April 8, 2016

Star Wars: The Already Forgotten Sequel

If you've got even one nerd that shows up in your Facebook feed, you learned today that a trailer came out for the new Star Wars movie. I've already explained that the new movies are cosplay fanfiction, that the release of trailers for them is a new form of serial drama, and that the nerd obsession with butt-kicking babe characters is a form of latent transgender fantasy.

The trailer for Rogue One proves that all three key aspects of the sequels are going to infect the two anthology movies. Rather than being a quirk of the first director, they represent Disney knowing exactly what kind of content-chow the nerd audiences want, and supplying them shamelessly.

What's new to observe with the release of this trailer is just how forgotten The Force Awakens has become, not even three months after its release, and even among its hardcore nerd following. Facebook was filled with spazzy Star Wars shit for a few weeks when the new movie came out, but then... nothing. No quoting favorite lines -- evidently the dialog was forgettable. No references to favorite scenes -- evidently all visuals were forgettable. And no gushing over favorite plot points or themes -- evidently the entire narrative was forgettable.

The very same week that the DVD is released, there's already a BRAND NEW TRAILER for the lame anthology movie out later this year. No time off at all, just swill the content for The Force Awakens, and by the time it works itself out into a large belch, your gut is ready for another swill, this time from Rogue One. And by the time you belch that one out, there will be another of the sequels, belch, another anthology, belch, and finally another sequel, belch, and then all will be forgotten. Onto the next year-after-year geekout for some other nerd goldmine franchise.

I figured the nerds would pick apart the plot of The Force Awakens like they did Phantom Menace, pro or con, begin imitating characters either lovingly or mockingly ("Meesa hungry, meesa gonna make hot pocket and ramen noodle again for breakfast!"), and otherwise get familiar with it. But they've already flushed it all out of their system, to make room for their obsessing and spazzing over Rogue One.

Like I said, the real drama now takes place across the trailers -- one prolonged masturbatory anticipation, brief climax when it's out in theaters, and hardly any resting period before the next obsessive anticipation. Nerds don't want to enjoy the actual experience, they want to geek out over forecasting what it might be like (reminds me of how they behave in another domain of life).

Sadly, it's not only the hardcore nerds who are showing this addiction treadmill response to the new Star Wars movies. These days the whole movie-going audience is full of junkies in search of another quick fix before feeling empty by the time they get home. It'll be a miracle if anyone still feels attached to today's movies in just five years, let alone the rest of their lives.


  1. Off topic but here's a map that shows settlement in 1830 that lines up almost perfectly with the 2016 primary season:


  2. advancedatheist4/8/16, 10:38 AM

    The other day at a bookstore I skimmed through a book which argues that Star Wars characters apparently live in an illiterate society, despite all the imaginary technology. You don't see characters reading or quoting from books, and their knowledge of history basically amounts to oral tradition, so that characters later in time show ignorance of or a distorted understanding of what had happened in previous generations.

    Somehow that seems an appropriate metaphor for our world.

  3. The reason there is no analysis is because the movie was a home run success.

    It smashed box office records. It was just damn good. Plus it appeals to such a diverse audience and more accurately reflects what America and the world is supposed to be.

  4. "The Already Forgotten Sequel" would be a good title for the next one.

  5. 28Sherman said that Disney bought Marvel and Star Wars to get male shekels like they get from girls who want to be the Disney princess but we now have two Disney made SW movies where a young woman is the lead.

  6. @Alexandros Abrams is a typical faux-magnanimous Jew leftist

  7. "No quoting favorite lines -- evidently the dialog was forgettable."

    By contrast I still see references to Joker and Bane quotes from the Dark Knight movies, which came out back in 2008 and 2012.

    The sheer disposability of these franchise movies couldn't be more blatant. It's not that blockbusters are automatically that way, since obviously there's plenty from decades ago that are still popular and memorable. But in a movie like Star Wars 7 (or Jurassic World, Spectre, Furious 7, or pretty much anything from Marvel) there might be enough spectacle to hold your attention for a couple hours, but there's just nothing substantial to leave any lasting impression. The characters are placeholders wearing Halloween costumes and the themes are so trite they make fortune cookies look profound ("science can be powerful... BUT ALSO DANGEROUS!"). The action scenes are usually workmanlike and forgettable: shootout, car chase, fistfight, dogfight, etc, with the only variable being how much CGI is used. Often the plots barely make sense if you think about them rationally for 30 seconds. And of course it's getting harder and harder for any big movie to get made without a hearty helping of poz ladled all over it.

    Studios have gotten away with this so far since their profits are now highly front-loaded into opening weekends (with international sales rapidly overtaking domestic in importance). The silver lining is that if any of these 5-year franchise plans start to whiff on release, they'll have to rethink their strategies very quickly.

