Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

We’re bleeding idiots.

Citizens of the rest of the world contemplate their stupidity. The appalling advance of Rest-of-World stupidity goes on and on. For decades, snooty people in good shoes — the sort of folk that read The Irish Times — have buttressed …

Wed, Oct 21, 2009, 22:02

   

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Citizens of the rest of the world contemplate their stupidity.

The appalling advance of Rest-of-World stupidity goes on and on. For decades, snooty people in good shoes — the sort of folk that read The Irish Times — have buttressed their own self-worth by deriding the knuckle-dragging idiocy of a largely imagined class of stereotypical American. You know what I mean. “Gosh, look at the awful food, the terrible television programmes, the ghastly films and the rubbishy books these baseball-cap wearing oafs consume,” my imaginary friend says. “It’s no wonder they voted for that goon George Bush.”

For several years now, I have lectured anybody who will listen about the malign influence of Rest-of-World on commercial film production. Put simply, a glance at the box-office figures suggests that non-American cinema-goers have a considerably greater taste for crap than do our pals across the pond. The Americans may be the ones squatting over the bucket and grunting, but its ROW citizens who more often grab a spoon and tuck in.

Nothing demonstrates this more effectively than the extraordinary success of a rubbishy second sequel to a cartoon that was pretty useless in the first place. If you’re reading this on some mobile device while standing up, I recommend you grab a seat quickly. Last month, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs became the third-highest grossing film ever at the foreign box-office. In other words, when you subtract American takings, only Titanic and Lord of the Rings: Return of the King have taken in more pounds, euros, rubles, donkeys, daughters, chickens and magic beans. The film is only number 100 in the American chart and, with 77 percent of its takings gathered in ROW, it now has the highest ever ratio of (in American terms) foreign to domestic box-office returns. I hope you’re all proud of yourselves.

If you want to feel even worse about yourself and your friends in ROW then call up Box-Office Mojo‘s chart for the all-time top earners and run your finger down the overseas percentages. The two lowest relative ROW earners in the top 25 — with 46 percent and 45 percent respectively — are The Dark Knight and ET: The Extraterrestrial, both gems. The highest takers in ROW are the endless stream of mindlessly boring Harry Potter films and, of course, Dawn of the Dinosaurs which, thanks to us, is now at number 18 in the combined chart. Other big earners in ROW-land include Tom Cruise films and anything to do with Dan Brown. Angels and Demons is written by an American, directed by an American and stars an American, but the good people of Peoria seem quite prepared to give the blasted thing a wide berth. This does not really prove we’re all cretins, but, the next time some ROW film fan gives out about American morons and their awful pop culture, you might like to check if he or she is wearing Levis.

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