In Defense of Boredom


"He has all the time in the world ... "
Very interesting. The Deer Hunter's a classic already? Wow ... tempus fugit!

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I enjoyed this, and felt a little relieved in spots. But I still feel guilty that I haven't yet seen Lawrence of Arabia. Is it on Netflix Streaming? I gotta get rid of all this guilt, even if I end up snoring and bored.

Not on Netflix Instant, no. That was just a generic example, though. I like the movie and its high points are awfully high. But it seems a good stand-in for the argument, given its length and lack of superficial density.

A system of cells interlinked
It's a masterpiece! The transitions alone are worth the price of snoozemission*.

*Neologism! All mine!
"There’s absolutely no doubt you can be slightly better tomorrow than you are today." - JBP

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Fair enough, but it did prod me a little and gave me that same sense of guilt I get any time someone mentions that movie. Gotta watch it...

The one that I use as an example for myself is Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Parts of that -- long shots of space ships set to classical music -- were perhaps stunning at the time, but frankly are just a bit too long now. That's the jaded thing, not the boredom thing. I try to fight it but I can't.

A system of cells interlinked
It IS slow in parts, but for some reason, I kinda like it... Taking a 10 minute break at the intermission is advised.

LoA did have its slow spots, but viewer patience is so greatly rewarded. That said, I haven't seen it in a very long time.

Nice essay, Yoda. A big part of art, unlike practical commodities, is the unique leap of faith it asks of us; The artist acts as our guide, and when we take their hand, we trust in their ability to lead us. Maybe the ultimate destination doesn't matter; Maybe at the end of the journey we end up right back where we began, unsure of what we experienced or how we feel about it. At the center of it all, I believe, is a desire for some kind of catharsis: whether it be through a simple re-affirmation of our values (good guys beat bad guys) or through a feeling of joint consideration / ambiguous exploration with the artist, everybody's essentially looking to get something out of it.

The point is, we do have expectations of art, and should. Because we know how complex & moving art can be, anything less is at best entertaining filler and at worst a mockery of our interest.
#31 on SC's Top 100 Mofos list!!

Great essay. I too thought LoA was long in parts, but its brilliant parts are just that. Not sure what you could cut out either, it's just lengthy and that's the way it is. I haven't seen Gone with the Wind to speculate on the boredom spectrum of that.

Twists aside, I'm not sure how I agree with the conclusion, or at least what I think the conclusion is: accepting the immense drop in attention spans as long as you sit through classic films or any film really without proper observation? If that's true, no one will ever again finish one page of a book and remember what they just read. Why not support higher attention spans as a quality you earn rather than that "silly intellectual stuff"?

Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
I think the essay has many points, but the bottom line is that it's only human for people to watch films from an individual perspective, and sometimes that involves the film's length, subject matter, age, language, color/B&W, etc. Yoda's perspective here is more from someone who wants to enjoy movies of all kinds but just can't help but feel guilty about being bored sometimes when he watches a film which he believes he "should" watch. However, sometimes people are just affected by what time it is or whether they are sick or distracted by certain emotions.

With very little tweaking, the point of the essay could have been why do some people feel that certain mainstream entertainments deserve less attention and discussion than the art house classics? I'm not pointing any fingers here, but I know that some people don't pay as much attention to something like Jaws because the film and those viewers apparently have some baggage which makes it difficult to take Jaws seriously as a work of art.

Shut up, mark! It's Yoda's essay.
It's what you learn after you know it all that counts. - John Wooden
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In response to WT, I have a few thoughts, assuming I'm understanding the critique

If it feels like I was just defending laziness, then perhaps I didn't flesh out the ending as much as I could/should have, because that isn't quite what I was going for. It was mostly meant as a tongue-in-cheek summation, for one. And I came into the essay with the assumption that one side was spoken for, and one was not: that it was the easy, obvious, and common thing to assume that this sort of boredom was the result of a lack of attentiveness or sophistication. The goal is that, by the end of the essay, I haven't answered whether or not each person is legitimately or illegitimately bored (obviously, that's case-by-case and there is no one universal answer), but that hopefully I've simply reframed things and presented a few reasons why otherwise thoughtful, sophisticated moviegoers can still feel that kind of boredom and lack of interest. The idea is that, at the end of the essay, we're simply at a blank slate where that sort of yawning can be debated on the merits, case-by-case, rather than assumed the worst of from the beginning, which I think is generally the default position.

Does that make sense, even if it isn't perhaps as evident as it should be in the piece itself?

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I thought it was evident in the piece. The other side has never needed a defense, since nobody gets a chip on their shoulder about being savvy about important or classic movies.

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Also, remember that this site has at least one thread dedicated to listing our "guilty pleasure" movies, and probably nobody's sheepishly putting "Lawrence of Arabia" on that list.