I saw Pirate Radio the other night. I liked it a lot; even the played-out classic rock radio standards were well-used and seemed fresh, since the movie did a good job of conveying the context of it taking place in 1966. Also, and I don’t know how this is done, but it sounded like vinyl. I mean, I know the music is being played on vinyl in the movie, but it sounded like vinyl coming out of my TV. And while all of the radio stations I’ve been in have smelled like rotting acetate and old pizza boxes, I imagined the Radio Rock ship to smell like record sleeves and pot. Which is nice, at least comparatively.
I felt a little dorky about liking Pirate Radio so much while I was watching it, to the point where I thought, “Oh my god, I’m grinning like a fool at the TV right now. I really like this movie. Should I say that? Do I look stupid? Heee, I like this movie!” It was only me and Graham watching it so I didn’t have to worry about what People Who Know Better thought of me, but still. He was tired and not really reacting at all, and I was, like I said, grinning like a fool. There’s just something about the British version of feel-good movies that is so over and above the American version. Perhaps it’s because British feel-good movies feature Bill Nighy giving the Finger every time he gestures with his hands, and American feel-good movies are buddy comedies starring John Travolta.
I know so much about American feel-good movies because those are the only movies watched by the ladies in my office. While I like a number of these women as people, their movie-related opinions are almost uniformly stupid. I’m willing to accept that everyone is entitled to enjoy the dumbest movies ever made. It’s my choice to watch them or not, and I always choose not. But although I choose not to watch them, I have heard so goddamn much about Old Dogs from these women, and their summation of this and similar movies is always “It was cute!” Cute. Look, everyone is allowed to have terrible tastes, but when the zenith of your moviegoing experiences is described as “cute,” I start entertaining fantasies of strapping you down and forcing you to read subtitles.
Full disclosure — I’m aware that movies like Old Dogs get made because they’re inane enough to appeal to the majority of people, and that the majority of people really aren’t all that bright. Pearls before swine, lowest common denominator, et al. And honestly, I don’t want every movie to be dark and complicated and challenging. I don’t always go to the movies to be challenged. Sometimes I want to be entertained, which is actually the whole point of movies. So I get it, okay, and I’m not nearly as pretentious as I sound.
BUT when the people in my office who display the highest enthusiasm for “cute” movies are clustered around the TVs in the breakroom, I really don’t appreciate experiencing a momentary panic that something has gone seriously wrong in the world and caused everyone I work with to tune into the news. Especially when they’re staring transfixed at Access Hollywood or Family Feud, or, worse, Wendy Williams, whom I hate more than anyone else on daytime TV because she is a terrible person. Maybe she translated better on the radio, I’m not sure, but her delivery and shitty attitude and habit of saying an extended “UHHHMMM” after things she thinks is funny is AWFUL. Saying “UHHHMMM” after something doesn’t make it funny, you asshole, it means you have a speech impediment and are lazy at comedy.
(It was possibly Sarah Silverman or Chelsea Handler who said it, but I remember something like “wearing a sundress and saying “fuck” doesn’t mean you can tell a joke.” Like, you have to be better at being funny and actually make an effort to write or say something entertaining. Looking cute and cursing and/or saying “UHHHMMM” or “So…” like a tell after something isn’t the same as making a joke. Neither is cooking a SlimJim over a cigarette lighter, because srsly I really hate when rich people try to prove they’re down here with the rest of us.)
There’s no accounting for taste, I know that, and people should be allowed to rot their brains with whatever they want. Fiiiiiiine. But it’s making me feel guilty for liking Pirate Radio, right down to all of the silly emotional triggers – yeah, I totally want to get high with Philip Seymour Hoffman now, and I boo-hissed at the mean British government guy with the really amazingly designed office, and I had to stop myself from clapping when everyone was rescued by the shabby British boat flotilla. Which is admittedly ridiculous, but so very rock n’ roll in a feel-good British way.