A SOPHISTICATED NEWSPAPER MOVIE CRITIC NAMED Stanley was so dedicated to his work that he paid a team of surgeons to transplant him into a video projector. His head stuck out near the lens. He was installed in an elite downtown venue where he not only showed films, but provided the audience with a running critical commentary.
Stanley was living a film critic’s dream.
The beautiful people flocked to his screenings, there were any number of spots about him on tv shows, and pundits wrote about the obsession with film in today’s popular culture.
Unfortunately, the medical science behind the transplant operation turned out to be less than perfect. Stanley began to jam. Tape backed up and unreeled out his nose. DVDs glitched. The projected image repeatedly broke up and as Stanley sputtered, the audience looked, laughed, and left.
Faced with sparsely attended showings, Stanley realized a truth. His life had never been his own but had always been in someone else’s hands. As soon as the words are shown to someone else, any writer, even a critic, depends on the kindness of strangers. Recognition is everything.
Eventually Stanley lost the venue, and shortly afterwards his contract with the newspaper was not renewed. He finally found a position at a small but prestigious University as an Assistant Lecturer of Cinema and Audio Visual Application. But his arrogant style won him few friends. He always felt alone.
He continued his public screenings but audiences found his unreliability annoying and his commentary yesterday’s style. Soon his movie columns appeared only on placemats in restaurants. His showings went from first run cinemas to second-run multi-plexes to community clubs. After a few years, he was working at a Summer camp for teenagers showing them dreadful movies about Summer camps infested with killers of teenagers. Stanley despised these films but his critic’s wit was largely lost on audiences waiting for the next kill.
At least he could always tell himself that he was still living his dream.
Also by Victor Schwartzman