As part of the basic cable package in my city, I receive two “classic” movie channels: Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and American Movie Classics (AMC). They are next to each other on the “dial” and both purport, through their names if nothing else, to feature classic movies.
TCM is certainly closest to the mark: they air old school “classic” films, many of them obscure to all but the diehard film buff and most introduced by film historian and guy-who-strikes-me-as-being-an-awesome-grandpa, Robert Osborne. They run a “Thirty Days of Oscar” in the time leading up to the Oscars each year, and often in the catalog of Oscar wining movies they air are winners for more obscure awards, like costume design or production design, in addition to the traditional run down of best picture/director/actor winners.
Now, this is not going to devolve into a discussion of what is or isn’t a classic, or how we define classics. I am not a traditionalist when it comes to those discussions; as far as I’m concerned, “classic” is a term that can be widely defined and highly individualized based on tastes and experiences. There are certainly subsets: classic horror movies or classic westerns, for example, films that are classics of their genre but perhaps not classics when placed alongside the entire catalog of film.
Of these two channels, AMC is certainly the one that plays faster and looser with the definition of “classic.” Nothing is more fun than to see one of the movies they are playing and quip, “That’s a classic? Hardly.” But I’m willing to stick up for them, and for the most part, give the programmers the benefit of the doubt in my mind. Like I said, I have a liberal and circumstantial approach to defining classics. I understand AMC’s desire to both develop an identity independent of TCM (“they’re the classic classics, we’re the modern classics”) and to feature more modern, potential “hip” films, which might appeal to the more sought after “youth” demographic. Jaws? Well, that’s a classic. At the very least, classic Spielberg. Halloween? Classic horror movie. Mission: Impossible? Okay, well, that’s a classic Tom Cruise movie, I guess.
But of late I have noticed them airing at least two films that I cannot, under any circumstances, define as “American Movie Classics”: Tomb Raider 2: Cradle of Life and Catwoman.
Hell, I’m not even sure they are movies, let alone classic movies. Classic pieces of crap, maybe. Catwoman isn’t so much a movie as it is a make-up commercial and the second-to-last nail in the coffin of Sharon Stone’s career. And it wasn’t even successful enough that you could defend it on the “kids will like it” platform. I heard its total revenue was just enough for the studio head to splurge on lunch one day and supersize his #2 at McDonalds.
As for Tomb Raider 2…I don’t even know what that movie’s deal was. It was just horrid. Ask Dr. Bitz; he’ll tell you all about it. All I remember is that the bad guys had no motivation (“We’re evil! Mwah ha ha!”) and that the whole movie seemed like an excuse to get Angelina Jolie into skin tight outfits, then make her bend all over the place. And look, that’s all well and good but if you’re going to make a movie for the sole purpose of showing off a hot body, air it after ten on Skinemax and stop trying to pass it off as an “American Movie Classic”.
So, sorry AMC. I was willing to go to bat for you, but not any longer. Until you stop trying to pass off Catwoman: You Kids, You Like Halle Berry, Right? and Tomb Raider 2: Isn’t Angelina Jolie Hot? as classics, you’ve lost whatever defensible position you once may have held.