Gag Me


I’m making a promise right now that my next post will not judge, criticize, or malign any of my fellow human beings. Maybe I’ll write about unicorns or Tom Hanks or something else impossible not to like. Or link to LOLCats. I’m pushing for positivity, I swear.

But that’s tomorrow. When you’re slapped in the face with something so pretentious, so mired in self-importance, it’s imperative that a retaliatory strike be made immediately and with utmost prejudice. I shouldn’t be reading the Columbia Spectator anymore, I know. It’s masochistic. But like a roadside wreck, sometimes you just can’t look away. Want to see the fiery mess? Read “A Film Buff’s Guide To The 1 Train,” specifically those sections written by Dan D’Addario, then join me in a therapeutic retch-fest.

I would hope that anyone reading the article is able to see through the purple prose and empty eloquence and recognize it as the condescending, indulgent tripe it truly is. For those of you who skimmed, though, or for anyone with glass-half-full sensibilities, I offer analysis on my favorite passages below.

The Lincoln Plaza Cinemas are what we talk about when we talk about the Upper West Side. That is to say, the theater is a parallel universe, or a portal into the mind of Roz Chast. After one buys a ticket from a charming streetfront ticket booth (just one of the Lincoln Plaza’s small, anachronistic pleasures, but caveat emptor—cash only!), it seems fitting that one has to descend a staircase.

Roz Chast is a cartoonist for the New Yorker. Did you know that? Because I did! Sigh – nothing screams undergraduate arrogance more than NYC literary shout-outs. This is an “A” piece at Harvard-Westlake, for sure, but beyond those gates… Who’s your audience, pal? How does that reference augment your writing? Couple name-dropping with the word “charming” and expressions like “caveat emptor” and you’re hitting dangerously high levels of doucheitude.

Those who attend this Times Square palace [AMC Empire 25] are not cineastes—they’re fans. That unsophisticated embrace of cinema high and low can be frustrating to those who would rather watch a film in silence.

Making distinctions between classes of movie-goer is lame and insulting. Anyone going to the movies is a fan, regardless of “knowledge” or “expertise.” Does it really take a degree from Columbia to properly dissect a movie (or film, or “audiovisual explosion”)? EVERYONE has seen 300 movies by their 18th birthday and is as equipped as any blazer-wearing “cineaste” to enjoy or discuss a wide variety of films. And the root of his problem here – the sanctity of silence – is already exaggerated. Did that guy whispering to his girlfriend ruin the movie for you? God forbid someone’s quiet chuckle disrupt your latest Lars Von Trier screening.

The snack bar serves popcorn, but there are pastries under glass. This writer recommends the peppermint tea.

… There are no words.

BONUS: Synonyms for pretentious include affected, ostentatious, showy, pompous, artificial, inflated, grandiose, and grandiloquent. Arm yourselves for battle!

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4 Responses to “Gag Me”

  1. Mark Says:

    I only come to Mr. D’Addario’s defense because, well, I don’t really know why. Slow day at work, I guess. Indeed, I think it’s all very overwritten, but the Roz Chast analogy is actually pretty terrific, in my very humble opinion. Her cartoons (and they’re well known. The New Yorker’s got over a million subscribers and she’s clearly the most popular (though obvs not the best) cartoonist) evoke a very specific mood and social sphere, and it’s precisely the genteel, Upper West Side Jewish group to whom the theater in question caters. OK I’m thinking about this too hard. But the most important point is that he actually says that being loud in a theater is a good thing! This:

    That actually made the movie significantly better. So too did the audible disdain of assorted New Yorkers at the incest-is-best plotline in The Other Boleyn Girl. The theater is perhaps best thought of as your standard suburban movie theater, but filled with all the pesky and vocal New Yorkers that you’ve seen on Seinfeld but never met.

    is sort of obnoxious at the end, but a little anti-freshman snobbery is to be expected (though perhaps not tolerated), but the first 2/3 are pretty much right on. Sometimes your fellow moviegoers can make the experience better by yelling, and sometimes you want silence, and I don’t think that wanting silence is at all a bad thing. Watching No Country For Old Men at Union Square with the most annoying neighbors in the world was pretty distracting, especially in a movie where quiet is pretty important.

  2. Henning Says:

    Thanks for the response, Mark. You’re right to point out the more-well-known-than-I-thought-ness of Ms. Chast, but I still feel her name was invoked less to capture the theater’s/neighborhood’s social climate than to prove to readers how well-read (or well-seen, I guess) the author is. The analogy may be good, but the intention feels anything but.

    As for volume control, you know that I, too, sometimes treat movie-going like a religious experience. Just me and the screen, locked in an unhealthy embrace. And it’s true – there are environments and films suited to noise and those for which it actually does harm to the experience. D’Addario, like you say, defends both positions. What really pissed me off was his implicit classification of movie-lovers, the way he puts down so-called “unsophisticated fans” to reassure himself that he’s part of the cultured elite. Weak sauce.

    … I admit I looked at his Facebook page and had some of my opinions colored by his fashion sense, but with or without an accompanying visual I find his style of writing obnoxious and disdainful. 2012 deserves better for their introduction to the arts and culture in New York City.

  3. Mark Says:

    Right on to your last sentence. Those poor, poor freshmen.

  4. Lifting Fog Fun Facts « Lifting Fog Says:

    […] Goessling and his ‘This LA Life,’ and Jeopardy! contestant/actual accomplished writer Daniel D’Addario. Not to mention ongoing bad blood with nostalgia freaks (especially human Quidditch players), and […]

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