The Goddess Speaks
Generation gap widens in film, speech
I have a grandchild who likes movies, so during school breaks Sophia and I go to Kapolei, buy popcorn and soda, and sit in the mildewed dark in the middle of a perfectly gorgeous day. We've seen so many moronic movies that I am beginning to wonder if finding intelligent movies with comprehensible dialogue isn't a hopeless cause.
For one thing, the actors mumble. I can't understand half of what's being said, partially because whatever they are talking about is beyond my outdated understanding, but mostly because teenagers with the talent to dance well to drum-driven music evidently have lost the ability to articulate.
Perhaps their energy is directed to their feet instead. But following teen-friendly movies isn't a problem because the plots aren't all that complicated, and the dialogue is only a bridge between either special effects or loud music, or both.
I like old movies. I like people talking to each other about things that matter, and stories that depend on acting rather than on computer-generated special effects. It isn't that I object to the occasional cool monster -- and the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy had some wonderful monsters -- but if I want loud music I only have to ask one of my students to put their iPod thingy next to my stereo, and I will be drowned in it.
As for mumbling and truncated dialogue -- I can get that in my own classroom for free. So it seems to me that the ticket money is a bit of a waste when old movies are shown every night on TNT.
However, Sophia was happy as could be with the last two movies we saw: a noisy and vague movie about some kids "stepping up to the streets," which had something to do with break-dancing in groups on the pavement in the rain, and a simplistic spoof of Spider-Man featuring Leslie Nielsen.
Neither movie touched me in any way, although to be sure, Nielsen is always funny -- even when he's not -- and anyone who has seen his movies will understand what that means. It just requires a frontal lobotomy. He isn't funny in the same way that Cary Grant is funny, but he's certainly an improvement over the relentless teenage angst that embeds most modern kid-friendly movies.
If you want to know the view of the average teenager regarding the mindlessness, violence and general weirdness of the world, just go to a couple of Saturday matinees with an adolescent and let him or her pick out the flick.
I guess I have to admit I'm a dinosaur, but as long as I haven't turned in my teacher badge, I like to think I can protest a little when I spend my hard-earned money on movies whose dialogue is so limited that even the profanity is repetitive and lame.
Maybe that's my problem -- I expect thoughtful conversations in a world where I actually received a sympathy note regarding the death of a loved relative on my cell phone, in a text message reading, "Sorry 4 UR loss ..."
Cris Rathyen teaches English at Moanalua High School.
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