Are Modern Audiences More Sophisticated Than Those of Bygone Eras?

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Over the weekend I watched Invasion USA.It was … less good than I remembered. Of course, I was probably a teenager the last time I saw it, but I found myself wondering how much completely nonsensical shit I overlooked back then. I mean, Chuck Norris basically teleports around to wherever the bad guys are planning to cause mayhem and fucks their shit up. Which means he can not only teleport but is also able to predict what the bad guys are gonna do next. Like some kind of karate version of The Amazing Kreskin. I kept thinking “How the shit does he know they’re about to blow up this school bus? This church? This supermarket?” And so on and so forth.

Were audiences just this dumb back in 85 or were they all just there for the round house kicks and the dead commies (which was cool, no doubt)?

Now, I’m not saying ridiculous shit doesn’t happen in modern action movies. But I watched Extraction last week (Chris Hemsworth’s new actioner on Netflix), and though Hemsworth’s character dispatches bad guys in ways that seem more superhuman than human, he’s not invincible. I don’t think Norris gets so much as a scratch the whole movie. In fact, there were moments when I thought Invasion USA felt more like the scene from UHF that parodies the Rambo sequels.

So the question I put to you today is: Are audiences more sophisticated than they were in the past?

I think it has a bit to do with perspective. Movies age. I’ve already noticed Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy seems way more melodramatic than it did when it was released. I still love it, but I see it in a modern context. (The Fellowship of the Ring will be 20 years old next year, by the way.)

So there’s that. But I also think movies have had to step up their games, do their research, and hire consultants if they want to achieve a level of realism. Most of us didn’t know our asses from a hole in the ground in the 70s and 80s, but an entire generation of adults raised on easy access to information are the target demographic for movies now. If something smells amiss in a movie, the truth is a Google search away.

But that’s just me? What about you guys? Are audiences more sophisticated than they were 10, 20, 30 years ago? 

Let us know in the comments and I’ll see you in the trenches.

Author: Billy Dhalgren

“A man writes because he is tormented, because he doubts.” -Andrei Tarkovsky