  8. For once I agree with you: The Force Awakens was straight-up a big budget cosplay of A New Hope. I still enjoyed, it was well done and engaging, and I had zero problem with the genders of the characters, but sure, it ain't the original trilogy. No way in hell it could ever have been, because Star Wars in 1977 was an epochal events in movies. Those don't come around that often, and they require new material. I'm still on board for the Disney reboots because they're pretty faithful to the Star Wars universe, which for me and many others is still worth exploring. Where I'd disagree with you is in your characterization of anyone who enjoys the movie as some kind of robotic fanboy. Some are, sure, but most of us take it for what it is: well-made mainstream entertainment. Most of us were not expecting another string of movies to shake up the world like the original trilogy did.

  9. When I grew up I put away childish things. Some of them. Star Wars is one of them. I fondly remember the original trilogy because I was young. I simply don't remember the prequels beyond Episode One since they're forgettable and refuse to watch the sequels. JJ Abrams being a hack director and Grrl Power! are just the icing on the cake, the franchise should have been laid to rest, it chokes out any attempts at new universes.

  10. "The reason there is no analysis is because the movie was a home run success."

    That makes zero sense. "The movie was so amazing that people quickly lost interest in talking about it, referencing it, or analyzing it at all".

    "It smashed box office records. It was just damn good."

    9 times out of 10 when I ask a fanboy to describe what was so great about this movie, they immediately talk about how much money it made. Yet when I look at the list of top annual moneymaking films of the last 20 years, almost every single one is shit that dropped completely off the radar within a year or 2. If you want to claim SW7 was good, tell us about its gripping plot, memorable characters, rich themes, etc (good luck with that).

    "Plus it appeals to such a diverse audience and more accurately reflects what America and the world is supposed to be."

    Weak trolling, bro (what exactly does it mean to say "the world should be more diverse"?). And don't pretend like it didn't make most of its money from 18-35 nerdy white guys watching it over and over and over again.

  11. I remember your talking about your theory about transgenderism among dudes who "admire" butt-kicking babes. I didn't agree then, but I think I'm coming around. It makes sense on its own, and Steve Sailer has pointed out that a lot of famous trannies (such as both Wachowski brothers, and some CEO Steve knew in business school) who loved "strong" women (e.g. the Matrix had the near-sexless Trinity as the main love interest, and most of the women in it are portrayed as tough grrls).

    But I also had a personal experience:

    I have a friend who flew to Southern California for a comic convention just because the convention was going to screen the trailer for The Force Awakens (this was, obviously, before the movie came out). He was so excited, it was weird. He later flew to Disney World to watch the movie premiere--that's right, he spent a huge amount of money just to watch the trailer, and then thousands more to watch it's premiere. Sick.

    He's also a BIG fan of women's wrestling and women's MMA. He once claimed Ronda Rousey (his obsession) could beat me up, which I laughed at so much I could see him get hurt---I'm a normal-sized dude under 40, weight lift 3 times a week, and a former high school wrestler with 3 years of jiu jitsu/judo training. I literally can bench, right now, more than Rousey weighs, and I'm not that jacked. And then when Ronda showed she had a glass jaw in her last fight I laughed harder.

    So with all of these things, I made a comment once when we were hanging out: "Man, X, you sure like tough grrls so much, maybe you should become one. Bruce Jenner-style."

    His reaction--head snapping to me, wide eyes, and fast-talking denial--"of course not, why would I want that?"--told me he'd been thinking about it. Which supports your theory.

    Also, good call on The Force Awakens disappearing from public consciousness. The same thing happened with Avatar--it was huge, but no quotable lines, and no effect on pop culture, not even people dressing up for Halloween. It's why that studio smartly didn't rush out a sequel--the cost might have outstripped demand. They keep promising Avatar sequels but no one is breathlessly waiting for them.

    In contrast, when Abrams did the Star Trek reboot, it was just cosplay, as you said. No great quotes, nothing memorable about it. That's why the sequel ("Into Darkness") "unexpectedly" did lower-than-anticipated business. The fanboys went, but casual fans didn't want to see a cosplay Star Trek, they wanted Star Trek, and knew the reboots weren't it. Now the next sequel's teaser's are being openly mocked on the internet---it will probably break even, or have a modest but small profit. A fourth one would flop, Batman & Robin style.

    I predict that the next Star Wars film (Rogue One) will have the same "unexpectedly" lower-than-anticipated returns at the box office as Star Trek did. Disney is just going to milk the cow dry, but will be unable to make it profitable after it runs it into the ground. The best Star Wars fans can hope for is that Disney sells the rights to a small, male-oriented studio in 10-15 years when it's clear they can't do anything with the property.

    Disney doesn't get boys, and never has since the late 1960s or 1970s. Davy Crockett was Disney's most recent boy-beloved series or film. Everything else is gay-female.

  12. "By contrast I still see references to Joker and Bane quotes from the Dark Knight movies, which came out back in 2008 and 2012."

