The 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony was last weekend, and in between crying jags over my lost youth (Guns N’ Roses are now “classic rock” and, in a related story, the cold hand of death creeps closer to us all), a profound thought occurred to me:
Why isn’t there a Hall of Fame for movies?
There’s a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and a Country Music Hall of Fame, and a Pinball Hall of Fame, and a Robot Hall of Fame, and a Wisconsin Hockey Hall of Fame, but no Movie Hall of Fame? How can that be possible?
True, there are fine museums dedicated to the art of the motion picture (I live near one of the best, the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York). And of course the streets of Los Angeles are littered with the pink and brass stars of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but that motley collection of sidewalk is hardly a replacement for a true hall of fame. With over 2400 members — including such luminaries as Taylor Holmes, Akim Tamiroff, and Shrek — it’s far too inclusive. Anyone with a few credits, the willingness to show up for a photo op unveiling, and $30,000 (the amount you have to pay the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce for your honor) is eligible. Plus the Hollywood Walk of Fame is not movie exclusive, meaning cinematic titans lay star to star with giants in the fields of recording, television, and live performance like Michael Bolton, Wink Martindale and Siegfried & Roy. In other words: the motion picture deserves better.
Googling around to see if there is indeed a Cinema Hall of Fame I was unaware of, I found a website for something called “The Motion Picture Hall of Fame” based out of a P.O. Box in Palm Springs, California. It looks like something reclaimed from Geocities, it hasn’t been updated in almost two years, and it’s selling the sketchiest-looking mousepad I have ever seen in my life. Not exactly what I had in mind.
What I had in mind looks something like this: wings for different types of honorees: actors, directors, writers, and craftsmen like cinematographers, composers, and costume designers. Exhibits of memorabilia, props, cameras, and makeup. Interactive seminars that teach visitors about the art of screenwriting and lighting. A monthly calendar of screenings, panels, and events. No mousepads whatsoever. And, of course, the Hall of Fame itself. Forget 2400 members, forget 240 members for a few years: just a handful of the truly worthy inducted annually, voted on by me. Oh fine, by a panel of leading experts in the field of cinema.
The skeptical might wonder why we need a Cinema Hall of Fame with so much of pop culture already devoted to the world of movies. The honest answer is we don’t. But it would be fun, wouldn’t it? A hall of fame speaks to all the things cinephiles love to do: pointlessly obsess over the rankings of films and filmmakers, reminisce about the hallowed golden age of cinema, and collect, save, and cherish their favorite works for all eternity.
We could create a de facto hall of fame online, with voting and discussions and annual “inductions,” but it just wouldn’t be the same without the big gaudy building in some geographically incongruous American city (How are real estate prices looking these days Omaha, Nebraska?). And then, in thirty years, Jennifer Lawrence can get inducted and we’ll all feel even older than we do right now and we’ll cry a little bit more.