On Martin Scorsese and Theme Parks

Martin Scorsese, a man who knows a little about movies, stirred up the denizens of the interwebs recently when, referring to Marvel’s superhero whoop-de-doos, he said, “I don’t see them. I tried, you know? But that’s not cinema. Honestly, the closest I can think of them, as well made as they are, with actors doing the best they can under the circumstances, is theme parks. It isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.”

Scorsese also said he doesn’t see many new movies anymore, “because the images don’t mean anything.”

Naturally, outrage followed. How dare he say that movies playing in cinemas aren’t cinema? Why, just look at the words themselves! People were likewise quick to point out that Scorsese himself used modern technology to de-age De Niro in his latest film, The Irishman, so, well—enough said, I suppose. Hell, he even had Netflix pay for the damn thing, so that pretty much ends that argument.

Which argument?

James Gunn, writer of Scooby-Doo, and writer/director of Marvel theme park ride Guardians of the Galaxy, tweeted, “I was outraged when people picketed The Last Temptation of Christ without having seen the film. I’m saddened that he’s judging my films in the same way.”

Is he? Are Scorsese and his minions standing outside theaters calling Guardians of the Galaxy blasphemous and urging people not to see it, lest their souls be damned to hell for all eternity? I’m pretty sure Scorsese just pointed out the blindingly obvious: that Marvel movies are corporate products quite similar in purpose and draw to theme park rides. As opposed to the art of using cinematic language to communicate human emotional experiences beyond the one where you speed down a crazy twisty ramp with your arms up yelling “WOOO!”

Perhaps inspired by Gunn’s tweet, Kevin Smith, paragon of cinema history and the language of cinema, also honed in on The Last Temptation, pointing out that, assuming one doesn’t believe that Jesus was the son of god, it’s just another super hero movie. So there, Scorsese!

I only bring up this topic because of how very silly it is, and how funny it is to hear adults obsessed with comic books and corporate movie-scapes of capes and things that go boom making ridiculous non-arguments in defense of, I guess, their childhoods?

Psychologically, there’s also the fact that all of these filmmakers revere Scorsese. Having him point out that their movies are junk food must hit them where it hurts. With any luck, the giant piles of money they’re making will somehow make up for it.

Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man.

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