Dumbing down… again

By Nicole Kobie

Because of all the crap-on-film Hollywood produces, I used to think the entire movie-making machine believed I was stupid. I have since realized that they don’t think I’m stupid. They think you’re stupid.

Now, I’m speaking from the perspective of myself the movie reviewer (which I consider myself from time to time), and you
the masses. You are the audience–the ones with the pockets full of money.

So, the idea that my thoughts, as an individual, are meaningless compared to the opinion of your demographic group, makes sense. No movie company will ever make millions from me, but from you, they do so every day. For financial reasons (such as, the need to please large multi-million dollar film studios), filmmakers pander to the masses rather than the individual.

And that is exactly why movies are so poorly written, so boring and so typical. Money has taken importance over art; movies are dumbed down and weakened to appeal to everyone.

Producers and directors don’t create any movie to cater at a specific audience. Thrillers aren’t made just for suspense-lovers; they’ve got to be funny, romantic and action-packed to draw comedy, romance and violence-lovers to the box-office. However, the thrills, the laughs and the action all seem as watered down as highballs during happy hour.

This is why so-called "teenager" movies, while complete in their stupidity, are so successful. Movies such as American Pie and Scary Movie are geared towards a less general demographic set–16 to 24-year-olds, usually males. Because such movies pander directly to this group, they’re successful. If you’ve seen Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, you probably either found it great or didn’t get it, depending on how much of a Kevin Smith fan you are.

If you’re saying "Kevin Smith? Who the hell is that?" you aren’t part of the targeted audience. If you just started quoting one-liners and laughing to yourself, then you are exactly who Smith wrote for–which is why you probably loved the movie. Any movie targeted at a specific audience is stronger. It isn’t watered down.

The exception is kids movies. They have great potential to be solid adult flicks, but for the opposite reason. While little ones are easily amused by moving cartoon shapes and happy songs, movies like Shrek and any Bugs Bunny keep post-pubescent people entertained, too. These movies are aiming up using irony and sarcastic wit instead of dumbing down. Of course, not all are intelligent–but if you don’t have the sense to avoid Pokemon on the big screen, you deserve to pay for the two mind-numbing hours.

Now, even the best teenager and kids movies aren’t exactly mind-blowing. That’s what independent film is for, theoretically. Indie flicks are independent either because they couldn’t be sold to a mass audience or because either the producer or director didn’t want to sell out. This doesn’t mean every art house, European or odd movie is good, but the very fact that it’s different makes it more stimulating and more int-eresting than what’s shat on moviegoers at cineplexes. Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter may not have the same budget of Rush Hour 2, but it also doesn’t have the same tired story.

So the next time you complain about a movie’s total lack of plot, writing and acting skill, remember: it’s like that just for you. And the other 200 people in the theatre. Are you sure you want to be grouped with them?

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