Welcome to August! The humidity has officially begun choking the life out of each day, your entire back is sun-burned because you refused to use SPF 30 for fear everyone on the beach would openly mock your lame wise decisions, and now, all of a sudden, your brain isn’t functioning the way it normally does. Don’t worry, you don’t have some bizarre, life-threatening condition like what happened to that guy’s second cousin from down the block. Nope, there’s actually a pretty clear explanation – you’re just dumber.
That’s right, dumber. And depending on how many summer blockbusters you watched – combined with the number of times you watched each one – you could, in fact, be dumber than you’ve ever been before. I’m talking Fast and Furious dumb. Or Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen dumb. Or Terminator Salvation dumb. Or X-Men Origins: Wolverine dumb. Or G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra dumb. Congrats Hollywood, you’ve managed to produce what was perhaps the dumbest summer slate on record.
And here’s your response: “God, I’m sick of these stupid critics thinking they’re so much better and smarter than everything in the world. Can’t we just have movies where it’s okay to turn our brains off?”
Okay, not so valid point – but here’s one fact you missed: I’m not some uptight 95-year-old critic who’s pissed because the explosions were too loud for my hearing aid, so drop the lame overused excuse because it doesn’t work anymore. I’m an average moviegoer; the kind that watches 3-4 films per month, and buys the large popcorn with the large soda ignoring the fact that last time he had to take the world’s largest piss halfway through the film.
So why am I wrong to expect a little more out of these overly hyped, big-budgeted summer movies? Why am I way crazy or too cranky when all I want is something a little more intelligent? In a recent article in the New York Times, A.O. Scott presents his “mass infantilization” theory, which involves the studios churning out sub-standard, pedestrian content because not only is that all we expect from them, but also because, like children, we, as Scott puts it, demand “something new and yet always want the same thing.”
Why is that? Is it because the great majority of us are simple-minded infants wondering the earth in grown-up bodies? Are we really that stupid? Or is it because we’re too damn lazy to demand something with more substance, or take a stand and seek out the summer movies that do provide the escapism, as well as the intelligence, like The Hurt Locker or Moon. Why do we just take what we can get? Why do we spend our hard-earned dollars on two-and-a-half-hours worth of nonsensical special effects and explosions?
It kinda reminds me of the new Mac Snack-Wrap at McDonalds. Here’s their brilliant invention: it’s the one-million calorie Big Mac, but because they dressed it up in a wrap, that means it’s healthy! No, you idiot, it’s not healthy or better for you – it’s still the same damn cheeseburger pretending to be something new, shiny and original. Except nothing changed. These movies may have different names and feature different actors, but they’re all the same – they’re all big, loud and stupid. And unless we take a stand and demand intelligent content – while forcing studios to hand over the big bucks to filmmakers who push boundaries and tell compelling, original stories – then Transformers: Revenge of the Stupid Toy Adaptations is all we’re going to get for the next several years.
That is, until we find a generation who actually cares about the content they’re spending money on. Until we find people who desperately want to turn their brains back on.