This is just a text I wrote to explain how I felt about most blockbuster
movies. I didn't know what to do with it, so here it is.
There's this new restaurant in town that has posters and ads everywhere.
Everyone's talking about it, and they all seem to have a pretty strong opinion,
so you go with some friends to see what it's like.
The first impression is outstanding. The restaurant is lavishly decorated. The
room, furniture, atmosphere, music, are all spectacular and have obviously been
painstakingly designed for your enjoyment. The waiters have fancy, colorful,
creative dresses, and they usher you to a comfortable seat on a magnificent
table adorned with the finest dining ware.
You spend some time admiring the setting: the paintings on the wall, the
patterns of the wallpaper, the carefully engineered lighting, and the complex
ballet of the waiters. Soon enough, the first dish is served. It consists of
various kinds of canapés, neatly arranged on a splendid plate. They look
wonderful even if not particularly original. You have a bite, and the taste is
good, not exceptional compared to your expectations, but certainly not bad
either; just not especially remarkable.
You finish the plate, and a different waiter comes to the table after a while,
with a new plate of other kinds of canapés. How formal, you think, how
unbelievably fancy to have two rounds of appetizers before the meal has even
started! The ingredients are different, but your opinion is essentially the
same: excellent visual impression, classical recipes, enjoyable yet somewhat
A third plate of canapés comes in, and now you start to suspect that something
is off. Why are they only serving such cocktail food? Worse, you can't figure
out any logic in the contents of the plates: now some of the bites are sweet,
but on the next plate everything is savory again. And the meal continues like
this, with a series of plates of different kinds of hors d'oeuvres brought by
It's not that the experience is really unpleasant. You can appreciate the
setting, the lighting, and the subtle changes in atmosphere and music throughout
the evening. You can also wonder about the seemingly random assortment of
tastes, plates, and waiters, that comes to the table every now and then. You can
also enjoy the food, which is acceptable even if not strikingly good.
But after one hour and a half of this, your expectations have been building up
to something more. Surely all of this has been leading to a proper dish of some
kind? Alas, no: the series of appetizers continues for one more hour, you
progressively realize that it's getting too late for your hopes to materialize,
and then the check comes and confirms what you had feared. You feel somewhat
queasy as you get up and leave the table, like when you have too many snacks in
a row: you're no longer hungry, but you don't feel like you had a proper meal
either. In fact, it's a bit as if you had been robbed of the opportunity of
As it turns out, your friends are all thrilled about this incredible dinner
experience, but it seems that you haven't been paying attention to the same
things as them. For one thing, they really enjoyed the beauty of the setting,
the music, and how everything was pleasing to the eye and ears. You readily
concede that all of this was perfect, but you try to bring the discussion back
to the food. "But wasn't the food pretty too", they ask? "Didn't it perfectly
match the plates, the table and the decoration of the room?"
Your friends also loved that the restaurant staff was so varied. This
is something that you had essentially missed, although you do remember that the
plates were brought by many different waiters, with interesting costumes and
ties and hairstyles. To your friends, the main point of the various canapés
was the story that they were telling about the lives of the waiters and the
relationships between them. They can discuss it for ages: "Did you understand
why the short bearded guy brought the foie gras plate, although the chunks of
duck magret had all been delivered by the tall blonde waitress until then?" "Oh,
my interpretation is that the bearded guy has a secret duck side in him, but
he's conflicted about his relationship with the bald guy who brought the veal
You ask: "But why the hell did they serve chocolate mousse verrines between the foie
gras and veal liver?" Of course, they reply, the reason why the skinny old
waitress brought the chocolate mousse was to appease the tension between bearded
guy and bald guy. "But what good did it do to the meal", you ask? And they
answer: "It brings forward the side of the old waitress's character that feels
guilty for the bearded guy's struggle."
You try to explain how you would have liked the meal to have a certain structure, with
recognizable dishes arranged in a consistent order. Your friends pounce on this,
and question you: why are you so attached to this traditional structure of a
formal meal? Why should a good meal necessarily consist of a starter, a main
course, and a dessert? "But the point is not the specific structure," you reply,
"so much as having any kind of understandable connection between the successive
dishes." Some of your friends then ask: "But don't you see how subversive it
is to have served an anchovy paste toast just after a chocolate parfait? Don't
you like this sort of strong political statement?" You still fail to see the
radical appeal of this, given that the setting was otherwise rather consensual,
and the food consisted of perfectly standard Western fare. To you, the meal
didn't look like a satire of anything in particular, except maybe itself.
They ask, "but didn't you like how the meal was surprising and unpredictable?"
And indeed, you have to agree that you couldn't anticipate anything, given that it
appeared to be completely random. You explain how the lack of structure makes it
impossible for you to summarize, or indeed to remember, the sequence of foods
that you had. They disagree: to them, the meal was rich and complex, and anyway
the main questions to examine are character-related, e.g., how the blonde
waitress's disappearance at the middle of the meal could be linked to the
increasingly important role of the bald guy in connection to the sweet and
especially fruit-flavored foods.
Your friends are all eager to return to this place when they will start serving
their new menu next year. To them, this meal has been building up to the great
surprises that the next dinner will surely bring. "Think of all the new kinds of
food that we will discover! And in particular I wonder whether we will see the
blonde waitress again? I wonder whether she might bring us some scallops in a
green plate, because remember that the only seafood so far had been brought by
the old waitress, also in a green plate, so this could be some hint of a family
relationship between them?" And when you express your lack of enthusiasm, they
don't understand you: if you complained so much about the food, why aren't you
hungry for more?