    Nolan's stuff is overrated by virtue of how awful the competition is. His shtick doesn't do much for me. It's not bad but it's not my cup of tea. Also, super heroes are so inherently campy that Nolan's sobriety just doesn't work. Have some fun, lighten up.

    What do people see in Batman, anyway? He looks cool and has iconic gadgets, sure, but the emo brooding gets old. It works with say, Rambo, who is turned into a ruthless killing machine by Uncle Sam but finds himself forlorn and adrift after the war. But a rich dude's parents are murdered (it always has to be the family, doesn't it? Can you tell Jews invented superheros?) so his life loses all joy and he tries to cope with his bitterness by dressing up like a bat and being a vigilante/pseudo cop on the side. Uh, yeah. Let's not get started on Robin, either. Burton and Nolan, whatever their skills, knew better than to put him into a Batman movie. How do you not make it seem totally gay?

  13. Perhaps we'll eventually get a Abrams Star Wars backlash, which we'll have the miraculous effect of making the Lucas prequels look like flawed but well-intentioned tedium. Abrams is young and energetic enough to make a movie that's superficially more exciting than the prequels. Yet beyond the stimulation, is there anything that truly resonates? Not really. He'll get older viewers to watch by dragging out the original actors. Older viewers have been cold to Abrams Star Trek probably because the original actors were (mostly) not involved. I suspect that Boomer and Gen X viewers would really have lashed at the new Star Wars if it wasn't or Han and Leia being represented by the original models.

  14. I've pointed out elsewhere that Nolan's main villains seem to be aware that they are fictional and part of a superhero movie, and therefore are all mocking the conventions. The Joker and Bane's tones were completely sarcastic and mocking--Bane's was basically an impression of the SNL-Jeopardy! sketch's Sean Connery. And Ras Ah Goul was also pretty much having a ball coming back from the dead in the 3rd movie---"there are lots of ways to have immortality!---that was tailor-made for a comic book villain who knows he's coming back because that's what comic book villains do. So Nolan's movies can be seen as a near-breaking of the 4th wall by the main villains, though nobody else seems aware of it. They're pretty meta when you watch them from that perspective.

    As to Batman's popularity, Batman tends to get popular/pushed when DC is second to Marvel. DC's big-name superheros are about two degrees more powerful than Marvel's big-name's on average: Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and the Flash are each, standing alone, more powerful than 99% of the Marvel big sellers (Spiderman, Captain America, Wolverine, Daredevil). Marvel deliberately made its heroes less powerful and more "street level" to emphasize the angst, normal-human problems, and outsider status to identify with teen readers.

    When DC is on top, Superman becomes the natural center, and the stories are bigger-than-life. But when DC is having trouble competing with Marvel, Batman is emphasized, because he is the only one of the big names in DC who conceivably has only street-level powers; is a normal human; and has human-level problems (getting older, friends dying, social issues).

  15. advancedatheist4/8/16, 2:49 PM

    Yeah, imagine if Disney tried to reboot the Davy Crockett franchise now, a white man of Huguenot, British and Irish ancestry who killed Indians and Mexicans.

  16. Gen X-ers are now making most of Hollywood's product, and it seems like they're perfectly willing to churn out a dull simulacrum of their own childhood/adolescence culture for today's Millennial/Homelander audience. "Yay, my kids we'll get to know these wonderful characters and places." Who cares if there's no heart or soul to any of it. Or that it's an utterly cynical exercise with no intellectual, artistic, or moral heft.

    Just like how Silents were shielded by well-intentioned but clueless Lost Gen. and early G.I. adults, so too are later Millennials and Homelanders (those born since the early 2000's) shielded by officious Gen X adults who don't want anyone's feelings hurt. C'mon, you've spared your kids the street grit and domestic combat you experienced. At least let your kids see some drama on the screen.

  17. The Force Awakens was forgettable. Just not compelling.

  18. Whoresdude: Agnostic did a post once about comics being very popular among mid-century Lost/G.I. adults. The current "lost" gen. (Gen X) and the current "heroic" gen. (Millennials) are now demonstrating similar habits in middle age and young adulthood. Silents and Boomers fought to get out of the mid-century kiddie ghetto and don't seem to have any desire to retreat back to that.

    I know (we know) that Boomers can be hot-headed drama queens to this day, but at least Boomers only go as far as aping high school teens. Some Boomers still need to develop better manners and ego control but at least they're not dicking around with video games and comic books.

  19. advancedatheist4/8/16, 3:16 PM

    If a filmmaker wanted to break new ground in the superhero genre, he could show the dilemmas facing a superpowered woman in a Neoreactionary sort of world where she shares its patriarchal values.

    She uses her superpowers sparingly and reluctantly, and only as a last resort when the superpowered men can't defeat the Big Bad on their own, because she doesn't want to set a bad example for mortal women. Just because she has superpowers which make her competitive with superpowered men, it doesn't follow that ordinary women should aspire to compete with ordinary men.

