Someone I knew once went on at me about how going to the movies with someone was a weird date, because basically you’re spending your date not talking to the person you’re with. And I suppose that’s true, but at the same time, it makes total sense to me. What you are doing is not a communal activity in that sense; you and your date are each viewing the movie without communicating to one another what you’re getting out of it. On the other hand, are you, though? No; your reactions are communicating, because we share art.
The whole “but what does [director old enough to be your parent/grandparent] think about the MCU?” thing is at a weird intersection, you see. I’d say there are at least three factors going there, and the one that doesn’t get talked about is that we as humans have an inherent need to share art. In the Science of Discworld series, there is a claim that our species name really ought to be Pan narrans, the storytelling ape, and while I’m assuredly not qualified to get into a discussion about Pan versus Homo, certainly the vast majority of our art does come from our drive to tell stories.
And if you tell stories, you need an audience, and the stories we tell shape us and those we tell them to. Stories are a way of building our tribe. We want to share stories with people we like, and for better or worse, movie franchises are part of our mutual storytelling now. They’re part of our modern mythology. That’s mostly okay to me, honestly; for one thing, I’m okay with sharing a tribe with millions of other people, okay with the idea that I can go to a country where I don’t speak the language and have certain stories in common—ideally, I will also know some stories that originate from that country, of course, but that’s a different conversation.
We want Martin Scorsese to be part of our tribe. That’s another very human aspect of how we respond to things. The stories he’s told connect with us, and we want to share our stories with him. That’s why people ask what he thinks about them, and that’s why he has an opinion. And honestly, our feelings about the stories are more visceral to us than things like awareness of issues to do with distribution and financing, so we talk about whether he’s right or wrong, not why the studios have such a stranglehold on what movies get made.
And Lord, you think the discourse is bad now, just you wait until the new Justice Department declaration that studios can own their own theatre chains again changes things. After all, the reason they were forbidden from owning them in the first place was that it prevented an unfair limitation on commerce and availability. So this isn’t going to help the problem of “not enough theatres play independent movies” any. Maybe we should get Martin Scorsese and the MCU and so forth to combine and all tell that story until it sinks in.