'If You Want To Send A Message, Use Western Union'
"Hollywood’s summer is more than halfway over, and the box-office report is telling," Kyle Smith writes at the New York Post. "If you want to have a hit, don’t lard your film with tendentious, off-putting, off-topic political messages:"
In “White House Down,” a Tea Party-like cabal goes so far as to attack the White House and force a president (Jamie Foxx) obviously modeled on Barack Obama into fighting for his life (right at the moment when he was going to sign a major peace deal and also eliminate poverty). The film is so overtly (and, given that its director is Roland Emmerich, comically) political that audiences couldn’t even take it as seriously as the generic “Die Hard” rip-off “Olympus Has Fallen.”
Said Isaac Chotiner of The New Republic, the film “resembles a season of ‘24’ as re-written by Noam Chomsky.” Hey, nothing says blockbuster like Noam Chomsky. “White House Down” is one of the year’s biggest flops.
Disney’s “The Lone Ranger” is meant to continue in the 50-year-history of “revisionist Westerns,” meaning “this time white dudes are the villains.” The title character is played as an oafish sidekick by the bland actor Armie Hammer, while the actual star is Johnny Depp as Tonto. Tonto informs us solemnly, “Indians are like coyotes. They kill and leave nothing to waste. What does the white man kill for?”
Simple. As Woody Allen once said, we kill for food. And not only that, frequently there must be a beverage.
But the tired idea that Indians were ecologists, right down to their allegedly noble killing habits, is itself an early-’70s myth that doesn’t stand up to historical scrutiny, so this would-be daring film gets stuck in PC quicksand.
In fact, the Indians used any wasteful methods they could to kill buffalo (including driving them off cliffs or setting fire to the land on all four sides), then left most of the meat to rot in the sun.
The villains of “The Lone Ranger”? Greedy capitalists. Like the ones at Disney who charge 3-year-olds $89 for a day’s admission to the Magic Kingdom.
After watching The Lone Ranger, Blogger/talk radio host J.P. Travis asks, "When did white men become second class citizens?"
I'm hard to insult. Maybe it's my thick skin, maybe it's my thick head. But racist insults directed at white men in this movie—mostly from Tonto—were so rampant and so contrived I was noticeably subdued when it was over. I felt like a Gitmo detainee forced to watch a video of his own water boarding.
If it was just once that Tonto called the Lone Ranger a "stupid white man" that wouldn't be so bad, but the racism was constant and left me wondering why our culture considers this okay. Obviously, if Hollywood made a movie that spent $259 million and 149 minutes insulting some other race, the crap would be in the fan. At the denouement of the movie, when Tonto is summing up the lessons learned from his epic battle with his lifelong enemy (by the way, why wasn't the movie titled Tonto instead of The Lone Ranger since it was basically all about Tonto and the Lone Ranger was an idiot?)... where was I? Oh yeah, Tonto says to the bad guy:"All these years I think you are wendigo [a Native American demon]. Now I see that you’re just another white man."
In other words, in case that was too subtle, "white man" is synonymous with "demon." He has another little speech later where he tells some Chinese railroad workers how bad white men are, whereupon all the Chinese guys nod their heads in agreement—"Very funny!" as TBS would say—but I forget what he said that time. I was thinking about other stuff by that point. Like how to get my money back for the ticket.
As Kyle Smith writes, politicized films can sometimes have an effective opening weekend (although that wasn't the case with the Lone Ranger). However, word of mouth that a film is a giant leftwing sucker punch spreads fast -- these days, faster than ever. At the end of his article, Smith notes:
Every summer the Brad Pitts of the world have to relearn the wisdom of MGM mogul Sam Goldwyn (though the line attributed to him actually came from playwright Moss Hart): If you want to send a message, use Western Union.
But for the past decade, the audience -- an Army of Eberts! -- can send themselves messages as well -- which have been known to quickly sink a film if it's bad enough.