Original article was published on Artificial Intelligence on Medium
One of the things I get most from film criticism. The sense that you and only you are truly knowledgeable about anything, that you have spent years investigating and writing about it, and that your conclusions are always ultimately binding.
This sense of smug satisfaction is infectious. We need validation that our theories and regrets are not only valid, they are even virtuous. You see, as rational human beings, we often need validation in order to feel that our faulty beliefs are not actually wrong.
And so you read the reviews of Jodie Foster as though she were an old friend. Some of them said A Part I, she was great in Part II. Some of them said A Part III, she was great in Part IV. Some of them said Not yet, not for a while. Then they said A Part V, and they were all for it. What a lovely way to celebrate the tenth anniversary of The Princess Bride. And what a lovely way to mark the occasion. By celebrating the decade in which The Princess Bride took place, we also celebrate the decade in which we lost one of our own. Sad!
By Sad! I mean Letters To My Young Years which, by the way, is the title of my book, not that it matters to me. All I can think is That Is so brave of her to talk about her teenage years on the show. It makes me feel better.
There are of course a few things I wrote during my teenage years that I don’t think are appropriate for young adults but even those are better suited to a younger audience. And I would argue that the vast majority of kids who watch Letters To My Young Years are between 12 and 17. Even if they’re read by an adult audience, children are generally geared to absorb information they’ll be consuming for the rest of their lives.
Letters To My Young Years is generally rated PG which means it shouldn’t be watched by anyone under the age of 12. So I guess I should be grateful that Netflix has set aside a special screening screening space for children under 12, right? Well, no. Not yet. Because Letters To My Young Years is rated R, it is not suitable for children under 12. Let me make that very clear: it is not suitable for young children at all.
If you are under 12, you probably don’t want to watch a film rated R no matter what the subject matter may be. But if you happen to be a child, then chances are high that you have at least one DVD or Blu-ray of the same length that you’ve watched some portions of in childhood. If not, chances are good that at least one of your parents was a child either way.
And if you were lucky enough to grow up in an era in which children were not bombarded with media that was rated PG you likely held firmly to your old beliefs about what was appropriate for an audience of 12 year olds. Perhaps even more remarkably, your parents held firmly to their own set of values as they watched these films as well. There is something incredibly comforting about the thought that your entire culture is built around reinforcing the notion that what is young is beautiful and what is old is sad.
The filmography of Victor Fleming is incredibly extensive and equally daunting to the untrained eye. His best known films are probably probably Dr Strangelove or Forrest Gump where he plays a slightly older version of himself. He is hardly your run of the mill schmoe but there he is, swinging by your family home to get a cup of tea and munching on some almonds while youre asleep.
And then there are his noirish creations such as The Honeymooners where he takes on the role of a bored middle-aged man who marries a young, beautiful, and irreplaceable woman. Its almost as if he is trying to portray what life is like for a single mother with children as closely as possible. Its almost as if he is trying to recreate what life is like for his single, yet beautiful, wife.
There are also a number of romantic comedies that he is not attached to (Drunken Love Song being one of them). Perhaps most memorably, where he plays a slightly older version of himself, Victor encounters a woman named Clare in a forgotten movie which she was supposed to star in. In the film, she is portrayed by an incel who cannot bear the thought of a possible marriage. In reality, she is a sweetheart who cannot bear the thought of a possible divorce.
As I sat in silence for a prolonged period of time with my eyes glued to my television, tears welled up in my eyes. I stooped to my knees and touched my eyes with the back of my hand, unable to take my eyes off the screen. I don’t believe I said anything, but I felt I should. I knew I should not, so I at least tried to pretend I didn’t.