by Anthony King
As always, I've got something on my mind. We've all experienced being the outsider looking in; our noses pressed against the window, yearning to “be a part of it all.” You're lying through your teeth if you say you haven't. Our goal in life is to be our true, authentic selves, and being forcefully immersed (submerged would be a better word) in pop culture for our entire lives, attaining that Zen moment of authenticity is, well, unattainable. More in a bit, but first here's what I've been watching.this week's podcast I only have one feature to recommend. Narvik (2022) aka Kampen Om Narvik is a Norwegian historical fiction film about Hitler's first defeat in WWII. The story splits its time between a husband and wife in the small Norwegian town of Narvik that is home to a massive iron ore mine. The German's plan is to take the city so they can take the mine for resources to build Hitler's war machine. A small platoon, comprised of residents of Narvik guard the city and its port. Kristine Cornelie M. Hartgen plays Ingrid, an employee and interpreter at the town's hotel who is hosting diplomats from all over the world. Carl Martin Eggesbo is Gunnar, Ingrid's husband, and part of the platoon guarding the town. As the Germans move in, the British diplomats (one played by the Rocketeer himself, Billy Campbell) go into hiding and enlist the help of Ingrid to spy on the German's so the diplomats can then relay that information to their military. Narvik is at once a “war is hell” movie, an espionage thriller, and a heart-wrenching family drama. These characters are beautifully portrayed, squeezing every last tear out of me during the final moments. The battle sequences are stressful and exciting, including a major set piece taken straight from Roger Corman's Ski Troop Attack (1960) where the local military tries to destroy a train bridge to prevent the German's from moving in. It's a brilliant film that is already lost in the Netflix flotsam and jetsam, but definitely worth seeking out.
Now to the topic at hand. The term “gatekeeping” gets thrown around A LOT these days. Sometimes for good reason. Sometimes for bad. And sometimes it's just an excuse. Being an outsider looking in is a normal part of life. In my experience, though, when I've felt like an outsider, 90% of the time it's because I have put myself in that position. It's a pity party, really. I feel sad for myself because I'm not included when, in fact, “the thing” isn't even a thing to begin with. Take, for instance, any of the dreaded online “communities.” The “Horror Community,” “Action Twitter,” “Film Twitter,” “Bookstagram,” etc. Or even F This Movie! For many years I felt like an outsider looking in. I'll even admit that this includes the first year I was writing for this very site. “Oh poor me. I'm not included in FTM Fest or Junesploitation or Scary Movie Month.” First of all, these are not the exclusive clubs I made them out to be. The whole point of these awesome things Patrick has created is to celebrate movies. Plain and simple. So often we're waiting for an invitation because (gulp) we think so highly of ourselves that we deserve something as performative as an invitation. Of course, I'm only speaking of myself. I don't know how others feel. But I'd like to think I'm not alone in this.
These thoughts that have been rattling around my brain and are now puked up on screen come from a couple things that happened this week. First, James Gunn's announcement of what they have planned for DC got a lot of people talking. I'm not a comic book guy and know next to nothing about such things, but his announcement even got me excited. Marvel, DC, and Star Wars are the obvious go-to's when it comes to gatekeeping and toxic communities. I don't care for Marvel movies, but my son does, and I think that's cool. I don't feel the need to disparage Marvel movies just because I don't like them. DC, for some reason, I do enjoy. (Batman v Superman fan here.) I'm a recent convert to Star Wars and have discovered I love everything SW. I love the movies. I love the shows. I love the animation. I love the books. Again, I know there's a very toxic cult revolving around SW, and that's a real bummer. I love it all and I'd like people to know I love it all.
This all ties into last week's column about being a “that guy” guy. I wasn't very clear (hard to be clear when I write a stream of consciousness-type of column), so allow me to clarify. My friend James is the Tony Scott guy, and everyone knows him as such. Right now he's the Spielberg guy. He's the guy that loves Tony Scott and Steven Spielberg and constantly professes his love for their work. It's inspiring. That's not the “that guy” to which I was referring. There's the Star Wars, DC, and Marvel guys who have taken ownership of those intellectual properties, and when something doesn't go their way, they get loud and angry and childlike. There's the collector guy that uses his collecting habits as a sort of status symbol. “Boutique” labels prey on these people. The great Kevin Maher had a brilliant thread earlier this week where he said, “I don't want my online identity to be CONSUMER.” For a long time my identity was “consumer,” and I'm trying to break free of that. Then there's the “perpetual outsider guy,” the guy who chooses to be the outsider and throws pity parties for himself whilst begging others to join him. I appreciate the weird taste of certain people, but when I say I like Garden State or Lethal Weapon and your first response is “I hate those things,” you are choosing to put yourself in that outsider perspective. You don't have to like those movies, and you don't even have to respond, but just because I like them doesn't mean I want to hear that you don't. I'm glad you like weird (sometimes bad) movies, but just because I like some populist faire doesn't mean you're better than me or have better taste.