August 30, 2006

It Never Gets Old

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Oh, good lord, I can’t believe I’m back at school. It’s been eight months since I last set foot on the Cornell Campus and I’m so out of sync with everything that I often find myself thinking, “Am I, in fact, a freshman?” What’s up with the new psychedelic bus routes that seem to lead into another dimension (in reality, merely the vet school where this English major has never journeyed)? What’s up with the disappearance of Smoothie Hut from Collegetown and, with it, the chance to get mandarin oranges in my salad outside Cornell dining? And will this column still run with my classic thumbs-up moniker accompanied by that mildly retarded, entirely unfocused look in my sliver of an eye? Sadly gentle readers, the times have changed and that’s why I love Snakes On a Plane. How’s that for a transition period?
It all started when even my boss started recommending I read after noticing my seemingly physical inability to go through an entire lunch hour without having a trashy gossip glossy clutched in my non-fork filled hand. “This will save you money!” he proclaimed but I knew he meant, “Possible embarrassment and public scorn from the rest of your co-workers, myself included.” Pity for him, I had already been a regular devourer of thesuperficial since its inception years ago, but it seemed surprising that a noncommercial site had achieved so much in its audience reach. Oh golly, I mentally chortled, how I do love the Internet. As we all know, however, our harmless research aiding, porn provider friend would prove to be much more powerful than we all thought.

I had heard snippets from the rumor mill about Snakes On a Plane (SOaP for all you auspicious acronym lovers out there. My personal favorite in this genre is still James Bond classic “The World is Not Enough” aka TWiNE) while in Europe. Sure it was fun to chuckle over its absolute lack of plot mystery, Samuel L. Jackson’s inevitable hardass law enforcement persona and the mountain of fan-fueled artifacts solely dedicated to its gimmicky title, but ehhh. I had always secretly hated the self-important nature of the blogosphere bunch, wielding imaginary social affluence through armies of badly chosen handle names. The fact that this was just going to be another power-to-the-people-through-the-blogosphere shebang immediately turned me off.

That is until I received a phone call from Samuel L. himself telling me to get in that piece of junk I call a car and watch Snakes On a Plane! And yet it was exactly the kitschy gimmick I needed to get excited. While most of my friends and all of my family rolled their eyes at my determination to view SOaP on opening day or to view it at all, I couldn’t help but revel in the fact that the world was finally doing what I’d personally advocated all along: entertainment for entertainment. Who cares if Independence Day had poorly patched plot holes and no sense of character development outside of cardboard archetypes? Calling it a “bad movie” while vomiting out nuggets of flowery praise for something like Scoop is just redundant. Unless Scarlett Johansson actually revealed herself to be an alien queen bent on repopulating the world with her spawn, vulnerable only to the deathrays projected by Woody Allen’s super sonic glasses, I don’t think the two films can be compared.

And just in case you’re wondering, I did actually see SOaP on opening day and when the entire audience cheered with enthusiasm as Samuel L. Jackson formally articulated his distaste towards certain snakes being on certain planes, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of glum solidarity with the blogosphere brats. With a generally positive reception from most critics and a sweep of the box offices, SOaP merely proved that we are not always mindless robots subject to the self-proclaimed gatekeepers of mass media. While I doubt the desperate airplane aisle navigation by the stereotypical Asian martial artist with a blonde in distress on his back was prooobably not Oscar worthy, it was definitely fun to watch. And isn’t that what all blockbusters should aspire to?