Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Is It Just Me. . .

. . .or is America going through its second childhood?

Look at the 2007 crop of summer blockbuster movies. It involves a man who can spin webs and crawl up walls, pirates, robots that can turn into cars (see above illustration), a wisecracking ogre, a smartassed kid with neon orange skin, an alien who 'surfs' through space, a boy wizard and a canine superhero, among others.

Card-carrying adults are shuffling off to the multiplex, plunking down hard-earned cash, spending valuable free time to view these entertainments. And many of them are NOT accompanied by gum-chewing, caffeine-guzzling, Heely-wearing little hellions. No, they're accompanied by other card-carrying adults. Really.

Now, I love nostalgia as much as the next middle-aged guy who doesn't get a lot of play from women. There's nothing like traipsing down Memory Lane every once in a while. Witness my previous posts on such childhood favorites as Prince Planet, Star Wars and Invisible Woman from The Fantastic Four. They all brought me much pleasure as a kid. Occasionally revisiting them helps me to relive those fun times. Doing so doesn't cost me a cent. But notice how I don't pitch a tent and live there.

Would I spend money on Prince Planet, Luke Skywalker or the Fantastic Four today? Maybe, if I had an age-appropriate child I needed to entertain for a summer afternoon. But since I don't. . .uh-uh. No way. Better things to do with his time and money has Brother John.

But evidently, many over-21's do not. You don't have to call Kenny Kingston's Psychic Hotline to know how Summer 2007 at the movies will pan out. These live-action cartoons are going to rake in mad presidents; more traditional adult fare, such as Adrienne Shelley's Waitress or Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Ultimatum, won't gross a fraction of what the upcoming Simpsons feature will.

Why is that? Surely, kids and teenagers aren't buying all those movie tickets. Do adults' IQ's drop steadily as the mercury climbs past 75 degrees? Do we so dislike the prospect of thinking and growing as adults? What are we hoping to get by spending today's time and money on relics from yesterday? Is it because we're afraid of today and who we've become? Well, is it?

Take another gander at the picture above. I hate to judge anyone. How you spend your personal time and money is your own damn business. But if I, thirtysomething that I am, found myself in a movie theater seat that I paid to sit in, staring up at Optimus Prime on the big screen, do you know what I'd do? I'd leave. I'd go home. At home, I'd pick up the Yellow Pages and the phone. And I'd make a call.

Booking myself an appointment with the nearest psychiatrist.

"When I was a child, I spake as a child, understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things."

1 Corinthians 13:11


Blogger Happy Villain said...

Brilliant, once again, John.

I think the bottom line isn't the audience choosing these, but the movie-makers making them, and the teens and tweens pick the ones that they think will offer the most fun, because let's face it, they're going to go to the movies every week (if not more) regardless of what's playing. I have not yet met a person who would've asked for a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie to be made, but it was still popular. We live in a time when pseudo-reality television dominates and there are no more Saturday morning cartoons on the major TV networks. Most of the modern cartoons are aimed at adults anyway, including anime. I'm not sure why, though.

I cannot help but wonder if in 10 years the teens and tweens will be gleefully standing in line to see the Barney movie (He Still Loves You), the Wiggles movie (Wiggling All Over Again), or Dora the Re-Explorer. Makes me wonder what is worth recycling after all.

7:46 PM  

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