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 thoughts on “About Schmidt

  1. 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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