UPDATE: Seeing how his interview with the Radio Times generated an online reaction, Simon Pegg wrote a response on his website to clarify the comments. Pegg said he understands how some could take his comments as an extreme condemnation of sci-fi and fantasy, but did defend the idea that modern blockbusters have infantalized audiences’ tastes.
“Now, maybe I was being a little bit trollish, I can be a bit of a Contrary Mary in interviews sometimes,” Pegg wrote. “Having said that, the idea of our prolonged youth is something I’ve been interested in for a very long time.”
Pegg used his work on Spaced as an example of exploring what prolonged youth can do to a generation, reiterating his main concern that these spectacle films have taken away attention from more important matters in the world. “There was probably more discussion on Twitter about the The Force Awakens and the Batman vs Superman trailers than there was about the Nepalese earthquake or the British general election,” Pegg wrote.
“I guess what I meant was, the more spectacle becomes the driving creative priority, the less thoughtful or challenging the films can become,” he added.
Read the rest of Pegg’s comments on his website and for fans who may have been in doubt, fear not—Pegg is “still a nerd and proud.”
EARLIER: Simon Pegg is no stranger to the big-budget sci-fi and action franchises that have dominated the box office for decades. He’s appeared in Star Trek and Mission: Impossible films, and has been part of beloved series like Spaced and Edgar Wright’s Cornetto trilogy.
But Pegg may be ready to move on from all that genre fare, especially as he sees the prolfieration of these enormous movies as a “dumbing down” of what audiences expect from film.
Pegg spoke to Radio Times Magazine and cited films like The Godfather, Taxi Driver, and Bonnie and Clyde—“gritty, amoral art movies”—as the type of film that became box-office hits in the pre-franchise era. But now, with the explosion of sci-fi and action tentpoles, something has gone missing from cinema.
“Part of me looks at society as it is now and just thinks we’ve been infantilised by our own taste,” Pegg said.
While Pegg has been associated with many beloved “geek” films—he’s even co-writing Star Trek 3—he misses how popular “grown-up things” used to be in the world of film.
“It is a kind of dumbing down in a way, because it’s taking our focus away from real-world issues,” Pegg said. “Films used to be about challenging, emotional journeys or moral questions that might make you walk away and re-evaluate how you felt about… whatever.”
He expressed a certain ambivalence about his role as a pop-cultural nerd. “I honestly thought the other day that I’m gonna retire from geekdom,” he said. “I’ve become the poster child for that generation, and it’s not necessarily something I particularly want to be. I’d like to go off and do some serious acting.”
For more on Pegg’s thoughts on the “dumbing down” of cinema, read the rest of his interview with Radio Times.