Like many cinephiles, I love Martin Scorsese (for further reading, read this fawning appraisal of The Irishman Here) so, as you can imagine I am put in a rather difficult position by his recent comments about the MCU.
For those who don’t keep close tabs on film news, because you have, say, a life, Mr Scorsese recently branded the MCU as ‘not cinema’ and while I am not one to dispute his opinions on these films, I can say that he is categorically, objectively wrong in this statement.
Cinema is, as defined by the Miriam-Webb dictionary:
1a: MOTION PICTURE —usually used attributively b: a motion-picture theater
2a: MOVIES especially : the film industryb: the art or technique of making motion pictures
We can attain that Scorsese is using the words second meaning here, by and large, using the word ‘cinema’ to replace ‘film’ or ‘movie’. Which can, in turn be attributed to any motion picture; therefore stand as proof that Avengers: Endgame is just as much an example of cinema as Goodfellas, or, god help us, The Room.
This is part of a worrying cultrural trend that denounces something as being ‘not true or authentic’ just because of one persons opinion, and no matter your takeaway from Scorsese’s opinion, just because he doesn’t like Marvel, doesn’t mean it isn’t cinema.
Normally, I wouldn’t be too bothered by this kind of thing, people spout worse opinions online every day, but it’s the precedent that worries me. An art form should not be judged on one persons opinion, it is not the sum of its parts, and should not be categorised or decategorised by opinion.
Think of it in terms of going to a bookshop; one one shelf, you have War and Peace, a masterpiece with critical acclaim stretching back decades. Then another shelf may have 50 Shades of Grey, which is none of those things, yet it is undeniably a novel, so is undeniably a piece of art, no matter how unpleasant that may be.
Cinema is no different, there are levels of film quality, for sure, but that doesn’t mean that ‘lesser’ films are not cinema. By insinuating such, you’re saying that an audiences enjoyment of said film has no value, which is a terrible thing to say, or think. I have made no secret of my rabid dislike of anything with Michael Bay’s greasy handprints on it; but I wouldn’t deny that it is still cinema.
I would advise to air on the side of caution when it comes to opinions, no matter who they come from, because an opinion does not equal fact, in fact sometimes, it is sometimes in direct conflict with the facts. Martin Scorsese May have massive amounts more experience than me, or pretty much any yahoo who watches films, but that still doesn’t make what he says fact. Just as when I say ‘The Godfather is the greatest film of all time’ what I mean is ‘I THINK The Godfather is the greatest film of all time’. It’s all a matter of words, and how we use them. A worthy lesson for all.