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I’m not sure about you, but I don’t know what a movie is anymore. 

Movies used to be these films that you’d go out to your local theatre to see. 

Sure, you could watch them on your TV, or in recent years, via your screen/tablet of choice.  But this was only AFTER we had to move our asses out of the house and out to….well, somewhere.

Leave… the … house??

Now we have the chance the watch them sitting, lying or doing god knows what else in our living rooms, bedrooms or kitchens.

Heck, we could even be the FIRST on our block to view next year’s Academy Award winning best picture sitting on our bathroom toilets via our iPhones if we so desire.

Gonna work all day to get that out of my head

Too vivid an image, I know, and who’d want to?   (Note: Okay, you know someone would).  Still, this is more than possible and, in certain circles, could be viewed as progress.

The groupthink in the ad world right now is that consumers, more than anything, desire OPTIONS and will pay handsomely for the privilege of getting what they REALLY want in that moment.

And, let’s face it, which of us at some moment doesn’t desperately want to be the FIRST?

ME! ME! ME!

Of course, the latter doesn’t seem to apply to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine in far too many communities in the Deep South.  Despite more than 50% of the US having already received at least one dosage there are millions of holdouts determined to be the lastor in the (not) over my dead body category.

These are the kind of people who have stubbornly vowed to never watch Titanic or The Lord of the Rings.

And lest you think I’m any different, just know to this day I’ve never seen Jaws. Sure, I’ve always blamed it on my lifelong love of the beach and body surfing.  Why put those images and ideas in my brain?

But at this point, well, it’s just a matter of pride.  And since June is PRIDE month for all LGBTQ Americans, I don’t see any reason to end this 47-year boycott.

:: wink ::

Still, Jaws admittedly became a seminal MOVIE movie back when it was released in 1975.  Meaning, that not only was it a box-office smash action film but it also had a story and characters.  So much so, that it likely paved the way for films like Titanic and The Lord of the Rings.

That is, at least in the minds of the movie studios and film financiers everywhere. 

Jaws might not have actually won the best picture Oscar, but it’s worth noting that it did receive an Academy Award nomination in the best picture category.  And that’s really saying something since that year its fellow nominees were classics like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Barry Lyndon, Dog Day Afternoon and Nashville.

One of these things is not like the other

I’d venture to say the only one of those that would be likely to be given a green light as a movie today is Jaws. 

I think what THEY’RE really saying is that only the threat of a shark attack would be enough to get us all up and out of our homes and back to our local theatres.

The rest, well, they could be binge-watched.

Thanks, Steven (Note: Spielberg, that is).  Despite your penance with movies like Schindler’s List, Lincoln and the upcoming West Side Story, you literally did create a monster that has stayed with us to this day and morphed into all kinds of variants.

“You’re welcome Chairy”

Once studios realized they didn’t have to delve too far into the human psyche and take very many risks away from funneling their money into tried-and-true formulas, they didn’t.  Or mostly didn’t.

This brings us back to not leaving our homes and what the definition of a movie is.

In the last ten days, I’ve binge-watched two extremely watchable movies that are not considered movies at all – Amazon’s highly original, bold and superbly reimagined historical drama The Underground Railroad and HBO Max’s infinitely engaging murder mystery, character-driven drama about the American working class, and the rest of us, Mare of Easttown.

Both a must

The UR is 10episodes and M of E is 7 episodes.  Total then up and they’re approximately a 17-hour movie.

In 1975 they likely would have been 8 different movies made by various studios on similarly themed subjects over a decade. 

I’m not sure if that’s better of worse than what they would be considered now, which are stellar episodes of two contained limited series able to dig deep into the human condition in a way few theatrical features can or seldom try to do in 2021 (Note: Pandemic not withstanding).

Give them all the awards please

I only know that MOVIES like these, which are solely being shown on television, are the reason that I, as a young person, wanted to go OUT to the movies in the first place.

Oh sure, I’d leave my bathroom or get off the couch to be frightened to death by The Exorcist or Poltergeist or even The Shining. And as a prideful LGBTQ person I couldn’t wait for the spectacle of something like the next midnight screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  Or even, well, okay, Funny Girl. (Note: I was VERY young and my aunt and Mom took me when I begged).

Me, at the movies

But spectacle wasn’t ALL the movies offered.

What got me out of my bathroom, off my couch and out of my house was the chance to connect with something recognizable and human and identifiable.

It wasn’t solely the in-your-face thrill but the thrill of realizing, among a group of other humans, that you were not alone and that others had the same fears, loves, dysfunctions and battles with the establishment as you did and that it was okay – or could be.

Most importantly, it was finally, the knowledge that you were not alone.

Also you were allowed to openly weep in public

I loved feeling that not alone feeling among other people watching something deep and human that up to that point had, unbeknownst to me, been plaguing me in the darkest, most dangerous depths of dread in my brain.

Those are the movies I loved and the movies that, post pandemic, I still long to leave my home tablet and screens to return to.   And the ones I seldom find anywhere, pre or post pandemic.

