Thursday, 14 July 2005

What Liberal Hollywood?

I'm sure it's a controversy that only Americans could have. Some of them believe that Hollywood, like, I suppose, the rest of the media, has left-leaning, well liberal, tendencies.

No, really, some people believe that. I think it's because "Hollywood" let's Oliver Stone make a film every now and then. Some guy called Kung Fu Monkey takes a good long look at this and then the Box Office charts for the last few years and concludes:
So, my friend, if you have a beef with a particular piece of talent, fine. You go ahead and express your misgivings. But stop mewling about some oppressive "Hollywood" conspiracy (which doesn't exist) forcing liberal-tinged entertainment (which it doesn't make) down your throat to progress some liberal agenda (which it's not organized enough to have). It does nothing but reveal that you're not just ignorant, not just nursing a poorly conceived and completely unjustified sense of the hard-done-bys, but you're also arrogant enough not to care that what's spewing from you falls squarely between uninformed pablum and high-velocity horse-shit.

Via James Wolcott. Wolcott, by the way, is currently defending the decision to let the aforementioned Stone make a movie about 9/11, mostly on the grounds that Stone is a good film-maker and, well, someone's gonna do it sooner or later. Which seems right in general if a little off in its particulars. I find Stone a technically gifted director who can have interesting ideas about cinema. He also deeply understands a certain type of man and when these two things come together (Wall Street, Platoon) he can make great movies and when they don't what's left is an angry seething mess of half-baked ideas and under-cooked characters (most every other films he's made). As for the inevitablity of a 9/11 movie, well Stuart Jefferies in the Guardian has some misgivings I agree with:
Stone's film will be about two police officers trapped in the rubble of the twin towers after rescuing scores of workers. "It's an exploration of heroism in our country - but at the same time it is international in its humanity," says Stone.

But is that exploration worthwhile? Hasn't the heroism of New York's police officers and firefighters been trumpeted sufficiently from newspapers, TVs and T-shirts? Do we need the first feature film to tackle 9/11 to do so through US flag-waving masquerading as a globally relevant human drama? It is not to disrespect the dead nor living heroes to suggest that we don't. It seems likely that it will further solidify the myth of the stoicism of New Yorkers (a myth as questionable as that now being touted about Londoners) in a way that stops us thinking imaginatively about what happened in New York then, and why.

Plus Stone needs a hit after whatever his last film was, so the chances of the film being anything other than a hymn to heroism are slight. On one thing, though, I do hope Stone has learnt the lessons of the past, and that's this: there's never been a good movie with Colin Farrell in it.

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