I am a Kevin Smith fan. There, I said it.
I watched Clerks sometime before the summer of my freshman year of high school and ever since then, I have re-watched it pretty frequently. I moved on to Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jersey Girl (yes, even Jersey Girl), and most recently, Tusk, but I always came back to Clerks.
Because my parents like 'Clerks.'
Why is that a big deal?
Our generations, Generation X and Y (millennials) are bridging the gap that has existed in cinema and pop culture in general like no other before us ever has. The humor, the superheroes, the dialogue, the situations... they're all converging and it is a huge deal.
There have always been movies that span the range of generations. Movies like The Wizard of Oz, Star Wars, and even more recent works like Toy Story have reached out to all ages, but those movies were specifically tailored to be blockbusters (even if The Wizard of Oz wasn't a big hit until long after it came out). What I'm talking about is the merging of interests, language, and even experiences that is happening right now in movie theaters across the country. Films have always helped capture the feeling of the generation they portray, but before Generation X, it was simply too hard to connect the popular movies and pop culture of one generation to the one before it.
My parents wouldn't have dreamed of sitting in a movie theater watching Clerks or Dogma with my grandparents. My grandmother would have gotten up and walked out before the second F-bomb dropped. But later this month, I'm going to be seeing Deadpool (which could arguably turn out to be one of the most profanity-laden films of the year) with both my parents, who were coincidentally recently made to be grandparents (sorry, Mom and Dad) and my girlfriend.
Clerks talks about masturbation, sex, death, drugs, the value of human life, and even the ethical complications of blowing up the Death Star. It shows two ordinary guys dealing with ordinary first-world problems like being bored or feeling unsatisfied with your job. It doesn't go a scene without at least two or three casual curse words, but it is real. It doesn't sugar coat what it is like to be young and frustrated. It represented my parents at 23 in 1994 in the same way that it represents me at 23 in 2016.
Is it because my parents are bad parents? Is it because the majority of humanity is sliding into an immoral and dangerous spiral? Is it because of violent video games, internet porn, and the devil? Nope. It is because we are the first generations to really connect and be open with each other, including our interests and concerns.
Now, let me be clear. I am simply examining and talking about film and pop culture here. There are still PLENTY of differences in opinion between Generation X and Y. Politics, economics, religion... all that stuff is still dangerously polarizing. But I think the fact that many films are beginning to connect with our parents, or at least interest our parents, in the same way they connect with or interest us, is a ridiculously big leap in the right direction.
Movies like Superbad or Clerks were made a generation apart but the humor, dialogue, and situations from these movies could be put in either and still work. Superbad was made by Generation X but Generation Y ate it up and loved it.
You might ask yourself why I'm focusing on comedies, but I think there's a good reason for that. Action movies, period pieces, drama — they all will always ring true between the generations because they represent ageless things like emotion, revenge, depression, loss, and other more base human emotions. Comedies represent ideas, however low-brow they might be, and when we start sharing the same ideas instead of just sharing the same emotions, that's when our culture really begins to progress forward.
Is it crazy that something as mundane and as average as the everyday lives of two guys who work at a convenience store and spend their time cursing and complaining, could bridge a generational divide that has created endless amounts of pain and misunderstanding from the beginning of human history? Yeah, it's crazy. Or as Kevin Smith would say it, "It's really fucking crazy." But I think this time, crazy is good.