Yet strangely, I do remain ever hopeful.   Because the one thing the movies have taught me is that I am NOT alone.

“Day After Day” – Badfinger

And the Winner Isn’t…

screen-shot-2017-02-27-at-1-44-31-pm

Much will be made about the 2017 Academy Awards broadcast where La La Land enjoyed a full two minutes as best picture only to have its Oscars literally yanked out of its producers hands so they could be given to the real winner, Moonlight.

But for all the wrong reasons.

LALALAND.... MOONLIGHT... LALALAND... MOONLIGHT #couldntresist

LALALAND…. MOONLIGHT… LALALAND… MOONLIGHT #couldntresist

The issue is not at all about whether La La Land or Moonlight was truly deserving of the ultimate Hollywood honor (Note: Other than box-office grosses, that is) but just how interested all of us spectators are in having our feelings publicly validated in the matter. And how little it all means in the long run.

Is there a best picture of 2016? Of course there is. Isn’t. Is there?

As I posted last night:

If only every one of my actions supported that statement 100% of the time.

I certainly BELIEVE there is no real best picture winner. But that still hasn’t prevented me from rooting for one every year since 1968 – when Oliver! snatched the trophy right out of the hands of my beloved Funny Girl.   But at least the playing field was a bit more leveled back then. They were BOTH musicals.

Truth be told, I did think Moonlight and La La Land were wonderful.

And…I was on team La La Land.

Ya don't say!! #fakeshock

Ya don’t say!! #fakeshock

La La Land moved me in a way no other movie did this year. I related to it. I thought it struck an extraordinarily tone between the real and surreal that seemed, while I was watching it, and even now on reflection, pretty much impossible to achieve. It also spoke to me about artistry, and love, and the price we pay for each with our fantasies. And in our real lives.

Moonlight also spoke to me, especially as a gay man of a certain age. As did Hidden Figures – a treasure of mainstream Hollywood movie making – by showcasing true historical injustice as only great Hollywood films can.

Three VERY different films

Three VERY different films

But neither in the same way as La La Land.

This does not make me right or wrong on the subject of what is the best picture of the year. Nor does it belie character defects of anti-intellectualism, superficiality or an anti-indie, anti-IMPORTANT motion picture belief system.

It just means I liked the damn film more than perhaps you did.

And as time went on I grew SO tired of defending it to those of you on the other TEAM that I began to love it even more — as I slowly and perhaps unknowingly even began to figure out ways to out-argue the rest of the world about why YOUR CHOICE didn’t deserve the BEST trophy over MY DATE.

Did someone say date? #heygurl

Did someone say date? #heygurl

I mean, who even knew I was playing that game. Did you know you were? Okay, maybe you weren’t. But some of you were (are?). Because I know I am not the only one of us Americans weighing in here.

It’s really such an American game, the Oscars. We just love our winners and losers. And this was well before our current technical POTUS.   There’s just something about being #1 that is so totally Us. Until it’s not.

And that is what the Sunday night’s big Oscar screw-up leaves Us with. The hollowness of being thought of as #1 instead of settling for living a life where you truly exude classic #1 behavior.

I am still trying to wrap my head around having this much composure and grace in the moment. #realclass

I am still trying to wrap my head around having this much composure and grace in the moment. #realclass

The producer of La La Land had it when he graciously proclaimed Moonlight the true winner and said he was proud to be able to hand his Oscar over to his “friends” (Note: That four-month awards circuit creates lots of lasting Hollywood friendships). Team Moonlight had it in countless post-Oscar interviews where it threw the respect right back at La La Land. Meryl Streep had it when she led the applause for best actress winner Emma Stone. And Matt Damon has it every time he allowed Jimmy Kimmel to mercilessly and very personally insult him and his past work in their many years long public faux feud.

Let's be real: you would totally watch We Bought a Zoo on a plane #andyoudlikeit

Let’s be real: you would totally watch We Bought a Zoo on a plane #andyoudlikeit

Well, what does it cost them when they are the beneficiaries of such good press for being such good sports, you might say. Well, as much as it costs us when we don’t get our due, our validation, when it comes to our tastes, opinions or choice of award winners.   We, who are really all just a bunch of onlookers, sitting on a really, really, really long bench of public opinion rabidly addressing our…prey.

Sure, this is a thin and perhaps too superficial argument from which to make a grand statement on tolerance and understanding and benevolence, especially since statistically speaking there is little to none of any of that in the entertainment industry to begin with. Though no more or less than there now is through the rest of the country, or the world, or in any other industry inhabited inside any of the aforementioned for that matter.

And when in doubt... LaLaLand comes out on DVD in May

And when in doubt… LaLaLand comes out on DVD in May

What #OscarsSoScrewedUp (#OscarSoWhoops?) showed us so beautifully and so specifically is that, in the end, perhaps the BEST use of our time is to save our energies for the upcoming battles that will be required fighting – and not from the bench but in the arena.

And…..for all of you haters to watch La La Land.

Again and again till you get it right.

Oh wait, I mean…MOONLIGHT. Watch Moonlight!