Monday, December 5, 2011

Hollywood, Please Make Entire Movies Out of Montages

George had the prettiest dress in the whole movie.
As useful a narrative device as it is, there's something deeply problematic at the heart of every montage sequence: it skips all the hard work.

Yes, in a romantic comedy it makes for a fun, clean sequence of cut-scenes and '80s music that takes up very little screen time while also showing time elapsing and much being achieved. Maybe a house gets painted or multiple wedding/prom dresses are tried on. All the hard work is removed because the audience doesn't want to see seven hours or nerds sweeping up a frat house; no one needs to see Drew Barrymore get zipped into four different gowns and then discuss with Adam Sandler, a Boy George impersonator, and that actress who looks like a young Jennifer Aniston but wasn't exactly why they don't necessarily work for her.

However, not showing these minutes and hours seems to have impacted our culture. Impacted it like a wisdom tooth. "I feel like this shouldn't be taking as long as it is." "I feel like we must be trying to hard." If I set up a thirty year old ghetto-blaster boom box and pop in a Duran Duran cassette, I don't really expect to be done painting my grandma's entire house by the time I hear the last chords in "Rio."

But I kind of do. I don't expect to have to work hard, or for very long, before I start seeing results. What do you mean I have to work out for six months before I see noticeable results? What do you mean for an hour a day? What are slow reps? What's this notion of applying for jobs constantly, even after I achieve the dream of a 35 hour-a-week retail job? God damn it, that was good enough for Janeane Garofalo in Reality Bites, why should I have to work harder than that?

The montage has ruined us. I would pay $40 to see an entire movie about the six weeks Seth Rogan spent at the end of Knocked Up getting his life together by moving out of his friends' house, throwing away his bongs, getting an office job that would sponsor him for U.S. citizenship, renting a nice apartment, and studying all his baby guides. Why would I do that?

Because I'm 25 and no one has ever taught me how to put my shit in order and work hard without seeing immediate results.

But at least my life's got a killer soundtrack.

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