Skip to comments.Mark Steyn: Hollywood's PC Perversion Stifles Story-telling (Hollywood Libs' Islamophobia Alert)
Posted on 11/27/2005 2:39:45 AM PST by goldstategop
To judge from the way the weekend's box office is breathlessly reported in the news bulletins on Monday morning, more people seem to be interested in movie grosses than in the movies. Evidently, Hollywood's now recovered from this summer's all-time record "box office slump." Or at any rate news stories about the box office slump have themselves slumped. In a breathless dispatch on the opening weekend of ''Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,'' the Associated Press reported that ''the latest Potter movie led a lineup that helped reverse the Hollywood box-office slump."
I wouldn't say the boy wizard and his Hogwarts chums exactly "led a lineup" of slump-reversers. When you look at the weekend numbers, ''Harry Potter's'' $101.4 million is more than the gross of the rest of the top five movies combined and doubled. Indeed, the rest of the top 10 between them managed $66 million. ''Harry Potter'' is an industry apart, and tells us nothing about Hollywood's general malaise, or alleged recovery therefrom.
I chipped in my own 20 bucks or so of that hundred mil. Went to see it opening weekend. Had a miserable time. Nothing to do with the movie. Everything to do with the theater I saw it in. It was a multiplex operated by a New England chain called Entertainment Cinemas of South Easton, Mass., and they really should make critics see the films in these kinds of joints. It was a small screen at the end of a dingy room with unraked seating and, instead of letting you lose yourself in the dark to the magic of the silver screen, they keep half the lights up for the movie. I e-mailed "customer service" at Entertainment Cinemas to inquire why, but received no response.
Small multiplexes apparently save money by hiring one projectionist to run several screens. The drawback is that one or other of the semi-unmonitored machines will jam, leading the projection lamp to burn a hole in the print. To lessen the risk of this, the projectionist expands the space between the gate and the lamp -- i.e., he shows the film slightly out of focus. I don't know whether that's why the Harry Potter I saw was so dark and blurry, but, after reading about all the lavish effects-laden set-pieces Mike Newell had put in the movie, I did rather feel that I was seeing the cinematic equivalent of a digitally remastered symphony concert played back through a 1950s transistor radio.
The average multiplex is surely not long for this world. Already, 85 percent of Hollywood's business comes from home entertainment -- DVDs and the like. Suits me. Or so I thought until, on the way home from the hell of Harry Potter, I stopped to buy the third boxed set in the ''Looney Tunes Golden Collection.'' Loved the first two: Daffy, Bugs, Porky, beautifully restored, tons of special features. But, for some reason, this new set begins with a special announcement by Whoopi Goldberg explaining what it is we're not meant to find funny: ''Unfortunately at that time racial and ethnic differences were caricatured in ways that may have embarrassed and even hurt people of color, women and ethnic groups,'' she tells us sternly. ''These jokes were wrong then and they're wrong today'' -- unlike, say, Whoopi Goldberg's most memorable joke of recent years, the one at that 2004 all-star Democratic Party gala in New York where she compared President Bush to her, um, private parts. There's a gag for the ages.
I don't know what Whoopi's making such a meal about. It's true you don't see many positive images of people of color on ''Looney Tunes,'' but then the images of people of non-color aren't terribly positive either (Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam). Instead, you see positive images of ducks of color, roadrunners of color and tweety birds of color. How weirdly reductive to be so obsessed about something so peripheral to these cartoons that you stick the same damn Whoopi Goldberg health warning on all four DVDs in the box. And don't think about hitting the "Next" button and skipping to the cartoons: You can't; you gotta sit through it.
A Hollywood that's ashamed of one of its few universally acknowledged genuine artistic achievements is hardly likely to come up with any new artistic achievements. As the instant deflation of that Whoopi cushion reminds us, the movies are now so constrained by political correctness the very act of storytelling is itself endangered. That's something slightly more ominous than the feeble limousine liberalism many conservatives blame for the alleged box-office slump. Say what you like about those Hollywood writers of the '30s and '40s, but they were serious lefties. Their successors are mostly poseurs loudly trumpeting their courageous ''dissent'' while paralyzed into inanity. This year's Sean Penn thriller, ''The Interpreter,'' was originally about Muslim terrorists blowing up a bus in New York. So, naturally, Hollywood called rewrite. And instead the bus got blown up by African terrorists from the little-known republic of Matobo. ''We didn't want to encumber the film in politics in any way,'' said Kevin Misher, the producer.
