Wednesday, December 15, 2004

On this season of merriment and joy: snarkitude

An unnecessary addendum to the unnecessary awards-post-morphed-into-Sideways-bashing-below:

David Poland and Jeffrey Wells are rival movie gossip mavens, the Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons of the internet. Every two or three years, I'll read them religiously for about a month or so before my tolerance for them wanes and I drop out. Usually, what prompts me to read them is the impending release of some American movie, usually some kind of grand directorial folly/film maudit, that I'm unduly excited about, like The Thin Red Line in 1997 or Gangs of New York in 2002. This year, though, I can't really find an excuse as to why I'm reading them, since no holiday release really has my tongue wagging in anticipation.

Maybe it's the awards season. But there's something about Poland and Wells both that I've always found unbearable in weekly doses. I've always figured it was their tone of insider-y self-congratulation that's the culprit. Recently, after reading them both again for about two weeks, I now understand the nature of their toxicity. You see, they represent that most contemptible of species, the middlebrow snob. How's that? Well, they're the kind of movie enthusiast who take the Oscars seriously but shower contempt on Oscar voters, put together dependably mainstream top 10 lists (that show no effort at a more wideranging cinephilia), and then relentlessly clobber frivolous, obvious targets like Ocean's Twelve, while dismissing both auteur cinema and Asian genre flicks as too obscure and geeky by half. They're the epitome of the arthouse elitist, slobbering over the likes of Hotel Rwanda and The Sea Inside on their way to dissing the high and the low. Beyond taste, they rarely share opinions that qualify as insight; instead, they pass off their middlebrow CW as a form of elevated connoisseurship.[1] This sickens me, yet every two days I'll prowl their sites trolling for "buzz."

My habits might be more sickening, and as you might've guess it, this post is a thinly veiled cry for help. Will someone please get me off this crack?

[1] What folks have got to understand is that the carefully cultivated air of condescending movie snobbery, like the kind practiced on this blog, must be earned -- first by sitting through 8 hour Hungarian opuses, then by wasting away your weekends on retros on the minor works of forgotten Italian auteurs. When you can spell Apitchatpong's full name off the top of your head, then we'll talk. (Wait, that wasn't right, was it? Well, let's just call the guy "Joe.") You're not entitled to adopt the guise just because you know how to ape Peter Travers' top 10 lists.