare not even try. This blog is certainly not intended to discuss real-world matters such as this, and there’s nothing I can say about the shooting itself that hasn’t already been said many times over. Right now I would give anything for James Holmes not to have done what he did. He was clearly a severely disturbed person who needed help and never received it, and for that I also feel sorrow. Again, words fail me.

But what truly offends me, almost as much as the terrible event itself, is that the so-called “debate” over violence in film has erupted once again because of James Holmes’ actions. Even though it’s been widely reported that Holmes was obsessed with the Batman and Joker characters, not with violence in films. Christopher Nolan’s PG-13 Batman films are not even particularly violent by today’s standards, so to point the finger at them just seems ludicrous to me. To all the people that are currently blaming The Dark Knight Rises for what Holmes did in Colorado, keep this simple fact in mind:

James Holmes NEVER EVEN SAW THE MOVIE.

The idea that Holmes was motivated by this movie, other Batman movies, or any other movies, is simply not true. He was motivated by his own mental illness. As someone who has struggled with mental illness myself in the past, I can tell you that someone who suffers from OCD or other psychological maladies can get fixated on anything. It almost doesn’t matter what it is. It could be another person, it could be a band or a politician or a fire plug. The obsession is the problem, not the object itself. When a mentally ill person stalks an actor, no one blames the actor and says he or she should stop acting because they are influencing the disturbed. When someone shoots up a mall with an Uzi, no one blames the mall for existing and the victims for shopping there. The victims were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Period. The survivors and the victims’ families aren’t blaming the movie – why should anyone else?

If you really want to understand people like James Holmes, my advice would be to watch Taxi Driver. Whether it was intended to be or not, Martin Scorsese’s film is the ultimate portrayal of the untreated mentally ill mind. Travis Bickle clearly suffers from obsessive, violent thoughts long before the term “Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder” was coined. No film I’ve ever seen has done a better job of exploring that mindset. In my case, I was aware and capable enough to recognize that I needed help, and I got it. James Holmes did not, and tragedy ensued. That’s the bottom line. It’s not something you can explain in rational terms. It’s not an experience you can make people understand. It’s an illness that needs to be treated with medication and therapy, and terrible things can happen if it’s not. That’s not to say that James Holmes is not to blame for what he has done – it’s simply to explain that whatever set him off is irrelevant. If Batman didn’t set him off, something else would have.

Here’s the thing, folks: millions upon millions of people around the world watch movies, including those that contain depictions of violence. Very, very few of those people ever commit real acts of violence. Does anyone honestly believe that censoring films will lead to the eradication of real-world violence? That’s extremely naive at best. Violent people do violent things; that’s the way it has been since the beginning of time. If you choose to blame Hollywood, Christopher Nolan, Warner Brothers or DC Comics for this tragedy, maybe it’s you who should consider why you need a scapegoat so badly.

Movies reflect the society in which they are made: if you want to reduce violence, maybe you should start with society rather than a mirror image of it. When the world changes, so will the movies. And it would probably help if mentally ill people didn’t have access to fucking assault rifles. James Holmes is the killer here, not the movies. Remember that.

And to all the conservatives complaining about “liberal Hollywood” and violence in films, does this mean you all plan to avoid The Expendables 2 next month? Put your money where your mouth is, or shut the fuck up. Really.

Posted in Psycho Therapy | 2 Comments »

The Flashlight Syndrome; or, How Not to Be an Asshole at the Movies

Posted by CinemaPsycho on July 17, 2012

So it seems the debate about whether or not to let people text in movie theaters is still going on. NATO (the National Association of Theater Owners, not the other NATO) is considering the possibilities, while Tim League of the Alamo Drafthouse is firmly against it. I would have thought common sense would have taken care of this issue long ago, but apparently not. I’ve never weighed in on this before, but here’s where I come down on the subject:

Don’t be an asshole.

That’s the bottom line. There is no reason to text or talk on your cell phone during a movie. None. You are there to enjoy the film and the experience. If you are incapable of doing that, stay home. Seriously. Don’t go to the movies if you intend to negatively impact the rest of the audience’s enjoyment in any way. You clearly don’t belong there. If you don’t have any respect for the film you’re watching or the people who made it, at least have some consideration for the people around you. Unlike you, they actually paid their money to see the film. And guess what, no one really cares to hear your conversations. Turn the fucking phone off and shut the fuck up.

