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Brief thoughts on over-the-top American Cinema




We live in a meme era.


By 'meme era,' I'm referring to the continual flowing of in-jokes and current events that permeates throughout our culture and especially our social lives. Checking Instagram every day, browsing on twitter, trolling on Reddit, all of these are a constant feed of information and micro-narrative jokes that collide together to form one cohesive, self-referential narrative that encourages participation and demands attention. Not to say that memes aren't funny, or even gust-bustlingly hysterical. They are. I still have the Ghanan Funeral Techno Song playing in my head. I even have Ugandan Knuckles stored somewhere in the back of my head.


As much fun as this constant feed of self-referential humor is, I fully believe that it drowns out the interesting, compelling, and thought-provoking elements of society in favor of quick bites of content. It has become harder and harder to form conversations and discussions around longer-form media and narrative without formatting said discussion in manner conducive to widespread dissemination (ie upvotes). What's even more dangerous about this style of humor is it's ease of access and it's ability to throw your train of thought. Even know, looking up "dancing coffin meme" led me down a rabbit hole that lasted 20 minutes, googling various meme nonsense and Trump tweets and other assorted "noise."


But I digress. And that's probably the wrong phrase to use to describe me losing my train of thought almost completely by scrolling through memes. They got me again!


I'll go back to the link at the top of the post and the original point of me writing this. I have a deep appreciation for American Cinema, specifically large budget, absurd, fantastical cinema. The video linked at the top of this post is part of the soundtrack for Conan the Barbarian, the 1982 John Milius movie starring Arnold. It is a two hour gorgeous, beautiful, bombastic, outrageous action film. If you haven't seen it, PLEASE DO. DO NOT WATCH CLIPS ON YOUTUBE, DO NOT READ THE WIKI SUMMARY, DO NOT READ IMDB SPOILERS, Watch the goddamned movie.


The reason I'm using this movie as an example is because it has a few very specific elements that make it a true American Cinema classic. The score (see the link above), is completely over the top. Arnold is unrealistically ripped and dripping with sweat and/or Makeup Department oil in every shot. He has sex with like 4 separate women, including a witch (who he of course kills). The last part of the movie takes place in a gigantic pagan temple. There's blood everywhere! His female sidekick gets attacked by Ghostly Orgasms! It's nuts! Who approved this movie!?

That question: "who approved this movie!?" is the core essence of the major traits of American Cinerama. A movie which spiraled out of the control of marketers and board members and MBA executives and was created by a singularly focused group of filmmakers intent on making something awesome. Not because they were shooting for the largest box office return that they could, but because they wanted to SEE something awesome. Because they LOVED the style of movie that they were making.


Conan the Barbarian, although not without flaws, is a perfect example of the type of movie that I will be discussing at length. Sporadically, whenever the mood strikes me of course. Which may be quite rarely.


It's big. It's bad. It's over the top. It's full of absurd sequences, one-liners, massive fights, an incredible score, and a love for storytelling and film that oozes through the screen. It's awesome. Go watch it.


This was supposed to be a more organized blog, but no one reads this anyways so just deal. Send me a DM on Instagram if you want to argue. @stephenfwalshjr


In running a spell check of this post (about half the words were fat-finger misspelled), I remembered my original point: Watch movies! Sit down and really let a long-form narrative sink into your thoughts and start stirring the pot of creativity. Don't just look at memes all day, start actively using your brain to enjoy things.

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