Diversity and Close Encounters

17 Nov

Netflix is to me what the bible is to my mother, I adore it, I use it almost every night, and I can’t shut up about it.  Recently I caught Close Encounters of the Third Kind on Netflix instant as I had never seen it.

Released in 1977, this sci-fi movie by Steven Spielberg is about Richard Dreyfuss becoming obsessed with UFOs like a child who discovers candy.  A wiki page informs me that Steven, as a young auteur, wrote the film with the intention of invoking the warm feeling that “When You Wish Upon A Star” does.  Jaws was a manly affair and Close Encounters is just the opposite, it’s sort of fey and wispy, and I found myself falling asleep 30 minutes into the movie.

I disliked the first half of the movie and I wasn’t sure why.  I was irritated by the characters mainly but not in a good way like how Biff from Back to the Future was irritating.  The characters in Close Encounters were irrational, silly, overwrought, hammy, and worst of all completely boring.

I think my disengagement stemmed from the fact that the suburban characters were the same.  They weren’t only white , they were the SAME white people and they spoke and sounded like clones.  I hated Richard Dreyfuss piling things into his kitchen yelling to his wife that “she’d love this” and the film refusing to explain what he was doing (which was a whole lot of nothing).

I woke up from my Close Encounters nap when the military showed up, then Carl Freaking Weathers (or a lookalike) cameos as a soldier and I really perked up.  In the films final moments you see aliens and here is where I felt most alive and interested.  To a young Spielberg I would advise him to keep characters diverse because having the same white people from the same background talk to each other about shit they don’t know about is really dull, and I do believe he learned that lesson on his own as one of the first things that happen in Jurassic Park is the recruiting of scientists in different fields as well as a wild left-field cameo from Samuel Freaking Jackson.


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