17 June 2006
The AFI sets my balls ablaze... in a bad way
The only time I ever watch television is when I find myself bored and lurking around the parents' house. Unfortunately, I found myself in such a state this past week when AFI was counting down "100 Years, 100 Cheers," by far their most ridiculous 100 what-the-fucks to date. I'd already tossed my falafel when I saw an abundance of Katharine Hepburn in their 100 Greatest Romances, the former title-holder of most unnecessary AFI countdown. This year, the AFI has compiled a list of revoltingly feel-good, inspirational shitfests, littered with the occasional film of respect that somehow loses said respectability through association. Don't you love a list that can include The Karate Kid and Preston Sturges' Sullivan's Travels? Well, I don't.
I feel as though the AFI felt like making a list of studio favorites that they were too embarassed to put on their 100 Great Films list. It was like a cesspool of underdog-sports-team-wins-the-gold, little-person-stands-up-to-the-man, dumb honky-realizes-(insert minority here)-is-a-person-too. To have even mentioned films like Harold & Maude in the same breath as Erin Brockovich is unforgivable. Harold & Maude may very well be one of the only films I've ever seen that very bluntly delivers the message to your ears, and yet you're already so in love, you just don't give a fuck. Whoopi Goldberg pointed out when talking about the film that it's inspirational because you can't help but want to meet and befriend Ruth Gordon. This is certainly a true statement, but you can forgive Harold & Maude for being a movie with a "message" because it's so contagiously sweet, hilarious, and (yes) fucking touching.
I read a commentary on the 2001 Academy Awards on salon.com a while back, where a Salon critic (at the time, you could have filled Lake Michigan with Salon's film critics' "love" for Mulholland Drive) bitched about giving David Lynch a Best Director nod for Drive. Everyone knows the Academy is a joke (and this was even before Crash won Best Picture!), so throwing in a nomination for Lynch, with everyone fully aware that he wouldn't win, was much, much worse than just not nominating him. The same can be said for films like Harold & Maude; it's sure to piss off people who actually respect cinema as an art-form as opposed to those reminicent of a fucking high school bleacher cheering section. Thanks, AFI, for making my body not have to go through the trouble of digestion that evening.