From The Inner Swine

From the June Issue of The Inner Swine

Pig In Shit #55: WOULD NOT JOIN ANY CLUB That Would Have Someone Like Me for a Member

AH, to be young again. Not really. I’d saw my own leg off before I went back in time to relive some of my younger years. Don’t get me wrong, I had a great childhood, a fun adolescence, and a fun and educational college experience. My first job was filled with drunken, Melrose Place-style drama, and my mid-to-late 20s were a blast. I enjoyed my youth, friends, and as a result I am pop-eyed horrified at any thought of traveling back to a time when I still thought a mullet was a good idea[1].

No, I’ve always been pretty happy with whatever my age is at the moment. When I was ten, I liked being ten—I thought the lack of responsibility and the ability to run at full-on supersonic speeds for hours at a time was pretty cool. I used to win all the races in my neighborhood and even though I couldn’t hit worth shit because of still-undiscovered farsightedness, I ran fast and so always got picked in wiffle ball just to be a designated runner. I loved being ten. When I was sixteen, I’d gotten fat and dopey, sure, and I was wearing a pair of glasses so large and thick they occasionally set my hair on fire when I wasn’t paying attention out in the sun, but I still liked being sixteen. I could drive, for one, had recently discovered alcohol, which would of course turn into the second most important love affair of my life, and I had a group of friends who made me laugh constantly. When I was twenty, I was rocking college, and even though I’d temporarily given up booze and didn’t get laid nearly as much as I’d expected (movies, in short, had lied to me), I still had a great time. When I was twenty-five, I’d come into my own, spending most nights in a bar getting drunk with friends, and finally able to afford things because of my tiny publishing industry salary[2].

A few years later I got married, bought a house, and sold a novel.

So, you see, I have no reason to go back. Sure, there was a lot of fun to be had, and, frankly, I had a newer body in better shape and with fewer malfunctions. But I also didn’t know as many things back then. I didn’t know how to drive a standard-H stick shift[3]. I didn’t know how to play Bring it On Home by Led Zeppelin on guitar[4]. I didn’t know how to hang drywall, or what good Scotch was, or that wearing Converse Chucks every day of your life can result in a severely mangled big toe.

That’s the trade-off in growing older. You lose your jumpshot and you gain a gut, but you also learn so much goddamn trickery and wisdom you’re like three times as powerful as you were back in The Day. For me, it’s much more trickery than wisdom, but still.

Of course, if I could travel back to when I was 18, say, with my trickery and wisdom intact, then, damn, I could probably rule the world like some sort of supervillain.

The reason this comes up in conversation is because I’ve been pondering movies recently (obviously) and contemplating the fact that I haven’t been to an opening weekend of a movie in about 7 or 8 years. When I was in high school and college, I think I saw just about every major film release the weekend it came out, usually with the same people. Even in my 20s and early 30s there were plenty of movie openings—I no longer caught every damn movie, ever, but the big ones I still caught right away. Now that I’m old and cranky, however, the desire to be there on opening night is simply gone. There’s just no upside.

There are three reasons for this: One, opening weekends are filled with people just like me when I was sixteen; two, there hasn’t been a movie worth the effort (with the sole exception of The Dark Knight) in forever; and three, it doesn’t fucking matter, because everything ends up on cable anyway and someday I’m going to die and there will be thousands of movies released after I am dead, so who am I kidding, anyway?

opening weekends are filled with people just like me when I was sixteen

Kids are terrible people. I know; I was a kid once, and I was terrible. My friends were all kids once, and they were all terrible. Something happens to human beings when they grow out of the shallow end of childhood and get into the double-digit numbers: They invariably become assholes. This is a natural process. We all go through it to some extent—yes, you—and most of us grow out of it to some extent. Some people, sure, stay assholes their whole lives, but for most of us Asshole is just a phase. A phase you go through when you’re between the ages of ten and twenty, generally.
Now, when I was a kid me and my asshole friends would go to movies all the time. It was one of our favorite things to do on the weekends—we saw everything. If a movie was sold out, we saw the next available thing. Which is why I think I am one of about thirty people in this world who can say that he saw the film Who’s Harry Crumb? in the theater on its opening night. Who’s Harry Crumb? ranks as #2 on The Inner Swine‘s Worst Films Evah list, right behind Boxing Helena[5] and right in front of Hook[6]. I don’t recall what we wanted to see that night, but it was sold out, and instead of just finding something else to do, we opted to see something. Bad decision.

Anyway, when you’re sixteen and going to movies, you like to have a good time, and that generally includes making jokes, moving around a lot, and trying to guess the twists in the plot waaay before anyone else, and then announcing such. Sure, there were occasional movies so damn good we sat there in stunned silence, but for the most part, we were assholes. And thus as I get older and drift further and further away from that age, I can’t stand sitting in theaters with kids any more. I have a mortgage, dammit. I can’t do it.

there hasn’t been
a movie worth
the effort in forever

This is debatable, of course, but I can’t think of a movie in recent years, and retroactively considering movies of my past, that were actually worth being there on opening night. Except for The Dark Knight, which married hype with awesomeness in a way that doesn’t happen often[7].

