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At the beginning of Chapter 18 of The Catcher in the Rye, Holden writes:
I had a lot of time to kill till ten o'clock, so what I did, I went to the movies at Radio City. It was probably the worst thing I could've done, but it was near, and I couldn't think of anything else.
Many Americans have had the experience of going to the movies because they are bored and lonely and can't think of anything else to do. They are a place for forgetting. Movies are often soulless, inartistic, committee-made concoctionx with no other purpose than to extract money from the lonely crowd for the purpose of making more movies of the same ilk.
First, Holden is treated to a stage show with the famous chorus line of Rocketts whose talents consists of high-kicking their bare legs in unison and showing off their curves. It is not art but razzle-dazzle which probably should be called kitsch. Then there are the usual vaudeville acts of which the most that can be said is that they are probably the best of their kind because they are appearing in one of the major Broadway theaters. Holden is disgusted with the live show and even more disgusted with the motion picture. It was one of the remaining theaters in the country that was keeping vaudeville barely alive with a program of one vaudeville show and one motion picture. These theaters existed only in the major cities. Holden was not the only one who was getting tired of the same stand-up comedians, dog shows, acrobats, and tap dancers.
Holden says of the motion picture:
It was so putrid I couldn't take my eyes off it.
His cynical description of the manufactured, mass-produced plot, so typical of his times, is so funny and so right-on that it seems to represent all the phony movies cranked out on the Hollywood production lines. Holden is not only disgusted with the picture but disgusted with the audience for being entertained—or perhaps thinking they are being entertained—by such insincere counterfeit art. It is the type of movie that provides work for actors, directors, and dozens of technical assistants and gofers, none of whom care at all about the production but are only putting in their time until they can head for the nearest hangout and get drunk on dry martinis.
After the movie was over, I started walking down to the Wicker Bar, whee I was supposed to meet old Carl Luce….
In Chapter 19, Holden Caulfield, who is learning about reality, is headed for another disappointment.
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