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August 10, 2009



Ebert wasn't saying the failure of teenagers to "discover" The Hurt Locker (or, rather, that they're flocking to Transformers 2 and G.I. Joe) means that "civilization is at peril", but that it is emblematic of the dumbing-down of modern culture. In case you missed it, the final paragraph of his journal entry begins:

"There has been an overnight outpouring of response to this entry, and most of the posts are from young readers who sadly agree with me about their generation."

So apparently there's plenty of young people who don't think Ebert's opinion is "balderdash."

Erin Donovan

Well put, AJ.


I wrote a short rant about Ebert's "doom is nigh" post the other day. eb is correct to summarize Ebert's argument as implying that Hurt Locker's "failure" is "emblematic of the dumbing-down of modern culture."

But even that argument misses the point, given the film's R-rating, its marketing to people over 25, and the film's slow roll out. My guess is that if Hurt Locker had been marketed to kids, many of them would have seen it and many would quickly agree that it's better than most of the CG-laden blockbusters.

The kids are alright. Except when they try to write a paragraph in my composition classes.


You hit the nail on the head right here, AJ "Is there an issue with getting young people (18-34) to connect to independent film in the way they did in the 1990s? Yes."

But the thing no one dares speak aloud is that a big part of it is not the fault of delivery systems, or marketing budgets or distractions from twitter or sexting or cuddle parties or anything else. A large part of the blame has to go to the filmmakers.

The reason young people got excited about indie film in the early/mid 90s was simple: Pulp Fiction, Clerks, Trainspotting, Bound, El Mariachi, and on and on. There were independent movies that were accessible, exciting and appealed to young people. Where are those movies today? They're nowhere to be found. Critics can rave about 'Silent Light' or 'Manufactured Landscapes' all they want, but no one with all their original teeth is ever going to be able to sit through movies like that.

No self-respecting, intelligent person under 30 would be caught dead listening to a Top 10 album. But they only see Top 10 movies. Why is that? Despite obvious inequalities in marketing budgets, etc., I think the biggest part of it is that there are very few good independent movies aimed at young people.

Please contradict me, fellow commenters. But if anyone says (500) Days of Summer, I'm going to punch them in the face.


This is the oldest old movie critic trope in the universe...Ever since radio arrived and allegedly turned an entire generation into idiots, there have been waves of cranky old men condemning a generation they don't understand. The truth of the matter is that in this age young people are exposed to more diverse, international and artsy media than they ever were when any previous generation was growing up. Roger Ebert probably has some kind of nostalgaic glow in his brain about the era of Fellini and Bergman, but how many people really had access to those films then? Maybe one art house in every other state? If that? Most 17 year olds have seen more foreign cinema on DVD, cable, online and elsewhere than even made it to the states in bygone eras. When I was growing up there was one great movie theater in Portland and we just waited for whatever they would show, crossing our fingers that a new Chinese film would make arrive. Fast forward to the mid-90s when I took a job at Le Video here in San Francisco and we were making Dario Argento sections and advising teenagers on which Takeshi "Beat" Kitano films were best...

We certainly didn't have a mind-boggling box office success, but it still overwhelms me that a little documentary was able to reach so many young people at all. 20 years ago someone would've laughed in our faces if we'd said we thought we could get some teenagers to a theater to see a documentary. And who knows how many have seen it now on DVD... In fact, when we were shooting our film, we recorded a discussion amongst a bunch of 14 year old girls about whether they like Mad Hot Ballroom or Spellbound best. And later an eight year old quoted Spellbound.

As for Hurt Locker, yes it was good. But I have no idea why anyone would want a teenager to see it for chrissake. It's extremely tense, has moments of extreme violence and gore, and is about very adult issues.

The kids are alright.


I don't know why they released the film this summer. Dumb move, and promoting it as Katherine Bigelow's masterpiece probably didn't do anything to drag the guys in.

Kids can play video games that have more violence and gore, so I doubt those elements are keeping younger audiences away.

Why didn't they open it in the fall, at theaters near large college campuses?

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