It’s a well-known fact: I hate people. You might argue: aw, come on, people ain’t so bad. Sure, not as far as diseases go”¦
There are many, many lovely individuals I am fond of. I even love these lovelies. They will be the ones to whom I will open my compound to when the zombies come.
The rest of you can die. Horribly. With pain.
Fine, I’m just being grumpy. But my bad mood was inspired by a recent trip to a drive-in that just reopened in my former neck-of-the-woods, just outside of Pittsburgh. The Twin Hi-Way was always a seedy little area for vehicular viewing, but that was part of its charm. It closed almost ten years ago, its space used for a bizarre haunted attraction for a year, but normally utilized for a flea market or a place where weeds can grow in undisturbed repose. This year, a goodly number of us, all fine and hearty film lovers, were excited to learn that it the Twin Hi-Way was, indeed, reopening as a drive-in theater.
It took a while to find the time to visit. My wife, Amy, and I don’t live in that part of the world any more. Finally, the time was right and the movies were perfect: The Simpsons was on a bill with Transformers. I desperately wanted to see The Simpsons. Transformers“¦ eh. It’d be worth sitting through, I guess.
Arriving at the Twin Hi-Way, about forty-five minutes before sundown, we discovered that a multitude of the masses had had the same idea that day. Were they movie-buffs like we were, eager for a touch of nostalgic environment and wholesome American entertainment? Sadly””and not surprisingly, no. They were the same folks that kick you and trip over you, brood of children in tow, only some of them theirs, while searching for a spot to watch Fourth of July fireworks. They’re the same people who sit behind you in stadium-seating theaters and kick your seat and yak on their cell phones and spill soda on you while getting up during the climax to go to the bathroom. A few more years of de-evolution, and they’ll just piss on the back of your head.
We were surrounded on all sides by various examples of hill people, Toothless Joes, banjo-playing mouth-breathers and loud, unruly escaped teenagers desperate to prove their prowess to the females of their species by waiting until the sun went down to start tossing around a football, exclaiming, as they missed, “”I can’t see the ball! It’s too dark!”
And then I remember why I hate drive-ins. At theaters, people act like they’re sitting in their living rooms at home and you’re just some piece of ugly furniture they forgot to throw out. So they talk in their outside voices, yell at their kids, fidget, text each other””everything but watch the movie. At Drive-Ins, it’s worse. You’re constantly circled by the ADD-afflicted, on their way too and from the concession stand. The audio coming through your car stereo is only as good as your car stereo, naturally, and if you choose to sit outside your car, then you’ve left the bubble of safety and have immersed yourself in the unwashed masses around you. It’s just unpleasant. And, of course, where in theaters, you have people leaping to their feet the moment the credits roll, blocking your view. In Drive-Ins, that moment is marked by engines gunning, children running, headlights blaring, and people leaving, spraying dirt clods and gravel, as they exit the area, forgetting that they paid for a second feature. Unable to bear it any longer, we left as well.
The whole movie-going experience seemed to be lost on these people. Or, judging from the above, this was the movie-going experience, and it was lost on us. We fell victim to the “”popular” portion of the phrase “”popular entertainment”. (The Simpsons Movie was excellent, by the way. I look forward to actually seeing it.)
Which brings me to Netflix.
Living 30 miles from the nearest metropolitan area, Netflix is as essential to my being as food and oxygen. It’s a company I continue to support and, in return, it nurtures me. My queue has grown, in my mania, to almost 400 movies at any given time. It’s gotten to the point where the site will recommend something and if I don’t immediately add it to my list, a little window will pop up saying, “”Why the hell not?”
The one thing I’ve learned to do, however, is avoid reading the “”users reviews”. Because people post these things. Please see my opening statement regarding my view of people.
My first encounter with the slew of negativity and bad grammar””rivaling only the posters on the IMDb for sheer amounts of incomprehensible vitriol””came about when Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow was released. Within days, 216 reviews had been logged by people who loathed this movie. A needle-thin positive review was difficult to find in this haystack of hatred. I was shocked and started clicking on movies randomly, to see if everything was judged this harshly. For the most part, if it didn’t star Adam Sandler, the answer was “”yes”. These people seemed to hate everything. I’m convinced that this one reviewer judged everything to be “”The worst movie I’ve ever seen!!” Leading me to believe either he had ridiculously high standards or was seeing things in exactly the wrong order. I followed him through several entries, waiting for his reviews to change to “”No, wait, this is the worst movie I’ve ever seen! No, wait, this is!”
Through the chain of random clicks, I found myself on the page for Citizen Kane. Can any movie be more revered? Can anyone but the hopelessly cynical be unable to appreciate this movie? Can I get any more naÃ¯ve as I began to read the reviews?
Page after page after m***********g page of reviews listed Citizen Kane, heralded and widely-regarded as, admittedly arguably, the greatest movie of all time“”1 star. 2 stars. “”Over-rated”. “”Boring”. “”Pointless”””!?! “”Welles over-acts terribly!” And it wasn’t just the unwashed masses speaking lolcat or netspeak here. There were many reviews that were not only grammatically-correct, but had been spell-checked as well. And, sure enough, I found the posting: “”Worst movie I’ve ever seen!” Followed by, “”Greatest movie ever made? Hardly! I’d say it’s the worst!”
I actually felt weakened by what I read.
When the zombies come, who will notice?
The internet has given every living person a voice that can be heard. This is the best and worst thing about it. I value my own Freedom of Speech and have fought to protect the First Amendment on occasion. This is the price of my fight. Of our fore-fathers’ fight. The right for some 14-year-old Warcraft-savant to be able to type “”tht sux” on every YouTube video he’s ever watched. The right for some nitwit minus a frontal-lobe to type “”Citizen Kane is the worst movie I’ve ever seen!”
“”The people have spoken, sire, and they’ve spoken without thought.”
Yes, I’m an elitist. I suffer from the same feelings of superiority that afflict everyone who has ever manned the counter at a video store (or record store, or clothing outlet, or”¦). It’s this feeling of, perhaps earned, superiority that comes from having a vast store of knowledge in one particular area. I can hold my own in casual conversation about politics, science, sociology””all the tried-and-true college courses. But I’ll go toe-to-toe with any other movie geek with a wide grin on my face because that’s my passion. It’s the same passion shared by everyone here at Film Threat””writers and readers. And it’s because of this passion that I see humanity as doomed because they’re eating onions in the pit of the Globe Theater and shouting back at the actors.
To my relief, I have found several bullet-proof movies on Netflix. Casablanca for one, Raiders of the Lost Ark for another. Even The Thin Man scores high points. And you have to go pretty far in to find a negative review of The Maltese Falcon, but, at least, no one declares it “”The Worst”.
Still, I’d feel a lot more secure in my compound if I knew that the zombies weren’t already here and weren’t posting all over the net”¦