Hollywood vs. America

Here are the top grossing movies of 2005, the movies America saw most often:

  • Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
  • War of the Worlds
  • Wedding Crashers
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  • Batman Begins
  • Madagascar
  • King Kong
  • Mr. & Mrs. Smith

Mostly non-controversial. Dominated by PG-13 and PG ratings. Only Wedding Crashers was rated “R” and dealt with sex.

Here are the movies being discussed for Oscar nominations this year:

  • Brokeback Mountain (Rated R for sex, nudity, language, violence, gay cowboys)
  • Munich (Rated R for violence, sex, nudity, politically controversial about Israel)
  • Syriana (Rated R for violence and language, politically controversial about oil industry)
  • Good Night and Good Luck (Rated PG, politically controversial about McCarthy era)
  • Capote (Rated R for violent images and strong language, deals with murder)
  • Transamerica (Rated R for sex, nudity, language and drug use, deals with transsexuality, out of wedlock births, and street crime.)

Is it apparent that Hollywood is pushing an out-of-touch left-wing philosophy that is out of touch with mainstream America?

53 thoughts on “Hollywood vs. America

  1. Just wanted to add that it’s pretty innacurate to pretend that the most popular movies weren’t also full of violence. ROTS has people actually getting killed and maimed on screen while Batman Begins was one big slugfest and Mr and Mrs Smith had a married couple trying to kill each other.


  2. Interesting conclusion, but off base. Brokeback Mountain, for example, was far less violent than any of the PG13 movies, but contained very adult themes, so rightfully received an R rating.

    My point is that your post makes it sound like the top grossers were family-friendly, non-violent, and non-controversial. You listed why they received R ratings (although you embellished a bit) but neglected to list why the popular ones recieved PG 13 ratings.

    Does Mr. and Mrs. Smith sound as harmless when you see the MPA warning for “sequences of violence, intense action, sexual content, and brief strong language”? How about Batman Begins, with “intense action violence, disturbing images and some thematic elements”?

    Of course, that all presumes the MPAA guidelines are consistently applied and that moviemakers don’t dance around trying to get the rating that will win them the biggest audience. The difference between an R and PG13 rating sometimes amounts to less than one minute of screentime. PG13 movies gross more money because they have a larger built in audience base. (Serenity, as an example, did not do as well as it would have in the UK because it received a 15 rating)

    Harry Potter, though wildly successful, is far from controversial. Many Christian groups warn that both the movies and the books are dangerous.


  3. I understand your point which is why my post is clarified by words like “mostly” and “dominated by.” I made a different point. Hollywood celebrates films that are primarily controversial and leftist that contain enough violence or sex or nudity or violence to garner an R rating. They celebrate the movies about gay cowboys, leftist politics, and transexual out of wedlock births; these are topics and content that do not resonate as well with mainstream America.


  4. Posit – the application of violence, the knowledge of it is not always a bad thing…….

    Meanwhile, somewhere in Gotham City:

    Stand back, Batman, she’s using the violence-is-bad-shield!

    Whammo, Robin, you’re right. Great festering fisticuffs. What will we do?

    Darn, I wish we could all just go back to watching non-violent cartoons, like we did as kids….Roadrunner, er…Tom and Jerry….hmmm. Bugs Bunny?….Ok, how about Davey and Goliath, claymation is too underated.

    Oh, by the way, Batman, most of the world is governed by the application of violence. This is the way of the world. Get used to it. I don’t condone it, try to avoid it, but it was used by all dictators throughout history. There is a time for it – namely to resist tyranny. Even the loving tyranny of the left. (Re: Federalist Papers, Geo. Washington and …..wait for it – Malcolm X.):

    It is criminal to teach a man not to defend himself when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks. It is legal and lawful to own a shotgun or a rifle. We believe in obeying the law. — Malcolm X, March 12, 1964

    This is why firearms training, playground fights, competitive sports, especially if they involve crashing bodies,etc… at an early age is essential to maintain our way of life. Ah, violence, the manliness of it all….

    Why, Robin, Thanks old chum, and thank goodness you brought the common-sense-o-gun with you today.

    na-na-na-na – BAT-MAN!

    (All my heroes were cartoon characters).


  5. I didn’t say violence was bad. I said that it was disingenuous to cite violence as a reason the nominated movies were bad while ignoring that the popular movies were also violent.

    In any case, the whole post is just silly. Public opinion is rarely an indication of quality. And Hollywood is just as likely to “celebrate” non-controversial movies as not. Let’s take a look at the nominees and winners over the last five years, shall we?

    2000: “GLADIATOR (R),” “Chocolat (PG13),” “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (PG13),” “Erin Brockovich (R),” “Traffic (R)”
    2001: “A BEAUTIFUL MIND (PG13),” “Gosford Park (R),” “In the Bedroom (R),” “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (PG13),” “Moulin Rouge (PG13)”
    2002: “CHICAGO (PG13),” “Gangs of New York (R),” “The Hours (PG13),” “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (PG13),” “The Pianist (R)”
    2003: “THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING (PG13),” “Lost In Translation (R),” “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (PG13),” “Mystic River (R),” “Seabiscuit (PG13)”
    2004: “MILLION DOLLAR BABY (PG13),” “The Aviator (PG13),” “Finding Neverland (PG),” “Ray (PG13),” “Sideways (R)”

    Seems pretty balanced to me.