But I digress; one exception does not disprove the rule.

Most movies are giant, colossal, epic Fails when it comes to the distance between their trailer and buildup and the actual movie on the screen. I remember going to see Spiderman back a few years ago (the first Raimi version). That movie was a lesson in how to hype a blockbuster summer movie, and sure, it got me into the seats. And Spiderman remains a terrible movie, a movie that made me angry to have been duped into paying for it. A lot of people I know don’t agree with my assessment of the movie, and that’s fine. For me, it sucked. The sequels sucked too. The Spiderman franchise will not be remembered fondly in years to come, I don’t think, but then I’m wrong about everything.

If my Spiderman experience were unusual that would be one thing, but it pretty much always happens. If we Americans put the same energy, smarts, and budget into, say, medical science that we currently inject into marketing and advertising, we’d cure Death in a matter of weeks. They just have ways of making every movie look like a breathless, unbelievable sensory experience, the sort of thing that you simply must experience or else risk being the one lame loser in the world who doesn’t get all the new jokes and references[8].

Then you go see the movie and. . .it’s a movie. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of good movies made every year and I enjoy a lot of them, but so far there haven’t been any religious conversions for me while watching a film, and I doubt that will ever be the case. There simply hasn’t been a movie made that I would regret waiting a few months to see. Unless of course I died during those few months, which would suck. But not as much as sitting in the front row on Friday night while kids throw popcorn at my head.

it doesn’t
fucking matter

In general, there’s no benefit to being there on opening night. Or opening weekend. Or opening week. These days, everything ends up on cable or DVD eventually—when I was a kid, my friends, it was different. A movie came out, was in the theaters for a while, and then disappeared for fucking ever. If it was a huge hit and you were lucky it might end up on TV one night five years later, but that was the best you could hope for. These days, though, nothing ever disappears, not really. So, why bother fighting the crowds?

I suppose it’s the excitement of the crowd, which I suppose counts for something, sure. Except I don’t really like people enough to want to share an experience with them, so that just doesn’t work for me.

When I contemplate my own mortality[9], I lose whatever residual energy there was for being the first in line for things. Eventually, there will be movies and books and songs released that I will not hear, so why bust my ass to be first in line now? I don’t have any burning desire to be so damn cool that I know things before everyone else. Back in high school I always wanted to be into the Next Big Thing first. These days, I don’t really give a fuck. If something needs to be current and cool in order to be fun and interesting, then it really isn’t fun and interesting, its just cool. Things that are truly fun and interesting remain so for decades, for centuries. Everything else is just amusement for the moment, and there will be another dollop of amusement coming along in a minute.

Wow, I just re-read that and I sound like a really angry old bastard, don’t I? Get out of my theater, you damn kids.


[1] When I went off to college at 18, I let my hair grow. And grow. But I was too cool to groom it in any way, so it just became this mess of hair on my head. When I went home for spring break I decided to get a trim to at least be able to see. My Italian barber at home was delighted to see me at first, because he thought I was going to cut my hippie hair. When I told him a ‘trim’, his face darkened, and he proceed to cut an inch off my bangs and on the sides, mutilating me. He then stepped back (after all of fifteen seconds of cutting) and charged me ten bucks.

[2] Not to mention being constantly delighted to discover I had not yet killed myself with booze.

[3] According to The Duchess, I still don’t. She is mean.

[4] According to my guitar teacher, I still don’t. He is mean.

[5] Boxing Helena inspires TIS Security Chief Ken West to tell the same story every time it’s mentioned: At the end of the screening we attended, when all was revealed, there was a moment of stunned silence and then from way back in the theater some guy shouted “This is bullshit!” and everyone laughed. Ken tells it better.

[6] Let me tell you, when Robin Williams found his Happy Thought in this movie, I wanted to go kill someone. To this day my reactions to movies are measured by TISIC in terms of Hook.

[7] The opening sequence of The Dark Knight still catches my attention every time it pops up on cable.

[8] Evidence: Despite despising the first Spiderman movie, I have seen both sequels in the theater. I am Marketing’s bitch.

[9] Every Friday night, around 3AM, in the bathroom with my head jammed in the toilet.

1 Comment

  1. swish91

    Best movie experience: My (now) husband & I went to a movie, not very good but had Kim Basinger & Alec Balwin in it (where they met I believe). It was one of those small cineplex theatres they used to have, like Spielberg’s home theater. It was EMPTY! We had the entire theater to ourselves. THAT is the way to see a movie. For a long time we complained about other people being in OUR theater whenever we went to a movie.
    We have 2 kids and a mortgage now, so we never go out either. No point/too expensive/disappointing.

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