  20. A.B. Prosper4/8/16, 3:19 PM

    I came awful close to yelling Wesley go home but I think he makes a couple of points that ought be addressed.

    I'll make no comment on Ep7 Haven't seen it, don't want too.

    1st Star Wars Ep4 was a national movie that later became an international hit. Even with a larger out the door audience its made about 60% of what a New Hope did.


    Its also in a world where the population has nearly doubled and the number of people able to watch western cinema has gone up by maybe 3 billion. China and Russia weren't even markets in 1977

    So EP4 has not only soared in its own time but gone fully international and taken in that revenue too.

    EP7 got good numbers but not awesome for a much more expensive film that came out when audiences were starved for escapism.

    Heck it wasn't vastly more revenue than the less hyped Avengers , Episode 5 (The Empire Strikes Back) or the low tech, low tie in Indiana Jones

    Also it really doesn't seem to have have legs. I've never seen it quoted and I doubt the toys are huge sellers either. Some of this is cultural, toys aren't as popular as they once were but a lot of it is a lack of perceived connection to the merchandise.

    As a kid I had Star Wars toys, knock off Light Swords , novels and all that. Ep7 isn't going to get that revenue.

    Everybody wanted a Millennium Falcon and a Han Solo figure when I was a kid, now they don't mean much to younger folks and the franchise while seen by more eyes, won't have a fraction of the impact on the pop culture. Its a fun film with a few obsessive fans is all.

  21. To add to that, Bale is just terrible in anything. How he keeps getting roles is beyond me.

  22. The impression of comic mores and demos is that it tracks along generations and cocooning cycles. A variety of comics (including horror and crime genres) were produced in the mid-century to appeal to a wide audience, including adults. By the early 70's, the majority of comics were being made for children and younger adolescents (no more lurid bondage covers drawn and colored with Soviet social realism, the better to jerk off to). Marvel in the 70's cornered the angsty/nerdy young teen market (in the macho pro social 80's, the camaraderie of G.I. Joe made it the best selling Marvel title of the decade. It was written by a Vietnam vet who also did a series based on his war experience.)

    In the 90's, there was a definite shift to appeal to older Gen X teens and young adults. It's only gotten more embarrassing as Gen X-ers refuse to put the damn things down and Millennials follow suit. Ala young G.I. pop culture tastes taking after middle aged Losts.

  23. I had a dude I work with breathlessly exclaim how the actress playing the new Wonder Woman was a real-life Special Forces soldier.

    When I corrected him in stating that,

    1. She served in the IDF, where men and women are subject to mandatory conscription (excepting the ultra-orthodox)
    2. for only 2 years, which is the minimum term of service for female IDF conscripts (men serve 3)
    3. As far as I know, there is no military special operations outfit anywhere (intelligence services may be another matter) where the operators serve for a term of only 2 years (that is, 2 years marks the entirety of their military career), unless they wash out.

    he was all too quick to quip a Scalzi-esque line - something to the effect of "well, she could still beat all of us up".

    Uh huh.

    Long story short, turns out the dude is something of closet case. Go figure.

  24. I agree with Feryl, the Baleman movies are extremely boring and take themselves too serious, I didn't even bother to watch the last one.

    "Super-hero" comics are a jewish creation, Captain Americano was made by two jews for propaganda purposes, start a anti-German hysteria is the US.

  25. I've been watching a lot of old adventure movies and I think I've discovered the thing that's preventing the newest blockbusters from achieving the same cultural hold as their predecessors:


    That is to say, when I watch a modern day special effects epic, I'm constantly reminded that I'm viewing a movie. The characters seem a little too aware that they're just actors playing parts. Their sensibilities and values are indistinguishable from that of your average modern day shitlib writer. The dialogue seems artificial and dated. The action unfolds in a series of intricately designed action setpieces and all of the props and vehicles look like they were designed in a studio - nothing seems organic, like it's something that a person in a real world would actually use on a daily basis. Many shots have that "sloooow down the action, speed it up and then sloooow it down again before returning to normal" thing that screams "WE'RE TRYING TO MAKE THIS MOVIE LOOK COOL!" Movies that are set in primitive worlds don't have people who act like they come from a primitive world - they act like people born in a technology bubble who feel that sex is nothing more than a cosmetic factor that has no bearing on how an individual interacts with reality. Women are pretty much men, only they wear leather bras along with their swords and loincloths. Princesses and noblewomen don't want to marry and have children - they want to lead armies in full armor and start mercantile trading companies.

