I got into a conversation on Twitter today, as you do, with a total stranger who mistook The Princess Bride for The Princess Diaries.
I’ll let that sink in for a moment.
What happened was, there was this high-lair-ious hashtag going on called #ExplainAFilmPlotBadly, so after a little thought I contributed the following:
Unemployed Greenland resident takes a job. #ExplainAFilmPlotBadly
— Maud (@AwfullyChipper) September 6, 2014
Well, I thought it was excellent. I sat back and waited for the accolades to roll in.
All I got was some bloke saying “Which film is that?”
I was going to be snarky, but then maybe I thought maybe it wasn’t as clear a reference as it was in my head, so I just told him. He said “Ah, and I’ve seen that.” And then “Have you seen the second one?” And then “I was totally thinking of Princess Diaries.”
“Very different film, Ted”, I replied, scathingly, prepared to close the door on this sorry encounter by puzzling him out of existence, but he actually got the Father Ted reference, so I let him be.
Still, this whole thing demonstrates a serious problem in our society. It’s called the Princess Bride Generation Gap. There are people like us, the sensible people who saw the film when it came out, or a few years later, as teenagers or young adults, and loved it, because to see it is to love it, and quoted it and delighted in it. And there are our children, who are growing up in the soft light of Rob Reiner, because all is right with the world and what child wouldn’t enjoy a film with swashbuckling and a princess and torture and a miracle man and a cast in a million.
But in between there are people who grew up in no-man’s-land, neither fish nor flesh, who have discovered the film neither in its first flush nor as a retro delight; people who are between perhaps 15 and 30 years of age.
It is our responsibility, nay, our duty, to bring this film to these poor benighted individuals, lest they go through their lives unbrightened by it, unable to understand the references and the quotes and the people who talk about land wars in Asia and bwessed awwangements.
But we must do it carefully, surreptitiously, leaving tiny clues for them rather than pushing them into it, so that they think they came to it themselves, all unawares. Because nothing’s worse than the stuff people 15 years older than you think is cool. Those people have terrible taste and no sense of irony.
This is your mission. Gather your holocaust cloaks, friends, and begin.