While ostensibly working hard on a project that must be completed in no less than two weeks, I entertained a brief diversion which I rationalized because it took me to the very deep Circe Institute blog. There I found Joshua Gibbs interviewing his rationalizing alter ego on the subject of indulging in big budget films.
In this particular case, he is dissecting his decision to go to the theater and watch Jurassic World 2, which we also saw. I’ll post a portion of it here, but the whole thing is worth the short period required to read it.
In the lobby of a local cinema, I was approached by a journalist conducting interviews.
INTERVIEWER: Excuse me, sir, would you mind telling me what movie you’re going to see?
GIBBS: Uh, sure. I’m about to see Jurassic World 2.
INTERVIEWER: Very good. And why are you excited to see this motion picture?
GIBBS: Oh, I saw the trailers for it and I thought they looked pretty good.
INTERVIEWER: Would you say this looks like a life-changing movie?
GIBBS: (chuckling) Well, no. Of course, it’s a dinosaur movie. I’ve seen plenty of them, and they aren’t exactly life-changing.
INTERVIEWER: Perhaps you don’t think movies can be life-changing?
GIBBS: No, that’s not true. I’ve seen a few life-changing movies. Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia changed my life back when I saw it in 1999. But there are scores of classics, too, which have changed me for the better. Ordinary People. Ace in the Hole. Babette’s Feast. I definitely think a good movie can make you more humane, more understanding. To understand all is to forgive all, as the French say, and God will forgive us the way we forgive others, so a good movie can certainly have great spiritual value.
INTERVIEWER: But not Jurassic World 2?
GIBBS: No. I’m only seeing this because—
INTERVIEWER: Well, perhaps Jurassic World 2 is going to be very memorable. It will not change your life, but you will dwell on it, ruminate on it, nonetheless. A film doesn’t have to be great in order to be of value. When you leave the theater this afternoon, how long do you think you will ponder Jurassic World 2?
GIBBS: Ponder it? Um, you know, probably not for very long. There’s really not much to ponder. To be honest, I’ll have probably forgotten I saw it by the time I wake up tomorrow.
INTERVIEWER: I see. Well, perhaps the really great movies that can make you a better person are hard to track down? Great things are rare, after all.
GIBBS: No, actually. There are plenty of really great movies I could check out for free at the library down the street. Great movies are easy to come by.
INTERVIEWER: Yes, well, I am sure you’re not seeing a great movie this afternoon because you’ve already seen them all, correct?
GIBBS: Well… No, that’s not the case. There are scores of great movies, or movies that I’ve heard are great, that I haven’t seen. I haven’t seen many Kurosawa movies. I haven’t seen Ran or Seven Samurai, but people rave about those pictures. I haven’t seen any Tarkovsky movies, though I’ve heard Stalker is amazing. I don’t know Ingmar Bergman’s catalog very well, though people always say Wild Strawberries is very beautiful. They say the same about Yasujirō Ozu’s movies, like Tokyo Story. My mother doesn’t like foreign films, but she says she always cries at the end of Tokyo Story because it’s so profound.
INTERVIEWER: Apologies, sir, did you say you could get these great movies for free at the local library?
GIBBS: Um, yep. Yes, I could.
INTERVIEWER: And how much did you just pay to see Jurassic World 2?
GIBBS: Eleven dollars.
INTERVIEWER: Sir, I don’t want to misrepresent you, so I would like to make sure that I have your story straight: You could easily and cheaply acquire beautiful films which you would remember for a long time, change your life for the better, and grant you a more human and forgiving spirit, but you have instead decided to pay eleven dollars to see a dinosaur movie that will not make you a better person and which you will entirely forget about in just a few hours?
GIBBS: (sense of moral helplessness intensifies)
Sigh. Squirm. Maybe that’s just me.
And enjoy the rest of your weekend.