“Post-9/11, the film industry covered itself in shame.” — At his PJM column, Andrew Klavan flashes back to the article he wrote last year for City Journal:
Hollywood’s lockstep leftist filmmakers have long busied themselves with a range of shameful enterprises. They have peddled and celebrated a wholly distorted and negative vision of American manners in dishonest films epitomized by American Beauty (1999). They have sold the self-contradicting nonsense of moral relativism in films such as The Reader (2008). They have routinely depicted the U.S. government and U.S. corporations as bad actors in world events, as in The Bourne Ultimatum. And—in what some observers consider a conscious scheme by a likeminded filmland clique—they have maintained a small but steady effort to normalize the sexual abuse of children in films like Little Children, The Woodsman, Towelhead, and more.
But when it comes to sheer shamefulness, the conformist “radicals” of Hollywood outdid themselves in the years after the Islamofascist attacks on 9/11. When the United States responded to these atrocities by attempting to destroy the terrorist staging grounds in Afghanistan and establish a beachhead of Middle Eastern democracy in Iraq, Hollywood reacted by churning out propaganda movies that could only demoralize our allies and bolster our low and savage enemies: Syriana, In the Valley of Elah, Rendition, Redacted, Lions for Lambs, Green Zone, Body of Lies, Stop Loss, and on and on. Many of these films portrayed our soldiers and intelligence officers as rapists, murderers, torturers, or noble fools manipulated by conniving Republicans. Not one of them (including the excellent HBO film Taking Chance and the flawed but powerful Hurt Locker, which at least showed our troops in a positive light) depicted the wars themselves as good or noble endeavors. Besides Chance and Locker, these films were bad and they were bombs, showing that ideology, not art or commerce, dictated their content. It was the dark mirror image of Hollywood’s patriotic response to Pearl Harbor in the 1940s, a living diagram of what the Left has wrought in our cultural lives since then.
Political correctness has robbed Hollywood of much of its story-telling vocubulary; which is why it seemingly can do little more these days except churn-out comic book, sci-fi, and fantasy movies, which helps to explain this recent headline at Reuters: “Movies suffer worst box-office slump in a decade.”
Ironically, my wife and I watched more movies in the theater this year than we have in ages — but with the exception of the latest Batman movie, they were films from previous decades that happened to be playing the revival circuit, such as:
- North by Northwest
- A Clockwork Orange
- A BBC look at the making of The Who’s 1974-album Quadrophenia, which debuted on the big screen this summer.
- The Imax release of Raiders of the Lost Ark
Mark Steyn once wrote:
“Popular culture” is more accurately a “present-tense culture”: You’re celebrating the millennium but you can barely conceive of anything before the mid-1960s. We’re at school longer than any society in human history, entering kindergarten at four or five and leaving college the best part of a quarter-century later—or thirty years later in Germany. Yet in all those decades we exist in the din of the present. A classical education considers society as a kind of iceberg, and teaches you the seven-eighths below the surface. Today, we live on the top eighth bobbing around in the flotsam and jetsam of the here and now. And, without the seven-eighths under the water, what’s left on the surface gets thinner and thinner.
Between PC and the related phenomenon of “black armband history,” I wonder if Hollywood realizes how much of its past legacy is similarly underwater and no longer accessible?