Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Subculture and Cinephilia

I HAVE A SERIES! Look look look, my own website (sort of) and everything! I mean, besides this blog.

I actually like the logo. I didn't choose it, but I love the stereotyping. Ray bans for an article on hipster films? Appropriate.

And yes, I understand the incredible anachronism of having a Wild Things crit column ex post facto... about five months... but it's an introduction to a theme. Bear with me, people. (Or is it "bare"? Why am I dyslexic all of a sudden?)

Also: a wonderful link to the Sundance short films! Check out the animated short about a young wolf who meets his father. Gorgeous. Wonderfully made, surprisingly abstract and eerie.


Young adult crowd sees appeal in the ‘Wild’

"Where the Wild Things Are" is one cinematic example of a film that appealed to the young hipster crowd due to its indie credentials.

Not just for children, “Where the Wild Things Are” garnered unexpected hype from adults and teenage hipsters alike.

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Somehow, the film industry has managed to keep itself afloat while the music and newspaper businesses crumble.

There must be something about film that strikes viewers as increasingly captivating and relevant, especially for young audiences, who have a singular interest in keeping up with the fast-paced world of cinema.

Of course, not all films are created equal. The films that urban college kids watch are not those that the average suburban housewife enjoys on her weekly trip to the local AMC—differences in marketing have made this increasingly obvious. This series of film articles will attempt to figure out why college students—in particular New Yorkers, the inheritors of beatnik fame—watch what they watch. The series will be part psychoanalysis, part cinema studies, part obnoxious stereotyping. Through analysis of films and their target audiences, it will attempt to answer one question: what do the films that students watch say about them?

College students—and New Yorkers in general—are split into numerous subcultures, all of which have tastes of their own. The general public might be currently obsessed with “Avatar,” but those donning skinny pants might prefer to spend their two-and-a-half hours watching the Palme d’Or-winning “The White Ribbon” or the latest Coen brothers’ movie. Some films’ marketing campaigns explicitly target this younger, “hipper” crowd—as an example, take last fall’s “Where the Wild Things Are.”

When the trailer came out early in 2009, the buzz among young adults was immediate, and the film was instantly included in the blog “Stuff White People Like,” a sardonic list of yuppie trends. The blog states: “When the trailer was released a few months ago, you should have been inundated with e-mails, instant messages, and Facebook wall posts about how you need to see the trailer immediately.” It seemed the demographic most enthusiastic about the trailer was the high school set and older, even though the movie was intended for nine-year-olds. Or was it?

Gelseigh Karl-Cannon, CC ’11, and her friends dressed up for the film’s midnight release. She said, “I don’t recall encountering a single child at the screening. I think it was entirely teen/twenty-year-olds with maybe a few adults thrown in. And just like us, many of them were dressed up in onesies and bright yellow crowns...”

Of course, the movie’s success was boosted by its nostalgia factor. The “Noughties” were defined by a growing obsession with past decades and a refurbishing of old styles—the film was obviously mining this trend.

“Where the Wild Things Are” held further hipster appeal through a partnership between Warner Brothers and Urban Outfitters, as well as with its “indie” creative team—director Spike Jonze, writer/adapter Dave Eggers, and musician Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Jenny Lam, CC ’09, said, “Show me a kindergarten student who is familiar with Karen O, Dave Eggers, and Spike Jonze, and I’ll give her my own personal VHS recordings of 'Ducktales.' It’s clear that 'Where the Wild Things Are' was marketed towards Millennials and Gen-Xers.”

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