December 23, 2005


Continuing to consolidate its position as the premier useless list makers in America, if not the world, the American Film Institute has just released yet another list of things. This time around it's their 2005 Moments of Significance. You might think that some of their moments are just plain insipid (Fox's episodes of 24 for mobile phones, called "mobisodes") and some are just harmless advertisements ("America Online's exclusive on-line coverage of the multi-city Live 8 concert proved a seismic moment in global access to live events...") but their best moment of significance was...well, let AFI tell it:

"2005 marked a fully found artistic reaction to 9/11 and the new realities created in its wake. Art not only has the ability to expose the complexities of the changed world we live in, but also to provide a unifying voice for a country trying to heal while still in conflict."

And what movie do they cite? MARCH OF THE PENGUINS.


"MARCH OF THE PENGUINS, a French documentary that chronicled the journey of emperor penguins in Antarctica, proved the surprise hit of the year for its universal message -- the need to be part of a community that cares for each other."

The other movies cited? GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK and WAR OF THE WORLDS. No mention of PARADIESE NOW, PRIVATE, SYRIANA, HOMECOMING, THE WAR WITHIN or any other movie that actually had something to do with international politics.

So let me get this straight. The best way for art to "explore the complexities of the changed world we live in" is to ignore the real world completely and offer audiences a way to escape into a fantasy land of UFOs, dead newscasters, and penguin vomit?

Thanks, AFI!

2005: Another year that wouldn't exist if you hadn't weighed in on it.

December 23, 2005 at 01:31 AM in News | Permalink


I'm not the world's biggest fan of GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK, but it's hardly an escape into fantasyland. Isn't it a pretty obvious reproach to the mainstream media of today (made even more obvious by Murrow's book-ended speech about the wasted potential of TV)? For that matter, a lot of people see WAR OF THE WORLDS as a 9/11 metaphor. MARCH OF THE PENGUINS *is* a pretty dumb choice, but I've long since stopped expecting critical perspecive from the AFI.

Posted by: Steve | Dec 23, 2005 11:52:36 AM

Well, what I think is so thrilling about the AFI's list is that they avoid mentioning actual movies about actual politics and suggest that if you want to engage with the post-9/11 world then you can a) escape into science fiction, b) escape into the past, or b) escape into a land of magical penguins who gorge themselves on fish and then spray their vomit down each other's throats in a heartwarming display of romantic feeding.

What is the AFI anyways? Who pays the bills? Where do they live? Does it take a silver bullet or a stake through the heart to put them down? Afraid of crosses, or silver? Don't appear in mirrors?

Posted by: Grady Hendrix | Dec 23, 2005 2:36:30 PM

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