There has been quite a spirited debate in the comments of my article on the Huffington Post about the state of movies today. The thread of comments has grown longer and longer and it’s been a fascinating discussion. Who is to blame, audiences or corporate bean counters? Wouldn’t we love to know so we could feel all comfortable and blamey?
It would be a relief to know that we could find the reason for the spate of sequels, reboots, remakes and movies based on board games. It certainly can’t be US, right? I’m afraid it most squarely is. We have become entrenched in a consumeristic, materialistic society of our own making. America. Land of the “as seen on TV.” 1984 never looked so possible.
The spearhead of change is awareness of a problem and tremors are everywhere, from the Slow Food movement to the rise of veganism to our collective disgust of the white collar criminals who blew the hot air into our collapsed economy.
One commenter wondered about the wisdom, ethics and morals of telling film investors what to make.
This was my response:
When those putting up money for a film purely as an investment attempt to massage the box office outcome for the highest return, we reduce the artistic or linguistic toolbox, as in 1984, to the simplest terms, (double-plus ungood) or vacuous domestic wealth and privilege (IT’S COMPLICATED) and we effectively minimize our ability to express beyond profit margins.
Given the scope of the influence of film (TRIUMPH OF THE WILL, anybody?) I’d say this is an alarming state of things.
That said, in the same way that Peter Max, Andy Warhol or Jeff Koons were accused of cheapening their medium, movies are indeed a populist, organic and commercial art form free to express the gamut of human experience and thank god.
There’s no point in comparing IRON MAN (very good, actually) to HALF NELSON (brilliant) or GET HIM TO THE GREEK (very smart and funny, actually) to WINTER’S BONE (brilliant) and elevating one above the other beyond personal preference.
That said, the current trend of pablum is an alarming barometer of our times and who we have allowed ourselves to become: unthinking consumers.
True enough, there have always been bad movies, bad writing and movies or writing thought to be bad or beneath the collective intellect. Lolita comes to mind.
However, in the current atmosphere of commerce-driven art, Hollywood is chewing its own arm off with cannibalistic remakes, reboots and sequels.
Movies are indeed the uneasy intersection between art and commerce. But we can do better.
I’d love to hear from any Effers who’d like to chime in.