So, I’m going to go ahead and apologize, in advance, in the public eye of yr an adult, to my girlfriend, for dragging her to the see The Avengers this weekend. I should also apologize for making her watch Iron Man 2 on TV, last night. I mean, I admit that that movie was excessively dumb. Also, I’ll admit that Thor, from last summer, might have made us both stupider. And that there is no reason to watch the reboot of Spiderman coming out fourth of July weekend, but that I will be going to see it regardless (probably not opening weekend). At this point, it should be obvious that I am one of those 29-year-olds, who still get excited about 200-million dollar summer popcorn movies. Which begs the question, is it even OK for (new) adults to be (overly) excited about entertainment that has been produced to entertain 15 year olds?
Before trying to answer that question, we should give some context: it wasn’t always this way for me. When I was in high school, I was obsessed with the idea of being a sophisticated and, in my mind, artsy grown up. I lived in a college town, so I was that weird high schooler in the hip coffee house, trying my hardest to look as if I fit in with university students. When I walked down to the neighborhood video-store, to rent a movie to watch by myself, I went straight for whatever had a cool cover in the independent section. And I avoided the supposedly “popular” entertainment, in lieu of the grown-up seeming Miramax fare at the local arthouse cinema, most of which I was too young to understand or enjoy properly. Even a movie like Rushmore, which I saw and liked at 16, when it was in the theaters, I look back and wonder what could I have gotten out of that at such a young age?
Then, in college, I think I got opened up to more popcorn movies by having to live with people who were as immature as I actually was (no matter how mature I thought my sensibilities). We watched countless stupid stoner comedies and dumb 80s action movies (along with some foreign/arthouse/grown-up fare – I was an English major after all) and I think it opened me up to the communal joy of watching a bad-ass action/adventure movie with friends. In my mid-to-late-twenties, I’ve came to find myself getting really excited about the summer movie season. That’s not to say I’d watch EVERYTHING that the movie studios make each summer – I’m proud to say I haven’t ever watched a single installment of the Transformers franchise – but if there’s a modicum of critical acclaim for a summer popcorn movie (read: either Roger Ebert or the critics of The AV Club like it), then I will probably go see it.
But I have plenty of friends, my age, who I like and trust, who NEVER see dumb action/adventure movies, either in the theaters or on video. They check out the buzzed-about art movies, the showings of classics at the Castro and keep that old, revered ish in their Netflix queue, not out of pretentiousness, but out of general interest. They don’t necessarily scoff at me for my excitement about, say, The Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but they’re not exactly engaged when I hyperventilate my way through a description about how awesome it was. So, it brings me back to my titular question? Am I too old for this shit?
I’m going to go ahead and say that no, I’m not too old now, and won’t be too old later in life, to get overly pumped about the visual/mythic movie spectacles. Because the other options are either turning back into my old 14-year-old pretentious self, or just not caring about what’s going on in popular culture, neither of which appeals to me. But that could just be rationalizing my own reluctance to grow up, something I’m prone to do now and again. You make the call.
Henry Goldman is founder of yr an adult and is ashamed of most of what’s in his Netflix queue.
Photocredit: flickr user jessicamera, used under cc license