Soapbox: March 24th, 2009


The mass art form that is cinema continues to repeat itself, and Eoin Brady just can’t take it anymore.

To properly understand movie clichés, you need to look at the big ideas: death, sex, money and Chinese takeaways. They annoy me. Not death, sex, money and Chinese takeaways (especially not Chinese takeaways), but movie clichés. There is a horrible, rigid set of rules that filmmakers feel obliged to adhere to.

Death consistently becomes an issue for characters shortly after they get shot. Death can occur in one of two ways: first, there’s the ‘bad guy’ way. Bad guy absorbs bullet somehow. Waves arms. Switches off. Simple. The second way that people can die is the ‘good guy’ way. This involves heavy breathing, drooping eyelids and sweating (kind of like what the next paragraph is going to be about, oddly enough). The soon-to-be-dead good guy will whisper something profound and/or erotic before slumping lifelessly in their lover/military comrade’s arms. They tend to avoid whispering erotica to their military comrade, but were that to happen, it would provide be a welcome respite. Saving Private Ryan II anyone?

So, sex. This is a topic that gets me hot and bothered, but not in a sexy way. Why is it acceptable to see someone physically snap a fellow human being’s limb in a way that will cause them to endure agony in the short term and severe disability for the rest of their life, but a bit of boob is beyond the pale? There is a disturbing bias in mainstream cinema towards the liberalisation of the graphic portrayal of human suffering without any concomitant easing of restriction on the depiction of normal, (victimless) sexual relationships.

Money is something that movie directors understand. Well, if they’re able to spend $80m of somebody else’s, they must possess some degree of financial acumen. Nonetheless, they continue to commit absolute financial nonsense to film. It would be better if all bankers and film directors were to swap jobs. Firstly, the bankers would do a much-improved job of directing fiscally accurate portrayals of reality. Secondly, (insert incoherent anti-capitalist credit-crunch-themed rant here). Specifically, what I’m getting at here is the way that, in movies, having an affluent parent enables characters (Batman and the chubby chap in Watchmen, I’m looking at you) to purchase things that would, in reality, be completely beyond their means. Unless your daddy was richer than the entire US Military, it makes very little sense that you would be able to purchase military technology (from whom?) that is more sophisticated than that of the US Military.

And finally, I don’t see why eating a Chinese takeaway alone should automatically imply a lonely, unfulfilled, tragic life. But have you ever seen a happy, satisfied character doing this? No, you haven’t.

You only need to watch approximately four movies in order to know the plot, key themes and world views of basically all the other movies. To a degree, this angers me. On the other hand, it does leave me with more free time for eating Chinese takeaways. Alone.