As is apparent from my lack of posting on the artistry of film, and as is obvious from the absence of film terminology (i.e., mise-en-scène...which is what, exactly?) in my writing, I've never studied film. Or, for that matter, art or literature. Never taken a course, seminar, class or webinar. To be sure, when it comes to film knowledge I am a complete ignoramus compared to many movie bloggers, if that is indeed what I claim to be.
My limited knowledge is usually a source of shame and embarrassment, but there are times when I take secret pride in my ability to "get" certain aspects of a film without them being spelled out for me, like when you accidentally solve a homework problem from your older sibling's math textbook, or when you stumble over words in another language only to have the person you're talking to nod in genuine understanding. That's when it's fun, but for the most part I'm posing here as somebody who "knows about" movies, when in reality I'm only someone who watches a lot of them. I'm the Sarah Palin of movie blogging, and when nobody knows the wiser it's a pretty good gig.
Though I've never tried to hide my ignorance of film here (at least not completely), I'm now coming out to fully reveal it. I subscribe to the Sunday New York Times, and included with it this week was the quarterly insert called Education Life. It's a thin magazine-ish thing focused on university culture, and at the end of each issue is a multiple-choice "pop quiz" on some topic, presumably there just to remind upper-middle class New York Times readers that they just need a little more education.
Usually I skim through Education Life and toss it, and most times I get to the quiz and give up as soon as questions of quantum physics or 19th-century French Literature show up. But this Sunday, the Pop Quiz was on "Film Studies", and I was compelled to give it a shot. Fortunately, it's available online, saving me from having to keep score myself, and also allowing me to share it with you.
Take two quick minutes right now and give the quiz your best effort (you will need an Adobe Flash plug-in). Then come back and report your score (you can expect no judgment from me if you get zero correct).
In the meantime, I'll share my own results, categorized by section:
- The Backstory: Questions related to film history
- My score: 4/5 answers correct
- The Deal: Questions related to the business of film
- My score: 4/11 answers correct
- The Horror Film: Questions related to horror films
- My score: 1/3 correct
- The Western: Questions related to Westerns
- My score: 3/5 correct
- Film Noir: Questions related to the style (?) or genre (?) of film noir
- My score: 0/2 correct
When you do the math (and fortunately, my educational background included a lot of math), you can see that I answered 12/26 questions correct for a percentage of 46% - certainly not a passing grade in any class.
What does it all mean? Maybe nothing, aside from confirming what I knew about what I didn't know. Does it invalidate my opinion on film? Definitely in some circles, but I try to tell myself that that doesn't really matter, that for the most part I don't watch movies to appreciate or criticize their artistry and influence and craft. I watch them to learn things about people and places around the world, period. And I don't think you need a degree in film to be able to do that.
What has your experience been? Do you have a degree in the arts? Care to share your score? I'm curious as to where I would rank in the percentile among the general population, but particularly among other bloggers...