I can remember the exact moment when I realized that movies could suck. It was spring break of my senior year in high school, and me and three bestest friends took a real grownup ladies-style road trip (actually we used planes and buses) to Honolulu, the big city, the tourist ghetto, home of the former largest mall in the world. The day after the U.S. invaded Iraq, we were hanging around watching "The Fast and the Furious" on television, and I suddenly had a thought: this sucks. Striking in its clarity, simple, direct, and timely. This movie is terrible. Vin Diesel's hotness redemes nothing. I'm going to graduate high school in a month. My government lied to me. We're at war. G-d, this movie sucks the paint off the walls!
I know that 17 is a little old to discover crappy movies. I can thank my parents for that. Daddio had a huge collection of movies, some bootleg, some legit, that I watched ad nauseum for many years, and they were all largely awesome: "Aliens," "Star Wars," "Indiana Jones," "Blues Brothers," "Coming to America," "Rocky Horror Picture Show," "Natural Born Killers," to name a few. He didn't keep junk in his library and wouldn't take me to the movie theater to see anything he didn't also want to see--"Waterworld" (screw all of you, I liked "Waterworld," they filmed it in Kona and I recognize the extras), "X-Files," "Star Trek: First Contact." There were bad movies out there, but Daddio didn't allow me to be contaminated by them.
Mum didn't usually watch movies, she read books, so our video collection at her house was almost exclusively Disney classics, sent by her parents, and anyone who has a soul knows that "The Little Mermaid" and "Aladdin" are great. Sometimes she took us to the Naalehu Theater, one of those fabulous plantation-era movie palaces that every little village on the Big Island used to have, and we'd watch whatever blockbuster Hollywood deigned to toss our way. "Jurassic Park," "Bram Stoker's Dracula," "Interview With The Vampire," "The Lion King." Solid, dependable movies with decent writing and good special effects.
And once, she pestered me and my sister for months about renting "Empire Records" from the Ocean View Minimart. "It'll be great, this movie looks cool, why don't you girls want to watch this? You know what, forget both of you, I'm renting it, I've asked you for months if you want to watch it and you never do, so guess what, it's Mommy's turn and I pick Empire Records." Of course, it was awesome, though having to admit that she was right almost ruined the experience.
I had this idea in my head that mainstream movies were by and large good; that only indie schlock-fests like "Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death" were truly awful; that Hollywood had my best interests in mind.
I know, I was a weird kid.
And when we finally got cable television, my convicition that good entertainment prevailed only grew. A whole channel just for cartoons, and another for science fiction, and another for hard science? I can't tell you how many hours of high school I spent parked in front of the Discovery Channel working on abstract paintings and eating olives straight out of the can. Those were the Halcyon days...
I don't what it was about "The Fast and the Furious" that ruined all that for me. I'd seen enough terrible horror movies with my friends to know that bad movies existed, and I'd even seen enough mainstream movies, sold to the masses like freaking hotcakes, to know that Hollywood churns out trash like an Amish woman churns butter. "Queen of the Damned," I'm glaring in your direction. But I guess I thought those movies were the aberration rather than the norm. I kept the faith. And then, we went to war and I had the entirely new experience of wanting to turn off a movie without waiting to see how it ended. "That's it," I thought, "stick a fork in me, I'm done, and maybe it'll distract me from the pain."
I don't want to blame the loss of my innocence entirely on the Bush administration, but it does make one wonder, doesn't it?