    Everything that happens in a modern day movie seems carefully calculated to push the Correct Narrative, as a result, none of it seems resonant. None of it seems real. Our brains reject it because we feel like we're being manipulated. Occasionally, we'll see people in epic movies acting like actual people. (There were some natural moments in the LOTR series, and Hawkeye and Black Widow's subplots in the last Avengers movie actually revolved around them wanting to start or be with their families, to the consternation of many feminists.) So it happens sometimes. But all of the special effects in the world aren't going to make your movie memorable if the characters in it act like Strong Independent Princess Archetype #257 or Male White Defender of Progressive Values Archetype #461, or Magical Affirmative Action Negro Archetype #158

  26. advancedatheist4/9/16, 1:14 AM

    TroperA, cognitive scientists might agree with you. We have evolved templates about how men and women behave, along with ones to distinguish between people inside and outside the tribe - though it beats me how this works in the minds of racially mixed people like Halfricans and Pers-versions like Roosh Valizadeh and Laci Green. The fact that such people often lack of sense of meaning and belonging in a land they have no roots in, and as a result they tend to have chaotic lives, suggests to me that they suffer from some conflicts in their cognitive orientation - their minds can't figure out which tribe they belong to, and the uncertainty traumatizes them.

    Getting back to films, however - yes, the human mind rejects portrayals of men who don't act like men, women who don't act like women, and outsiders of the dominant tribe who don't act like our experiences with such individuals in the real world. We can accept a Jewish brainiac nerd as a computer hacker, but not some black guy in a similar role.

  27. Yeah it's like an uncanny valley thing, the quality of acting today -- especially in an overtly cosplay kind of movie like the Star Wars / Star Trek do-overs.

    You can do naturalistic acting, like the original SW movies, where the audience is a fly on the wall whom the actors are unaware of.

    You can do stage acting, where the actors are aware of the audience and often speak asides to them. In movies it comes off a little campy to us nowadays, but it was more common back in the '30s and '40s. Wizard of Oz, for example. The actors are aware of being in a production, but it's stage-y or theatrical rather than meta-ironic.

    With this cosplay style of acting, it's something different. The actors are clearly aware of being in a production, yet they don't directly "play to the audience". They're trying to pass off an interaction with each other, as though there were no audience present, all while delivering this hyper-aware / ironic dialog with all sorts of references to topics du jour.

    You have to either play to the audience or block out the cameras and immerse yourself naturalistically. If you mismatch elements of both, the audience is confused about what kind of production they're watching -- and the actors themselves must feel confused about what exactly they're trying to create, a naturalistic or a staged atmosphere.

  28. Contempo pop culture is variations on the theme of being a great big uncanny valley.

    The morons call it "subtlety" and "ambiguity" and "diversity," but it's just confusion, cacophony, and abomination. (dibs on the death metal debut album title)

  29. I wasn't trying to launch a pointless derail about Batman movies when I mentioned them. The point was that they resonated enough that people still bring them up years after the came out. Meanwhile I don't think Han Solo getting stabbed like a chump by his twink son is going to displace "Luke, I am your father!" in the popular imagination.

    Good points above about the too-cool-for-school smirking attitude in a lot of big movies these days. I know they didn't invent but I think the Marvel movies did a lot to make it ubiquitous (Robert Downey Jr's motormouth shtick was neat in Iron Man 1 but come on, enough is enough). Ironically Deadpool managed to be the first decent Marvel movie in a long time by pushing that attitude to funny extremes, but it was explicitly an action-comedy whereas others in the franchise had some pretensions of being "serious" chapters in an epic saga. The overall lack of sincerity in these movies is part and parcel of their paint-by-numbers, designed-by-committee DNA.

  30. This phenomenon was well described back in 2009 here: http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/reality-and-the-postmodern-wink

    Movie-going audiences today--that is, people under 30-- were raised in a world of unreality. The movies made for them are imitations of imitations, reboots of reboots. They have little experience with a reality or a moral order against which these smirking meta-movies can be seen for what they are.

  31. In additional problem is that the low crime/danger mood means that artists and actors don't feel any sort of urgency to stop screwing around and give the audience a good show.

    Sure, they can put a lot of effort into the mechanics of things but there's no spark, no color to anything. It's all such obvious product that the creators and the audience of crotchety Boomers, sophomoric Gen X fanboys, and joyless Millennials ultimately don't feel any visceral punch, any empathy/kinship, or any transcendent escape from prosaic reality. Even if they say that they liked something. Did they really like it, or are they rationalizing wasting their time that would be better spent studying the art of the good old days? Cocooners of course tend to succumb to being too cerebral which leads to rationalizing.

    I've said before that there's almost no point in making music right now (boring people make boring music). And outside of a handful of late Boomer filmmakers, most directors don't have anything to say at the moment.

    "The morons call it "subtlety" and "ambiguity" and "diversity," but it's just confusion"

    What's considered moral/intellectual depth is actually the besieged overpaying audience desperately conjuring up reasons to care about the product. Shallowness is mistaken for depth, blandness is mistaken for realism, and philosophical incoherence or glibness is mistaken for gravitas.

