I Love You, James Cameron
25 May 2012
I trust nobody will argue that the boat-sinking part of the movie is anything other than excellent. Even in early 1997 when people were considering murder of Leo fangirls as justifiable homicide, they were willing to admit that the actual boat-sinking part was stunning, and it holds up today. [James] Cameron’s ability to instill drama and excitement into what could easily have been a foregone conclusion remains one of his signal achievements as a filmmaker.
Whenever his name is mentioned, I have a tendency to speak ill of James Cameron and his abilities as a filmmaker, but after thinking about it at length, I have come to a horrible realization: I have liked every Cameron movie that I have seen.
Terminator? Rambo: First Blood? Definitely! Aliens? T2? Sure. True Lies? The Abyss? Put ‘em on!
There is a disconnect between my imaginary portrait of the man and his actual history as a writer and a director — a disconnect that is based, almost entirely, on two movies that I have not even seen: Titantic and Avatar.
In 1997, I was too young for Titantic to hold any sort of appeal; other films caught my attention and had an easier time seducing me than the notion of watching people drown in cold water.12 By the time Titantic would have shown up on my Netflix queue3 it had already hit critical mass and a counter-culture was developing. It was cool to hate it and I wanted pretty desperately to be cool, so I shouted from the rooftops my loathing for a movie that I had not seen and an actor who was, at the time, prettier than the girls I went to school with.
Now, fifteen year later, my not having watched Titantic makes me “that guy” — you know the one: the douchebag who refuses to do something solely because everyone else is doing it or has done it, despite the fact that there is no actual pride to be found in abstaining from whatever nonsense topic seems to have attracted their ire.4 I find myself unable to speak eloquently on the film and how it compares to other Cameron works that I clearly enjoy. This is not a position of superiority. My loathing of this man as a writer and a director has no basis on reality and is entirely rooted in wanting to seem cool to ten year old kids.
How messed up is that?5
In ascending order of awesome: Speed 2: Cruise Control, Conspiracy Theory, Tomorrow Never Dies, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, Jurassic Park: The Lost World, G.I. Jane, In & Out, The Fifth Element, Batman & Robin, Men in Black, Face/Off, Event Horizon, The Devil’s Advocate, The Saint, Grosse Pointe Blank, Con Air, Cube, Good Will Hunting, The Full Monty, Starship Troopers, Gattaca and Air Force One/Contact.↩
What I am trying to say is that I could exclusively watch movies released in 1997 and would not consider it to be a loss; and that I had a pretty messed up idea of “good” when I was ten; and that I have no idea how to rank things in ascending order. The Full Monty is ranked above Event Horizon which is above G.I. Jane? What drugs would I have to be smoking for that to be true?↩
Get it? Because Netflix queues didn’t exist in 1997. When I was a kid, you had to go to the Netflix store and pick up your subscriptions from a real person.↩
People who don’t have Facebook accounts fall into this category.↩
Avatar still objectively sucks though.↩