But being so perversely ''non-political'' is itself a political act. If there were a dozen movies in which Tom Cruise kicked al-Qaida butt across the Hindu Kush, it would be reasonable to say, ''Hey, we'd rather deal with Matoban terrorism for a change.'' But, when every movie goes out of its way to avoid being ''encumbered,'' it starts to look like a pathology. And by the time Hollywood released this summer's ''Stealth,'' some studio exec must have panicked that, what with all this Bono/Live8 debt-relief business, it might look a bit Afrophobic to have any more Matoban terrorists. So ''Stealth'' was a high-tech action thriller about USAF pilots zapping about the skies in which the bad guy is the plane.
That's right: An unmanned computer-flown plane goes rogue and starts attacking things. The money shot is -- stop me if this rings a vague bell -- a big downtown skyscraper with a jet heading toward it. Only there are no terrorists aboard the jet. The jet itself is the terrorist.
This is the pitiful state Hollywood's been reduced to. Safer not to have any bad guys. Let's make the plane the bad guy. No wonder it's 20th century Britlit -- ''Harry Potter,'' ''Lord of the Rings,'' ''Narnia'' -- keeping those Monday morning numbers up. It's Hollywood's yarn-spinning that's really out of focus, and in the end even home entertainment revenue won't save a storytelling business that no longer knows how to tell any.
(Denny Crane: "I Don't Want To Socialize With A Pinko Liberal Democrat Commie.Say What You Like About Republicans. We Stick To Our Convictions. Even When We Know We're Dead Wrong.")
I've got Warner Bros. cartoons in my collection that would put Whoopi into a coma. The absolute classic "Coal Black and De Sebben Dwarves" comes to mind. Bob Clampett was the man!
I think the film you are thinking of is Flightplan.
With Jodie Foster.
I really miss Foghorn Leghorn. TV stations would bust a blood vessel if they had to put on the good old fashioned cartoons rather than the current crop of anime inspired drivel (don't get me wrong, I like decent anime but the TV stations aren't showing the good anime).
If only they would put stickers warning that "these CD's contain a message from leftist moonbats" people would leave then where they are, on the shelf collecting dust.
Then again, maybe thats why there are giant bins full of these re-engineered and re-edited for todays sensitivities movie classics, 3 for 99 cents at wal-mart. But all the smut and perverted homosexual porn is ok.
I believe they do that because theaters have been threatened with lawsuits regarding people who claim they could not find the exits easily.
Hollywood is dead --- they just don't know it.
Home theatres are increasing in popularity with greater quality than that found in the multiplexes and without the rude crowds or other issues.
Online movie streaming will kill theatres over the next 20 years. You will get the movies you want, on-demand, in your house to enjoy with your friends and family.
CGI will replace actors (ex: Star Wars) without the high costs, big egos, political agendas, stuntmen, body doubles, etc. If you don't believe this will happen, just think about the success of Pixar and what that did to the cartoonists.
The ability to create movies via computer will lead to a plethora of new movies and new ideas tailored specifically to consumer tastes (conservative, pro-American, liberal, pro-bestiality, etc)
Oh, yes, Hollywood is dead already.
Hollyweird comes out with an inanity like 'flightplan' when even an amateur like me could've directed a better movies using half those resources merely by drawing upon true events like those aboard flight 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania...
Just like those arab and persian islamofascists, these hollwooders seem imune to economic logic and to an extent insulated from economic consequence as well.... the former coz of their oil and the latter coz of MSM liberalism?
The other day I was listening to "The Brightened Peak" a Chinese talkshow relayed from Hong Kong hosted by Tao Kit. He mentioned that today's Hong Kong film and TV have been straitjacketed by what topics are allowed for screenings in mainland China as China doesn't allow any movies that "protray mythologies and superstitions, paint triad gangsters in a positive light, and allow villains go unpunished" on cinemas in its territory. As predicted, the quality of films in Hong Kong is much lower than the early 1990s heydays.