  32. OK, one last comment. Normally I find that Film Critic Hulk guy to be a goofy sperg, but he did write an insightfu essay once about how many blockbusters (and Abrams ones in particular) use convoluted plots that tease by withholding key details as a cheap trick to maintain audience interest, the downside being that it gives the movies no lasting resonance. The entire article is here:


    Relevant quote (apologies in advance for the distracting and pointless all-caps gimmick):


  33. I see a few memes about it still, referencing the characters or riffing on scenes, so very hard to think it's forgotten exactly. Perhaps that's from the recent marketing push for the disc. Quoting dialogue, not so much. Pretty heavy on the snarky kid dialogue, as I remember, not really got much in the way of the cod-profound stuff ("Strike me down...") or anything like that. You might have to see what kids 10-20 years hence are saying about it, since the crap dialogue of the original trilogy got hyped up by Xer fanboys. How quotable is "These are not the droids you are looking for" without being lamely echoed for 40 years? The Imgur people still seem pretty obsessed with Daisy Ridley for whatever reason.

    You'd think people not rehashing over and over a movie would be a good thing though? Let it go for a bit. Apparently not.

    Pretty enjoyable film for me. I don't like Star Wars much though. I haven't watched any of the originals again since I was a kid and wouldn't. Just seems like if you take a second to not get caught up in the hype those originals are obviously campy 70s busness strewn together by committee from a blend of Asian mysticism and ninja warriors, raygun pulp sci fi and Lords of the Rings grand struggle of good vs evil. Without any of the gravitas and feel of any of the real, raw original stuff it draws on.

  34. Gravitas of ninjas, and raw original swashbuckler short films... the Millennial film buff mindset, in a nutshell.

    Forgettable dialog like "Luke, *I* am your father" and a million others. Check lists of most quotable lines, if you're that tin-eared.

    But The Force Awakens still has "a few memes about it" floating around the nerdiest corners of the internet, so maybe it's destined for the Hall of Fame after all.

  35. What makes dialogue memorable is the delivery and the context. Not the actual dialogue per se. Most movies made since 1992 don't have much quotable dialogue. The delivery is too lifeless to make an impression, or the overall inability of the movie to engage us means that we're not gonna remember much.

    And do we really have to defend the pop culture of the last outgoing period? Late Boomers and Gen X-ers aren't being deluded by blind nostalgia. The 70's and 80's really were better for art.

    Modern genre filmmakers get caught up in an annoying arms race to "make it more real, bros". Which leads to boring or confusing storylines, chaotic incomprehensible action scenes, epileptic editing, bland characters, a crude and ugly visual style (filmmakers in the 70's, 80's, and early 90's wanted everything to look good. The genre didn't matter). It's like their concealing a lack of creativity by claiming that desaturation and a refusal to use proven methods of striking photography (well-lit elements against a dark environment, no scaling of small things against large things, no shallow focus used to build suspense) are supposed to make things more "real". If by real they mean boring, than mission accomplished.

    Here's some homework to do if you want to get what made movies exciting back then. Check out (off the top of my head and not including Spielberg or Lucas or James Cameron stuff which you presumably have seen):

    1977: Sorcerer (great groundbreaking synth/guitar score too. Not a fantasy movie either)
    1978: Halloween (a how-to guide to what cinematography should be)
    1979: The Warriors (if you think it's silly or "unrealistic" you're missing the point. It's about survival in a quasi apocalyptic version of New York)
    1981: Excalibur (quirky as hell but it does stick with you)
    1981: Escape From New York (a post apocalyptic dystopian movie, set entirely at night, that manages to somehow be amusing and a thriller at the same time. How did they do it back then?)
    1981: American Werewolf in London (Both fun and at times dark and scary. Why is it so hard to amuse and thrill the audience these days?)
    1981: Thief (you want visual storytelling? The 1st heist has no dialogue)
    1982: First Blood (Ignore the sequels, Rambo's 1st adventure feels dangerous and honest throughout).
    1982: Conan (assuming your attention span isn't shot from non stop videogaming, you will find yourself cheering for Arnold and his comrades)
    1982: The Thing (glacially slow by Millennial standards, but stick with it. It'll get under your skin).
    1983: Uncommon Valor (oddly underrated, a Vietnam vet story that's similar to but much better than Rambo 2 which ripped this movie off 2 years later)

    Alright, I could go on and on (especially about 1984 alone) but if these movies don't do anything for you then it shows that people really need to wake up.

  36. I disagree, the 90s was probably the best decade for movies, or maybe the 70s; the 80s was terrible.

  37. I mostly agree the 80s were pretty bleak, movie-wise, although the standouts were really good and have had a lasting influence. I'm thinking Repo Man, Blade Runner, Road Warrior, They Live!, Blue Velvet, etc. (Interesting that most of those are apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic, surely mirroring the nuclear threat.) The 90s was really bad for movies, even the standouts haven't made much of a lasting impact, Tarantino aside, and boy, as fun as he is, the dude is derivative. The 70s was the peak of post-war American pop culture in almost every medium, movies included. Feryl's list is a pretty good one, although most of those I wouldn't consider as lasting works aside from Halloween. Which was made in the 70s, of course. Excalibur and American Werewolf in London are a blast.

