The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

Confessional 6: American Graffiti

Written by: Tony Lazlo, CC2K Staff Writer

Here’s how much of a lame movie geek poser (poseur?) I am: While considering how to write an extended forum post about Superman III, I searched for a way to describe the scene where Clark goes to his high school reunion, and I actually considered comparing it to American Graffiti, even though I’ve never seen it! I restrained myself, held a brief e-mail correspondence with my CC2k colleagues, and arrived at this confession: I haven’t seen American Graffiti, even though I desperately want to. “Desperately want to see it,” you ask? So what’s keeping me from watching it? The same thing that keeps me from reading Shakespeare’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona. As long as there’s one more Shakespeare play out there to read, I know there’s still one more time for the magic to happen again. Maybe I’ll pull a Desmond in Lost and save it for my final days. Maybe I’ll die with it still floating out there. But why would I mention Shakespeare and Lucas in the same breath? Why would I wax poetic, even tangentially, about the man who so profoundly let us down with Star Wars? Because he used to be a genius. Old people make me very sad, guys. I have a long and shameful history of folding in the face of old people. They make me so sad. And Lucas … I’ve spat a lot of bile on here, but I forget sometimes that he got old. He lost his magic. Far be it from me to quote Don King: Only in America at a time like this, but how to you tell Zeus he can’t make thunder and lightning like he used to? But worse than that, how can I look into the past and watch Zeus throw his lightning like he did in the old days? How I can I sit around and listen to Krapp’s last tapes and not take him by the hand and lead him to a gentle grave? The original Star Wars, though it shines with the same genius, is too familiar, too hard-wired into my personality to evoke any grief from me anymore. THX-1138, however, is not. Was not. Like Lance Carmichael said, George Lucas used to be a genius, and watching THX — with its utter foreign beauty — reminded me of that in the most painful way possible. I can feel the genius infused into American Graffiti in every fleeting shot I see from it — every image of Ron Howard smiling from a roadster, or of Harrison Ford under that damn cowboy hat. The genius of American Graffiti taunts me every time I go to Mel’s Diner, and it beckons to me every time my mother mentions how wonderful it is. But I can’t bring myself to watch a home movie of Zeus throwing one of his last mighty bolts from the heavens. Tell me why I should.{mos_sb_discuss:4}