In the wake of Septembers release of Rockstar North’s highly anticipated fifth installment of their phenomenal and ground breaking Grand Theft Auto V. A game that for years has infiltrated almost every segment of popular culture, with its unique blend of foul language, violence and sexual content, it has proved a hot bed for parent rants and newspaper headlines. But on the positive end, it provides players with the most realistic yet exhilarating, sand box experience. In the game you can do literally anything, for good or for bad it’s hard to decide. And it’s because of this reason that GTA has proved so popular that the recent incarnation shifting a staggering $800 million copies in the first 24 hours of its release, and then an historical $1 billion within its first three days, making it the fastest selling entertainment product in history out doing even the likes of Cameron’s Avatar. This has led some naysayers to suggest that the pendulum has swung in the favor of games in terms of domination of the entertainment world. But I would dare to disagree, for me the magic of cinema has never and will never be rivaled, with its eccentric stars, its aptitude to change pop culture and the most important attribute of all, the knack of providing us with a euphoric escape from any trouble that may infect our lives. So for me cinema stands heads and shoulders above its closest adversary’s music and games.
Even before birth I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life, I was a small moth attracted to the magic and beauty of cinema, a window into our dreams and sometimes in the hand of those bold courage’s film makers, reflecting a mirror of unflinching sincerity, exposing the truth of humanity, from our compassionate nature too our darkest thoughts and desires. And like a pendulum swinging, it constantly shifts our perceptions of the world around us, and our ideologies on morality. Even going as far as redefining what we distinguish between what is right and what is wrong. It’s this ingenuity that allows it to penetrate pop culture so frequently and easily. To prove my point you can look at the likes of Saturday Night Fever, a disco movie that revolutionized the Top40. For good or for bad, the singles chart and there rankings were solely based on quality of melody and lyrics, but in comes John Travolta clad in a white tuxedo and suddenly the success of a song is defined by its ‘dance ability’ leading the way for the like of electric dance duo LMFAO, with such hits as ‘I’m Sexy and I Know it’. A song in the 60’s wouldn’t stand a chance up against the likes of The Beatles, but in this dance obsessed world it runs supreme, playing at least once in every club in America . But film didn’t just change music, it even redefined the definition of cool, and you don’t need to go any further than Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction to find evidence of this. Just look in the wall of every 90’s young man’s dorm room, together with picture of Kelly from Saved by the Bell, you are very likely so see a black and white picture of Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and (Jules Winnfield) Samuel L Jackson staring back at you. Then fast forward 10 years later, the picture of Kelly would be replaced by Megan Fox, but that same Vincent and Jules picture will remain. Adding to this movies have the sensational skill to change lives, don’t forget that 1 billion dollar hit called Titanic, a film that redefined one of the most omnipotent human emotions, Love. An emotion that was so heavily associated to the tale of Rome and Juliet. Was now be replaced so effortlessly, by James Cameron’s Jack Dawson and Rose DeWitt Bukater a love story about pain and sacrifice, but most importantly undying devotion.
Despite the admirable work of the above stated works of genius, some would argue that music has a greater hand in the manipulation of pop culture and society as a whole. Pointing to the likes of internet sensation ‘Gangnam style’ that attracted over 1 billion views on YouTube and spawning countless amounts of parodies online since, helping to catapult PSY to a staggering personal fortune of 30 million dollars earned on the back of his catchy Korean language smash hit . But I would place Gangnam style in the same brackets as ‘Friday’ by Rebecca Black and Solja Boy and his Crank That, as mere splashes in the pan with little to what it takes to have any real lasting mark, except for the couple of weeks on the playground or the one conversation by the water fountain at work. As big as the song ever gets, it’s only a temporary shift in the spectrum, although Michael Jacksons ‘Thriller’ would be the one exception. On the whole unlike music, cinema can change a whole decade.
When you think of star power, I can guarantee that at least three of the first five names that first pop up in your head would be of the film variety. Right now they could be the likes Leonardo DiCaprio, Brand Pitt or even Angelina Jolie. Whilst a couple of years ago it would have been the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart or Audrey Hepburn. Cinema redefined the concept of the A-list, with its larger than life, captivating and eccentric characters. Such is there grander that their mere presents can often feel like a distant illusion or mirage in the desert sun. I would have to concede that those names would only appeal to the older generation, and today’s youth will seek their rock stars in the shape of ; Sonic, Mario, Pac man and Donkey Kong. That seems to appear on every shirt, lunch box and bedroom poster. Despite this I feel the tide will shift back into our side of the court with the immortalisation the cast of Harry Potter and Twilight, restoring the film actors awe back into the eyes of the youth.
I feel deeply that films are the most noblest and majestic form of storytelling, and ultimately when humanity lives out its final days on this green earth, the one thing that earliest man and these last few individuals will have in common; not our technology accomplishments, but instead we will share the most beautiful of gifts, art and storytelling. And it’s this gift; such great storytellers as Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and James Cameroon so frequently yield to weave these wonderfully fascinating stories that both excite and compel, even to the extent that we leave our troubles at the doors, before we step into the darkness of the theater pregnant with endless amounts of possibilities and new worlds. Because cinema can do so much, it can make you laugh your head off at one point, and then the very next second you’re breaking down in tears. Today films can take us down a picturesque; autumn, country side road into our youths. As they act as cinematic time machine that propels us back in time, to a simpler land, where peace and tranquility run supreme aided by almost any Spielberg film. Then tomorrow with George Lucas’s American Graffiti, it can transform like a neon lit, nostalgic theme park ride into the swinging 60’s. Then to round of our journey, we’re placed slap bang in the middle of a battle field where Coppola holds up a mirror to society, penetrating through the shards and illusions of morality and believing that we are able to distinguish between good and evil so easily. And to top it all off cinema can mean something completely different to each and anyone of us. Unique experiences that for a child can mean the excitement of seeing some of your favourite toys come to life when they sit down to watch Toy Story. Or the heart thumping adrenalin rush of knowing Michael Myers is right behind Jamey Lee Curtis, and as much as you scream she never hears your warnings and turns around. Then in the next room the parents can sit down and watch a romance film that reminds them of the very first time they fell in love when watching the Note Book or the struggle to stay together when love is not enough like in Annie Hall.
But as exciting as game may be, ultimately they will only serve as mild entertainment, a mere novelty act to rid temporary of your boredom, it doesn’t have that capability to open up your chest and expose all your emotions simultaneously and unapologetically at once. Then with music at its prime ran close with cinema, but over the years as films have developed, changed and ultimately evolved, it seems that modern day music as lost its soul, it’s as if it has run out of things to say. The days of fighting society’s obsession with conformity, or the spreading of peace and love or even providing food for the soul, have seemed to have vanished from the music landscape. Gone are the days of Queen, Jemi Hendrix, The Beatles and Tupac, replaced now by the empty, superficial and porous likes of One Direction, Katy Perry and Lil Wayne. So while music dwells in the desert without a map to find its way home or a mirror to see who it truly is. Cinemas glittering stars, its ability to change society, and its capacity to mean something different to each and anyone of us, means for me that movies will always be on the pantheon of the entertainment world.