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Out With The Movies

I'm trying to figure out when movies went the way of video games with me.

I love video games.  I was there when they were born, getting my first Pong game when I was six years old.  I went on for twenty minutes once about the 1977 vector game Speed Freak and how it laid the foundation for 3D racers like Daytona USA, declaring it beautiful and a masterpiece of engineering.  I can play games with crude graphics like the Atari 2600.  I can play games with stunning visuals Call Of Duty.  I can play simple shooters like Space Invaders, I can play complex shooters like Ikaruga where normal people see the screen filled with enemy fire and wonder how I can even tell what's going on, let alone navigate and fight back.  I can enjoy the complex narrative of Dues Ex or the lack of narrative of Donkey Kong.  I love a well designed, fun game.

From my vantage point, the change in game design happened about the time of Mortal Kombat II.  That was when players could buy in to either keep playing if they lost or to challenge the other player.  Before, games like Smash TV and Street Fighter did it, but it wasn't part of the marketing scheme.  Arcade operators hated games like Pac-Man and Asteroids (and players like me) because, each minute a player spent playing, the machine wasn't making money.  MKII created a business model where fifty cents was entering the machine at MOST every five minutes (assuming three matches where the clock ran out, which never happened).  DDR also lasted less than five minutes a session, but you can't say you didn't get an experience out of it.  But games like Trog or Toobin' (God, I loved that game)?  Not visceral enough.

Suddenly, longetivity in the gaming experience was frowned upon.  Gamers were spigots of money.  It wasn't about providing gamers with a good time, but giving them an excuse to hand over their cash.  Entertainment had nothing to do with it, commerce was the ultimate goal.

I am a movie geek.  I love movies.  I see, like, 70 a year.  Usually.  My pace was behind when the summer movie season started this year, and it's only gotten worse.  I have only seen a handful.  And the ones I've seen?  There've been a few bright spots, like Iron Man 2, Despicable Me, and Toy Story 3.  But other than that?  I'm seeing the same thing I saw with video games - entertainment doesn't matter, just get that money.

Sorcerer's Apprentice.  Every studio wants a Harry Potter movie.  We got Eragon, we got Golden Compass (which I actually liked), we got Narnia.  We got Percy Jackson, which I couldn't get into because I kept dwelling on the similarities to Harry Potter (even the director, Chris Columbus).  Now, Sorcerer's Apprentice.  “We're giving you something like Harry Potter!  Why aren't you paying your money to see our movie?!?”

There used to be some sort of attempt to make something worthwhile.  Revenge Of The Nerds is a typical frat movie, but the attitude and genuine humor make it the third greatest frat movie ever (#2, Animal House.  #1, King Frat).  I never considered Clerks a slacker comedy, I considered it a tragic farce and regard it as a true cinematic classic.  There was care.  There was investment.  People wanted to make something people would identify with or enjoy.  Better Off Dead.  Down Periscope.  The Zucker Brothers.  Ferris Beuller.  That doesn't exist anymore.  Identification is now superficial, not with the deeper understanding that makes the best stuff, from Shakespeare to Pixar, work so well.

There's also overkill.  Corman's Fantastic Four wasn't a great movie, but it did what I expected (was never a FF fan) and I had an okay time with it and don't mind watching it again once in a while.  By way of contrast, the movie with Jessica Alba was so mercenary, I couldn't really enjoy it (in the movie, Doom has every reason to be angry at Richards, as it was Richard's mistakes that resulted in Doom's transformation.  Not so in the comics).  I still think fondly of Corman's creation and feel complete apathy for the big budget one.

It seems like everything is shifting to this, “Aren't we giving you what you want?” mentality.  Video games (although they still have indies, with games like Diner Dash providing much needed fun).  Anime.  Porn.  Music.  Comic books.  Movies.  There is less and less to enjoy, less and less to engage.  I feel most of them are wasting my time, I can be doing something else worthwhile or at least memorable instead.  I remembered Star Trek IV, when Kirk and Spock were talking about the literary giants of the period like Jacqueline Susan.  Something tells me we won't be rising above that any time soon.

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
mornblade
Jul. 28th, 2010 08:02 pm (UTC)
The question is, has this media mentality encouraged ADD, or is it because of... ooh look, a chicken
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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