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Every other Tuesday in Storied, K. B. Hoyle explores the ways our cultural narratives act on us individually and in society as a whole.
In an interview in October, acclaimed movie writer, director, and producer Martin Scorsese responded to a question about Marvel superhero films by comparing them to theme parks. He said, “I don’t think they’re cinema.” His comment set off a firestorm of social media outrage, prompting not just fan responses but a bevy of celebrity hot-takes as well. The responses were so many, and so overwhelmingly (although not exclusively) negative, to what was an offhand remark in a passing interview, that Scorsese took to the New York Times to write a clarification of his stance. In this NYT piece, he expands on his definition of “cinema,” expresses his concerns about the changing nature of movies as a storytelling medium, and discusses what it is he thinks is lacking from the franchise films of today.
Argument - Scorsese - Marvel - Films - Cinema
I’m not interested in furthering the argument about whether Scorsese is right or wrong about Marvel films being cinema, or even whether the definition of cinema he offers in his piece is correct or incorrect. The issue is not about cinema at all, but about art. He says in his op-ed, “[cinema is] an art form.” His initial comments, the backlash to them, and his response article reveal that the real issue isn’t what Martin Scorsese thinks of Marvel movies or franchise films in general. The real reason his comments angered so many people is because he touched on an age-old, traditionally unanswerable question: What is art?
My first day in a Survey of Art class in college—one of those 300-plus auditorium classes—the professor posed just this question. A few brave students attempted an answer, and the remainder of the class was spent in disarray as...
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