(Tao Kit could be regarded as the Chinese speaking world's Mark Steyn, although he is a centrist when issues of concerns to Western politics are concerned, when it comes to Chinese politics, he is very conservative. His profile in Chinese is at: http://pshweb01.881903.com/framework/pccs.gateway?url=jsp/djprofile/getDJ.jsp&djID=193&menuID=6
His show's URL is: http://pshweb01.881903.com/framework/pccs.gateway?url=jsp/archive/progPage.jsp&menuID=7&progID=347&k=4 )
[[A Hollywood that's ashamed of one of its few universally acknowledged genuine artistic achievements is hardly likely to come up with any new artistic achievements.]]
You hit the nail right on the head. "White guilt" is the common trait that links ALL liberal elites together.
Hollywood won't get it until one of their PC icons is beheaded by a Muslim and the tape gleefully played on Al Jazeera. Even then, they'll blame it on Bush's Axis of Evil speech. Their list of grievances is endless and Liberals will go to their graves by the thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands before they admit their very existence offends the Arab world. Unfortunately, the rest of us have to suffer the consequences of Liberal stupidity.
CG will only replace body doubles. Someone has to act. If it's not an actor, it's the animator or team of animators; which takes us back to the writing again.
That's why the Republican token in Commander in Chief is a liberal caricature of the worst bigot they could find.
Nope. No politics here (unless it's the right kind).
I was looking forward to possibly seeing "Munich" which is supposed to be about the 1972 Olympics and the murder of Israeli (Ees-rah-ail-ee to islamics) athletes by islamic terrorists. Guess I should expect something like peaceful nativehyphenamericans murdered by evil white Europeans.
I saw the new Harry Potter with my 14 year old grandson, who has been schooled in the proper behaviour in a theatre; we went to the IMAX showing. Because it was Harry Potter we had to show up 2 hours early to stand in line to get into the IMAX and then 40 minutes to sit and wait for the movie to begin. The biggest problem we had was people trying to save 8 or 10 seats for their friends who did not want to stand in line. That, and the people who waited until the show started to either start blabbering on their cell phones or to start the regular climbing over everyone to go out and blabber on their cell phones.
Now think of what they'd have reaped if they'd made "The Sum of All Fears" by following the book! I didn't go see the emasculated movie version and never will. And what about "Executive Dccision" which ends with a Japanese man flying a plane into the State of the Union Address!
"..these hollwooders seem imune to economic logic and to an extent insulated from economic consequence as well...."
'Hollywooders' are immune because they all back one another up in the denial dept.
If a movie fails it's because 'well, you just never can tell even though your film had everything, pal. They actually believe this. Such belief is essential to their continuing to believe that they have Talent and Ability.
A point Styen doesn't address is the number of actual no talents in the film industry. These people don't KNOW that their PC is deadly to effective storytelling. They don't KNOW that storytelling is an actual talent rather than the simple assembly of modular pieces.(They don't even know that EVERYTHING that appears on the screen is a story cue. Watch the first H.Potter film and mentally edit out every single thing that ISN'T a story cue)
They are even managing to kill the communal experience that made JAWS or THE EXCORCIST the great experience that they were. People don't really want to watch films alone or with a few people except that it's better to do so than wind up in a brawl with some ignoramus who refused to shut up during the film.
No industry in history ever had the failure rate of Hollywood, and there is no real reason for such a high rate in Hollywood exccept for the type of person the industry attracts to toil in it.
I'm not sure about this. I don't know if a computer generated actor can be soley used in real live settings successfully. There's a certain element to live action with REAL people that you will never get with CGI.
Sounds almost identical to the Hays Office guidelines, during which period HW produced some pretty good cinema. (Along with a great deal of garbage.)
From what I understand, it is more about the Israeli respone, which included tracking down and killing the organizers. Unfortunately including a mistaken identity case in Norway where the Mossad murdered an innocent, non-political waiter.
I'll be real interested to see how the movie handles this tragedy. I'm expecting a lot of moral equivalence. As if accidental deaths of innocents is the same thing as their intentional targetting.
But I'm just speculating.
This point needs to be driven home. One of my favorite movies of all time is The Hunt For Red October. Everything in that movie from the cinematography to the acting is beautifully done. And the story is the best part!
There has already been a movie about a virtual female movie star, "Simone" I believe was the name.
I truly think that it is this Islamophobia that has kept publishers from accepting my novel, which Jeff Head has read and endorsed. It is called "September Day," and with one exception, every editor admitted the writing was good, and obviously I have a proven track record of sales (more than 40,000 copies of "Patriot's History of the United States" in just 10 months). But they all shied away from the "topic" (i.e., 9/11). I think what they really were shying away from was I made the Muslim terrorists look like, well . . . terrorists.
