Monday, March 06, 2006

Movies Nobody Bothered to See

And so much like Earth Day and Canadian Thanksgiving, the Oscars come and go with little notice.

And according to Drudge, the Oscar market share was pretty low last night.

Conversely, more bourgeois American Idol continues to monopolize its time slot. But why?

I think this is the beginning of a serious disconnect between Hollywood and the American people they so disrespect. This year, we were regaled by a story of two gay cowboys, a reporter fighting a crazy Republican Senator, the story of a great but flamboyantly gay writer who investigated a murder for a story and gets a weird sexual fixation on one of them, and a story about racism. Wedged in there in another category was another picture glorifying acts by suicide bombers in Israel and Palestine. Between productions that increasingly smother us with leftist values, to off screen behavior that goes way over the top in terms of political preaching that is often directly at odds with American values, the Hollywood elite are alienating the commoners whose humble money they so desperately need to maintain their lavish lifestyles. And it seems that we, the unwashed masses are making choices that reflect our values as well.

Anyone recall what the biggest movies of the last year were? Star Wars III--Revenge of the Sith, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and The Chronicles of Narnia--The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Interestingly, Narnia grossed $284,792,443, Revenge of the Sith grossed $380,262,555 and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire grossed $288,870,728. Blockbuster movies to be certain. Each one-on its own--grossed more than the $235,568,359 that the Best Picture nominees made combined. So why did the box office losers get such acclaim from the American Academy?

It's not that there was anything wrong with Narnia, Harry Potter or Revenge of the Sith, as they also got technical nominations. But the problem was that their storylines, each of which dealt in their own way with significant moral struggles and tough choices being made by the characters--the kinds of moral choices and consequences that people want their kids to witness--really don't resonate with the Hollywood elite. In Harry Potter, Harry was forced to grow up quickly and to make some very difficult choices in the face of evil, all the while recognizing that his relationships with his friends were changing, but getting all the stronger. The children in Narnia experienced the gift of unmerited sacrificial death and forgiveness, resulting in the destruction of the evil that thought it had triumphed. And in a decades-expected twist, Anakin Skywalker in Revenge of the Sith struggled with moral choices and ultimately made the wrong ones with devastating consequences for himself and everyone else in the galaxy. All stories about good versus evil and all with very appropriate allegorical messages about people as individual moral agents with very real consequences facing them for each of their choices. It still sells. But to Hollywood, it's been done.

Crash played the race card. Brokeback Mountain glorified homosexuality, and Capote had its gay overtones as well--always a welcome component in Tinseltown. And of course, any anti-Israeli cause is welcome. And I would not call Munich a pro-Israeli movie. It's not great when Spielberg puts Israelis and Palestinians on roughly the same moral plane, and leaves plenty of room for uber-moron and the best friend Islamist terror ever had, Kofi Annan to claim that:
While recognizing Israel's right to defend its citizens, targeted killings place innocent bystanders at grave risk and amount to executions without trial.
Because suicide bombings don't? And isn't a "targeted killing" by definition the kind of thing that won't harm bystanders? What a complete idiot and friend of evil Annan is, but I digress. The movie left the impression that eliminating terrorist murderers was a crime in itself, getting it the Best Picture nomination in an era when eliminating terrorist murderers--before they murder again--is increasingly viewed by the Hollywood left as barbarism. They are trying to push values on a nation that is already pretty comfortable with the ones it already has. And Americans are increasingly regarding Hollywood as a place of unabashed and belligerent moral standardlessness which holds the ideals of most Americans in contempt and is eager to cram its misbegotten version of truth and goodness down our throats. But people aren't going to pay for an expensive ticket and overpriced popped corn and soda to support the mocking of their beliefs.

Conversely, Americans turn to the three blockbusters mentioned above because they really focus on the struggle between good and evil and highlighting the best of things.

And with respect to the sometimes gaudy American Idol, one of the entertainment industry's greatest recent successes, the show, whether intentionally or otherwise, appeals to a vast number of Americans because it resonates with the values that most of us hold. A bunch of generally penniless contestants come to the show with nothing more than their hearts and voices and do their best to win a record contract. We develop relationships with them as we see them try to outdo one another in a competition of raw talent and character. And each of them carries a story of trying to achieve the American dream. The arrogant often fall, as we saw last week with one young lady who was way too big for her britches, but the talented humble usually win and win big. And all of the winners have been southerners with more or less boring traditional values. Kelly Clarkson is from Texas, Ruben Studdard from Alabama, Fantasia Barrino from North Carolina and Carrie Underwood from Oklahoma. Fantasia speaks openly about dumb choices made earlier in life, but about how her faith has changed her outlook and has been the source of her success. She has a lot of panache, but her success is a story of a humble young lady's redemption. And Carrie Underwood's most recent overwhelmingly popular chart topper is an unabashedly evangelical song called "Jesus Take the Wheel". The ratings don't lie.

And it's funny how cheap values come and go but the old, trite and dusty traditional values still attract people as if they're brand new. The "cutting edge" stuff that Hollywood loves really is just a flash in the pan. Good still matters. And while he isn't winning any Oscars either, Jesus is still more famous than the Beatles.

2 Comments:

Blogger ELAshley said...

In case you hadn't heard, they were not "cowboys". They were "sheepherders".

1:07 PM  
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