Yesterday, a Deadline article introduced Turner Classic Movies’ new ad campaign called “Let’s Movie” that is meant to encourage audiences of all ages to check out the network, interact using the hashtag “Let’s Movie” to connect with others on social media and brand Turner Classic Movies as the “ultimate movie destination.” The reporter interviewed TCM’s GM Jennifer Dorian who said this is meant to be a “broader invitation” for all movie lovers, adding:
“A great movie is a great movie, no matter what decade it was created in.”
When I initially saw the article’s headline, I was intrigued to see what TCM has come up with next. In my opinion TCM always outdoes itself. The network, to me, is perfection and I’m always in support of their next venture. But when I read that quote nerves just took over as I got flashbacks of the demise of American Movie Classics.
When I was growing up, American Movie Classics was my safe haven. Instead of Nickelodeon and cartoons, I grew up on American Movie Classics. These films spoke to me, they provided me the escape I was yearning for. I identified with the independence of Katharine Hepburn, the wit of Carole Lombard and the optimism of Audrey Hepburn. I longed to escape to the wild west with John Wayne, to explore the dark underworld of film noir with Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd. I was a child growing up in the ’90s, I started watching these films when I was 10-years-old. Some of the themes of films like Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner may have gone over my head but in other films, Betty Grable was my best friend; Bob Dorian and later Nick Clooney were in my living room every night. I had the TCM magazine and in it I would highlight all the movies I wanted to see. I recorded films on countless video tapes (which I still own) and if it wasn’t on TCM, I was trying to find them at Blockbuster or Hollywood Video.
But being a young girl with this passion was tough at school. All of my heroes were dead and none of my friends knew what I liked or even wanted to know. Yet as I watched American Movie Classics, it didn’t matter that I was an awkward girl with friends who thought I was weird because Bob and Nick felt like friends. As American Movie Classics and I grew up, the brand began to change. The logo was different, the bumps between movies traded the 1940’s glamour for a more slick modern look, suddenly movies like The Shawshank Redemption and Big began creeping in and then (gasp!) there were commercials. Then one day it all changed, there were no classic movies. None. I don’t remember exactly what day or what year it happened but I remember I was heart broken. I was truly heart broken. I felt like a friend had abandoned me. It was like a sucker punch in the stomach. Thankfully, there was Turner Classic Movies. I personally had always preferred American Movie Classics because I gravitated towards the 20th Century Fox and R.K.O. films and at the time Turner had the rights to mostly MGM but I became much more devoted to TCM because it was the only other option. TCM was like a knight in shining armor in this situation, it rescued me during this difficult breakup and I haven’t looked back since. In fact, TCM has only gotten better and has surpassed American Movie Classics in many ways. They are committed to showing these classics the way they were intended to be seen, not just uncut and commercial free but also in widescreen. They have also enhanced their efforts to connect with their audiences with the Classic Film Cruise, TCMFF, and this summer’s Summer of Darkness film course. Right now there’s never been a better time to be a TCM fan.
However when I read Ms. Dorian’s quote, the same punch in the stomach I felt about the demise of American Movie Classics crept in but she sent out tweets clarifying that this was just a marketing campaign and no changes were coming to programming.
It’s not that I don’t think films beyond say the ’70’s should be shown on TCM, it’s quite the contrary. I agree films are classic no matter what decade they are and as time continues to pass there will be more classics. I consider Back to the Future, The Royal Tenenbaums, Clueless, Fight Club, etc. as contemporary classics. Her quote in the article just made it feel like I was having a bout of AMC-PTSD, like TCM was making way for newer films to be shown more often and pushing studio-era films to undesired time slots.
In the past few years, I’ve seen something remarkable happen thanks to social media. I’ve never known other classic movie fans but a grassroots social media movement known as #TCMParty has changed all of that. I’ve met so many other classic movie fans from around the world on Twitter and have subsequently become more confident in sharing this passion in every day social interactions. The awkward little girl in me now has more friends than just Betty Grable. What was something I was once so protective of and embarrassed to share, is now something that I talk about proudly and often. #TCMParty has helped me grow as a classic movie fan and is what led me to create this blog. It’s truly been a life-changing experience on many fronts which is why I’m excited for #LetsMovie. #LetsMovie will give young people who may be going through the same experience like I did growing up the opportunity to connect with others, which is something I didn’t have when I was younger. To be able to connect with such a loving community and go on a film journey together is what filmmaking is all about. That, in itself, is worth it.
TCM, I raise a glass to you and I’m excited for all us to #LetsMovie but just don’t kick Betty Grable to the curb. 🙂