Do films matter?: a long-winded answer to one question


Films appease, in us, the strands of primal DNA left over from previous generations that allow us to love, to fear and be moved to tears. Films were once live, pieces of celluloid that offered a passage into other worlds, operating with mechanics akin to the casual flip-book. Now that films are digital, they have become more accessible. Whether or not that destroys their authenticity to show those worlds, there is no denying that there are films of all kinds that have affected us.

Gary Carlson, organizer of the “Movies-of-the-Month” free film series, said that films have more value to us than to provide entertainment.

With his series, he hopes people leave with a more critical appreciation for films, encouraged by the teachings of the hosts.

Carlson’s bi-weekly event also exists to provide people with a venue to see films on a big screen, in a dark room, the way they were meant to. The screenings are free of charge as well, and submissions can be suggested by anyone. With all this freedom to exhibit, Carlon’s one lament is the lack of young people in attendance. He attributes this to a youthful resistance to anything made before 1980, and thinks it is a shame.

Carlson said, “If you go through life like that you’re cheating yourself out of so much. There are whole worlds to discover.”

While there may be many places to discover, they all tell similar stories. They function as historical documents of our time and our world. They also provide us with the opportunity to find commonalities between our lives and those portrayed on screen. They validate our existence.

Another wonderful source for film enlightenment can be found around the halls of NCC in the form of Mass Communications professor, John Shields.

Taking a class in film studies with Shields is not for those with weak sensibilities. Got a favorite film? He will find any and all hidden subtexts. Love a particular franchise? Good luck recovering from the massive realization that everything you experience with a waking mind is commercialized to the last collectible action-figure. But one shouldn’t fear. Shields means well. The films he shows in his classes are rad, and his teaching-style is meaningful. There is a method to his madness, which is to send students into the world more critical of the film medium in ways they normally would not consider.

So do films matter? Yes, because a medium so pervasive in our society requires people to care about it. Otherwise, such a beautiful, but manipulative, tool could be used for evil.

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