There are three blog pieces I've read this week that inspire reflection on how we define the meaningful films of our youth.
Sady at Tiger Beatdown writes a marvellous and funny piece about Titanic. I love her commentary on the villain character in comparison to the romantic leads. But it is also interesting in regard to looking back on the important films (and crushes for some) of teenhood. I'm hoping that this kind of reflection is part of the Giant Mystery Project Sady mentions.
Julie at Misfortune Cookie writes about films high-school aged girls should see and Scott at Rail of Tomorrow does the same for boys. I always love to read people's recommendations, despite instinctively wanting to resist any "must watch" instuctions. Julie's list is particularly interesting as it is written in response to the huge response to the Twilight series which she considers to have negative messages for girls. The films on her list tend to deal with girls' place in the world, issues surrounding relationships (both romances and friendships), and sexuality. Scott's choices seem to be more about identification and inspiration for boys. I don't know whether this is because the films produced for girls have more general messages or whether it is to do with how viewers are expected to identify with protagonists. Do girls have to work harder to seek out useful messages when films are generally aimed at a young male viewer?
I wouldn't want to make such a list myself. I think people can be highly skilled in making use of films in different ways. In a feminist sense reading against the grain is a useful strategy in enjoying mainstream culture, although it can sometimes be more delusional than creative to do so. Would I recommend anti-feminist films because they might inspire more debate? Sometimes it is easier to explain why we are rejecting an idea than accepting one. But that would work against the goal of getting 'better' films made, appreciated and valued.