"Why is that? They don't care about reviews, perhaps. They also resist a choice that is not in step with their peer group. Having joined the crowd at "Transformers," they're making their plans to see "G. I. Joe." Some may have heard about "The Hurt Locker," but simply lack the nerve to suggest a movie choice that involves a departure from groupthink."But certainly, teenage conformism is nothing new. I remember High School containing a good number of young people who, if they were on fire, wouldn't stop, drop, & roll if they thought it might look 'uncool'. I don't think I've noticed any uptick in "groupthink" among teens, and certainly many adults are guilty of groupthink too. I do notice that when I'm around people in their teens and twenties in bars, I generally can guess all of the stock phrases they're going to use (i.e.: sweet! nice! Dude, what the fuck?!) with startling accuracy. The result is just that people in that age group can be really boring. But weren't they always?
In terms of movies, it's simple economics: the film industry is losing money, and teenagers go to see more movies than anyone else, so they're mostly making movies for teenagers. Morevoer, the dumbest buy the mostest. In conclusion: Transformers 2. The same thing is happening in the music business- they're losing money, so they sink more money in increasingly grandiose concerts and overpriced CDs. Actually, quite a lot of industries now rely on the "flooding the market with overhyped crap" technique.
"Of course there are countless teenagers who seek and value good films. I hear from them all the time in the comment threads on this blog. They're frank about their contemporaries. If they express a nonconformist taste, they're looked at as outsiders, weirdoes, nerds. Their dates have no interest in making unconventional movie choices..."
"If I mention the cliché "the dumbing-down of America," it's only because there's no way around it. And this dumbing-down seems more pronounced among younger Americans. It has nothing to do with higher educational or income levels. It proceeds from a lack of curiosity and, in many cases, a criminally useless system of primary and secondary education. Until a few decades ago, almost all high school graduates could read a daily newspaper. The issue today is not whether they read a daily paper, but whether they can."Dude! WTF? OMG! LOL! Okay, but seriously folks, we've discussed the "lack of curiosity" thing here before. And how ill-served young people have been by the transformation of the educational system into a fake-grades-and-flattery-based service industry. I don't know if I'd call it a "dumbing down", since it does to be something of a lifestyle choice people make. Apathy is a choice; not something other people do to you. Intellectual incuriousness is also a choice- Arthur Schnizler called it "the flight into stupidity". That beautiful term should suggest that it's nothing especially new. Of course, he was describing Austria, which soon afterwards made the flight into criminal stupidity, so it's worth worrying about a bit.
That said, I'm a bit tired of the hand wringing about "the dumbing down of America". Part of it is that I live in Canada, where there are plenty of intellectually incurious people. Also, the inference is generally that the intellectual level of the American populace is somehow uniquely important for the future of the world. But the rest of the educated world can manage on their own, right? Lastly, I wonder if it's not just a waste of time to worry about why certain people make so little intellectual effort. It isn't like they care anyway, and it's sort of depressing to dwell on. Maybe it's better to make the flight away from stupidity.
I do feel for the kids who get ostracized for not wanting to feed at the trough; some of the kids in the comments talk about getting insulted for things like preferring Werner Herzog's films to Michael Bay movies. Nobody should ever apologize for loving Werner Herzog's movies. Claire and I dream of someday having him narrate our home movies in his dry, rambling, somewhat bizarre style. "When I look into the eyes of Rufus, I see only the dull, animal hatred of existence in a merciless universe." Okay, you sort of need to hear the impression...
Anyway, young people, here are two insults that should, from this point forward, mean nothing to you:
- "Gay"- This is one you often get called for adoring poetry or art films or gardening, or whatever. The people who think this is a clever insult are always douchebags, as a rule.
- "Pretentious"- People who assume the pretense of being stupid will often use this word to discount anything and everything outside of their thimble-sized comfort zone. At this point, this preferred, overused insult of frat boys everywhere is relatively meaningless.