Monday, November 21, 2005

Market Is Suggestive

The quarterly City Journal is probably not on George Clooney's reading list, but it would be interesting to eavesdrop on a conversation at his house about Brian C. Anderson's Conservatives in Hollywood? piece in the Autumn 2005 issue.

In a time of declining moviegoing, what gets people out to the theaters, it turns out, are conservative movies—conservative not so much politically but culturally and morally, focusing on the battle between good and evil, the worth of heroism and self-sacrifice, the indispensability of family values and martial honor, and the existence of Truth...When Hollywood does put its liberal worldview aside to make movies that embody traditional values, it often scores big with the public. Consider 2004’s Spider-Man 2... so eye-catching that you might miss the story’s old-fashioned moral truths. The movie is a fable about duty and heroism...Pixar Studio’s dazzling animated superhero film The Incredibles (2004) is another box-office winner—domestic gross $261 million—with a surprisingly right-of-center worldview...The defense of excellence—and frustration with the politically correct war against it—is a central theme of The Incredibles, as in a scene when Helen chides Bob for not attending their son Dash’s “graduation” from fourth grade. “It’s psychotic,” Bob thunders. “They keep creating new ways to celebrate mediocrity..." Robert Zemeckis’s Cast Away (2000) is an updated Robinson Crusoe, starring Tom Hanks as Chuck Noland, a Federal Express troubleshooter marooned for years on a desert island. The movie makes us keenly aware of the benefits—the immense human achievement—of an advanced capitalist society. (Untypical for Hollywood, Cast Away depicts a big corporation as a caring and effective organization...Martial virtues, long jeered at by liberal Hollywood, have enjoyed a big-screen comeback over the last half-decade or so. Peter Jackson’s sweeping adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001–2003) teaches us about the need for free men and women to stand up with military force to totalitarian evil—and about the potential of power to corrupt even the most decent from within....

That's good evidence for the often unspoken complaint of the Hollywood Left, that people, left to their own devices, without the advantage, say, of an Ivy League education, have a strange respect for family, nation, and freedom. Worse, given a free market choice in what to see, those kind of people show a marked preference for movies that celebrate those values. No wonder the Hollywood Left loved the old Moscow film center! A director, such as Tarkovsky, relaxing with state subsidies, and basking in the unavailability of competition, could make a longwinded, pretentious mess like Solaris without fear of being shut down by a management, or a theater-going public, averse to such unprofitable self-indulgence. Perhaps when George Clooney made his remake of Solaris a couple of years ago (using a translation of Tarkovsky's script as his primary source), he was under the impression that he was working in the USSR! One could easily get that impression in Hollywood, save for articles like Brian C. Anderson's, which suggest that the Left Coast's Iron Curtain may not extend beyond Barbara Streisand's front yard.


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