The U.S. government put out all sorts of propaganda on our friends, the Chinese. They were never depicted in a derogatory manner.
They are afraid if they show Foghorn Leghorn again, people might think of Dem senators like Fritz Hollings or "Sheets" Byrd.
This, in turn, is DESTROYING the plots in Hollywood. "We'll get some cute Penguins and have them walk around, farting and doing funny things." That doesn't make it as a plot.
Which is another reason why the wrong targets were hit on 9/11.
Rent the DVD's. Get "Shrink DVD" and you can remove the "prohibited operation" or just not copy the file with ol Whopa## Goldberg on it.
You raise one of the paradoxes that I've tried to figure out for years, and that is, the Michael Medved "school" says that Hollywood can make money by appealing to "G" audiences, but that for political reasons, it won't; but others in Hollywood argue that they have to at least have a "PG" rating to ensure success with teens. Which do you think it is?
Obviously they have a political agenda. But do they just finance movies so they can subsidize their politics, or are they so blind that they really think their politics are the "majority?"
I submit that the latest crop of CGI/"animation" children's movies is a clear example of how they simply have run out of plots, because they exclude 2/3 of the plot lines available to them out of political bias. Rather than film live actors and develop real stories, they think they can generate some cute penguins and have them fart and that it will suffice for a "childrens'" or "G"-rated pic.
BTW, I LOVE "Star Wars." I am a "Star-Wars" nut. But while I liked Episode I, and loved Episode II, despite the critics' raves, I thought III had some of the WORST writing ever, morphed Annakin's character into pure evil way too fast; and took shortcuts with the plot at every turn.
In my forthcoming book, "America's Victories" (Sentinel, May 2006) I detail the radical difference between Hollywood then and now. Even future lefties like Henry Fonda served, and many, many were war heroes. (Most people know that Jimmy Stewart flew B-17s, but few know that his radio operator was Walter Matthau, who won six bronze stars).
"Their list of grievances is endless and Liberals will go to their graves by the thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands before they admit their very existence offends the Arab world. "
If only there were some way to move them to the head of the line...
Spielberg didn't pull any punches with "Schindler," so I'm optimistic. When it comes to the Jews, Spielberg seems to forget his leftist politics.
I won't---it's still with my agent. But Jeff Head, who has had tremendous success with "Dragon's Fury" without a major publisher, is tutoring me on how to do e-books if necessary. "September Day" was originally intended as a screenplay, but I didn't know how to write one, and I thought it might be easier to adapt a screenplay from an existing plot rather than have to do the plot AS I wrote in an unfamiliar genre.
I understand that you cannot get "Song of the South" except in bootleg editions. It really was an innocent, cheerful confection, iirc. I think the Blackbird scene ["I Seen Everything When I Seen an Elephant Fly"] has been omitted from Dumbo. The "Splash Mountain" ride at Disney World uses the characters from Song of the South, but in a totally inoffense, bland guise. It's as if all the character's loaded up on Posner's skin lightner and hair straightener.
"Obviously they have a political agenda. But do they just finance movies so they can subsidize their politics, or are they so blind that they really think their politics are the "majority?"
I read an essay a few years back that theorized that the reason was that the big names weren't really making movies to make money. People like Woody Allen already have enough money. What they want is the acclaim of their peers.
In Schindler, Spielberg was demonizing the Nazis.
Not much conflict there between leftism and Jewishness.
Because if he does, it can be said of him that he will laud Jews if they are victims in concentration camps, but he rejects the image of the strong, vital Jew defending himself.
I'll bet they got hit with a huge liability settlement from some klutz who fell down the stairs in the dark after a trip to the bathroom, and now their insurance company forces them to keep the lights on.
I'd rather watch a movie in my living room in peace.
This is Rush's "cocktail party" theory---that they just want to be able to go to parties and be praised for their "courage."
Gollum in LOTR is generally accepted as the most effective CGI character yet. He was created by essentially copying the digital input over a human actor who provided the acting. There were times when watching him that I forgot he wasn't "real."
I doubt this could ever be true of a "straight to digital" character.
This is exactly what I expect will happen.
Yeah. He was good. Same with the Ewoks, who were midgets.
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