Yeah, I’ve heard all the arguments for being allowed to text/talk, and I don’t really buy any of them. If you’re a doctor and you’re on call, don’t go to a movie. Do something else. If you’re a parent and you’re worried about your kids, don’t go to a movie. If you can’t turn the damn phone off for 90 to 120 minutes for any reason, don’t go to a movie. It’s that simple. Nothing gives you the right to ruin the experience for everyone else. Nothing. The only time I leave my phone on during a movie is when I’m literally the only person in the theater (which does happen occasionally), because I know it won’t bother anybody if the phone happens to ring. If even one other person walks in, I shut it off immediately. And I’m happy to do so.

Suck_McDowell(flashlight).jpg

Imagine this scenario: what if you decided to bring a flashlight into the movie theater, and you decided to turn it on at random intervals during the film? That’s basically what you’re doing when you turn your phone on. You don’t think that would upset people? Would you really be surprised if someone said, “Hey Asshole, turn that fucking light off, we’re trying to watch the movie!” Would you bitch about having the right to shine your flashlight in the theater whenever you chose to? Would it be more important for you to do what you wanted to do during the movie than it would be for the rest of the audience to enjoy the movie? Ask yourselves these questions, and maybe you’ll realize how ridiculous it is to “fight for your right to text”. Because to the rest of the audience, your phone might as well be a flashlight. They’re not involved in your life or your conversations, so to them it’s just a light that’s distracting them from what’s happening on the screen. So don’t be an asshole.

If we’re going to allow people to text in the theater, I say we should allow everyone to masturbate or even have sex in the theater as well. I’m talking full penetration, to completion, right there in the theater seats. Why not? Who cares if it bothers or upsets the rest of the audience, or distracts their focus from the screen? What’s important is that those specific people who choose to have sex in the theater have the right to do what they want, right? I mean, if they’re willing to risk being thrown in jail on obscenity charges, who are we to say they can’t do it? As for the theater workers who have to clean up afterwards, well, that’s their problem, isn’t it? That’s what they get paid for. The hell with everyone else if you can’t wait two hours to get your rocks off.

Yes, I realize that’s completely absurd. But the argument for texting in theaters is equally absurd. Just because certain people are selfish and stupid doesn’t mean the theater chains should cater to them. Hey, I’ve got an idea: let’s allow people to throw things at the bands during concerts! It’s supposed to be an interactive experience, right? Who cares if it stops the show and ruins it for everyone else? Let’s just let the assholes of the world destroy all the fun for the non-assholes. And we’ll see what happens when the majority of people just stop buying tickets to public events.

If anything, NATO should be trying to bring people back to theaters who have stopped going because of the assholes in the audience. The best way to do that is to do what the Alamo Drafthouse does: ban talking and texting on cell phones during all screenings. Tell people to turn their phones off beforehand, and eject them from the theater if their lights go on. That may not bring everyone back (lower prices would also help), but it would be a damn good start. Set rules and enforce them. That’s the only thing these people understand: “we’ll throw you out if you do this. No refunds.” Since they obviously don’t understand common courtesy and civility, the only thing to do is threaten them with ejection. Toss them out, and maybe they’ll learn something.

If it sounds like I’m being harsh, well, you’re right, I am. Because I love movies, and I don’t like assholes. It’s really that simple. If we allow a small minority of dicks to ruin moviegoing for everyone else, where do we draw the line? I think we’ve tried to be nice about it, and clearly it doesn’t work. So it’s time to get tough. Tell the morons to sit down, shut up, turn off the phone and watch the goddamn movie. Or get the fuck out. No exceptions.

And if they don’t like it, if they feel annoyed or put out or upset, then maybe, just maybe, they’ll start to understand how the rest of the audience feels. And maybe they’ll stop being assholes. At least for 2 hours.

Posted in Psycho Therapy | Leave a Comment »

Happiness in Slavery: Why Hollywood’s Vision of Adulthood Pretty Much Sucks

Posted by CinemaPsycho on July 1, 2012

Hey everyone! I want to start this article by sincerely thanking all the readers out there for getting us to over 30,000 hits. I never really envisioned this tiny little blog getting any attention whatsoever, so whether you’re a casual or constant reader, thanks for coming and reading my thoughts. It’s genuinely appreciated.

