Every time I complain that a blockbuster movie is directorially dumb, or insultingly scripted, or crappily acted, or artistically barren, I get a torrent of emails from alleged mainstream-movie lovers complaining that I (as a snotty critic) am applying highbrow criteria that cannot and should not be applied to good old undemanding blockbuster entertainment. I am not alone in this; every critic worth their salt has been lectured about their distance from the demands of “popular cinema”, or has been told that their views are somehow elitist and out of touch (and if you haven’t been told this then you are not a critic, you are a “showbiz correspondent”). This has become the shrieking refrain of 21st-century film (anti)culture – the idea that critics are just too clever for their own good, have seen too many movies to know what the average punter wants, and are therefore sorely unqualified to pass judgment on the popcorn fodder that “real” cinema-goers demand from the movies.
This is baloney – and worse, it is pernicious baloney peddled by people who are only interested in money and don’t give a damn about cinema. The problem with movies today is not that “real” cinema-goers love garbage while critics only like poncy foreign language arthouse fare. The problem is that we’ve all learned to tolerate a level of overpaid, institutionalised corporate dreadfulness that no one actually likes but everyone meekly accepts because we’ve all been told that blockbuster movies have to be stupid to survive. Being intelligent will cause them to become unpopular. Duh! The more money you spend, the dumb and dumberer you have to be. You know the drill: no one went broke underestimating the public intelligence. That’s just how it is, OK?
Once it’s in place, though, the Webb [Space Telescope] is quite literally expected to unlock a universe of discoveries. Positioned so far from the Earth and shielded from outside infrared interference, the telescope will be able to see things the Hubble never could. Chief among them: seeing back in time. Since light only travels so fast, the further you look out, the further you look back. The Webb is expected to be able to peer into some of the universe’s earliest moments, before even stars existed. This could give insight into how the cosmos came into being.
On top of that, the Webb is going to be looking at how the first galaxies were formed. From observations from Hubble and other telescopes, we know know most galaxies have huge black holes at their centers, but questions remain about how this symbiotic pairing of black holes and stars emerges. The answer likely has to do with “dark matter,” the term for the missing matter in the universe that scientists can observe the gravitational effects of, but can’t see directly. By looking into the formation of galaxies, the Webb may unlock the secrets of this mysterious substance.
Finally, the Webb may help answer the question of whether life exists elsewhere in the universe. The telescope will be able to see better than ever before planets in other star systems and more importantly—which ones have water. A planet with large amounts of water is a prime candidate for life, and the Webb could point us right to them.” —What We Could Lose if the James Webb Telescope Is Killed (via crookedindifference)