Why Whedon thinks Temple of Doom represents all that is wrong with pop culture

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Aug 29, 2013, 11:09 AM EDT (Updated)

After spending the early part of his career on the fringes of pop culture, Joss Whedon has become the mainstream king with The Avengers. So what does he think encapsulates all that is wrong with modern culture nowadays? Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

In a wide-ranging chat in the latest print edition of Entertainment Weekly, Whedon bemoaned how films and everything else are becoming too self-referential in an attempt to be a little too meta. He took aim at Empire Strikes Back a few weeks ago, and now he has his sights set on Indiana Jones.

It all goes back to the shooting trick scene in Temple of Doom, which was purposely meant to reference the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indy uses a gun to take out a highly trained, very animated swordsman. In Temple of Doom, the same thing happens again — but this time Indy isn’t carrying his pistol. So he throws a little wink to the audience for the joke and moves on.

For Whedon, a film experience needs to be self-contained — which is interesting coming from the guy who pulled together almost half a dozen flicks into one coherent team-up (which still actually worked pretty well on its own).

Here’s how he explained it:

“A movie has to be complete within itself; it can’t just build off the first one or play variations. You know that thing in Temple of Doom where they revisit the shooting trick? … That’s what you don’t want. And I feel that’s what all of culture is becoming — it’s becoming that moment.”

He has a good point, because there’s nothing worse than sitting down to watch a movie and not getting a good experience because you might’ve missed a previous installment. Stories can continue in a serialized way, but each product needs to tell a coherent story on its own — and that approach has shown through in Marvel’s master plan, which Whedon is helping to maintain.

Do you think Whedon is right? Do you like little winks like this, or should a movie stand entirely on its own?

(Via /Film)

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