If you're under the age of 30 and you love movies, I need you to do me a favor.
Last weekend in The Los Angeles Times, Neal Gabler wrote a story blaming your generation, under-thirty-types dubbed "millennials," for the incredibly short gap between remakes like "The Amazing Spider-Man" and their predecessors. Young people, Gabler says, have "little use" for anything older than they are. That includes movies:
"[Millennials] don't seem to think of movies as art the way so many boomers did. They think of them as fashion, and like fashion, movies have to be new and cool to warrant attention. Living in a world of the here-and-now, obsessed with whatever is current, kids seem no more interested in seeing their parents' movies than they are in wearing their parents' clothes. Indeed, novelty may be the new narcissism. It obliterates the past in the fascination with the present."
For the moment, let's put aside the matter of whether Gabler is blaming the cart for a lazy horse and focus instead on his evidence. He makes passing mention of an MTV survey, and he quotes a few academics who claim their students aren't particularly engaged by old movies. In other words, he's got plenty of old people's observations about young people, but none from young people themselves.
That's where you come in.
As a movie blogger and podcaster, I interact daily with young film lovers. Some of the folks I talk with on Twitter, over email, or in the comments section here at Criticwire are working or aspiring critics, or men and women with advanced degrees in film studies. But a lot of them are amateur cinephiles with no experience and no training other than a brief lifetime watching movies on DVD, Blu-ray, and Netflix, who read and write about cinema out of pure, compulsive passion.
Gabler says he's less concerned with the attitudes of "fanatics" than "rank-and-file millennials" — although if that's true I'm not sure why he based an entire article on the observations of cinema studies professors. Regardless, my equally anecdotal contention is that the line between the "fanatics" and the "rank-and-file" is blurrier than ever — and that on the whole millennials are far more movie literate than their reputation suggests.
If you agree, here's what I want you to do: speak up in the comments section below. Tell Neal Gabler — who has written some fantastic books, by the way, including a great biography of Walt Disney — that you respectfully disagree with him. Tell him that thanks to your historically unprecedented access to media — including classic films — you're quickly becoming far more movie literate than your parents. Tell him you love old movies.
What if I'm wrong? As Peter Venkman said, if I'm wrong, nothing happens (I look a little stupider for having written this article, but I'm used to that). "The Amazing Spider-Man" gets rebooted in three years as "The Spectacular Spider-Man" and life goes on. But if I'm right, and we can stop this thing — this thing being the perception that young people are all a bunch of drooling, babbling, cellphone-obsessed morons — then maybe there really is some hope for the future of movies. I believe that there is.
Read more "Perspective: Millennials Seem to Have Little Use For Old Movies." And please — PLEASE — leave a comment below.