This past Thanksgiving, I went to go see Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur in theaters. It was a good movie, but far from Pixar’s best. Though I may wait to fully express my feelings for it, because my viewing was largely dampened (and distracted) by the audience, who were without a doubt one of the worst audiences I have ever had the displeasure of viewing a movie with.
No, I’m not talking about disruptive children. In fact, the one family who was attending the movie were the only group of people who were respectful to their fellow moviegoers. I’m talking about two groups of twenty-somethings who had zero respect for the movie or the other people in the audience.
I kid you not, the person sitting closest to me laughed through the whole thing. That’s not an exaggeration. They were literally snickering through the movie’s entire running time. It didn’t matter whether the scenes were supposed to be funny or not, they continued to laugh even in the film’s sad moments. And the group sitting a few rows behind me just had to give their own little commentaries on the movie whenever possible. Because obviously we were all dying to know what they were thinking, and not trying to watch a movie in a movie theater.
The sad thing is, I’ve noticed crowds like this are becoming more and more common. They come in with a cynical, disrespectful disposition, and treat the situation as though the movie is there for them, instead of them being there for the movie. They’ll talk whenever they feel like it, laugh during inappropriate moments, and give their two cents for all the world to hear whenever possible.
It’s really a sad reminder of how cynical and self-absorbed people have become in this internet age. These days, people are encouraged to dislike everything, because there’s always some yahoo out there who would remind them how “stupid” they are for liking something.
It seems like people no longer have respect for art and entertainment. This age of meme and internet culture has reduced people’s taste to bite-sized chunks. If something is anything more than a singular joke, it must be belittled and mocked. If a movie (or TV show or video game or whatever) gives an honest attempt at storytelling, then it’s an even bigger target for ridicule.
You’ll hear a lot of people say things along the lines of “I liked that movie because it didn’t take itself seriously.” Because heaven forbid an artist actually cares about the story they’re trying to tell. I’m not saying that stories need to be dead-serious (I personally have a preference for the lighthearted and whimsical), but people these days seem to think that unless something is entirely tongue-in-cheek and self-aware, it’s crap. We don’t want humor, we want mockery and self-parody.
We live in an age that feeds cynicism. We belittle the works of artist to satisfy our own egos, and blow the tiniest details of any given work out of proportion to give us something to complain about and make ourselves feel special. It’s sad that these days I see words such as “sentiment” used as a negative. How dare people have emotion!
It doesn’t help that these days we have things such as Honest Trailers on the internet, which basically roll with such cynicism and pretty much tell people to hate movies. I’m not saying people can’t make jokes about the things they like, but things like Honest Trailers and their ilk just cater to today’s self-important, cynical mentality. They don’t simply make jokes about movies, they more or less say “All these popular movies you like suck and you’re an idiot for liking them! Let us nitpick and tell you why you’re such a dumb ass for enjoying these movies.”
Again, I have to say that it’s like we encourage people to not like anything. Back in the day, people actually formed their own opinions, and would talk about movies (or TV shows. Or video games. Or whatever) with their friends and family. They used to bring people together and give them something meaningful to talk about.
That wasn’t even that long ago. But this internet age has rapidly turned people into self-righteous punks who simply can’t be bothered to enjoy things.
Now, I’m not saying that people have to like everything. Of course not. There are plenty of things that I don’t like, and this entire site is pretty much dedicated to my opinions. I’m not saying people can’t dislike some things, but the problem is that these days people don’t want to like anything.
In this day and age, people just seem to want to hate everything for any reason they can. I get the feeling that more people watch crappy parody videos on YouTube than they do the actual things they’re parodying. People flock to videos of some angry (and loud… Always loud) people who make fun of movies, video games, or anything else, and more or less tell people to hate them along with them. And the worst part is people go right along with it. Why actually give something an honest, insightful look and form an opinion when you can just write it off for being what it is, because some jerk on the internet said so?
I truly, truly feel bad for the creators of today. Especially those who put their own emotions and experiences into their work, because no doubt they’ll be belittled for creating something that’s more than just a picture with a stupid caption. It’s basically the artistic equivalent of someone opening up about something personal, and receiving mocking laughter in response.
I can’t help but think people laugh during sad moments in movies these days simply because they’ve forgotten how to properly react to something emotionally. Either they’ve covered up their emotions or outright denied them so frequently that they no longer appreciate (or care to appreciate) the honesty of emotion. They’ll talk during a movie because they don’t begin to contemplate that someone else might actually want to enjoy something. They’ll give their predictably contrarian opinions during a movie because clearly they’re better than it.
Frankly, this is all depressing. Gone are the days when entertainment brought people together. Now entertainment is little more than a target for us to aim our cynicism at just so we can pat ourselves on the back. Sincerity can still be found in a few movies here and there. But sincerity in their audience is virtually extinct.