03 June 2006

The Theory of Us

Clive James has a theory. It is that there is a group of people out there called "us" and they are ordinary, normal human beings without pretension, people who like to be entertained and yet who aren't afraid to think a little bit. He is of this us, just more so. That's why he and people like him are good movie critics. They watch movies the same way us do, and they like what us like, except they like it more eloquently.

Clive James says this is the difference between theorists and nontheorists. Theorists see stuff us don't see. But they're also blind. They like bad movies, because they don't know how to watch movies. Us know how to watch movies.

Movies are about first impressions, says us. "Or, to put it less drastically, in the movies there are no later impressions without a first impression, because you will have stopped watching." ("You" is one of us. Because you wouldn't read Clive James if you were not. You would have stopped reading.) Theorists, the non-us, watch movies they don't like. They're weirdos. Not normal. Not like us.

Us know that story is everything. "No story, no movie." This is a truth created by God, a fact: "A movie has to glue you to your seat even when it's pretending not to." Because otherwise us might do something like read Proust.

No, Proust wrote books, and books can do all sorts of things. There are good books that do not glue us to our seats, good books that do not seem good on a first impression. Us know this, just as us know that movies are not books. Movies must do one thing: adhere us with story glue. If a non-us you says a movie does anything else, that you is a theorist, because theorists like simple schemas. And they write badly, because a theorist is a critic with a "hulking voice [that] gets in the way of the projector beam", and us all know that good writing does not let sound interfere with light.

Hooray for us!