Hawkward Thoughts: “Here’s Looking at You, Classics"

Sun, 2017/11/05
Even Mark Twain, one of the most famous American authors of the 19th century, understood that “A Classic is something that everybody wants to have read, but nobody wants to read.” The very mention of the word sends shivers down the spines of grade school students across the nation. If they’re not as great and white as Moby Dick, pun intended, they’re as convoluted – and still as white – as the deeply racist Heart of Darkness or infamous Ulysses. The same generalizations can be made to the American Cinema. While there are blockbusters like Wonder Woman, IT, Jaws, and Starship Troopers, there are also, yes, the dreadful Classics. Films like Metropolis, The Grapes of Wrath, and the Confederate’s favorite, Birth of a Nation, will make you wish you were in the film just so you could steal a horse and ride off into the sunset to get away from the main characters. However, and as I say these very words, English and Film professors around the globe are shouting hurrahs and popping bottles of champagne, there are... good classics. Gasp as you might, label me a charlatan, a betrayer to the cause, if you must, but hear me out at the very least. Much like rummaging around your grandparents’ house, you are bound to be bored by dusty memoirs of times gone long by, weirded out by some oddly racist propaganda, or disgusted the occasional cat turd before you find a truly magnificent, glimmering chachkie; an heirloom that you don’t exactly need, but couldn’t imagine living a day more without its pervasive glow shining through your person. The classics truly worth reading or watching are much like these chachkies. Somehow you feel almost spiritually fuller for having seen them; for absorbing their wisdom. Books like 1984, A Farewell to Arms, Fahrenheit 451, and The Prince or films like 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Immigrant, La Dolce Vita, and the unforgettable Casablanca serve to deliver something previously unheard of to their viewers, and while they were often more significant during their respectful eras, their themes, catchphrases, and morals are forever timeless.