  38. 90s films, just off the top of my head:
    Goodfellas, True Romance, Pulp Fiction, Fight Club, Mission Impossible, Casino, American Beauty, Matrix, Terminator 2, Shawshank Redemption, The Fugitive, LA Confidential, The Usual Suspects, The Big Lebowski.. Probably more great movies than any decade besides maybe the 70s.

  39. To my mind, those are all either derivative or sanctimonious pap. Shawshank, for chrissakes? Pap. American Beauty was the most sanctimonious, self-congratulatory thing I've ever seen. Fight Club is a visual feast with an adolescent message. The two Scorsese flicks are solid, although not even his best, and about half of the rest of your list is hugely derivative of Scorsese. The Matrix, which I recently watched with my two younger kids, barely holds up. I like the 2nd one of that trilogy best, anyway. Terminator 2 is a fun blockbuster, the first one is a far better movie. I mean seriously, that list is light weight, in my opinion, and not even the best from that decade. And more great movies than any decade aside from the 70s? Not even close.

  40. And I should add, I enjoy almost all the movies you listed (except for Shawshank and American Beauty, for chrissakes). They're just not that substantial, in my opinion.

  41. Interesting, I hated the Matrix sequels (nearly ruined the original IMO) and I loved Shawshank despite hating most of King's work and adaptations. I haven't really researched it (has anyone?) but it would be cool to see an aggregate of critically acclaimed films by decade. I think the 70s was great b/c the industry was at its lowest point at the end of the 60s, and the 90s was a 70s-lite. I don't think we'll see any kind of revival in the future due to how globalized things are.

  42. Have you noticed that the newer Star Wars sequels have done its stars very little good? Hayden Christensen's career fizzled out while Jake Lloyd was recently committed to a mental institution after being arrested again.

  43. Yall need to read more of this blog. Agnostic once did a post about how outgoing eras can be divided in two. 1960-1990 was the last outgoing period, with signs of changes in the late 50's and the last signs of pro-socialness in the early 90's.

    The beginning of an outgoing period (say, 1958-1974) has a lot of tentative steps towards people emerging. In fashion alone, there's greater adornment like more jewelry worn and a greater variety of hair styles. Women are more susceptible and trendy so they latch onto the mood quicker. The crew cut didn't fall out of fashion totally until the mid 70's, after all.

    While people began to open up and seek others out (as opposed to constantly concocting reasons to avoid sincerity and other people), there's also lingering anxiety and insecurities. And still some finger pointing and uncertainty.

    Eventually this subsides. By the second half of an outgoing period, like 1975-1992, we overcome the angst and get more convivial (lots of parties, team sports played casually, dining out more often, being in the outdoors with friends rather than just the family or, god forbid, just you. Also, pertaining to the arts, pop culture gets a lot more fun and emphasizes camaraderie.

    While the 80's is of course famous for its "I've got your back" stories, the later 70's were a precursor to this. Compare the 1976 Dirty Harry movie to the 1st two. The first two toyed with nihilism (the ads treated the cop and the criminal as equally dangerous). By the time The Enforcer came out, the cops are unquestionably likable and the villains are irredeemable scum. Speaking of Eastwood, is Every Which Way But Loose the sort of movie film nerds think of when they're trying to generalize (from an autistic cocooner perspective ) about the 70's? That movie was a huge hit. So was Smokey and the Bandit. The seeds of the 80's were planted in the 70's. People wanted to have a good time by the later 70's. And they wanted to feel like they had something and someone to fight for. Not make excuses and point fingers to validate complacency and fear.

    The Tarantino's would have you believe that the 70's were uniformly a period of ambiguity. Nope. The 2nd half of the 70's was in fact a preview of the 80's. I was watching something about 70's TV shows. The shows from the later 70's often tried to distance themselves from the upheaval and cynicism of the 60's and early 70's. People needed to lighten up and were tired of being lectured (the 60's and to a lesser extent the early 70's often bludgeoned the audience over the head with Message Movies).

  44. Assault on Precinct 13 (1975) and The Warriors (as well as another '79 gang movie, The Wanderers) are also movies that give you a team to root for.

    Back to the 90's, I do like Wayne's World (which more or less takes place in the twilight of the 80's, the jeans are tight, hair is swept back, and check out the poster of Judas Priest's Painkiller in Garth's bed room). The Big Lebowski is great too, but the Cohen Bros are one of the few examples of directors not losing their game after the early 90's.

    The Matrix is pretty good, but I haven't seen it in years. It definitely has that sour 90's vibe to it, which isn't necessarily a bad thing if a movie has something to say about it. Of course, the inspiring mood of the 80's is so infectious that even when an 80's movie was mediocre it still was alright to watch.

    The music of 1993-2001 is mostly indefensible. Very little energy, or melody, or dancability. And don't start with the "listen to the underground" BS. The best songs usually rise to the top. For the 70's nostalgics, let's not forget that the 70's charts had a lot of soporific and inane product.


