A few weeks ago, someone asked me why I tweet about classic movies (particularly at the #TCMParty). Luckily for me, I had given the matter a lot of thought already, so I had a ready answer. I wanted to share a few of those thoughts here.
For those who don’t know, the TCMParty hashtag has become a popular means by which TCM (Turner Classic Movies) junkies can get together and gab about the films that happen to be showing on a given evening (or in the afternoon, or pretty much any time of the day or night). There are some regulars–some of whom have even built that TCMParty identity in their profiles–and others who only chime in on occasion. Regardless of how long one has been partaking of the hashtag, however, you can be guaranteed that there will be a mix of irreverent jokes (all told, of course, with a great measure of affection for the films under discussion), as well as fun bits of trivia, and other sorts of discussion about the film. Though we might not always agree with one another, and though many of us are quite different in our outlooks on film and on life in general, the TCMparty is always a congenial and supportive space for a wide variety of viewpoints.
At first, it might seem somewhat counter-intuitive to think about TCM and Twitter in the same sentence. There is a popular–and not entirely unfounded–perception that the channel appeals to a particular demographic. This, most people would assume, would be middle-aged and older folks, many of whom may remember when many of the films that TCM shows (many of which come from the 1930s-1950s). However, a cursory perusal of Twitter reveals a number of Twitter users who are in their 20s-30s, people who have a genuine fondness for classical Hollywood (there are even millennials, believe it or not!)
There is, I think, something quite exciting about this melange of people live-tweeting about these films, bringing their exciting and sometimes contentious opinions and views on these films. While certainly we don’t always agree on how we look at films (I was more than a little dismayed to find that one of my fellow TCMParty folks did not like the biblical epic David and Bathsheba, one of my favorites of the midcentury cycle), we all share our opinions and thoughts about them. That atmosphere is usually convivial and light-hearted, though there are often rich, textured, and nuanced conversations that spring out of the Twitter feed.
Further, conversing via Twitter has become an essential part of TCM’s brand identity, especially with their recent introduction of the hashtag #LetsMovie. While there was, understandably, a great deal of ambivalence on the part of classic movie fans–and a concomitant fear that TCM would begin introducing newer films into its lineup–I prefer to see it as a golden opportunity to introduce an entire new generation of filmgoers to the joys and wonders of classic Hollywood. As we get further and further from that period, and as new digital technologies displace celluloid, we should embrace every opportunity we have to keep the conversation going.
So, why do I tweet about classic movies? Because I like sharing my love of this particular body of art with others who share that love. As a film scholar, there is something rejuvenating and exciting about engaging with people outside of the academy, who bring to the discussion of film a variety of perspectives that are equally important. It’s very easy as an academic to cocoon myself away from the world, and Twitter provides me an opportunity to connect with other cinephiles, folks who may not have a degree but who nevertheless possess much more film knowledge than I do (and often have their own voluminous archives to draw upon).
If you’re a fan of classic films (and who isn’t, at some level or other?) then you should definitely sign up for a Twitter account and see what all of the fuss is about. Whether you are young or old, an experienced cinema-goer or someone who has newly discovered the joys of film, be sure to join in with the crazy, zany, but loveable gang tweeting at #TCMParty.