Films are ranked within their genres, so Avatar, bursting with computerized wonderments, would never go up against, say, The Princess Bride, which, as it happens, is Ida’s No. 1 pick in the genre “Romances in Which Lovers Are Separated by Great Distances and Also by Fantastical Creatures That Run Amokity Mok.” If video stores—that is, if they weren’t all being boarded up—used Ida’s system of classification, they would have to set up hundreds of separate sections: “Comedies Centered on a Hero Who Possesses an Impossible Device and/or a Superpower.” “Psychological Thrillers That End Inside Someone’s Head or With Doubts Cast on the Reality of Reality.” “Big-Budget Epics Featuring More Than Six Big-Name Actors.” Within each genre, she chooses a holy grail, a model of cinematic perfection against which all other similar films are compared. Her ratings system is actually a very complicated algorithm, and it has made her site, FlickerPopGirl .com, a popular destination for moviegoers and aspiring film buffs over the age of five. I keep a close eye on the site, and routinely patrol the Web for what’s being said about it elsewhere. But I’ve stopped responding to criticism. Once, near the beginning, a particularly nasty thread got started about a review of a Harry Potter movie (she gave it three happy hearts in the “Action Adventures About Adolescent Vamps, Werewolves, Wizards, Magicians, and Demigods Based on Successful Books Sold at Walmart” genre). I logged in secretly with the handle sitonthis_cane to inform the three commenters that Ida was only eleven years old and that in some states I could probably use pliers to rip out much-needed body parts without fear of doing any jail time. I should have known better. That only egged them on. They called Ida a slut, and worse.
Anyway, Ida figured out it was me and threatened to block me from the site forever if I did something so colossally stupid again. Besides, she said, comments like that didn’t bother her. Most likely, they were from “a bunch of Seven Samurai-loving film minors who at some point or another had tried kissing a poster of Audrey Hepburn from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, ‘just to see what it was like.’ ” Where had she learned to talk like that?