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Something has changed on the American cultural landscape over the past fifteen years and it’s not good.
The Digital Revolution took a society already fueled by instant gratification and turned up the intensity. Our kids seem to grow up faster, our access to news and information is faster, our food has been faster for some time and our desire for solutions to our problems (depression, weight, finances, relationships) is definitely faster and the line between reality and fantasy has blurred all the more faster as a result. How is it connected to Cynema?
Children are often happier with their online lives than they are with reality, a survey has revealed. They say they can be exactly who they want to be – and as soon as something is no longer fun they can simply hit the quit button. -- Liz Thomas, UK Daily Mail Online
An increase in knowledge has not necessarily created an increase in learning. Theoretically speaking, this generation should be the smartest—with knowledge doubling every eight years. The ‘Net’ has given access to knowledge to all people regardless of race, intelligence and in most cases socio-economic status while spawning Little Emperors—people who believe they have become an expert in a small area and have the ability to broadcast this ‘knowledge’ to the rest of the world, and to a population largely as ignorant as many of these Little Emperors.
To keep it simple and cynical, the Digital Revolution has allowed anyone with a camcorder to think they are a filmmaker and anyone with a blog or access to an online post to be an expert or judge and jury.
This created septic shock in our culture and manifested itself in Hollywood as The Cult of Celebrity. It has allowed malicious if not outright sociopathic online behavior to hide behind anonymity and the pretense of Free Speech. Social Networking has been around since roughly 1997 with Sixdegrees.com. Since that time a number of platforms have grown up and died off like undergrowth in a forest while Facebook became the Redwood that pushed out MySpace. While social networking has its benefits it has also provided a rich compost for our further detachment from reality.
We don't have the pioneer spirit, we don't have that sense of adventure, we don't have the boldness and the courage we used to have...We used to be a nation of risktakers...it's the wussification of America. -- Former PA Governor Ed Rendell on the cancelling of a football game over snow.
We exaggerate way too much. Failure to receive quick service in a restaurant results in a tale later described as a “nightmare”. A child’s fever has escalated into a crisis emergency that has caused a growing problem of using emergency rooms as doctor’s offices. A peanut allergy translates into a purging of all peanut products throughout a school or facility in the fear of widespread death and panic.
Mild physical discomfort has become intolerable and helped spark a boom in a myriad of drugs and medicines all designed to quickly dispense the “anguish” of mild stomach upset or acid reflux.
Our culture is being sanitized, where words as “appropriate” and “inappropriate” are so overused that they no longer mean anything. What used to be a standard social situation is now “awkward” if someone can’t deal with it. Our entertainment is becoming increasingly “Family Friendly” as the Cult of Children expands and punishes those who do not have kids or consciously choose not to have them. So much has become offensive (inappropriate).
When does a previously acceptable word become offensive? What happens there? Why does a word become offensive and need to be replaced? Who determines that? When will the word currently deemed appropriate to describe a set of people suddenly become offensive? How are we supposed to keep track of the changes in acceptable terms?-- The Land of Curly Hair Blog
Mediocrity spreads like a cancer, so when something even slightly above average does appear on the scene we use words as: amazing, awesome, incredible, mesmerizing and hilarious. Rarely do these descriptors truly apply. We use hyperbole to describe mundane things and accept it to the point where the words are given credence.
Hyperbole isn't a deceitful lie, but rather an elegant surpassing of the truth. -- Roman rhetorician Quintili
The film The Hangover is to the word ‘hilarious’ as the word ‘bright’ is to the sun, for many. Let’s clarify--the word hilarious, by definition means: arousing, great merriment. Extremely funny. Boisterously merry or cheerful. Although a movie can be funny, (The Hangover was) never is any movie consistently ‘hilarious.’ Life situations can be hilarious as almost all of us have experienced a moment with friends or family where we have laughed so hard we might have lost control of one bodily function or another.
This is the author's Netflix review for The Hangover: (4 stars out of 5)
"Oh my God, it’s hilarious! The Funniest Movie You’ll Ever See!” No. No it’s not. Like “Juno”, I am going to break from the pack and call out the hype. This is a funny movie without doubt. Just the line: “They gave out rings at the “Holocaust? deserves a thumbs up in this Politically Correct world. However, it’s far from hilarious. That’s the problem with hype. When so much stuff is mediocre and “Family Guy” is seen as high comedy, anything else in comparison will be overrated. It’s a funny movie. I laughed a lot, especially the ending photo slideshow and appreciated it for what it is, not what everyone says it is.
