That Guy…Spielberg…

So I’ve decided to “understand” Spielberg. Checked out a bunch of books from the library: interviews, quotes, methods, whole deal.

And now? I sort of have a better handle on him; I kinda get it. I didn’t before, just didn’t make sense. I couldn’t comprehend why his movies are successful: what was the appeal? What was I missing?

I find them consistently boring and worse absent of subtext and yet what surprises me is that I stand alone. Clearly since his movies do $o well. Yet his movies are contemporary: there that’s part of the problem. They have no lasting resonance or relevance to popular culture.

Look at Scarface kept alive by hip hop and the impact it has had on even a small aspect of pop culture. Spielberg hasn’t contributed much to popular culture: no clever t-shirts, witty verbal references or even respectful homage’s from other filmmakers: nothing. He doesn’t even fall into kitsch. Like once the movie and its time has past that’s pretty much it, he’s contemporary. A true artist has to be relevant but Spielberg’s only managed to be contemporary.

That was the first element I grasped: I find contemporary boring.

And then I thought about the childhood shtick. Peter Pan and all that jazz. Again he’s fails me. There are a million other articulate sources which awesomely capture and celebrate the eloquence and awkwardness of childhood far better than he does.

Ray Bradbury stitches wonder and magic into each word of every story. Wonder Years—show had no coloured folk and took place in small town America but still has plenty more punch with me. Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon man, everything’s in that brilliant novel: he even thanks Bob Kane, Ray Bradbury and Rod Serling in the acknowledgments! Yes Guy!

(It would be interesting to see how Spielberg is perceived in Europe to gauge a sense of his impact. They don’t do the whole childhood thing like America filmmakers do; their films barely have children in them!)

Another thing: he doesn’t offend anybody. (Well except for me). A good artist offends people either their sensibilities or their aesthetic or their morality, something, anything.

A great artist does it automatically (and unintentionally) simple because he’s reaching for The New and The New makes everybody uncomfortable. Spielberg really hasn’t offended anybody; instead he’s done the opposite and tried to please everybody.

First kids with E.T. (and aliens too, I suppose), Jews with Schindler’s List, veterans and older generations with Saving Private Ryan and so on. It’s boring trying to please everyone. I’ve seen people like that at parties; it’s strictly surface work: there’s no depth.

So yeah…that’s what I came up reading these books on Spielberg. You may feel different…comments are below.


Also published on Medium.

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