This is as good a time as any to discuss the future direction of the blog. You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t really done an actual review in quite some time. The truth is, I really haven’t been interested in writing simple movie reviews for awhile now, and I don’t really foresee a time where that will change. It’s not that I don’t have opinions, of course, but it gets a little tiresome being one voice in 10 billion saying “yea” or “nay”. It’s like screaming into the wind. There are tons of other critics out there, and let’s face it, if you want reviews you’re most likely going to check out Roger Ebert or several other major critics before you come here. So it seems kind of pointless to write reviews of the latest films, especially when most of those other critics get to see them long before I do. Constantly playing catch-up is not my idea of fun.

I think if this blog has any value at all, it’s as a running commentary on the culture of movies. My personal favorite entries in recent years have been discussions more than reviews, whether it’s talking about the ending of Insidious, the bizarre false feminism of Bridesmaids or the prominence of Netflix over our current film culture. The irony is that when I switched over from a review site to a blog, I intended this to be a place where I could rant and rave like the Tasmanian Devil, but lately I consider myself more of a “voice of reason” than anything. At a time when any lunatic can post the most ridiculous and ill-informed opinions online, I find the most value in cutting through the constant insanity and simply trying to make logical sense of it all. So that’s what I intend to try to do from here on in, and I hope you’ll continue to join me in that effort. And it’s in that spirit that I present the following post.

This weekend saw the release of Seth McFarlane’s Ted, in which a young boy’s stuffed teddy bear comes to life and grows up with him as his best friend, to the annoyance of his girlfriend who wants him to “grow up” and leave the bear behind. Yes, this is yet another “man-child who needs to mature” comedy, a subgenre that we’ve seen plenty of times in the last several years. I haven’t actually seen Ted myself, as I can’t stand McFarlane’s animated shows or his sense of humor (though he appears to be a very bright guy in interviews), so I can’t speak to that. But I’ve really grown to despise the whole “man-child” thing, the notion that a person has to “leave childish things behind” in order to be a functional adult. I think it’s small-minded horseshit, and for such liberal, open-minded people, Hollywood sure seems to have a problem with single people who have interests outside of marriage and children, don’t they?

For example, the films of Judd Apatow seem to constantly portray single people as “losers” who need to grow up and get married already, and in order to do so they have to abandon the things they love. Steve Carell’s character in The 40-Year-Old Virgin has to sell his beloved action figure collection to move on with his life and hook up with Catherine Keener. Seth Rogen’s character in Knocked Up has to quit smoking weed and hanging out with his friends to be a good husband and father. Rogen also quits smoking weed in Pineapple Express (which Apatow produced), not even for a woman but just to be more of an adult. Jonah Hill and Michael Cera make the ultimate sacrifice at the end of Superbad – each other. Apparently entering the dating world and going to separate colleges means their close friendship has to end (what, they can’t email each other?). Bridesmaids – well, I don’t even know what the fuck that movie’s about. But you get the idea. And you know, I actually like most of Apatow’s films. I just don’t agree with the message they constantly deliver – that one has to lose all interest in the things they enjoy doing in order to be a grown-up. The question I always ask at the end of these movies is, Why?

Now, I’m not advocating that people need to be playing with teddy bears and watching Saturday morning cartoons (if that even still exists) in their parents’ house at the age of 35. Of course not. There are things we naturally lose interest in as we get older. And yes, people need to pay their bills, take responsibility for themselves and their actions, etc. Granted. But for fuck’s sake, you can be a mature, responsible adult and still have interests. You can still enjoy watching movies, listening to music, reading comic books, playing video games, whatever it is that you like to do. Anyone who would force you to give up what you love is not a person worth sacrificing anything for, in my book. Of course I’ve never been married and have never particularly wanted to be – but I sure as hell wouldn’t marry anybody who wouldn’t want me to enjoy doing the things I love to do. I would hope that person would share my interests and would want to enjoy those things with me. It doesn’t seem to work that way for a lot of people, and I just think that’s sad. If that’s what marriage is like, what’s the point? I honestly don’t get it.

