Saturday, January 25, 2014

Generation Defining Movies

Recently, I, half tongue-in-cheek, described The Social Network (2010) as a generation-defining movie. I say "tongue-in-cheek" because, really, can you describe something as generation-defining while it is still making its mark and the generation is still in full force and how do you even define the term generation? Well I believe the movie to be a fascinating one, not simply because Facebook has had a monumental impact on how we relate to each other but because the entire creation of that particular internet beast was built on connecting-but-not-really-connecting, creating some sort of "chicken or the egg" question of what caused the other.

Anyhow, as I did a quick Google search of the phrase, "generation-defining," the first hit was a Rolling Stones article on thirteen movies that defined a generation. They seem to pick a movie about every three or four years from the 1960's on. The title is semi-misleading in that I don't think generations roll over every three or four years, but the point is still made.

Following Rolling Stones' lead (actually, I had this idea before the Google search), I would like to expound on the list. So my thoughts on The Social Network have already been discussed but I would like to propose that it, in some ways, serves as the middle man between two other generation-defining movies for the last ten years or so.
First, Garden State (2004) typifies a generation of young people (perhaps especially those currently in their 20's and 30's - so perhaps the older Millennials and whatever came right before them) who desire authenticity, accept messy relationships, and are fed up with previous generations' attempts to dull pain with anesthetics. Rather, there is a desire to feel and to feel deeply, even if it hurts.
Coming off of that, I think The Social Network takes a dark turn towards distancing ourselves from others, despite a veneer that might say otherwise.
My final generation-definer is Her (2013). Her takes the idea of connecting via a device and moves beyond it, where the protagonist actually enters into a relationship with his OS. I could gush a lot about this movie - its ability to make an "absurd" situation absolutely believable, the acting, the gorgeous sets and fashion, the score, the script, and the list goes on. But to the point of the blog post, Her explores what it looks like to experience true and intimate relationships in a world prone to disconnect us and create personalized worlds bent towards being self-centered while also introducing the idea of with whom we are actually connecting. Without totally giving away the conclusion of the movie, it ends on a hopeful note (or at least I thought so) that's not altogether different than the conclusion of Garden State, though certainly updated for a generation of today/tomorrow.

Any thoughts on movies that define generations? (I know, it's a bit pretentious of a concept.) Any gaping wholes in my connection of these movies? Movies you would add?

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