Here are a few examples of overused words associated with Cynema. urbandictionary.com is used to keep the flavor of the topic and support the comments.
“I want the last _____ hours of my life back..!”
A grossly overused phrase on Netflix (fill in the blank with appropriate running time). Does this count as hyperbole? It is definitely exaggeration and it moves us a step closer toward Hyperbolic Cynema. In the end, YOU are in control of what you watch. You may walk out of the theater or turn off the DVD player or change the channel. What does this phrase mean exactly? For most people, they have frittered away and wasted far more time on lesser things. Think about all of the time we waste on smoking, pumping gas, sitting in traffic, pointless meetings, endless children’s birthday parties, being drunk and the subsequent hangover, sitting on hold, texting…where is the clamor for refunding those hours?
The phrase has become a bad cliché but in fact it was never a good one to begin with. If you don’t like the movie, say why in a direct intelligent way using critical thinking skills. Using this kind of exaggeration masks ignorance.
Best. Anything. Ever.
Dumbest. Review. Period. Extreme hyperbole that again masks the inability to put real critical thinking into any type of review. This is the stuff of middle schoolers and only makes you wince when adults use it. If there was ever a red flag on the quality of a movie, let “Best. Movie. Ever.” be one of the reviews. The Urbandictionary.com definition:
The over-used phrase that ditzy teenage girls use to talk about a "super fun night" or "hilarioussssss pictureeee", not realizing that it makes them sound like they have 8 brain cells. Oftentimes, it's combined with other words to make phrases such as, 'BEST.PICTURE.EVER.' Also, 'BEST.NIGHT.EVER" can be seen and/or heard quite frequently.
Few movies qualify as ‘amazing.’ It’s the white lie of exaggerations because it’s meant with the best of intentions. We can debate forever if certain classic or groundbreaking films were "amazing." But Marmaduke? Seriously? Dr. Doolittle, Beverly Hills Chihuahua…this is the word used to describe this kind of mediocre filmmaking? How were audiences amazed? What scene in Paul Blart: Mall Cop inspired wonder or awe or even great surprise? How did a film with the most basic of TV plots and below par casting (save for Kevin James) inspire true wonder? What moment made jaws drop, eyes widen and a light go on in the mind that inspired the true definition of the word ‘amazing?’ One of Urbandictionary.com’s definitions for ‘amazing’:
Over used word. Usually by teenage airhead girls. Amazing was once a word to describe something outstanding and wonderful. Now, teenage girls have overused the word. And have ruined it all.
Girl 1- OMG *squeal* "That lime green skirt a AMAZING".
Girl 2- OMG thanks, no YOU'RE AMAZING.
Girl 1- OMG WE'RE BOTH JUST SO AMAZING.
The Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup of hyperbole--two great words that sound great together, brought in by gaming fanboys as shortcut language for critiquing. Used separately, they are to provide us with the final word on good or bad. Together they are to signify a truly bad motion picture or project. However this exaggeration leaves no room for examination as to why the film is either good or bad, never taking into consideration the variety of factors that go into a film’s success or failure. More “Cliff’s Notes” for the ignorant and extreme hyperbole that means nothing. Urbandictionary.com writes:
Epic: A word that used to be used to describe a book, a movie or other work as timeless, great, and meaningful. Now used by douchebags who combine it with "win" or "fail" to describe everyday things.
It has become the standard word for when something isn’t good. Usually it means it REALLY isn’t good--hyperbole that really doesn’t make much sense unless viewed in the pornographic sense by conjuring up a lewd image. The word is now used from TV to the mainstream press and even graces esteemed film critic Roger Ebert’s recent collection of film reviews and essays: Your Movie Sucks. Movies themselves overuse certain phrases to a point where they have become outright cliches:
There are a lot of overused phrases in movies, and “We’ve Got Company!” is at the top of the list. Guy Bauer created a one-minute montage showing some of the movies and television show in which the phrase has been used. Watch it, embedded after the jump. Peter Sciretta, Slashfilm
There are other overused exaggerations. Unfortunately the well written, critical thinking review is in the minority on not just Netflix but also most online public forums. For your own curiosity, visit these places and count how many times these phrases come up, you’ll see this was not an exaggeration. It seems that the majority of reviews are written by twelve year olds but you know in your heart that is just not the case.
So now we move to the next link in the chain to connect this to Cynema.