Dennis O’Neil: The Big Christmas Movie
So here we are again, doing our annual dance with me on one side of the time gap and you on the other. For me, Christmas, 2014, is yet to occur – heck, I haven’t even seen Christmas eve yet – and you’re reading this on Christmas morning, at the earliest. Maybe you’ve gotten the big feast and the accompanying burps out of the way and you’re in the family room with the relatives watching the game (there’s always a game) or sulking in your room because you didn’t get the loot you were hoping for and you did get something you won’t take out of the box… Cripes, you haven’t worn spats in years. Or maybe you’re alone in a motel room wondering what skewed the universe.
What you probably aren’t doing is sitting in a theater watching one of the holiday offerings titled The Interview, starring those laughmeisters James Franco and Seth Rogen. By now, you know the story: someone did a monstermother of a computer hack on the Sony cyber equipment, saw the film, threatened unspecified acts of terror if it gets shown, anywhere, anytime.
It all seems to make cinema’s new best friends, the superheroes, as obsolete as Santa’s sleigh. It’s likely that you’ve seen a superhero flick or two, if you watch movies at all, because there are a lot of them out there. And there are a lot more to come – 30 in various stages of production for release over the next five years.
They’re kind of quaint. A villain menaces the common good, the hero responds, has problems, and then does some major league supering and the malefactor is vanquished and tranquility is restored, at least until the sequel. That, or some iteration of that, is usually the plot. Not always: for example, The Dark Knight was an exception. But usually.
Visible menace. Understandable problem. And victory by application of superior force. Satisfying entertainment because it absorbs us without straining our mental resources and pushes some emotional buttons. And the super feats are fun to watch. Good way to hide from your personal woes for an afternoon. I’ve seen most of these movies and I’ll see more and I’ll probably be satisfied when I do.
But with each passing year, they have less and less relation to real life, even metaphorically.. Who knows what’s in Kim Jung Un’s mind? Whatever it is, he isn’t trumpeting it in the media. Who knows who’s even a member of ISIS? Who could have guessed that persons unknown would attack the U.S. economy through an amusement owned by a Japanese corporation? The lines are rapidly blurring and the modern brand of treachery can’t be overcome by punches. Or bombs.
I wish our noble politicians would learn that, or at least be aware that there might be something to learn.
Meanwhile, we have the superheroes and, by golly, they are entertaining and at the end of the day, that’s all they have to be.
I wish you light and warmth.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Since Denny submitted this column, Sony Pictures has changed their mind and allowed showings in some 200 theaters – possibly one near you. It’s also rentable and purchaseable through You Tube and other online streaming services. For the record, we will note that the major theater chains which refused to show The Interview continue to hold to that position.)