If people talked about modern movies the way they talk about silent films…

Fans of silent film quickly get used to some rather… singular responses when people find out that we enjoy that period of film. Everyone has a different experience, of course, but here are a couple of the more usual ones for me:

“Aren’t those the movies with women tied to railroad tracks? How can you take that seriously?”

“Didn’t they all have funny voices and lose their jobs when talkies came in?”

“OMG, I love Rudolph Valentino! Let’s debate about who he slept with!”

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Well, let’s put the shoe on the other foot and talk about modern films the way people talk about the silents:

“I saw Shrek Forever After and I didn’t like it so there’s no way I will watch Inside Out.”

“I saw The Last Airbender and it was awful so there is no way I am going to watch Gravity.

“I saw an Adam Sandler movie and it was awful so there is no way I will watch Selma.”

“You like the Transformers movies? Is that like The Dark Knight? I love Heath Ledger! Which drugs do you think killed him? Cocaine and heroin, maybe? Do you have any autopsy photos of him? I am, like, his biggest fan. Let’s talk about who he might have slept with. Let’s look at pictures of his lovers!”

“Yeah, when movies went to high definition, a lot of actors lost their jobs because their skin wasn’t nice enough. You know, like Arnold Schwarzenegger. I mean, where was he in the 2000s? Hiding his terrible skin, that’s where. What’s that? He left movies to be governor of California? So who was the one with the weird skin?”

“I found someone else Heath Ledger had an affair with! Oh yes it was an affair. How dare you say it wasn’t. I’m going to insult you on social media, you monster.”

“I don’t like watching 2000s movies. They all have cats playing pianos. Like, were people actually entertained by that?”

“I don’t like watching 2000s movies. I saw Ishtar and I hated it. It was 1980s? That’s, like, the same thing, right?”

“I don’t like watching 2000s movies. I saw some bootleg concert footage and hated it. What were people thinking back then?”

“What was that movie with the little orange fish who was looking for his son but then got turned into a monster with radiation and ate Tokyo? I am NOT mixing up movies, my mom says she totally saw this one.”

“More Heath Ledger autopsy photos! Hey, where are you going?”

(To get some M&M’s to throw at your head, dear.)

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20 Comments

  1. nitrateglow

    The idiotic things I have heard about old and foreign films in my film studies classes drive me to the brink of insanity. Like, they don’t even give these movies a chance; because the camera doesn’t cut every two minutes, because people dress and act differently, because they cannot bear a film without noise polluting every moment– God, I can barely help it.

    1. Fritzi Kramer

      Yeah, it’s okay to have different taste and for silent films not to be one’s cup of tea but when they refuse to even give these films a chance (and in film studies classes yet) that’s just ignorant. Ditto with arguing about the content of silents when they have never seen one. It’s fine to have never seen one but YOU DON’T GET TO HAVE AN OPINION if that’s the case.

      1. nitrateglow

        One idiot in a Shakespeare on Film class I took, a person who likely never saw any films older than the 1970s, claimed Olivier’s Hamlet featured “acting that should have went out with the start of talkies.” How ignorant! Not just to Olivier’s film (which is often deliberately theatrical, but because it is old, the filmmakers must have been ignorant of our enlightened modern ways), but of cinematic history. Now if I got facts about Doctor Who wrong, my classmates would have killed me on the spot. But my objections to their naive assumptions about film history? I’m just overreacting, apparently.

        Wow, this makes me more angry than it should, but God–!

      2. Fritzi Kramer

        Yes, especially since silent film acting (the best of it) was specifically designed to AVOID staginess and stage conventions. People use these phrases without thinking. “Oh yeah, he looks like a silent movie villain tying women to the tracks” still gets trotted out more times than I care to talk about. Some guy used it as a political metaphor. Somehow, I doubt his skills as a pundit.

        Please tell me these clowns aren’t trying to be film historians.

      3. nitrateglow

        They fancy themselves geniuses on everything. The entire class also claimed Kurosawa’s Ran was a “terrible film” because, and I kid you not at all, “Japanese accents are funny” and the acting comes from a different theatrical tradition than ours. And these kids somehow got past high school?

      4. Fritzi Kramer

        Oh lordy, the “I watch anime so I know more about the Japanese language than actual Japanese citizens” crowd. I know next to nothing about Japanese and even I know that different eras and acting styles have different accents and pronunciation. Me? I have no patience for the K-pop crowd when they become know-it-alls. Be humble and learn, people! Yes, I’m sure that Super Junior says it differently by I am more interested in something a bit deeper.

        (We’re not going to start on cultural appropriation because that is a WHOLE other kettle of fish. But whitesplaining the Japanese or Korean language to Japanese or Korean people is a particular pet peeve.)

      5. nitrateglow

        Yeah, I enjoy anime, but the fandom is one I avoid. They claim they’re experts on the culture because they know what “baka” means and they eat Pokky. Lord…

      6. Fritzi Kramer

        Oh yes, you can listen to K-pop and enjoy anime without being an ass. Plenty of people manage it but the fandoms can be real boors. I went to college with a fair number of Japanese, Chinese and Korean students and they had to go through so much nonsense because of these clowns. The anime club the college got in trouble for putting up a poster advertising for female Japanese student to be their “translator and mascot.” Mascot. And they specified that they only wanted a female student. I can’t even. The Japanese students were justifiably upset and one of the girls tore down the poster. And I had one woman (not Korean) telling a native Korean speaker that she was pronouncing Korean wrong because “Google says you say it this way.” Entitled much?

      7. nitrateglow

        These “appreciators of culture” treated Japanese women with such fetishistic attitudes? And they criticize classic films for how they handled racial issues! It lingers on into our “enlightened age.”

        Ah, at any rate, people need open minds, whether that’s in regards to a foreign culture or older forms of storytelling. One day we’ll have recompense when the early 21st century is seen as ancient…. likely around the mid-2020s, I think.

  2. vp19

    According to Larry Harnisch at The Daily Mirror website, among the most frequent search requests there are for Carole Lombard crash photos. (Sigh.)

  3. Movie Movie Blog Blog

    Beautiful! My only (minor) complaint is that you overlooked the best one of all: “Ugh! How can you bear to watch an old movie with no sound in it?” I guess the modern-day equivalent would be, “Ugh, all that old-fashioned acting! How can you bear to watch a movie with no CGI in it?”

  4. David Ellefson

    Ah, yes. My family thinks i’m a nut for liking Silents. Unfortunately even after showing them some they still feel the same. They just don’t get it. Although they kind of like Buster Keaton films.

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