Here’s looking at you, kid: Millennials shun classic films

Posted On October 19, 2017

Frankly my dear, millennials don’t give a damn.

Not about classic movies, anyway. The New York Post recently cited an survey that found that less than 25 percent of millennials surveyed had watched a movie from the 1940s or ‘50s from start to finish. Thirty percent said they’d never watched a black and white movie all the way through.

Not Citizen Kane. Not Casablanca. Not It’s a Wonderful Life. Not even Gone With the Wind, which was actually made in color in 1939.

What’s more, 20 percent of the millennials surveyed called such classic and/or black and white films “boring.”

OK, so watching Orson Welles cry over a sled isn’t quite as thrilling as a light saber duel between Count Dooku and a somersaulting Yoda or a broomstick chase through the skies over Hogwarts. But there is a reason Citizen Kane is considered one of the greatest films of all time.

That reason just has nothing to do with light sabers or broomsticks.

What does millennials’ lack of appreciation for classics say about their generation? That they lack an appreciation for art? That they avoid abstract thought? That their attention spans have shrunk to the point that story arcs must fit within a half-hour window before the details all get blurred?

Not really. Mostly, it just says they’re young.

Young people like action. As most have yet to reach the point of pondering the frailty of their own existence, they often prefer their heroes to be indestructible. As we age, we tend to have a greater appreciation for the subtleties and themes of the classics. It’s only natural, as we have seen more of life ourselves.

What’s more, the settings and situations of many classic movies often don’t resonate with millennials, who were born four decades after World War II and are three generations removed from the Great Depression.

Wartime love stories set in Morocco don’t speak to today’s young people the way they did their grandparents. Is it so wrong to tell them new love stories set in New York City like Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist or in a cancer support group like The Fault in Our Stars?

Categories: Generation Y / Millennials