In the commentary track that Roger Ebert recorded for Casablanca (now on the Blu-ray reissue), he mentions at about the 13-minute mark that we currently have a generation of moviegoers whose sense of the history of cinema begins — and ends, probably — in the mid-Seventies, with Star Wars (and maybe The Godfather).
When I heard that, I took an even more cynical perspective: for me, the current generation of moviegoers has no sense of cinema history. Not even in the sense that they haven't studied it, but in the sense that they don't feel like one is possible or worthwhile. Everything released before they started watching movies is just "old", which is a code word for worthless. Anything in black and white; most anything in a language that isn't English (I'd take a dime for every time I've heard the canard "I hate reading my movies"); anything that in short is outside the comfort zone ... it's all gone missing from their radar.
I squirm when I think about this, if only because there are so many good movies that go completely missed because of these attitudes. This part you probably know by now. What compounds that frustration is how many good movies are essentially ruined — made impossible to see with an open mind — because people can't see anything but the imitations, the mimicry, the parody, the after-the-fact, even when the original is right there up on the screen. I wonder, if in another fifty years, we'll look at the movies from the 1940s and 1950s and see territory and customs and behavior and thinking so far removed from anything we can understand or connect to that it'll be like reading some of the more cryptic parts of the Bible.
It's a microcosmic reminder of something I've thought about constantly: Man is a process, not just a static entity. If a hundred years from now we regard as barbarisms things we took unthinkingly for granted, that's at best progress and at worst a sign that we're evolving. It's just unnerving to see it happen up close and personal with something you love.