  6. Sure. Unless you think “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “Star Wars: Phantom Menace” are masterpieces, in which case I can’t help you.


  7. Neither did my post discuss the “quality” of the film, nor did I discuss Hollywood pre-Kerry-loss-leftist-hysteria days. Recent Hollywood movies celebrate values not shared with mainstream America.


  8. “Recent Hollywood movies celebrate values not shared with mainstream America.”

    Uh, all the big-name box office movies you cited as acceptable to your frame of reference are from Hollywood. So which Hollywood are you talking about, specifically? There seem to be two here…

    Sorry, I think you’re losing this one. You can’t take one year’s body of work (the “post-Kerry” statement is ridiculous) and say, “This is the way it is.” Movies are in production for years; Brokeback Mountain was a story written in the 90s. You’re not really taking a big-picture view.

    And as someone else said, what Hollywood considers “quality” movies and what the public goes to see en masse are usually widely divergent. That’s historically true — in fact, it’s true of art in general, which is why art is often subsidized, either by patrons or governments. … but that’s a whole ‘nother contentious argument for another day…


  9. Heh. The “post-Kerry” part was supposed to be rediculous.

    When I say, “Hollywood celebrates…” I mean those that they consider for Oscar nominations. This years crop in many cases borders on the offensive for many people, and they don’t do well at the box office.

    And while I understand the “widely divergent” aspect, it wasn’t that many years ago that Hollywood would have considered “The Passion of the Christ” with more fervor and spurned gay cowboy and transsexual movies. As it was, they only begrudgingly considered “Passion” last year and seemed thrilled with “Brokeback Mountain.”

    Did you see any conservative values on display at the Golden Globes this past week?


  10. Per Post 11 – that is exactly the point that Michael is making – the question of quality.

    Shall I allow some elitist define it for me, or shall I come to agreement with my fellows? Should there be a board to tell me what is “quality” filmaking/artmaking?

    Especially in the realm of art, I tend to believe that the rarified air at which the awards operate tend to force art into degenerate naval gazing. Should art of any kind not inspire the common and the elite as well? There are commonalities in our shared experiences as men-in-the-world.

    I put my building designs into the public sphere. They have to be be artistic and acceptable to my clients. My clients in both the public and private spheres are not going to pay me to beat them over the head about what the elites define as quality, and how they should twist their thinking to embrace some arcane deconstructivist concept as architecture. They will however respond well to art/architecture that enforces “commodity, firmness and delight”… and it can say something about what my heart tells me that this particular building should be in this particular place. If I’m wrong about this “fit”, and the design does not make a contribution to the city fabric – I’m in trouble.

    The point is that all art should exist in the public realm, open to public criticism, and acceptance. Too often, we claim high art should be relegated to those elites who can understand it, behind closed museum doors. If you’re not “in the know”, then you obviously are too proletarian to have the elites consider your opinions.

    Alex, Mike’s son, once asked why pictures/paintings have frames around them? Mike’s response was ummmmm…. The boy then pointed out that maybe its to keep the art from escaping into the world. He was more right than he knew.


  11. Sean, I have no idea what your post has to do with the issue here.

    Mike is complaining that the Oscars picks aren’t in line with mainstream popularity. They never have been. That’s not what the Oscars are about. The Oscars are about people within the industry recognizing specific achievements within the medium. You want popular opinion, then watch the People’s Choice awards.

    When you design a building for a client, you need to please the client. If you don’t, you’ll soon be out of business. However, every building you design isn’t going to be considered by your fellow architects as a masterpiece of architecture, even if your client is wildly happy with it.

    I find it funny that you used Alex’s quote to support your point, when it really applies more to what the rest of us are saying. If all the art escapes into the world, all of it isn’t going to appeal to everyone. Thank goodness there are those who pursue their craft without considering only “will the masses eat it up”?


  12. No, Sean gets it. Just because it’s “art” doesn’t mean it’s beneficial, whether it’s a building or a movie. If it’s only about achievement, Hollywood certainly could produce quality movies that reinforce positive mainstream American values instead of affronting them. Unless, of course, the affront *is* the achievement.


  13. On Alex’s quote – I tend to think that the art within the frame is being protected *from* the world.

    Think Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera – Diego was a communist, yes, but the art was definitely about the culture in which they were living – they both “put it out there” and it addressed Mexico. Yes, these other movies Mike talks about do address some of the more controversial things in the society. But what I (we?) see is a flood of counter-cultural comments from the fringe. More bent at tearing down heroes/culture/ideals of the “we”, than offering up serious support for *most* of the American mainstream’s beliefs.

