Friday, June 13, 2008

My Least Favorite Genre: The Person Who Inspires Others to Truly Really Live

Tell me that's not terrifying. "Can you see the universe in my adorable spoon?! Now I will destroy you!"

This is a personal preference of course, but I hate this sub genre of movies. Its condescending and trite, almost always unrealistic and extremely predictable. From what I gather, these kinds of movies always fall into three sub genres. Here they are:

1. Free Spirit moves in, inspires stodgy family/town to really live each day.
(Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, Amelie, Chocolat)
I watched Sound of Music and Mary Poppins as a kid, so I don’t even know if they are bad or good. But all these movies follow the exact same plot. A sad man is showed in the beginning riding the bus alone, heating tv dinners, just really letting life pass him by. You can extrapolate this to whole towns too, where an entire town is lame and boring. Until… Free spirit! A recent example is Chocolat. Oh my. Chocolatier moves into town and makes people realize that Christianity is wrong. That’s how that pitch went? But my least favorite example of this has to be Amelie, the least subtle movie ever made. The director might as well have been in the theater yelling “Now you all cry! Ok now you all be charmed out of your pants. Now you all be inspired! Now you all be so inspired and charmed that you cry. Ok, now you start crying, but halfway through become really charmed and get inspired. Ok, now you get so inspir—“ We can think for ourselves Mr. Director Man. I found her character to be very unlikeable too. Why does she act like that? She’s like a crazy sociopathic woman child, but for some reason I’m supposed to like her? If you were friends with Amelie, could you handle her at all? She would be the hippy friend that always stared too long, brought up the power of Gaia all the time, and had a grin on her face that convinced you that her daddy loved her too much one night. The whole movie is so fucking exploitative. There’s a scene where she grabs a blind man and runs him around and describes the beauty of his surroundings to him. I threw up into my popcorn.

2. The mentally disabled person who teaches friends and family about what really matters in life.
(Rain Man, Radio, The Other Sister, Forrest Gump)
In some ways the most offensive of these kinds of movies. They reduce the mentally challenged to people who say the cutest possible things in each situation, and simplify the unique challenges of raising a mentally disabled child. The Other Sister is the worst of these. Those two fuckers always say the cutest goddamm thing possible and never do anything unsightly. This is an actual exchange from the movie:
Carla Tate: I wonder who thought up sex?
Daniel McMann: I think it was Madonna.

This is how this exchange would actually go.
Carla Tate: I wonder who thought up sex?
Daniel McMann: I feel happy! Can I have some juice?
Carla Tate: Me too. Lets hit someone really hard and then cry.

Not trying to make fun of the mentally disabled, just saying that if you really wanna make a movie about someone who is mentally disabled, treat the situation with some realism. All these movies reduce the mentally ill to cartoon characters. Oh, Radio actually has this line in it:
“We thought we were teaching Radio. Turns out, Radio was teaching us.”
What was he teaching you? To shout really loud? Cuz that’s all he does in that movie.

3. The Magical/Impossibly wise Black Man
(The Legend of Bagger Vance, The Green Mile, Family Man, Bruce Almighty)
Ok, this one is the most offensive. I think its very harmful. In romanticizing the other, it still dehumanizes and instead of dealing with people as real people, we get to just think of them as fairies or magic men. In The Green Mile, the magical black man can actually raise the dead! Its also like the worst manifestation of white man’s guilt, like ever, and the lamest kind of reparations possible.
“Listen, sorry about slavery and the existing racial divide and all, but to make up for it, we’ll make a bunch of movies where you guys help out white people with your black magic. Oh that didn’t come out right at all.”
“So I’m still servicing the white man. And isn’t that, in a way, just as condescending as anything else?”
“Wow, you’re articulate. Good for you. Listen, can you bring my dead cat back to life?”


raychchel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Caroline said...

But Amelie...Amelie is French! SHE'S FRENCH. The French show you your reflection in a brulee spoon and make you live. They also lick spilled sugar off the dirty table in a cafe while the omnitient narrator's voice explains what's happening, like everybody licks sugar off public tables everyday. Remember that part? But they're French, and there's no arguing.

Kaye Cabus said...

This movie was made to be surreal. It was made to make u feel things. Doesn't matter how easily the director makes us feel those feelings. That's the beauty of it. Although on some parts like when u mentioned the wise black man, I would have to admit that I didn't notice that til I read this. Anyhow, there are also many realistic scenes in the movie. Finally, I would have to agree with Caroline. Amelie is french. Most french movies I've watched were made with surrealism. That's how they are. People have different life stories. We've all had our share of Weirdness.