Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Generational Postcards from a Wedding Weekend

Leonardo DiCaprio
I’m back from the Jackson Hole, Wyoming wedding, a true vacation in every sense of the word for a TV critic who blogs.

You see I stayed in a room with my two sons, which meant the only TV I watched was ESPN’s “SportsCenter” and its exhaustive coverage of Tiger Woods’ collapse.

Of course, Woods’ professional and personal collapse is a big story now. But all the coverage made me wonder how long the focus will be on how badly Woods is performing after his personal life collapsed instead of on the players performing well.

But I digress.

One of the best things about weddings is being able to keep track of the generational divide between middle-aged and senior parents and their children.

The divide doesn’t include music. A Los Angeles band was flown to Wyoming for the wedding and performed tunes from my generation that are embraced even more by the current generation and succeeding ones.

Amazingly, there wasn’t one tune that I didn’t recognize, making one wonder if succeeding generations will ever play wedding music from its own eras.

The generational divide is wide when it comes to movies. Take “Inception,” the current hit starring Leonardo DiCaprio and featuring some guy (OK, Joseph Gordon-Levitt) from “3rd Rock from the Sun.”

On the last night of the wedding weekend, I was seated at dinner with four amusing relatives in their 20s and 30s who absolutely loved the movie.

Me? Not so much. I loved it visually and thought the music was great. But it was too much work to follow and figure out. I don’t want to be told that you have to see a movie four or five times to really know what’s going on.

Instead of showing 20 minutes of previews before Christopher Nolan’s film started, I think movie ushers should pass out a 20-page guide for viewers to read that explains the concept of dreams so all the “walk and talks” during the film would become easier to follow.

After awhile during the film, I gave up. My best friend – who is of my generation – hated the film.

My view of “Inception” shocked my younger dinner partners, who all declared “Inception” the greatest movie of the year and practically called me an “idiot” even though they had trouble explaining what the ending meant. I assume they would have called me an “idiot” if I wasn’t related to them.

My 30something nephew compared “Inception” to the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie “Total Recall.” To be honest, I didn’t recall much about it. But I did note that any Arnold movie was loaded with so much action and violence that the plot rarely made much difference to its enjoyment anyway.

“Inception” is totally a thinking theater-goers movie, which puts it in a different category than “Recall.”

Some more amusing movie talk occurred when a 20something male said he went to one of the “Twilight” movies. Voluntarily. And without a date. He said he wanted to see what all the hype was about. Then he said it was the worst movie he’d seen in years. Soon everyone in his generation started making fun of the actors who have become teen idols. To the 20something male, it was a lesson in hype.

The surprising thing about the generational divide over “Inception” is that it is usually older film-goers who are looking for smart films.

The best movies I’ve seen this summer haven’t been the heavily-hyped comedies aimed at kids or middle-age kids – “Grown Ups,” “Dinner for Schmucks” and a few others that were so lame that I can’t even remember the titles.

My summer must-see list includes “City Island,” “The Secret of the Their Eyes,” “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and “The Kids Are All Right.” Rarely do you see anyone under 30 in the theater watching those films – certainly no one in their teens -- unless their parents dragged them to the theaters.

Of course, the biggest generational divide usually concerns television. When I was a kid, parents drove taste. That all stopped when advertisers relied on demographics and decided younger viewers were more valuable than older viewers because the younger ones hadn’t decided what car, shaving cream or beer they preferred.

The move away from parental control accelerated with the rise of cable television, which started this whole reality TV craze that is driving down taste to a scary level.

Which made the end of my final wedding meal almost as confusing as the end of “Inception.”

I had to leave dinner before dessert to get a few hours sleep before an early morning flight back home.

The 20something at the table who voluntarily saw one of the “Twilight” movies asked for an early ride back to his room, too. He wanted to catch Sunday night’s episode of “Mad Men,” the quality series set in the 1960s advertising industry.

I immediately wondered if he was once again drawn in by all the hype for “Mad Men.” Then I decided to be optimistic and conclude maybe there is some hope for succeeding generations to get some taste after all.


1 comment:

  1. forwarding to Chris, didn't nor will I see Inception. But Tiger Woods is a man whore.
    Cheers xo