In that odd way that the Internet has of steering one from web page to quote to idea to new thing and around again, I came across a blog post by author Nicola Griffith on the nature of blockbuster novels. She was pondering who the people are who read poorly written, but wildly bestselling, books like The Da Vinci Code and The Bridges of Madison County. Her conclusion was that they're read primarily by people who, in Griffith's words, "don't know any better."

The same could be said for people who populate the audiences for mega-blockbuster movies. Now, before you violently lurch away from the rest of this post and start typing your angry response, keep in mind that "people who don't know any better" isn't an insult. It's not the same as calling someone stupid or tasteless. Granted, in the privacy of the mind, one might accuse the audience for the latest Michael Bay flick of being both those things, but that's not an intellectual argument, it's a prejudice. The truth is that most people really don't know what mise en scene means, or recognize a three-act story construct, or notice when a particular stretch of dialogue is painfully trite. For a great many people, a ticket to the movies or the purchase of a paperback novel is purely an entertainment expense -- a brief escape, not an exercise for the cerebellum.

As easy as it is for cinephiles to become outraged at the massive audience for movies like 2012, it comes down to the fact that most people who go to movies aren't like you or me -- they really do just want to "turn off their brain and have fun," and don't give a damn about story structure, pacing, or the quality of the dialogue. These are the people who think that film critics are high-falutin' blowhards who just want to ruin everyone's good time by pointing out that the current cinematic emperor is buck nekkid. (Trust me, we don't want to ruin anyone's fun ... although they may be on to something with the blowhard thing.)
categories Cinematical