Final thoughts from Lights, Camera, Ashton.
So the time has come. The overhead lights are bright again. Aisles begin to be swept. The screen returns to its blank form and I’m left only with a ripped ticket, a paper bag coated with my butter-draped popcorn’s remains and fond memories as I exit into the night.
Yes, it’s a wrap for “Lights, Camera, Ashton.” Whether I like it or not, I’ve come to my final column and, whether you enjoyed my weekly entertainment ramblings or not, I’ve adored every minute doing this.
If I could for a minute, I’d like to get personal with you. See, my enchantment of cinema has been beside me before I could truly form cognitive memories. I can’t remember much of early childhood education or my brother’s birth. But I do, however, vividly recollect the endless hours I watched Disney films throughout the day or how I would sort VHS tapes with their boxes through their title logos before I could read. I can also pinpoint when I realized the power of cinema — such moments as when Mickey Mouse spun the wheel on the Steamboat Willie, Dorothy met Glinda the Good Witch in her magical pink bubble or Willy Wonka opened the doors to the wonders of his Chocolate Factory for the first time.
Such images will hopefully never leave me and, more importantly, I pray these emotions aren’t forgotten. Films were always there to help me make sense of this confusing, alienating world. They taught me feelings about love, death, heartbreak, rejection, sadness and fear, and took me to exotic worlds and fantastic heights. These were all from the comfort of an air-conditioned theater, or just in my own living room.
This is what I tried to communicate with “Lights, Camera, Ashton.” Of course, I’ve never considered this weekly feature as socially important as some of my other fellow columnists assemble. It was always a fluff piece — a piece of entertainment on entertainment through and through — and I’ve never admitted otherwise.
But this doesn’t mean I put any less love or care inside, though.
Although my editors often preferred it when I got saucy at religious propaganda films or coaxed my written tongue at the films that vexed me the most, I never had any hard-knuckled intentions with my weekly column. “Lights, Camera, Ashton” was, more or less, my 15-minute attempt to express the power of cinema. It let me exclaim how extraordinary movies were when done right, or for that matter, how horrid it could be when done poorly.
Some weeks were harder than others to bring such affections to my words, but I did my best. Even though something always grinds my gears in pop culture, it’s hard to get so worked up on a weekly basis on often-trivial matters. Sure, it can be endlessly fun, but after a while you have to take a step back and realize what you desired in the first place.
And I think, with that, I finally accomplish that task this week. It’s never easy saying goodbye. Things rarely end when we wish them to. Life’s nothing without compromises. I think Woody Allen said that once. While I never really understood our weird little world, I’ll always understand film. And that’s good enough, I guess.
So yes, I bid you all so long and farewell, but let’s not say the long goodbye just yet. I want to believe there’s a time when I’ll be back in a theater near you soon. If so, bring some popcorn, and make sure your phone is off. I’ll be in the back.