James and I are not religious beings, although our church has four walls like most do, it has pews of sort, and it has people coming together to experience something as one group. The difference is that rather than watch a preacher; we watch the latest film release. It may seem ridiculous... but our church is the cinema. Gee I can't wait to see Los Angeles; the home of Hollywood!
I guess most people turn to religion to better themselves, to be the best they can be in this pretty dismal world we currently live in. Holy texts have stories of hope, morals, trials that must be overcome and messages of faith in humanity. I can get this all from films. It may take a little interpretation but every film is some kind of comment on reality, society, love, friendship, hate, war, crime, happiness, longing, etc. Watching films is a way of discovering how other people view the world, and what we can learn from those stories.
Now, perhaps I am alone in these feelings but I think my attitude is a lot to do with my degree. I have learnt how to analyse and critique a film. I am in a position where I could look at a big budget money-machine blockbuster and find some kind of truth, some kind of comment on the culture in which it is set. This of course extends to any kind of media such as adverts or television. In fact my favourite television programme Buffy says so much about the time it was first introduced to the small screen, and deals with so many issues, it is probably one of the best examples of influential TV there is.
Buffy was first show on television inn 1997 which, if you'd care to reminisce for a moment, is the same year that the Spice Girls introduced the world to a thing called Girl Power. Up until that point most female leads were either pretty but dumb or strong but masculine. The Spice Girls and programme like Buffy were finally showing girls that you can care about boys and fashion but still be a strong, powerful individual.
I would talk more about Buffy but I might as well direct you to a Helium (online writers website) essay of mine. I actually wrote it for a class although it was one of my lower marked essays so don't expect too much. Here is an excerpt from the beginning which emphasises my point: "Like the vampire (Darla Julie Benz) in the opening credits the protagonist, Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) appears to be the stereotypical damsel in distress; she is the pure Californian girl with long blonde hair, a bubbly personality and an interest in shopping. However our heroine could not be further from the flighty bimbo the audience expects her to be". Click here to read the full (not very good but okay) essay.
Anyway back to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. I am under no illusions about the world of big budget cinema - I know that they are purely a way for rich people to become richer. But scratch beneath the surface and there is a lot you can learn should you just think a little deeper. Taking a section from my 10,000 dissertation on Back to the Future as an example: think of the 50s Hill Valley compared to the 80s Hill Valley. At a glance the sets are simply that - a prop to tell the story. But think about it more and you see how the once prosperous urban areas of the town have been replaced by suburban commercail and residential estates over the 30 year time difference. If that isn't a social comment on the de-urbanisation of inner cities I don't know what is.
But I fear I am boring you so I will conclude: while I am not honestly suggesting that being a film reviewer is anything like a religious faith in reality I hope you have a new understanding of cinema and will perhaps look closer at the next films you watch. It takes a lot of courage to stand up and herald Hollywood cinema as as worthy of our attention as any other medium or art form. While the finished product may have had a crew of thousands and a budget of millions, like so many things it started as a tiny spark in the brain of an average human being (the write of Finding Nemo said, when he won his Oscar, that he was glad everyone enjoyed his little story about fish).
Of course saying all that some films are pure shite and have no deeper meaning than that it is mildly funny is an elephant urinates.
QUESTION OF THE DAY: HAVE YOU EVER WATCHED A FILM THAT HAS CHANGED THE WAY YOU THINK ABOUT SOMETHING?
My answer: Erin Brockovich is one of my favourite films. Whenever I feel sad about humanity I remember that true story and know that it only takes one person to want to fight for justice, to do what is right and good, to stand tall and be heard - to make a difference.