Thursday, February 4, 2010

Para-abnormal Activity or The "Audience Con"

I know, I know, I tell myself. When you started this blog thing you were going to write about subjects that interested you but that you were going to do a variety of stuff. True, personal stuff, but something different for each blog. Right, I answer myself. I know I can't write about my latest macramé project all the time because even craft geeks will be bored stiff as I laboriously describe my recent trip to the fabric? fiber? store and how I spent two hours picking the proper material in regard to color, hue, scent, texture and clarity. Even my fans who are hanging on every word of my latest excursion into my garden to perform Ciscoe-like (the whack job on TV) artistry on my Forcythius Maxiimus, are eventually going to start activating the "Next Blog" icon on their computer if I don't show some variety. And my dedicated walking buddies are going to run from me in horror if I recount my latest journey through the neighborhood spreading good cheer and words of wisdom on my every blog entry.

Yes, that's all true but I can't take it anymore. I know I just did a post on movie stuff. But I have to speak up because if I don't I will be complicit in the most recent example of the greatest addition to societal decay since the advent of text messaging while eating dinner with your family: "Audience Con". What is "Audience Con"? I think that deep down we all know what it is. Somewhere along the line during our amateur movie going career we have been exposed to "Audience Con" and might not have known it at the time but we realized it after the movie was over.

I've talked about it before but for some reason I feel compelled to address the issue again. As in the movie opinions of big name critics, film festival geeks, auteurs, snobs, know-it-alls and media creeps like the Entertainment Tonight crowd who are such "suck ups". These folks just look at movies differently than we do. And that's OK but just don't expect us to agree or like the stuff you are swooning over. The drivel they have conniptions over are part of "The Audience Con". It's a form of brainwashing as in the preconditioning of the audience before they go to the movie: "You are going to be scared out of your pants!" "You are going to laugh until you gag!" "You are going to cry like a baby with colic!" "You are going to be so inspired you will want to adopt twelve Haitian refugees!" I admit it it's hard to resist the heavy-duty, multi-million dollar ad campaigns because deep down inside we WANT to believe! We're suckers just waiting to be conned.

You people rave about a movies like: INGLORIOUS BASTERDS an unnecessarily graphically violent, laughably revisionist World War II ego trip, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN another overly violent movie with the super-killer so bad that he can walk around with some kind of fire extinguisher-hydraulic weapon that somehow blows door-locks into the next room and people's brains into neighbors house and STATE OF PLAY a convoluted-clichéd story staring Russell Crowe in his long-haired thirty pounds overweight mode (I'm playing a character) showing why the current news business is rushing daily toward irrelevancy. Why are we supposed to take you people seriously if you endorse stuff like this?

Here's an example. There I was with Charlotte and her friend Conrad watching the latest flick with all the endorsements from "the people that know" and we began to realize that we had been suckered again. As in PARANORMAL ACTIVITY-suckered and I just laughed at myself for being "had". Actually there was another movie I wanted to see (which I can't remember) but Charlotte picked PARANORMAL ACTIVITY because she said: "I heard it was supposed to be real scary." "Oh really," I said, "where did you hear that?" "Somebody at work saw it and said it was good." Well that's good enough for me, an endorsement from somebody I don't even know. That's money in the bank," I thought.

So when we reached that point in the movie where we had gotten sick and tired of watching the two dopes, Katie and Micah (pronounced Mee' ka by girlfriend Katie), laying in bed with the camera on all night, the three of us had been shaking our heads for an hour. Then Katie reveals to her fiancée that the demon that had been spooking them in their snazzy condo had been following her since she was a little girl. Charlotte shook her head and said, "What is he hanging around for? This isn't a haunted condo this is something that's after her and it's probably real jealous!" Conrad then says, "Man I'm out of there." And I'm thinking. "Time to dump her, she can have the condo."

OK there were a few times I started in my seat but when the sheet billowed up around them? the door moved? the footsteps in the talcum powder? snozzerville. When Meeka pulled out the Ouija board I thought, "Gee how original, I've never seen that before." But Katie puts the kibosh on it real quick, telling ultra-wimpo, "No Ouija boards in my house!" As if they rival land mines, methamphetamine and nuclear waste on the list of catastrophic household hazards. At that point I knew that she was in league with the demon to gain control of the cool condo and that Meeka "was history". I suppose when you classify this as a movie you file it under Horror but to me that means it's real-l-l scary as in terror! This movie? No way! In a couple of years the people who endorsed it or embarrassingly raved about it are going to be shaking their heads and will be contracting with computer experts to hack into their archived reviews to erase all evidence of their lunacy.

The only one with any sense was the ghost expert who said, "This isn't a spirit this is a demon and I don't do demons." He was out of there and I should have been too. For some reason they sucked him into to coming back but he wouldn't even take a step inside the front door, he told them AGAIN: "I don't do demons", wished them good luck and then was "in the wind". Don't worry I "get" the subtlety of being scared by what is being generated in your mind as opposed to having it jammed down your throat with knife-wielding, chainsaw-slicing, limb-breaking, blood-spattering brutality. But, 1. there must be an underlying menace to the overall, everyday, everything's normal atmosphere (there wasn't), 2. there has to be more than a few moments when you are really shocked or terrified (I wasn't) and 3. you have to care about the two lovebirds (I didn't). It was a relief when Meeka in all his pseudo-macho punkishness got taken out. Now she and her demon buddy can have the condo.

According to "sources" the reason this latest example of "Audience Con" even saw the light of day was because somehow Stephen Spielberg (I loved JAWS) got a hold of it after it had been gathering dust on some studio's shelf for the last couple of years. Hey I like the idea of "big name director" discovering "sleeper" movie and anointing it as the latest cool thing but in this case he was looking too-o-o hard and "pushed" his opinion. He should have held back and let it happen naturally but I think he was looking for something that wasn't there. What he, and everyone who has adopted this sorry-looking little orphan is seeing, is "The Emperor with No Clothes". I'm the little boy saying, "but mommy that gnarly old man is creepy and he isn't wearing any clothes!" It's time for the rest of you to face reality." PARANORMAL ACTIVITY is naked and you've been "Audience Conned"!

But all is not lost as there's still some great stuff out there that will keep you youngsters from getting sucked into the super-violent crap being released now. Here are five good scary ones that you may not have heard of. Put them on your Netflix list, they have stood the test of time:
1982 THE THING, 1980 DRESSED TO KILL, 1979 SALEM'S LOT, 1969 CARRIE, and a subtle sleeper: 1973 THE WICKER MAN

Everybody likes a good scare but make sure it's REAL and not something you've been conditioned into like PARANORMAL ACTIVITY. All I can say is: "Oh please God, no sequel!" Right, you know the screenplay is already completed. Hell, I know what's going to happen, I could have written it. Hint: Meeka's not really dead! Woo-woo-woo!