My indifference seemed to frustrate him. “So that means it’s an important movie, maybe one of the most important movies of our time!” he explained.
“You need to see it!”
Now it was my turn to be incredulous.
“Bryan,” I said, “we’re talking about a movie here. You know – entertainment?”
Bryan’s only response was a look that had “what’s your point?” written all over it.
“I’m sorry,” I continued, “but I just have a hard time putting the words ‘movie’ and ‘important’ together in the same sentence. I mean, a movie is . . . well . . . a movie.”
“But this is more than a movie,” he said. “This movie is an experience.”
“I’m sure it’s powerful,” I said. “It’s just not something I want to see.”
He eyed me suspiciously. “It’s the R-rating thing, isn’t it?” he asked.
Bryan knew how my wife and I decided long ago that we would draw a hard line in the entertainments and at R-rated movies. Yes, we know that the movie ratings system is arbitrary, at best. And yes, we know that there are many PG-13 movies that are every bit as offensive as movies that are rated R. We get all that. But we figured drawing our personal and family line at the R-rating would eliminate a lot of cinematic garbage through which we wouldn’t have to sift. The rest we would handle on a case-by-case basis. And even if we missed a few excellent movies in the process . . . well, they were just movies. Entertainment. You know?
“The rating is part of it,” I admitted. “Look, I’ve heard all about this movie. How could I not? It’s all anyone is talking about. And you know how I feel about the subject of the movie. It’s something that’s very important to me. I just don’t want to see a movie about it.”
“But this isn’t just any movie . . .”
“Even if it’s the greatest movie that will ever be made, it’s still just a movie. And believe it or not, Bryan, somehow I’ll find a way to live a full and complete life without seeing it.”
Bryan shook his head sadly. Obviously, he didn’t understand me. But that’s OK, because I’m not sure I understand him, either. Maybe I grew too cynical during my years as a TV critic for a daily newspaper, but I’m troubled when I see how totally consumed our culture is with entertainment and entertainers.
Schools schedule PTA meetings around American Idol and network news anchors delay coverage of significant international developments to breathlessly report on a court case that has no widespread impact other than the fact that it involves a popular athlete.
While entertainment and entertainers can be . . . you know . . . entertaining, I can’t help but be concerned when I see a generation of young people who resent being asked to do anything that isn’t “fun.” I wonder what it says about our values when entertainment is considered “important.”
I know, I know. I shouldn’t worry about such things. Believe me, I don’t do it because it’s entertaining. I only do it because it’s . . . you know . . . important.