What do you do with an astronaut suffering from space dementia? Wrap him up in duct tape until you get back to earth.
This is not just one of my favorite scenes in one of my favorite films, Armageddon. It is, in fact, actual NASA protocol for dealing with sufferers of space dementia. Which I guess is a real thing.
I know that as a good lefty, liberal, indy filmmaker, I am supposed to abhor the summer blockbuster. It’s abomination, a pale reference to what films SHOULD be about. The blockbuster is supposed to be everything I hate. And yet, I don’t. In fact, I love them. And one of my favorites is the Bruce-Willis-Versus-an-Asteroid spectacle, Armageddon.
When I was working at Videoport, I received such horrible treatment for my love of this film. My coworkers would shout at me, call me names, and trip me on the playground. I would stand in the back of the store, quietly reciting the American President’s speech on the eve of the oil-driller-turned-astronauts space departure, while the eyes of my fellow film fanatics burned deep scars in the back of my head. I was persecuted for love, my love of a film that others thought wrong.
And yet I persevered. I grew stronger for my suffering, working hard to overcome the vilification and hatred. My skin grew thick and I slowly grew to know that I was not alone. There were others out there suffering in secret. Other filmmakers who loved blockbusters.
I’ll never forget the day I heard an interview with Paul Thomas Anderson. A wonderful, original filmmaker, arguably one of the greatest cinematic minds of this generation. He was discussing his first few days of film school at NYU. In a screenwriting class, his professor proclaimed that if folks were there to make films like Terminator 2, then they should leave.
What happened was, I walked into this class, and this teacher said, “If anyone is here to write Terminator 2, walk out, just get out of the door.” And I thought well that’s just not a good way to start. What if I do want to write Terminator 2? What if someone sitting next to me wants to write Terminator 2? He was sort of instantly saying “We write serious films here,” you know. Terminator 2 is a pretty awesome movie.
Anderson dropped out of film school after two days. With the amount of his tuition that he got back, he financed his first film, Coffee and Cigarettes.
Paul Thomas Anderson doesn’t make movies like Terminator 2. But he does appreciate the value of a bombastic spectacle. So perhaps you’re like me, and you just love films, all films. You’re a cinematic omnivore. Well, PT Anderson and I are here to say, “It’s Okay”. Be yourself, love your movies, and don’t feel the guilt. Just feel the pleasure.
Here is a link to Paul Thomas Anderson discussing how pompous the cult of the film can be.
Note: To this day, I have not seen Terminator 2.