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My Thoughts On Roger Ebert And The Art of Watching Movies While Remaining A Human Being

My Thoughts On Roger Ebert And The Art of Watching Movies While Being A Human Being.

From time to time I’ll read something that another writer writes and I’ll say, "Yeah, exactly," and today it happened to be a piece by Roger Ebert upon his experiences at Sundance.

These are my favorite pieces to read of Roger’s. It is when he ceases to be a ‘FILM CRITIC’ and becomes a film lover lost in the orgy of cinema that you can only find at a Film Festival. In his Festival pieces, he isn’t REVIEWING the films, he’s commenting on his reactions, the crowd reactions, the discussions he hears outside of the theater and what happened to him EARLIER IN THE DAY that put his mind in the state that it was in when he experienced the event in question.

Now, for obvious reasons this style of writing about film appeals to me as… well that is how I write about film pretty much all of the time, albeit in my own particularly illiterate manner.

If you read Roger’s article today, you will see Roger talking about why he liked a film that played at Sundance called LOST AND DELIRIOUS, a movie about 3 Female roommates and the lesbian love they share at an all girl boarding house.

Now in this article you will find Ebert particularly self-aware of himself, as earlier in the day he attended a speech by one of the foremost Brain Scientists in the world who explained how the human brain works and reacts.

So, Roger was quite self-conscious of things like how fast he smiled when someone else smiled at him. Or how while watching one of the erotic love scenes in this movie… he was ‘stirred’.

Now, the reason I’m pointing this out is quite simple. Roger’s article talks about a group of guys standing around outside the film that had emotionally cut themselves off from the film and the images. That engaged the film in a strictly intellectual fashion.

This is something I see happening all too often in cinema today. People that have conditioned themselves to not react to eroticism. People that have cut themselves off from being able to discuss romance or ideals. People that seem unable to discuss anything that should be personal to them. Folks that do nothing, but constantly internalize and isolate emotional reactions within themselves to such a degree that they then attack those that can express themselves and discuss what it is that makes them tick.

What brings this to mind for me? Well, yesterday I saw SUGAR & SPICE and late last night, early this morning, I reviewed it for the site. Now I am being called a pedophile by men that somehow can’t imagine attending a film about 6 Cheerleaders.

Is it possible that the modern sexually active male has evolved to a point of emotional emasculation where this man is no longer able to contemplate the concept of being aroused or even delighted over the sight of 6 young beautiful girls in bra and panties or in cheerleader uniforms and being joyfully alive?

Ok, then is it wrong for the various age 40 and older women in the various lines, I get in, to ogle various teen heart throbs? Or is it ok, so long as they don’t put it in print?

I have been noticing more and more… especially amongst males age 16 to 32, that they only go to these movies when ‘the girlfriend’ FORCES them to. And when they get together with their circle of friends or when they come online… They talk trash about the movies and instantly distance themselves from the experience.

I wholeheartedly believe that there is nothing wrong with talking about, in a public forum, what turns you, as an individual, on. Now admittedly, Roger used terms like, ‘stirred’ in his writing, as he is working with the intent of publication for a ‘Family’ newspaper, but I guarantee you that if you were to corner Roger into a conversation about what was going on through his head (both of them) while watching those Lesbian scenes… that Roger would most likely fully express himself as a living breathing man. And he’ll be damned if he isn’t going to freely discuss that in his column.

At some point as a society we decided to take what was ‘deemed’ inappropriate to talk about at WORK and blanketed it over our entire lives.

We decided to move talking about the concept of illegal things into the category of being an illegal thing.

All of a sudden we find ourselves in a society where we are surrounded by people which have made a list of things that they shouldn’t discuss because someone somewhere may tell on them.

So, because they are not allowed to say it out loud, they decide to repress the thought so that they no longer even have it. Let alone the concept of even writing it down.

What I’m talking about here is self-censorship. The film industry created their own self-regulating ratings board, a rather pleasant organization called the MPAA, which you all love to death. The comic book industry created the Comic Code Authority. And I am sure there are other self-regulating boards that I have had the good fortune to never come across.

We all rail against these organizations as being evil… and the Comic Book industry eventually did away with the CCA… But what is happening now is this. We, as individuals, are creating our own interior self-regulating censor of personal thought and expression.

We are bottling up the subjects of our ID, not giving it a valve to let out some steam. You know Jeffrey Dahmer was outwardly a quiet little boy that never did nobody any harm. Ted Bundy was too. It has been demonstrated over and over again that this form of self-repression is terrible for the mental psyche and often leads to no good.

And I’m not talking about just repressing the ability to be sexually aroused by fetishistic materials… I’m also talking about the inability to stand or tolerate plain romantic or innocent moments in life.

There seems to be a feeling that the ‘lovey dovey’ stuff is inappropriate, because we know they’re going to fall in love, let’s just cut to the nitty gritty.

One of my favorite films is BEFORE SUNRISE. It is all about the mental exploration and flirtation that takes place on that perfect first day together. I know guys that "Can’t stand that movie," because we never get to see any ‘action’. I don’t need to see the ‘ACTION’. I have had enough ‘action’ in my life to know they very rarely get it right in film, from G – X. There’s hardly enough giggling or quiet moments. They very rarely have any sort of conversation or sharing of thoughts… Usually in film, the ‘sex scene’ is something to ‘get through’.

I believe that is one of the problems with the audience, to those guys standing outside that theater at Sundance. I think we have an entire series of generations of men… who have thought sex is like the movies. It is something you do… get through and then talk about only with the group of guys that can discuss it in terms of ‘How I Pounded That Ass Last Night Something Fierce’ and when those are the only terms you know… the only images you allow yourself to conjure from it…

Well it creates a very distanced and ugly society that can’t handle real sex, fantasy sex, intimate relationships or simple and pure romance. Then you begin to lose the ability to dream at all. You walk the streets and never notice how the sun hits that girl across the street waiting for the light to change to continue on her day.

My thoughts about that group of cheerleaders in SUGAR AND SPICE wasn’t about how much I would love to bang all of them. It was about how beautiful they were. Beautiful and alive. Vibrant, exciting, thrilled to exist.

With Roger and his three boarding house lesbians… it wasn’t about wanting to get in there with them (well maybe it was, I don’t want to speak for the man), but rather how beautiful and erotic it was to behold.

Now I don’t expect the world to just one day open up and drop the retention and be open sharing human beings again… I don’t even expect that from all of you. All that I ask is to relate to the films as HUMAN BEINGS. As a man. As a woman. Not as an intellectual creature alone. I mean, isn’t that what we want from film… for film to relate to us as Human Beings. It really is no wonder why they so rarely get it right, when apparently so many of us have trouble being a Human Being.

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