February 7, 2004
Defending the Pretentious
We can all relate to this month’s Esquire Complaint — people who sit through the credits. I’m not sure why I’m linking to it, because I’m an Esquire subscriber, and unless you are, you probably can’t read it. And in any case, it’s good enough and short enough that I’m going to reproduce it here in toto. Sorry, Esquire:
You are fooling no one. You know who you are. You are impressing no one, and it is time you learned the truth: Nobody thinks you’re smart because you sit through the closing credits at the end of movies.
You do this all the time (and particularly at the end of Miramax films). The movie concludes, the houselights come up, and you silently pretend to be fascinated by the cast listing. Somehow, this is supposed to indicate that you are a serious person. What this actually proves is that you are an inefficient person, because all the information you are pretending to ascertain is already on the Internet (and most of that information doesn’t matter to anyone who doesn’t actively work in the film industry). You do not have a favorite gaffer. You do not care what record label released the soundtrack. You do not know the difference between the motion caption coordinator and the environmental technical director, so why would you care who these people are (or who their first assistants are)?
Now, I realize you do this because you think your date will think you’re intellectual. She does not. She either thinks you’re a pretentious fraud (which you are), or she suddenly feels insecure (because she can’t figure out why she’s supposed to care who the secondary location scout was). The movie is over. Leave the theater. Go to the bathroom.
Being one who sits through the credits, I take umbrage, even as I appreciate Chuck Klosterman’s sneering. But I’d like to answer on behalf of the Credits-Watchers. (Others who watch the credits, feel free to chime in.)
My watching of the credits is pragmatic, above all. If there’s a crowd exiting the theatre, I prefer to let it pass me by, rather than getting caught up in the shuffle. I’ll get out like two minutes later than I would if I’d gone with the crowd, and I won’t be dumped outside by an irrepressible wave of human traffic.
After I’ve already been sitting for two hours, I’m in no rush to get up. The soundtrack’s still playing, my thoughts about the movie are coalescing, I’m relaxed. Why hurry into the over-bright, crowded theatre lobby?
Most Credits-Watchers, I’m assuming, only watch the credits because they’re there. We’re not trying to impress anyone. We don’t care about the name of the dolly grip, although we might be interested in finding out the name of the cinematographer. If anyone stays after a movie and seems legitimately amped about the identity of “Man at Construction Site #4,” they really do deserve our scorn.