This is a guest post by Camila B, a teenager who is an avid movie watcher. Please keep all comments civil and polite.
By Camila B.
I have been thinking about something all day that has gnawed at me quite persistently. The subject is movies, movies throughout the decades and the negative changes that I have noticed. Now the difference of me writing about this compared to, let’s say, a middle-aged woman, is that a ‘teenager’ is supposed to be quite biased towards the cool new things that movies explore. I understand the charm of the unknown, but when I search deeper I’ve realized that the corruption viewed daily by millions of people is disgusting.
Now I don’t mean to imply that all modern movies are bad and are corrupting our youth. I have seen plenty of movies throughout the years with their share of explicit content and I don’t see myself as necessarily corrupt. I understand that all people should have the choice to see anything they want, in fact, I lean towards freedom of choice in every sense of the word. It doesn’t cause me any anger to have these movies out there because I have the choice of not seeing them and everyone else should be able to choose otherwise. What does bother me, and what i feel should be taken in to serious consideration, is the glorification these movies receive. Our society has changed in many ways, things have become much less taboo to the extent where sex is something we see on national television. Most swear words are now used without any form of censorship. I understand that we must ‘evolve’ and be ‘broad minded’. I have no problem being exposed to the world in a correct and mindful way because living in a fantasy isn’t going to help teenagers realize the dangers out there with sex, drugs, and alcohol, but the moment we start glorifying such actions at such a young age is when things become a problem. Teenagers lean towards rebellion and look up to idols that portray that message; but at the same time media is not the only factor that affects a teenager, and definitely not enough to make them drug addicts and sex fiends. There are too many factors to name. My rant has to do more with the glorification of terrible movies.
I feel an example is in order. I was speaking to my younger sister (she is 12) who was watching “Gone With the Wind” (needless to say we have amazing parents who taught us well when it comes to movie choices.) and she asked me if it had won an Oscar. As most people know “Gone With the Wind,” along with “Casablanca” and other great early movies, received a lot of recognition. That brought my train of thought to this years Oscars, and past year’s and the movies that had won “Best Picture”. Now this years choice was a shock to me, considering the buzz about the horrible movie The Black Swan, but I was pleased when Colin Firth took the stand. The “Kings Speech” was refreshing, along with last years winner “The Blind Side,” but I have nothing positive to say beyond that. I would like to center my hatred, and I do mean hatred, towards the controversial “Black Swan” movie. Now please understand that I’m not a very conservative thinker. My college applications are being shipped to Amherst and CU Boulder soon enough. I am a libertarian when it comes to political issues and I feel no need to look down upon people who think differently than me, I even consider myself Semi-bohemian. But that movie brings bile to my stomach.
A little background information on the movie. Natalie Portman plays this mentally insane ballerina. She becomes obsessed with perfection as she struggles to be both the white swan and the black swan in the performance of Swan Lake she’s in. She has a growing paranoia about Lily, (Mila Kunis) her understudy, as she feels her trying to take the role away from her. To cut the story short there is a scene where Natalie Portmans character touches herself inappropriately in front of her mother for reasons unknown to me. (Here critics would say “I just don’t understand art”). Then she takes drugs, goes out with Lily only to hallucinate she has sex with her. (The scene is quite explicit). There are also self mutilating scenes that are disturbing enough to make you turn away. In the end she realizes that the person she was fighting all along was herself and she stabs herself in a frenzy of hallucinations while the production of Swan Lake is going on. She performs perfectly to the awe of her rigid dance instructor even though she is bleeding from the wound she made in her stomach, and once the performance is done and she receives her standing ovation, you see her surrounded by people as she lays on the floor saying: I was perfect… in a state of weakness. You can only assume she is about to die.
I understand the message of the movie, I am not daft, we can never be perfect and it’s wrong to try to get there because it leads to our destruction. I don’t feel that the explicit content behind this movie is the way to portray this message most effectively. It’s also extremely disturbing as a girl to see sex scenes with two girls and the media salivating behind the controversy. I have no problem with homosexuality, but I don’t feel comfortable seeing sex scenes like that, or any sex scene in general, I feel that is something very private. Needless to say there are many people that don’t admit that these things are uncomfortable, afraid of being called homophobes. This isn’t my case because I am not attacking this topic at all. I just don’t feel it should be glorified and made in to something normal.
Now that the basic synopsis has been proposed I’ll explain my real point. When I think that 50-60 years ago movies like “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Casablanca,” which where the ones up for Oscar nods and compare that to movies of today, I get sick to my stomach. These movies portrayed beautiful messages, filled with great acting and baroque orchestral pieces that penetrated deep in to your core. These movies brought laughter with wit and romance with subtlety; they brought morality. It saddens me that we have lost that throughout the years. Not to the extent movies with wonderful messages are not made; they are just easily tossed aside as garbage because they aren’t risque enough. We glorify sin, we bathe in it. We are expected to only enjoy corruption. How different would it be to see a musical similar to “Singin’ in the Rain” nowadays? How out of the ordinary would it be to go in to a movie theater and hear a tear jerking romance with romance not being centered around sex? Morality is something that doesn’t have to go hand in hand with films, but it seems like it should. It brings a depth and appreciation to cinema and brings out the real art behind it. It is much more difficult to be a director in a movie like “Pride and Prejudice” with all of its subtle word play and distanced romance than something like “Kill Bill” which to me, seems like lazy work. Challenging oneself is harder once you have to put restraints, it shows real talent.
My only request is to come out of a movie theater without feeling awkward, confused, and dirty. I would love to feel refreshed and glad to have watched something that has inspired me for once. For now, I’ll just stick to the movies of previous decades until something new comes along.