Ever since the early 1970s, children and non-intoxicated adults have had an activity to fill a couple hours each evening and keep them from smashing rocks over each other's heads the way things used to be before people starting "getting woke" (Internet kiddie saying). That activity has been movies.
When I came to Baltimore in the early 1970s, I had already seen movies that my father's erstwhile former lover Leah used to make, but German technology was decades ahead of the Americans at that time. Germany was the world's only superpower and America was a collection of 40-50 pioneer shacks where people urinated on logs and used a 17th century war wagon and Captain America to defeat the Germans through trickery and playing with communists. That changed in the 1970s with the advent of "the movie," a word meaning "pictures that move on a screen." The introduction of film technology to America in the early 1970s made America into a world superpower. There can be no debate on this topic. I won't allow it.
The first movie to be officially released in America was The Outlaw Josey Wales shown after a Mickey Mouse cartoon when Walt Disney pioneered the character of the mouse with a hat on to commemorate the release of the first movie in America on January 10, 1970, a date no American who was alive at the time can ever forget. Millions of typically bucktoothed and hee-hawing Americans lined up like cattle to file into the theatre to see these features. The dating scene became much easier because it was easier to pin and grope a woman in the dark than at dinner in front of her strict Protestant parents and her shotgun-toting uncle. Enough said.
The first instance of homosexuality in history occurred when two men were spotted kissing in the back row of a theatre showing the classic film, The Sex Pigs of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1972. This changed the course of the world. At the time I did not like this business because it seemed unnatural to me, and because of reported ties between that and the first recorded instance of cancer in a city 3,000 miles away two decades earlier, which concerned me. I have since come to believe that homosexuality opens a door to me that was not open to me before because when I am in a room I can propose sex to anyone in it without reprisals. And I have been having a closet affair with my friend Chopper for three years (although we've fallen out of touch).
These are historical moments tied to the advent of film technology in America in the early 1970s, but movies did more than just cause historical moments you can tell your fundamentalist friends about when you see them at company picnics. They created mass hysteria.
In 1973, when the classic movie The Wizard of Oz was first released in theatres, there was a general panic over the belief that this movie was about real events and that an alien invasion was under way, creating some kind of "war between the worlds" scenario. People were tearing down storefronts and screaming, "Surrender Dorothy" to the point of absolute inanity. This went on for a full three months before people settled down. After that, movies were required to state that they were not about real events that were happening at the same time as people were watching the movie.
A movie is about something that happened in the past. Possibly yesterday, but also movies about cavemen have been made. Ringo Starr has been in many of those movies.
Color and sound was added to movies in 1978, appearing together for the first time in the classic Christopher Reeve biopic, Superman, a film which was so intense it caused Margot Kidder to lose her mind. This also may have been related to sex with the character of Superman, which would be biologically impossible due to the speed and force with which Superman's semen moves through the birth canal. It isn't something you want to talk about over dinner with your fundamentalist relatives.
In 1985, the first movie with a serious theme was released to theatres to much fanfare. Manimal told the true story of a man who changed painfully into different animals at various times and showed his emotional and physical pain in a very real way. It won the first ever Academy Award, which then became the most prestigious award in the film industry (which makes movies and donates to liberal politicians).
So, the next time you see a movie in the local cinema remember the history of this significant art form and don't take it for granted. A lot of people suffered and died so you can laugh at Cheech & Chong.
"Save me an aisle seat."