Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Michael Bay Is the Natural Outgrowth of CGI

Every so often I ask my grandmother what she thinks of the experience when she and her 90 year old friend buy one movie ticket each and then sneak into two others afterward. (Hey, when she was a kid, 5¢ got you a couple cartoons, a movie, a newsreel, another movie and popcorn.)

Color was a big deal for her. Sound was newfangled and hokey to her mother. So what does my grandmother think when she watched a car eject a young man, turn into a giant robot in front of her, shoot another giant robot that used to be some kind of Dodge she doesn't recognize, then turn back into a car and catch the tiny screaming fellow?

I really try to ask politely, hoping that one day she'll give me an answer like, "Well, I know it can't be real, but movies were never real. It looks real, which I guess is the new thing, but it's like seeing a movie, I guess. You just know that whatever is impossible is a cute trick designed to sell a story."

"How do they do that?" is all she ever says.

And before I can ever guide the conversation back the way I want it to go, mom interjects with, "Computers."

I think this is where we're all going, though. We just come to expect the impossible in front of us every time we sit down to watch a block-buster these days. Do you know what the big innovation for "Die Hard" was? Shoes that looked like feet. (So Bruce Willis could run through broken glass safely.) Now, every time I watch a Camaro turn into a fucking giant robot, I get pissy if it doesn't look perfect in the right lighting, or if it doesn't make the right sound.

We're in an escalating war against Suspension of Disbelief. We demand crazier and crazier shit and we demand that it be presented to us in such a way that we can stomach the heightened difference. Eventually, we're just going to get more desensitized and ask for more explosions in the next summer boomfest.

But screw lens flare, that just distracts from the explosions.

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