Style Voices

Friday 17 January 2020

Ciara O'Connor: 'There isn't enough time to point out the desperate logic of successful old white men threatened by modernity'

Millennial Diary

Director Martin Scorsese attends
Director Martin Scorsese attends "The Irishman" red carpet during the 14th Rome Film Festival on October 21, 2019 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Ernesto S. Ruscio/Getty Images for RFF)
Google released a list of the most popular searches for this year (stock photo)

Ciara O'Connor

Martin Scorsese recently broke the nerd-internet when he accused Marvel films of not being 'cinema'.

The veteran filmmaker, like everyone who hates Marvel films, has never seen a Marvel film. But Scorsese's personal philosophy of art is that there is no art without risk; Marvel is killing cinema because the superhero films are engineered to attract a particular audience, who are predisposed to like it.

Market research and audience testing is the enemy of art; sequels are the most egregious example of this. Says Scorsese, "Many films today are perfect products manufactured for immediate consumption."

Now, it would be easy to point out that The Irishman, a New York mob film starring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino, was perhaps not the biggest risk for renowned chronicler of American organised crime Martin Scorsese. It almost reads like a perfect product. It's been nominated for five Golden Globes and four Screen Actors Guild Awards. You could argue that Scorsese is so risk adverse that he didn't even want to cast present-day De Niro, plumping instead to have the Scorsese tried-and-tested De Niro of 1990 recreated using CGI for most of the film - CGI technology perfected by the likes of Marvel.

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But there isn't enough time in the world to point out the desperate logic of successful old white men who are threatened by modernity - and anyway, I don't like Marvel either. Not that I've ever seen any.

Netflix may be insidiously poisoning film by encouraging us to skip the opening and closing credits, by wondering whether we'd like to watch 1.5x faster - but they're also the only people who'd let Scorsese make a sprawling three-and-a-half-hour De Niro crime movie in 2019 - because, and I mean this from the heart, the five or six we have already isn't enough. I suppose that's how Marvel fans feel.

Netflix made Marriage Story, which is looking to be The Irishman's biggest rival for Best Picture at The Golden Globes, and is exactly the kind of understated story that isn't getting funded by traditional Hollywood studios. It looks like we're more than happy to see 1970s-style cinematic renaissance - just as long as we don't have to actually go to the cinema for it.

Anything to kill time until the next Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler deja-vu romp lands, anyway - in terms of viewing figures, the 97-minute long Murder Mystery was Netflix's most successful film this year - and ever. Because even Scorsese can't compete with fart jokes.


You may delete your embarrassing Google searches - but Google doesn't.

Google archives them, collates them all, so they can embarrass entire countries at a time. It also releases lists of the most popular searches at the end of the year, so we can all shake our heads and say, "Jesus, are we surrounded by f**king idiots or what?" (Though at the same time we feel secretly relieved that no one else actually knows what fracking is either.)

'What is Brexit?' featured in the lists of popular searches, which feels more like an exasperated howl to the moon than a sincere question. Spectacularly, "What is a boomer?" was also on the list, which is the most boomery search ever searched and likely launched a thousand identity crises in boomers the country over.

They are probably the same demographic who googled, "What Is Tik-Tok?" and "What is pansexual?".

I'm joking, of course, a true boomer would never see their way to actually learning about contemporary youth pastimes and the language of identity politics. No, that makes it much more difficult to write it off as snowflake nonsense. It's the anxious millennials with our rapidly declining relevancy and social capital who are surely responsible for asking about Tik-Tok and pansexuals, in a world where we're becoming the boomers.

The top 10 recipe searches was a revelation too. I think the list is most useful when read as an individual's dieting journey throughout the year: you start in January with great resolutions, 'vegan recipes' (1), before realising that you can't live without cheese and meat, and so it's on to 'keto recipes' (2), where you can only eat cheese and meat.

Once you realise that you can't endure a life of violent constipation it's time for 'smoothie recipes' (3) to get the last month's recommended amount of fibre in one glass.

At this point you're fairly on board with the idea of liquid meals, so you look up 'stew recipes' (4) but soon realise that actually, no matter the diversity of recipes you follow, all food that comes out of that slow cooker tastes the same - and anyway it's coming up to summer now, you can't eat stews in summer!

'Plant-based recipes' (5) is next, but all the recipes seem to call for cassava-flour or brown rice flour or agave nectar and - wait a minute, isn't normal flour and sugar plant-based? You've got bills to pay, and you've seen right through that scam, there's no pulling the wool over your eyes.

'Healthy dinner recipes' (7) you can't go wrong there, surely. Too much choice, not enough rules; in what sense is that 'fakeaway' Butter Chicken actually healthy though?

What about 'The Happy Pear recipes' (8)? those guys seem to know what they're doing, aren't they always amazingly full of beans and doing backflips? You send himself to the shop with a list of ingredients for a Buddha bowl, he comes home with courgettes because there were no cucumbers.

"And you didn't try another shop?" you'll say. "I obviously can't use it instead. Now the whole dinner's wrecked. And what exactly am I meant to do with a courgette in November anyway?" But this last one will be a rhetorical question because obviously you'll just google it, which you do...

'Courgette recipes' (9) "F**k it," you'll say, "it's too late now anyway. I'll just fry them up in butter and garlic for pasta." That might be the nicest thing you've had all year. God, isn't this amazing? And anyway, you've read that dieting is a lie, has a failure rate of over 90pc for weight loss and screws up your metabolism.

Finally, 'Pasta bake recipe' (10) because life's too short - and hey, it's Christmas.


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