Yesterday, Roger Ebert published a funny, scolding column begging owners of wide-screen TVs not to stretch square TV programs to fill their hot new television screens. "I first became aware of this phenomenon when I saw my first wide-screen set, in the home of a New York friend," Ebert writes. "He was watching a tennis game between very wide people, who were batting the ball across a three-foot-high net. I pointed out that Serena Williams had become short and fat. 'I have it set to fill the whole screen,' he explained proudly."
Ebert's column follows closely on the heels of Joe Morgenstern's lamentation on the same topic in last weekend's Wall Street Journal. Morgenstern tells sad tales of wasted hours spent in hotel rooms trying to explain to technicians that all he wants is the TV's original remote. "I feel like a guy spouting off about the emperor's new clothes," Morgenstern writes, "except this emperor's problem is that his wardrobe doesn't fit."
Though we appreciate the point Morgenstern and Ebert are making, how depressing is it that two of the three film critics ever to win a Pulitzer Prize are currently reduced to lecturing readers on how to set up their TVs? What does that say about the state of American film? It ain't exactly Cahiers du cinéma.
By the way, we look forward to the shittily written version of this same column that will be published next week by the third Pulitzer winner … Stephen Hunter.