June 19th, 2008


AFI Lists

For some reason, I've found myself reading the AFI top ten films in ten genres. I usually try to stay away from such lists because, well, they're usually ridiculous.

It's no different this time out. You know you're reading something idiotic when the very forgettable comedy Caddyshack is listed at number seven in the top ten sports films, and Rocky is number two, beneath Raging Bull. Now, I know a lot of people like Rocky, but frankly, it's own made reasonable by the sheer insanity of including Caddyshack which is not by any stretch of the imagination a film about sports. You could probably argue that it's not really a film. Likewise, the animation section, which basically features Disney films, is a laugh, too--Walt Disney's frozen head must be sending out cheques to people who made that list. The Western section doesn't make mention of Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man, the sci-fi section reveals why science fiction is pretty much for children, and on and on...

But the thing that struck me is that here, in this list, are the top ten American films. Taste is subjective, but taste reveals a certain insight about a culture, and what is it that you can say about a society that would list Ben Hur, Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, and The Ten Commandments? Well, if you were like me, you might argue that there is a certain conservatism in these tastes, a certain Christian, straight, nuclear family morality that, while more than apparently in the Jesus flicks referenced, strings itself across into the Searchers--where, to a degree, it is subverted--and into It's a Wonderful Life, Miracle of 34th Street and even, though it may seem impossible that I am reference two minor Bill Murray flicks, Groundhog Day, which is about a man becoming a good person and winning the heart of a girl to find true happiness and love and kindness and all of that rubbish.

Which means that the AFI list is showing you everything that's wrong with American cinema and why it's so fucking boring these days.