Thursday, May 10, 2007

In Defense of Film Snobbery

Background information:

Balding Angrily Alex
recently wrote a typo-laden article for the Filmspotting newsletter, The Dope Sheet.

Normally, this would not be cause for alarm, except for the fact that he came out and called me a Film Snob. And just recently, MichaelVox on the Cinebanter podcast (Show # 26 to be exact) ALSO called me a Film Snob.

Personally, I don't think anyone with Xanadu in his film collection qualifies as an out-and-out Film Snob.

However, seeing how the gauntlet was thrown down at my feet (or, more accurately, directly at my face), I decided to write a rebuttal.

It appears in this week's edition of The Dope Sheet.

And I share it with you here.

The Joys of Film Snobbery

Film Snobs get a bad rap. We are the people who drone on and on about lighting and symbolism, often using words like "droll." We berate you for laughing at Will Ferrell; we peer down our nose at you when Tom Hanks is mentioned; and we only like directors whose names you can't pronounce. We suck all the joy out of your love of movies. We are the proverbial downers.

What gives? The best way to describe the Film Snob situation is to liken it to the great con game we call golf. No one likes golf; it is a terrible affront to all things living. It barely qualifies as a sport. But to point out the obvious is to confess that you don't know "the secret handshake of the rich and powerful." That's right. By perpetuating the myth that golf is vaguely interesting -- maybe even going as far as to say that golf makes your toes tingle -- there is a good chance you will get invited to a Country Club. Country Clubs are incredible places where food is plentiful and the rich and beautiful just lounge around, looking for someone to financially subsidize and/or marry. All you have to do to be a part of this exclusive club is to rhapsodize for at least 20 minutes about your grip and the power of your backswing.

Film Snobbery is a secret handshake in the film community. When you are a Film Snob, doors open up to you, allowing you into a cinematic Country Club. Directors mention you on their commentary tracks. Movie marketing reps send you to test screenings. People you don't know shovel piles of DVDs into your car, whispering things like, "I think you'll like these Asian imports. They're very symbolic."

"Very symbolic" is Film Snob code word for "lots of boobies and swears." In fact, 99.9% of all of the high-minded Film Snobbery jargon roughly translates to "lots of boobies and swears." "Boy, that actress gave a brave performance," means, "that movie has lots of boobies and swears." So does, "She is willing to go to a dark place." Seriously, next time you hear a Film Snob say, "I really enjoyed the cinematography," what the Film Snob means is "Dude, there were a lot of boobies and swears."

But how will your social standing be if you used the words "boobies and swears" all the time? As in, "Hey, let's all go out to the theater and check out a long series of boobies and swears? It'll be fun!" That may fly in various fraternity houses, but the real world is a little trickier.

So a Film Snob lexicon was developed. Please allow me to demonstrate how it works.

One time, I wanted to see "Species," a movie that practically guaranteed to be chock full of boobies and swears. My girlfriend-at-the-time told me no way, that we shouldn't see it because it (and I quote) "looks stupid."

"Oh no. It is really a feminist treatise on the plight of the female identity in a contemporary society. The alien monster protagonist is the personification of a cultural anxiety that results in a conflict between societal pressures and a genetic determinism that forces women into dual-yet-conflicting roles of both mother and sex object. The monster-movie veneer is simply to trick the populace into consuming these culturally-challenging and cutting edge ideas. It is very deep and has a rich subtext. I understand Natasha Henstridge gives a very brave performance throughout the film. She is an actress willing to take it to a dark place."

After the movie, she was livid. "What do you mean 'feminist treatise'? It was nothing but a bunch of boobies and swears!"

"You have got to be kidding me??!!! There was a rich subtext to it. Didn't you notice the cinematography? They were ON A TRAIN for cryin' out loud! It was symbolism!"

At that moment, one-half of a nearby couple pointed to me and went, "See honey! He saw the symbolism, too! You can't tell me there wasn't any!" Yes, it was another Film Snob.

Like wild loons responding to a mating call, the Film Snob and I quickly huddled together, sharing innermost thoughts about brave actresses willing to go to a dark place. By the end of our Film Snob conversation, I had a handful of free movie passes, a stack of import Asian DVDs, and a book-length essay by Lars von Trier about the sheer drollness of Meg Ryan.

Truly, that was one of the best nights of my life. The only thing that could have made it better was if I had a chance to talk about my backswing. Maybe then I would have been invited to the Country Club.


alex said...

Daaaaaaamn. You're really gunning for those Amazon dollars, aren't you? Tha's coo'.

Thanks for the linkage as always.

Courtney said...

Droll. Very droll. I admire how you are brave enough to take it to a dark place.

M. Robert Turnage said...

I'm trying in my own droll way to scrape together some extra income to cover all of the home repairs we're going through. Hence the Amazon links. Plus they link to examples that prove my point. Anything for cash...

Chatty Ali said...

this column needed more boobies and swears.