I guess it's possible that you may not be as movie mad as I am. Maybe you haven't memorized Regal Cinema's floor plan or the Eveningstar's popcorn prices. Maybe you didn't shed tears of joy at Sin City. Heck, some of you have read this column in the past four years and laughed at my all-too-obvious malaise. And that's okay. I won't take it personally.
But as high brow as you might consider yourself to be, you can't deny this: there's no escaping movies in college. If you hooked up at the toga party, you have Animal House to thank. Everywhere you turn, Scarface posters. Kill Bill soundtracks. Tyler Durden as your Facebook friend.
Yes Bowdoinites, films do frolic among the whispering pines, the big-screens, the AOL buddy icons, and we are all better off for it. Too lethargic to go out and too lazy to do work? Movie. Feel like turning a study date to a spooning session? Movie...and couch. Girls' night out? Come home to Bailey's, boy-bashing, and a good, cheesy chick flick.
The cinema?whether actual or televised?is a visual pharmacy that fills prescriptions for any emotional ill, curing, at least temporarily, just about everything (except procrastination, but who's counting). It's the health center open on the weekends. Lovesick for the one-time guy who won't even look at you anymore? Take two Sleepless in Seattle and call Netflix in the morning. Pissed off? Pop in Pulp Fiction. Reservoir Dogs. Or light up a pack of Red Apple cigarettes and make it a Tarantino night. Stressed with work? Office Space ought to fix you right up. And if you're feeling pretentious or cynical, everything David Lynch has ever done should give your brain the high caliber existential torture session you need to run screaming back to the real world.
Where to get these doses? There's Regal. There's Bart and Greg's. There's internet piracy. Not that we upstanding college students would ever dream of keeping our money from those poor, starving filmmakers. Banish the thought. But the beauty of it all is that there really is something for everyone. Even if you curse TV, shun the frivolity of commercial cinema, money, electricity, and all that is wrong with the world, there's enough socio-enviro-aware-o documentaries going around to keep you happy?and quiet?for a couple of hours.
Yes, movies are here to show you much love. All they ask in return, oh undergrad, is that you love them back.
You see, there are rules. They are not forgiving. Any male college student out there right now who has not seen or does not worship the canon of films that have come to embody the collective male psychoses of our generation?Zoolander, The Big Lebowski, Animal House, Old School, Office Space, Anchorman, or the Kill Bills?are incomplete until they do. Females should at least know that Zoolander isn't about animals if they care to stand a chance with members of the more cinephilic gender. Failure to identify what little friend Pacino wants you should say hello to may send you trudging home on the morning-after Walk of Shame a little early, ladies. And as any girly group will tell you, female virgins of Clueless and Titanic are to be deflowered immediately, with popcorn, tissues, and extreme prejudice.
And another thing, and I don't mean to sound too apocalyptic, but seriously?may God's fury strike down on all who hang Scarface, Fight Club, Braveheart, Trainspotting, or Gladiator posters on their dorm room walls without having paid their proper respects. Fie, fie on those who quote Napoleon Dynamite but have not suffered its what-the-%$^# ness like all the rest of us have. If you don't know whether to be grateful or worried that someone has caught you a delicious bass, or, for that matter, how you could've possibly killed this Inigo Montoya guy's father, or why it's so funny that someone believes you have their stapler, or that San Diego is German for a whale's vagina?which you know isn't true, you took Spanish, who the hell are these bozos?it might cause an awkward moment or two at a campus wide somewhere. And as for all of you who have not seen Jurassic Park, Star Wars, or Lord of the Rings?hide. Run. I mean it. Go to the nearest room with a TV and a DVD player and pull yourself together, before it's too late.
Don't get me wrong. You don't need to know movies to get along in college. But it helps. Guys, in an unspoken ritual, size each other up by the number of DVDs they own. Ever seen a guy who keeps his DVDs in a box, away from public view? I didn't think so. Your lack of coolness, meanwhile, might be measured by how many times you've been humiliated by the following phrase: "Hey, guys, check this out. (Your name here) has never seen (amazing movie here)!"
Not armed with this knowledge, you lose, my friend. We all do. But what are movies for, anyway? For fun? Enlightenment? To introduce yet another currency in our cultural capital? It seems a simple question, but really it's anything but. It always brings out the snobs in the room: "they're aht. Films are aht. Films that are not art are worthless, dahling." And then you get the wackos arguing that any movie they can quote equals cinematic greatness: "Dude, Big Lebowski? Big Lebowski's awesome, man! Why? Cause nobody f*** with the Jesus, man. Woo-hoo!"
In those few moments when things like ambition and responsibility get out of the way, after my own biweekly dose of Office Space, usually, I think that I would modify Peter Gibbons's dream of doing nothing in just one way: I would watch movies. Day in and day out, just get lost in them. But after things return to normal, I realize that's definitely not enough. Sure, movies are art and entertainment and all that, but most of all they are testaments to who we are, what we love, what we hate, and who we want to be. The good, the bad, the ugly (my apologies, Clint)?all our strips of celluloid?are more than the sum of their quotes.
Well, Bowdoin, I have to say, there's been nothing quite as fun as panning and praising?for your general amusement?all the gems and all the junk that our loveable Hollywood has had to offer these past four years. So so long, everyone, and don't forget to show the movies some love.