Has it never occurred to Hollywood that maybe the definition of adulthood has changed since the outdated stereotypes of the 1950’s? Not everyone wants the house in the suburbs, the white picket fence or the 2.5 kids. I think true maturity is knowing who you are, and not everybody wants to be Ward Cleaver. We live in a culture where millions of people (including married people) spend countless hours on Facebook and Twitter – how is that any more productive than playing video games or obsessing over Doctor Who? It’s not. We get movies and music streamed through the Internet, but it’s somehow “immature” to enjoy them? I don’t understand that kind of thinking. Never have, never will.

There seems to be this regressive point of view that you’re somehow not an “adult” if your life consists of anything but endless drudgery. I know people who live like that – they’re dull, bitter and miserable, and they want everyone else to suffer the way they do. Thanks anyway, but it’s not for me. I’d rather spend as much of my time as possible enjoying the things I love than trying to live up to what other people want me to be. Trying so hard to be what society considers “normal” just drives you fucking crazy. At a certain point, you realize you’re better off without the approval of people you don’t respect anyway. I hear so many people talk about “societal pressures”, and frankly I think that’s all science fiction. The “gun to the head” scenario doesn’t exist. Frankly, I don’t think society gives a shit what we do, provided we’re not breaking the law. If your relatives are always on your case about getting married, that’s their issue, not yours. Let them remain stuck in their unhappy lives.

theatre_07 copy.jpg35afd1c1-ccd5-4033-87b0-d98dfb740d64Larger.jpg

Of course, I’m not saying that no one should ever get married either. But you should only do it if you’ve found the right person for you and it’s something that you actually want to do. Don’t do it because you think you’re supposed to. And if you do, don’t pretend that it’s the only choice in life and everyone else has to fall in line. Just because something works for you doesn’t mean it works for everybody. I’m so tired of people justifying their mistakes by saying “society made me”. Bullshit. No one is forced to get married to the wrong person or have kids they don’t want. You’re allowed to be single and you’re allowed to use birth control. Once you realize that, then you’ve truly “grown up”.

You know what my biggest regret in life is? It’s not that I never got married or that I never procreated. It’s that I wasted so much time trying to be a person I wasn’t, that I thought other people wanted me to be. And it never worked, because no one ever bought it. I spent my 20’s basically chasing a life that I never actually wanted but thought I needed. The day I “grew up” is the day I realized I wasn’t that person and I didn’t have to be. You reach adulthood when you finally get that you have to be yourself, and other people’s opinions of you don’t matter as much as your own. I’m at my absolute happiest when I’m enjoying the things I love, whether it be a great movie, a great song or even a great TV show (as rare as that is lately). I can’t imagine why anyone who supposedly loves me would want to take those things away. It’s those things that got me through some very dark times, when no actual human beings were there for me. Why would I want to abandon them?

Oh, and I also regret that my childhood comic book collection got burned up in a car fire. Seriously.

I say that the things we love are what help get us through the day and help make life worth living. No, you don’t have to see every movie in existence; but you can see the ones that interest you in your spare time. If you love music but you work all the time, you can always listen in the car on your way there and back. They have these things called iPods now that supposedly make music really convenient. Most people get days off from their jobs, and kids generally go to bed at some point during the night. As far as I’m concerned, if you’re not enjoying your life, it’s on you. Don’t blame your job or your kids if you choose to be a boring person. You can still have interests and be connected to the world around you, if you make a little effort.

So you know what I think? Whatever you love to do, do it as much as you want and enjoy the fuck out of it. If watching movies is what you love to do, then do it. If you love music, then listen to it whenever and wherever you can. If comic books are your thing, then love the shit out of those comic books. If you enjoy masturbating to old Gilda Radner SNL sketches with stuffed animals in your basement, then… well, seek professional help, but go ahead and have fun in the meantime. If no one comes along on the ride with you, then enjoy the ride by yourself. Don’t throw away the things that make you happy for anyone. If people think you’re “immature” for loving the things you love, then they’re fucking assholes and not worth changing for.

And seriously, don’t spend two seconds giving a damn what Hollywood thinks of you. Especially Judd Apatow. Anchorman is still the best thing he’s ever done anyway, and it doesn’t get much more immature than that. Lecture somebody else, buddy. You want to know what being “grown up” really means? Letting other people live their lives however they see fit. So grow up, Hollywood, and leave us single people alone. We don’t want to hear it.

Posted in Psycho Therapy | 2 Comments »