Last week, LA Times film critic, Neil Gabler, wrote an article blaming the quickly-rebooted Spider-Man film not on the studio system or greed, but on young people. And while this is a sufficiently ridiculous claim, it is only the tip of the iceberg for his article ironically titled “Perspective: Millennials seem to have little use for old movies”.
Putting irony aside, Gabler seems to have no perspective as he claims an entire generation cares not for older films and simply wants to watch videos on Youtube. He argues that Millennials have no attention spans and that they crave the stimulation that only comes from the loudest of Hollywood blockbusters.
But while unfortunately, this is true of many young people, it is also true of many older people as well. Gabler looks wistfully back to a different time, long ago, when the young and old would sit side by side in a cinema and watch films together. This is still true today, it still happens. Go see any Pixar film, any Transformers film. Young and old sit side by side enjoying the same picture.
Gabler ignores the fact that the majority of people have always been interested solely by the latest blockbuster. The generation that flocked to see Gone with the Wind did not clamour for the forgotten silent films of Carl Theodor Dreyer.
The general movie goer wants to be entertained, and as such, is not interested in exploring the back-catalogue of Ozu films–that is how it has always been.
Gabler conjures up a past that simply never existed, while also ignoring a present time when young people are collecting newly-restored films from the Criterion Collection. Art house cinemas are regularly filled with young movie lovers, but to acknowledge that would make his argument slightly less powerful. Instead with great, broad strokes, he claims that the Facebook generation is unable to appreciate older film as they “can’t tweet about it or post a comment about it on your Facebook wall”.
This Millennial has loved film since elementary school. I loved everything from All Quiet On The Western Front to A Shot In The Dark. No matter how old a film was, I did not care and I still don’t—I just wanted to watch it. Many are like this; they do not care about how old a film is, but rather the quality of the film and the story it tells.
It is easy to look back at a different time with no focus, generalizing the positives and demonizing what is new. Gabler’s article does this throughout. The reality is different, and it has been the same for as long as film has been in existence: Some of us love film; some simply want to be entertained. It is as simple as that.