About Schmidt

Screw Mock-a-Blog week. I’ve got more impor­tant things to write on. I watched About Schmidt last evening and it was alright. Def­i­nite­ly an old person’s movie. It was solid­ly put togeth­er with inter­est­ing shots but noth­ing fan­cy. Jack Nichol­son made the movie. It is obvi­ous why his per­for­mance got him nom­i­nat­ed for so many awards. Kathy Bates was even nom­i­nat­ed for Best Actress in a Sup­port­ing Role for her per­for­mance. I wasn’t stunned by her per­for­mance but I was stunned by her get­ting bare-ass naked for a hot tub scene. She is not an attrac­tive woman.

Watch­ing About Schmidt got me think­ing though. I’ve got the feel­ing more and more films like this are going to start appear­ing in the wake of baby boomer retire­ments. I’m not and not meant to be inter­est­ed in films about old age. The demo­graph­ic is my parent’s. I am sort of inter­est­ed in how aging and the decline of the boomers will be por­trayed. This arti­cle by Michael Moses appeared in the Jan­u­ary 2002 edi­tion of Rea­son and sort of gets at some of the prob­lems that boomer cin­e­ma might throw up.

In an inter­view Spiel­berg grant­ed when Sav­ing Pri­vate Ryan was released, the direc­tor summed up his view of the great con­flict. “I think it is the key — the turn­ing point of the entire cen­tu­ry. It was as sim­ple as this: The cen­tu­ry either was going to pro­duce the baby boomers or it was not going to pro­duce the baby boomers. World War II allowed my gen­er­a­tion to exist.” There you have it. The ulti­mate ben­e­fit, the high­est jus­ti­fi­ca­tion and sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion of the great­est, if not the blood­i­est, war in human his­to­ry: the birth of the baby boomers.

Pret­ty inflam­ma­to­ry; but what he is get­ting at final­ly shows up in his sec­ond to last sen­tence.

The baby boom gen­er­a­tion, for bet­ter or worse, is the first ful­ly com­mit­ted to the view that to con­trol the visu­al rep­re­sen­ta­tion of his­to­ry is to con­trol his­to­ry itself, and there­by one?s own des­tiny.

I find this trou­bling because my parent’s gen­er­a­tion has so much clout that it can enforce cul­tur­al and ide­o­log­i­cal change to a high degree. Its the mes­sage of the 60s aged 40 years. In this way, boomers are still rebelling against their upbring­ing and try­ing to define them­selves. I think I’m uncom­fort­able with this because I feel the same way. I think the boomers are obso­lete and should stop wor­ry­ing about them­selves so much. I think by now they should have come up with some sense of sta­bil­i­ty. I think they should give it up and let GenXrs come into their own. I don’t want an influx of movies about being old because I want to cel­e­brate being young. At the same time I’m inter­est­ed in what boomers are going to pro­duce in their evening years.

I sup­pose every gen­er­a­tion feels this way as the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion ages. So I guess my tirade is noth­ing more than the pot call­ing the ket­tle black.

2 Replies

  • I thought About Schmidt was kind of like a more mod­ern Death of a Sales­man, where the pro­tag­o­nist real­izes that all he ever cared about in life was mate­r­i­al and, in the end, worth noth­ing, while he had let the peo­ple who real­ly cared about him fall to the side until he had no one and noth­ing left but him­self.

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