    Yup, a Barabara Streisand song was number 1 (!??!)

    We needed MTV and the New Wave. I would rather listen to Duran Duran, Culture Club, Iron Maiden, 80's Micheal Jackson, Madonna, and Metallica for 300 hours straight than have to see or hear Babs for one more damn second.

    Judging from the charts, the songs that "hook" me the fastest came out from 1982-1985.

  45. A lot of 70's acts deserved to be put to the sword. So does any act, of any era, that runs out of ideas. Even in the absence of MTV, a lot of Glory Days Boomer acts would've faded. Rush got a lot of airplay in the early 80's on MTV because Moving Pictures and Signals are good records. MTV didn't put them off the air in the mid 80's because they were too old, or too ugly, or whatever. Rush mostly didn't have a good song left after 1982.

  46. Yeah a lot of 70s pop was lame and vapid compared to 80s'; eg most "singer-songwriter" stuff has aged terribly.

  47. "I'm thinking Repo Man, Blade Runner, Road Warrior, They Live!, Blue Velvet, etc"

    I purposely left out the heavy hitters that were big mainstream hits that Gen Xers adore. Predator, Robocop, Die Hard, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Midnight Run, Stand By Me, The Goonies, Ghostbusters, The Karate Kid, etc.

    I'd assume that the average reader of this blog doesn't need to be reminded of movies that they've seen dozens of times and are still affecting us to this day. Terminator 1 is an awesome movie because of it's nervous urgency and some great acting. The low budget is a blessing (higher budgets lead to blandness) and a curse (Cameron is borderline embarrassed about some the F/X). Personally I like the stop-motion while Cameron should've known better than to linger on the Arnie puppet (but this was the Tom Savini era and Cameron or the producers wanted to give the audience grue). The mood of the movie is strong enough that it overcomes these issues.

    A big reason movies have gotten worse over the last several decades is that mid-budget movies don't get made anymore. Either a movie has such an impoverished budget that it's tough to make something decent, or a movie has such a ridiculous budget (either per se or for it's genre/subject matter) that everything feels too glossy and corporate. No spontaneity or personality allowed.

    The 80's was the peak of the mid-budget movie.

  48. Marcus, we've ragged on the Singer Songwriter thing before. This sort of thing faded away by the early 80's since full blown bands are much better at whipping up the audience. And audiences grew more enthusiastic as the 70's and 80's progressed. Hell, Metallica and Megadeth had songs dedicated to head banging.

    The singer-songwriter thing isn't necessarily that bad, particularly in the 70's, but you wish they'd get off their island and relax. It came back in a big way in the mid 90's (with early examples popping up circa 1990) as people began looking for music that was anodyne texture rather than urgent provocation. Speaking of which, Foreigner: Urgent (1981) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JA6id4--BDg

    Agnostic once did a post about how if you play music from your car near people, it's interesting to study the reactions. He found that 60's and early 70's music mostly got little to no reaction,while mid 70's-80's music tended to have a much greater impact. I suspect that the syncopation and the greater vocal range of the latter music has a lot to do with this.

  49. Disco was the best thing to come out of the Seventies (and fed right into new wave). There are other good individual acts, but as genres go, most pop music from that period was overwrought and schmaltzy.

    Lots of good "classic rock" too, but nothing as distinctive stylistically as disco, new wave, grunge, doo-wop, etc.

  50. Speaking of classic cinematography, let's not forget the darkest film ever shot -- Flashdance.


  51. Yeah it seems like Moroder changed everything almost overnight, of course this was well before my time.

  52. It ultimately comes down to preference, which is pointless to argue. You guys seem to be mostly concerned with pop charts. That's cool, I don't dislike pop music and from a sociological standpoint, it bears the most fruit. Ask any musician, though, about 70s music. Unparalleled creativity, variety, energy and innovation in almost every genre. Disco was certainly one of the major things to come out of the 70s, and has been highly influential in a number of emerging genres. But "the best thing to come out of the seventies?" Well, agree to disagree, I guess. Also disagree about ignoring the underground 80s music scene. So much great stuff there, stuff I still come back to today.

    "The 80's was the peak of the mid-budget movie."

    Yeah I guess I agree with that. Also agree that the mid-budget movie is mostly dead, which is too bad. I figured you were leaving out the obvious in your list, I just felt the need to point them out to Marcus after he stated that the 90s was the best movie decade aside from the 70s.

    "The music of 1993-2001 is mostly indefensible. Very little energy, or melody, or dancability. And don't start with the "listen to the underground" BS. The best songs usually rise to the top."

    The best songs sometimes rise to the top, sometimes don't. You miss a lot of great stuff if you only focus on the pop charts, in my opinion. As for danceability, some great dance music was made during that period if you count electronic music. Maybe you don't count that? I don't know.

  53. Personally I have no interest in the new grrl power versions of Star Wars.


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