The other weekend I went and saw a free showing of The Green Hornet. I walked out an hour into the movie. I don't need The Green Hornet. I do not find Seth Rogen funny being a bumbling idiot who stumbles over his words and just wants to have a good time. I already have Jack Black for that, thank you. Explosions, Hong Kong kung fu, shoehorned special effects, and house-of-cards plot are all things The Green Hornet not only has but embraces and celebrates- and those are also things I already have way too much of in my life. It's extremely easy for me to find mindless, escapist entertainment just by letting my week run its course. There comes a point where I don't need more of it, so I left the theater. The next weekend I went to Sundance's Best of Fest, which features both the most acclaimed documentary and acclaimed story-driven film of the festival. The documentary, Being Elmo, was about Kevin Clash, the puppeteer behind Elmo and how he became the hand probing the world's most recognizable puppet. The other movie, Another Earth, was a sci-fi “lamb and lion” romance about unlikely lovers who are torn apart by the discovery of an alternate Earth and a golden ticket to brave it. I feel sort of pretentious saying that I enjoyed those two indie films more, but it's genuinely true. The great thing about creative independence is that there is more space for authorial intent. In big mainstream movies like The Green Hornet orTransformers , so much of the content is designed to make the most amount of money from the most amount of people: optimal cash flow. Transformers was never about exploring the implications of an alien race - it was (and has been since its inception) about making money and selling toys to kids, which is fine. I don't I begrudge people who like The Green Hornet, or Transformers, or whatever stokes your escapist boner. I begrudge the celebration of escapism, rating it highly amongst our internal list of all time greatest movies. To call it something special is disingenuous. I cried during Being Elmo because it evoked a naive sense of happiness that's hard to hang onto in adulthood but survives in the sugary stitches of Elmo and Cookie Monster. Seeing people like Kevin Clash who dedicated their lives to channelling that childlike happiness is something remarkable and deserving of some attention. The frustration I have with movies like The Green Hornet is that they circumvent one of the most useful function of creativity: communication. Communication is stripped in favor of exploitation in almost every instance. You mean people like to watch fight scenes? Let's pump it full of directionless violence. You say people like goofy, paper-thin characters? Let's star Seth Rogen. Another Earth, on the other hand, is a movie entirely built around emotive communication. Rhoda, a 17 year old high school student, kills a mother and her two daughters in a car accident whilst gawking at the newly discovered alternate Earth in the sky, a tiny blue dot next the north star. The father, Jon (played by William Mapother, best known as the creepy baby-snatcher from season one ofLost), is left without a family. There's something that feels much more pure about Another Earth in comparison to movies you would typically see on a saturday night. A quality I really admire in my entertainment is the capacity to reciprocate the effort you put into consuming it with understanding and realization. In large part, my praise of Braid stemmed from this line of thinking. Maybe that seems like an afterthought of a criticism, and that may have to do with my age. I'm only 18. My life has been saturated with pretty shallow entertainment. The result is that I tend to value almost anything that seems to even aspire to something more than red-exploding barrels and split-screen co-op. But we lather praise and attention to the movies and books and games that have no aspiration other than to hold our attention for a few hours and drain our wallet. If it's unfair to dole praise simply for high-minded aspirations, it's certainly ignoble to celebrate that which hardly respects our own time. Largely, where I appropriate praise has a lot do with respect. I felt like Another Earth respected my time. I thought Being Elmo respected my time. Braid, Stranger than Fiction, Princess Mononoke, Grapes of Wrath, Scott Pilgrim, Catcher in the Rye- all works that I felt treated me like someone smart, someone capable of appreciating something without it spoon fed to me. Some of those examples are unfair. The Grapes of Wrath is a venerable classic. I'm not going to get much argument on Princess Mononoke or Catcher in the Rye. But what about those others? Stranger than Fiction, Scott Pilgrim? They're not the best at entertaining me nor the best at communicating something. They don't succeed completely - they fail in a lot of ways. Why elevate them when they aren't the best? It's aspiration versus accomplishment, and I can respect noble aspirations more than I can respect ignoble accomplishment. There's nothing ignoble about pure entertainment, but it has its place - we only need so much of it. If that's pretentious or carries a whiff of douchebaggery to it, I don't care. I enjoy myTransformers just fine, thank you. Escapist entertainment has a place in my library, but only for minutes at a time. If we end up cherishing the meaningless over the meaningful, even if we learn to craft the meaningless expertly, I hope I'm dead.

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