I’ll never forget the first time I saw the Nazis melt and explode in front of the ark in Indiana Jones. It’s rather disturbing to the healthy mind. Of course, I got a little freaked, probably even cried, which elicited the predictable response from the older, more ‘mature’ viewers in the room: “Relax! It’s not real! It’s just a movie!”
I went to high school with Chris Farley. Or at least it felt like I did—not a day passed without hearing a dozen or more quotes from Tommy Boy. All the alpha-male jock-shop humor revolved around telling Farley quotes, or tying all classroom / hallway happenings into said quotes (oh I forgot they made an exception for Dumb & Dumber…). I thought to myself, “Isn’t it just a movie?”
Sitting in a college dorm with a group watching Spiderman 2: the scene where Mary Jane tries the upside-down kiss with her fiancé comes. She looks forlorn afterward. I (and the rest of intelligent America) know what she’s thinking: about that poster-worthy kiss with Spiderman, that his kiss was a lot like Peter’s, and that she really does love plain ol’ Peter Parker, not her fancy-pants astronaut. But some girl next to me brilliantly explains to all the other clueless viewers, “She loves Spiderman more because he kisses better.”
Naturally, I was a little miffed. Spiderman 2 isn’t the pinnacle of film art, but for a mainstream blockbuster its emotional arc is golden. I tried to (undiplomatically) correct this bit of artistic injustice, but I was quickly shot down with “Chill out! It’s just a movie.”
What do you talk about when your friends get together? How about family? When getting to know new people, on what topic do you really hit it off with a new acquaintance? Unless you do nothing but drink beer, play video games, and/or watch football, the likely answer to all of the above is: Film. Don’t believe me? See how long it takes at the next social gathering for someone to bring up the latest box-office hit, or if there’s anything worth going to the theater for. Better yet, see if you can resist bringing up your favorite part from the latest film everyone has seen.
Clearly, it’s not just a movie.