Film Threat archive logo


By Doug Brunell | August 5, 2006

I saw something that made me wince in pain the other day. A woman had a shopping cart at her side. Resting atop a few blouses was a DVD of “Sweet Home Alabama.” I looked at it closely, trying to see if there was a warning label anywhere on it that cautioned viewers of the cancer risk involved in watching such a thing.
Have you ever wondered what drives people’s DVD purchases?
Will this woman really watch the special features? Will she watch the movie a second time? Is it her favorite film of all time (meaning her favorite film of the season)? Is it possible I am mistaken about the film’s quality? Anything is possible, I guess, but not too much is probable.
I think this woman’s purchase, if it were for herself (and I assumed that at first, only to later find out I was right), was an impulse purchase, and that is what DVDs have become. They are like tiny bags of potato chips, “Weekly World News” and pens with lights on the end of them. They are things to be used once and then forgotten about or perhaps utilized as a coaster for a nice glass of Crystal Light.
DVDs are an affordable medium. They are compact. They can be played in the car just like a Neil Sedaka CD. They are the gift to give when you can’t come up with anything else. Any thought of artistic merit is thrown out the window only to be replaced by, “I wonder if Travis has the fullscreen edition of ÔResident Evil’?”
It makes a guy like me cringe every time I see someone casually tossing a DVD box into their cart as if it were a box of trash bags. Whatever happened to a thorough investigation of the DVD’s special features? Whatever happened to finding out if the movie you are about to purchase has the best transfer and most authentic sound? My guess is that a certain segment of people never had that drive. It just seems more apparent these days as DVDs can be found everywhere from video stores to gas stations.
All of this was running through my head, and I had to say to her, “I’ve never seen that movie. Is it good?”
She smiled at me. “I heard it is. I haven’t seen it yet. I just love RenŽe Zellweger, though.”
I didn’t expect much from her, but I expected more than that.
I told her to enjoy the movie (which I was tempted to call “Sweet Home Louisiana” just to see if she caught my mistake) and went on my less-than-merry way.
Why did that bother me so much? Why did I care? I guess it’s because I think movies deserve more respect than that. It bothers me to think some people purchase movies like they do soda. Movies are an art — even the crappy entertainment ones like “Sweet Home Alabama” have some heart and soul poured into them. Some guy thinks he is making something worthwhile even though it’s crap. That deserves at least a tiny bit of respect. Maybe I’m one of the few who feels that way, though. Looking at what sells it’s apparent that most of the population doesn’t consider movies to be anything but entertainment to be forgotten about as soon as the next entertaining thing comes along.
I make no apologies for being what one person called a “lowbrow art snob.” I like what I like, and that’s all there is to it. But I still hold respect for the films I hate, too. It’s often not much respect, but I understand that someone made what I’m watching. I may not like it, but I appreciate the effort. Even something like “Dick Baby,” which is a film I loathe, deserves to be treated better than a can of tuna.
That’s just me, though. That’s just my weird values system in action. I know not everyone has these same values, but it still shocks me to see how little values they do have.
I never saw “Sweet Home Alabama.” I never wanted to. It doesn’t look like the kind of movie I’d like. I’ll even go so far as to say it doesn’t look like a very good movie. I think that film, and films like it, are mediocre, pedestrian, and far too clichŽd for my liking. I think studios look at them as little more than money makers, and I think stars do them because it’s an easy gig. That’s a lot of negatives in my book. But I still know RenŽe Zellweger wasn’t in the film. How can someone who is buying it with the idea it’s a good movie be so ignorant?
I don’t know the answer to that, but I think it lies somewhere within that cart of hers, and I think it ties in with that old axiom about garbage in and garbage out.
Enjoy the show, lady. You’re the ideal audience member. Now you have a reason to be proud.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join our Film Threat Newsletter

Newsletter Icon