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Thursday, September 6, 2018

Throwback Thursday - Why does the Internet suck?

I haven't done a Throwback Thursday in a long time. Instead of dusting off an old review I thought it would be cool to revisit an opinion piece aka. a rant that I did for Grindhouse Purgatory several years ago. As a cranky old guy I have a lot of things that are enjoyable to bitch about. I know crazy right? But it does happen. I highly recommend that you check the magazine out for the informative and well written articles contained within. Obviously I'm not referring to my own, but the other cool people involved. You can get them here at Amazon

Time to climb back up on my soapbox and rant again.  I know that a lot of people complain about the Internet and I totally agree with many of their comments.  The anonymity that the web provides allows everyone to channel their inner asshole and generally be shitty to one another.  But this rant isn’t about that but is more specific.  For what I’m trying to get across is that you new fans who have grown up with the Internet won’t ever have the great experience of discovering movies the way that I did and that sucks.  Let me explain what I mean.

I’m going to split things into two periods of time.  First is before the video stores.  When I was younger if you were into horror or science fiction movies there were two ways to see them.  You either went to the theater or you watched them on the local late night show (many of them hosted by great local characters).  If you went to the theater, especially a drive-in, you were normally surrounded by other fans that also were into the movies.  Sure there were always the “normal” folks, especially around Halloween, but you could always find the real fans hanging around and that was part of the fun.

Remember that going to the movies used to be a big social event; this was of course before the studios were allowed to gobble up all the theaters into giant incestuous chains.  It didn’t matter what genre you were into, be it Horror, Science Fiction, or Westerns when you went to the movies it was easy to strike up a conversation in line before or hanging out afterwards.  Yes people used to actually talk to each other rather then have their noses in their cell phones all the time (a rant for a different time).  Growing up this is how I used to find out about movies that might be worth checking out, especially in those genres that weren’t mainstream (my personal favorite subgenre of creature features were pretty much ignored before movies like Alien and Predator hit it big).  The excitement that other fans had when recommending movies was contagious and isn’t something that you can get from a computer screen.

If you didn’t see a movie when it was in the theater then your next and only chance was to catch it on television.  For the kinds of movies that I liked that meant watching the horror hosted late night shows.  I know that a lot of people had friends over and used to watch them together.  Yes people actually used to plan their nights around watching something on TV!  Unfortunately in my regular life I wasn't that popular and didn’t have friends to invite over.  But some of my earliest memories with my Dad and brother are staying up late to watch movies.  Growing up in Ohio my weekends revolved around Big Chuck and Lil’ John on Fridays and Superhost on Saturdays.  Again there was a social aspect to this.  I had fun talking to my Dad about the movies, and I’m sure that those with friends did the same.

Lets talk about what happened after the video store.  Suddenly a lot of those B pictures that used to still get played at the drive-in showed up on a shelf for you to rent anytime that you wanted to!  For someone who has never lived in that kind of a world it was an amazing development.  Others including 42nd Street Pete have covered this much better so I won’t go on about it.  Plus that has nothing to do with the point that I’m trying to make. 

This was paradise I tell you. PARADISE!
Every Friday night I’d visit the video store and pick up the movies that I planned on watching over the weekend.  While that meant that I wasn’t at the theater I still met a ton of other fans.  Back in the days of the Mom and Pop stores if you hung out in the horror section browsing someone was going to talk to you.  Either they were asking for a recommendation or they were going to make a suggestion.  If you were a regular like I was then you would be recognized.  Hell at one point the owner asked me what I thought they should stock?  I was maybe seventeen and here was an adult asking my opinion!  Would today’s corporate run stores (which ironically enough are also disappearing now) ask the customers what to stock?  Would they encourage a bunch of teenagers to hang out talking about slasher movies and best kills?  Yeah I doubt it.

It got to the point where the “regulars” would expect to see each other on Fridays and would spend a lot of time chatting about movies.  Again here I was introduced to a lot of great stuff.  I still remember one of the other guys asking if had heard about a movie called the Re-Animator…

Recently I had an epiphany about conventions and that inspired this rant.  Personally one of the things I love the most about conventions is the chance to hang out with other fans.  I believe it is an effort on my part to recapture that sense of community that going to the movies, watching with family, and going to the video store gave me.  There is nothing as good as sitting face to face with someone and talking about a subject that you both love, even if you disagree (the original Evil Dead does not have pacing issues damn it!  Sorry inside joke.).  This is how I experienced movies growing up and is why I love them so much.  And this is why the Internet sucks.

This is 100% true!
You “new” fans that have grown up with the Internet are missing out on all of this human interaction.  I’m sorry but message boards and Facebook are filled with so many trolls that it doesn’t count.  In the real world if someone was an ass we would just kick them out of the store or if that didn’t work take them out back.  But most of the time they would just slink away when someone told them to shut the hell up.  That you can’t get rid of people like that on the net, which allows a minority to stick around and ruin it for everyone, really sucks.

The other thing that has happened is everyone has become an expert.  Let me say right now that I'm not an expert and anyone that acts like they know it all is full of shit.  Seriously in spite of the fact that I’ve been watching horror flicks for more then thirty five years I still have someone recommend something that I’ve not seen before.  Mostly it is from hanging out with someone I’ve met at a convention either in person or via the web later on after we have become friends.  But honestly I’ve never listened to the random goof on the Internet.  Most of the time they aren’t as smart as they think they are.   I think we can all recall times where we have wanted to reach thru the screen and slap someone for saying something so stupidly wrong.  And I don’t mean having an opinion but I mean just flat out getting the facts screwed up.  Like the guy that insisted that Romero wrote the Day of the Dead remake or that it was based on his original script.  Sadly he probably got that from some other knucklehead and passed it on as fact.  This is the kind of thing that either would have been shot down in a face-to-face interaction or wouldn’t have been said at all. 

Now while writing that previous sentence I wondered why this was the case.  At least in the groups that I used to run with we had a bit of a pecking order.  There were guys who had seen more and knew more about the movies.  So you would listen a little more when they were talking.  The longer you were around and the more movies that you watched the more respect that you would get in the group.  That sort of respect is what is missing with this new online interaction.  Everyone wants to be the expert instead of hanging out listening to those who actually know.  And just to be clear for many years I was the kid hanging out taking it in and still feel that way when listening to certain folks that I know I can still learn from.

Let me ask the question again that started this all off.  Why does the Internet suck?  I’m sure you are expecting me to have an angry answer to that.  Truth is I don’t.  I can avoid the idiots on Facebook and message boards by not going there.  I used to have a website and a podcast.  People got annoying so I quit.  Everyone always says if you don’t like something then don’t “tune” in or go away.  That is what I did.  Now let me give you the answer to my question.

I feel terrible for everyone just know getting into enjoying movies.  All they have is the Internet and most of them will never know the sense of community that I did.  Certain movies remind me of sitting with my Dad on the couch, or hanging out in the horror section of the video store.  It just isn’t how entertaining the movies are, but also the experience discovering them with others.  With today’s technology do you really think anyone is going to be fondly remember when they watched Dawn of the Dead for the first time on their iPhone with headphones on and no one else around?  I can’t see how that is possible.  That is what makes me sad and why I say that the Internet sucks.

© Copyright 2018 John Shatzer

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