by Judson Cade Pedigo
Sometimes you just gotta lie. I don’t follow sports, politics, or the news (it’s fake now I hear) so sometimes the only common ground I have with people is movies. I’ve been a certified movie snob since 1994 (I got my certificate after denouncing The Lion King for being too hollow and derivative). Sometimes it’s better not to reveal my true feelings while in casual conversation. Yeah, X-Men Origins: Wolverine wasn’t bad (It was. Adamantium bullet my ass), I should probably go see The Accountant (nope), Aliens Vs. Predator: Requiem used excellent lighting techniques to allow us to easily follow the plot and action (ok, maybe I never actually said that one). I once argued with Johan, my arch nemesis from the dorm, that American Pie was just as important as any Hitchcock movie. (Another fib, I didn’t actually believe that but it was fun putting that bee in his bonnet.) You’ve got to bend the truth a little but you start to run into trouble when you lie to yourself. A lie is not a lie if no one can hear it, right? Since movies are all that matter, a trespass against the cinema can be the greatest offense. Yeah, I’ve lied about movies, I’m not proud, and the biggest whopper of them all started as I sat in a darkened theater on May 19th, 1999 and first saw the words "Episode I: The Phantom Menace."
Now, I’m not gonna sit here and slug it out with the ol’ Phantom because let’s face it, it’s been a punching bag for internet rage since its release. As much as I hate to admit it, I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for Qui-Gon’s hair plugs, li’l orphan Annie, and “There’s always a bigger fish.” Wait…no I don’t. I’m going to ignore how we spent years imagining what life was like a longer time ago when Obi-Wan’s eyes twinkled as he described a light saber as being “an elegant weapon for a more civilized age” and then we find out that the Jedi were just a bunch of grumpy dicks hanging out in the Chrysler Building. No, I’m not going to mention how the Cantina scene in a New Hope had more imagination in one frame than the entire crowd at the pod race. It looks like they just recycled one mask over and over! I’m not going to talk about it. No, the issue here wasn’t the Phantom, it was me. I spent the entire ride home talking about double-edged light sabers and duels of the fates. I didn’t listen to those millions of voices inside me, crying out in terror, I silenced that shit quicker than a trash compactor on the Death Star. To give credence to my doubts would be tantamount to sacrilege. To take the stars (wars) from my eyes would ruin the magic and I needed that magic, even if it was all fools gold. The biggest movie lie I ever told myself was that I liked The Phantom Menace. It’s a lie I told myself over and over. Seven times in fact. Finally, I sat there and owned up to the fact that it wasn’t getting any better and it wasn’t going to. It was time to be honest; I did not like this movie. I would not like it on a train, I would not like it on a plane. I would not like it here or there, I would not like it anywhere, and that was okay. Sometimes the truth hurts, and sometimes it also looks like Jar Jar.
This wasn’t the first time I wasn’t honest with myself about movies. During the no man’s land that is middle school, there was a moment where I started to get noticed by the cool kids. My former antagonists who openly mocked my trading card collection in the halls a year prior (I didn’t care what they said, holograms were cool!) were suddenly the people I was desperately trying to impress. I started making changes to broaden my appeal. I ignored my old friends. I put away my X-Men board game. I betrayed my movies. I used all my Columbia-House-Movies-For-a-Penny-deals acquiring the Jim Carrey collection. Not to disparage anybody that is a fan of Carrey’s oeuvre but my comedic sensibilities leaned more toward Cabin Boy (And when I return, I will be a Cabin MAN). Copping to being a Chris Elliot fan in the 7th grade however would come with none of the cool cache that I needed to ascend the pecking order. I even put up a Pamela Anderson swimsuit poster on my wall, despite having never seen a single episode of Baywatch, to this very day. At the time I was big time crushing on Sandra Bernhard who was hosting Reel Wild Cinema, a celebration of B-movies and trash flicks that aired late night on the USA Network. Unfortunately they did not stock Sandra B. posters at the local Wal-Mart. If life was a movie I would have denounced my superficial facade in a big display, possibly at homecoming, and then danced the night away with my former friends like a couple of Duckies from Pretty in Pink. The sad truth is that we just ended up drifting further apart and I would call from the free phone at the swimming pool and hang up without saying anything (sorry Mitchell). The thing is, when movies are a big part of who you are, denying your true movie self can lead to a chain reaction of events that finds you wearing knee high socks and shorts that are too big for you.
The older I get and the more comfortable I am with me, the easier it is to stay true to myself and my movie friends. Don’t be ashamed of anything, don’t hold back. At the end of the day when it’s just you and the movies there is no need for pretense. Like what you like and that’s all that matters. In the spirit of honesty it’s time that I came clean about some things. Star Wars: A New Hope is kind of boring (I mean the first half hour are a couple of robots just walking around the desert.) I have never made it through The Shining without falling asleep. I’ve seen The Next Karate Kid more times than I’ve seen The Godfather. I used to cry while watching Chasing Amy, cry alone. I happen to think that Justin Long is a damn fine actor. I have watched My Little Pony: Equestria Girls - Rainbow Rocks without my children present, multiple times. Well…maybe there is such a thing as being too honest.