I’m 42 years old. I’m staring middle age in the paunch. I refuse to have a crisis, in part because it’s a trope, but after having a crisis in my mid-30s over the whole gender shenanigans I’m hesitant to create any more angst for myself. It’s like reflecting on the 9 years I lived in Syracuse. I counted up the snowfall for all those years and determined it was 1,100 inches. That is more snow than I care to experience in this and my next lifetime (note to the reincarnation powers: please don’t stick me in a desert next time around just because I wrote that). So snow and angst have been crossed off my bucket list, great.
Getting older brings with it some other unfortunate awkwardness, however. I make cultural references that people under 30 don’t understand. And for me these pop culture mini-Litmus tests are even more out of date than my age would suggest they’d be, because my father was 41 years old when I was born, so he harkened back to the freaking swing era. I can make a Hoagie Carmichael mention and not even have the 50-year-olds in the room know what I’m talking about.
There’s a lot of wonderful stuff in those bygone eras from the middle of the 20th Century, for sure. And it’s a high bar to think that in our Internet age college students would spend any time paying attention to anything produced in the previous millennium, but on the other hand, we’ve never before seen such effort made to restore old film, make out of print books available again, or set up tributes to once-forgotten authors. So with the wealth of content available to us today, it’s good practice to see older stories, for the first time, or on repeat. These are some of our cultural predecessors, inspiration for the generation of writers and directors once removed from our contemporary literature and film professionals. It’s also good to retain our collective history–I see young adults all the time at the HIV nonprofit that I run, who have never before heard the evidence supporting safer sex practices. These individuals didn’t live through the advent of AIDS, didn’t lose close friends, didn’t wonder who would come down sick next, didn’t watch their government ignore them while so many people, nearly 600,000, succumbed to the virus. And there is a whole body of written and cinematic literature out there that works through that pain, and offers insight into our problems today, including and beyond AIDS.
With the rewards of such reflection in mind, I offer a list of suggestions for anyone under 35. These are movies they should see: Read More…