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Klavan On The Culture

Oscar and The Death of Movies

January 30th, 2012 - 7:00 am

It’s true that movie stars aren’t really stars anymore. Talented and attractive as present day actors and actresses may be, no one goes to see a movie merely because Brad Pitt or Charlize Theron plays the leading role. Someone like Julia Roberts, in her heyday, could make even a stinker like Sleeping With The Enemy a hit. People went because it was the new Julia Roberts film. There’s no one like that now. Lists of “most popular” actors are fakes — it’s the franchises that are popular, as we see when the actor steps out of the role of Jason Bourne or Captain Jack Sparrow into a non-franchise film that immediately vanishes without a trace. When we are told that, say, George Clooney’s movies made more money than those of others in a given year, it’s only because he made more films that year and the numbers have been added together.

It’s also true that Hollywood’s left-wing and feminist agendas alienate the industry from the mainstream. Make a movie trashing the war in Iraq or slandering Margaret Thatcher or elevating Valerie Plame, and you may poison the minds of a few ignorant kids and win some awards from your fellow travelers, but you’re not fooling the rest of us. The truth is out there nowadays, and when you lie like that, you just look like blithering idiots with your pants around your knees. We stay home rather than suffer through your self-humiliation. Likewise when you rewrite every fairy tale to make the princess a kung-fu fighting, sword-wielding hero, all you do is make little girls feel bad about their real daydreams, which aren’t like that at all. They’ll stay home too and watch the DVD of Disney’s Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast, because Disney got it right.

But low-watt stars, dishonest leftism, and hectoring feminism may be the symptoms of the art form’s decay rather than the causes. Technology and time may have killed the business and leftists and feminists may be the maggots feeding on its corpse — all that remains after the best writers and actors have headed for television, and the brilliant visual guys go into video gaming and apps.

It’s no accident, however, that unlike today’s films, the most vibrant and popular forms around at the moment — TV, video games, and young adult fiction — often manage to convey images of good and evil, masculinity and femininity, war and peace that are at once modern and timeless. Art forms come and go. That’s the way of the world. But — no matter what the leftists and feminists tell us — the moral reality of the human imagination remains unchanged. Let the left have cinema then and go down with it. We’ll always find new tools and new workers to forge the uncreated conscience of our race.

The movies may be dying, but long live the arts.

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