    When is the last time you saw:

    Father as a positive role model?
    Clergy ?
    Small town America presented as a good thing?
    Corporations as generally the best way to improve everyone’s lives?
    Independency as good?
    Critical thinking, as opposed to accepting the acceptance of the annointed’s views (Kyoto vs. the news yesterday the plant generate methane!)

    There are examples, I’m sure, but usually, the academy winners portray these as quaint, naive, or just out of touch with reality.

    Culture does change, but I see most of Mike’s movies as gripes against the mainstream. There is almost a reflexive action to denegrate the current culture, I would like to see some movies win awards on artistic merit that do not do that. (Passion?)

    I also acknowledge that art can direct attention to the problems we all share, but criminy – let’s have a few that celebrate the triumphs we have done as well.

    Western thought is our heritage, it has achieved the most wealth/stability/freedom for the most people in our societies than ever before in the world’s history. Lets say that these ideas, flawed as they are are….
    basically good.


  14. I don’t have too much to add, but I agree with Michael and Sean. I believe it is because of the “culture of death” that we are seeing this change. Satan will attack the family any way he can, and even if these are not generally accepted movies at this time in history, the more they are shown, the easier they are to accept.
    Take Transamerica for example. Right now, transsexuals really are not accepted in our society. However, the more they bombard us with “feel good” literature, movies, tv shows, etc. the more we will find this acceptable in society. And the more we find this stuff acceptable, the closer we will get to the culture of death that Satan is trying to attain.
    Don’t know if I made sense or not, but I tried…


  15. I reserve “culture of death” arguments for pro-abortion, pro-euthanasia, anti-Terri Schiavo, etc. If by “culture of death,” Megan, you also mean “culture of sexual immorality” or even “culture of permissiveness,” I agree with you. Will we see restrooms for transsexuals in 10 years?


  16. Mike, it’s all the same thing. It’s death, the antithesis of the highest human aspirations, into which you can read eternal life, if you choose. I think Megan is right on the money.

    Or, if you prefer “The wages of sin are death”.

    It’s all around you.

    re: Screwtape Letters / C.S. Lewis
    As for trans”gender” (hate that perversion of the language) restooms – Google “transgender restrooms” to find academia crowing about their enliiiiiiightned toilet facilities.

    Even Seminaries (granted – its not Bob Jone U) –

    Yech. How did I get here?


  17. We’re not talking about documentaries here. We’re talking about fiction. About entertainment.

    Nothing appeals to everyone. Michael wants Hollywood to only reward those movies which appeal to the largest number of moviegoers, to be a reflection of public taste. Yet, if that were the case, then ROTS would be “Best Picture” even though the plot was muddled, the editing was horrible, the acting was wooden, the dialog was clunky, and the character development was either non-existant or perfunctorily convenient.

    Then again, Saw II and Hostel both debuted in the top slot for their respective release weeks, which I guess means what “mainstream America” really values is watching people be tortured in new and disturbing ways.

    Moviemaking is a business. No one gets a green light from a studio to make a money that the studio thinks will lose money. Sometimes they make money; sometimes they lose money; but in the end, movies that make money will spawn more movies like them, and movies that lose money will drop by the wayside.

    There were over 200 movies released in the US in 2005 ( http://www.boxofficemojo.com/yearly/chart/?view2=worldwide&yr=2005&p=.htm ). Some were fluff, some were serious, some were controversial, some were not. It’s fun to pick and choose among them to try and support an opinion, but in reality it just doesn’t wash.

    Good stories, and good storytelling, aren’t always about whether one agrees with the “values” presented in the story.

    And, once again, I’m curious how many of the movies on each list have been seen by those debating them. I know I can’t speak for the majority of the movies on the nominations list, because I’ve only seen Brokeback Mountain. I found it overly long, thought Heath Ledger confused “I’ve had my jaws wired shut” with “I’m being emotionally withdrawn”, some of the camera tricks (long shots to convey ioslation, for examples) were overused, and the plot was a fairly by-the-book “I can’t be with my true love and it ruined my life” cliche. That said, most of the camera work was beautifully framed, Anne Hathaway showed more depth than I knew she was capable of, and Michelle Williams was remarkable and heartbreaking. As a film, it was much more well done than ROTS, Batman Begins, Harry Potter, or Mr. and Mrs. Smith. I personally don’t think it was much better than Narnia (the only other top grosser I’ve seen) but it’s hard to separate my fondness for the material from the presentation of it, and Narnia was not without its problems.


  18. “Michael wants Hollywood to only reward…”

    I’d be happy with any movies, really. And to stop being so antagonistic to those few movies with positive messages as listed by Sean above.

    “debuted in the top slot for their respective release weeks”

    Slick marketing, not long lasting. Flash in the pan still doesn’t reflect mainstream America.

    “Some were fluff, some were serious, some were controversial, some
    were not. It’s fun to pick and choose among them …”

    And only those left-wing movies above are seriously being considered for Oscars.

    “And, once again, I’m curious how many of the movies on each list have
    been seen by those debating them.”

    You mentioned over 200 movies in 2005. I can’t see that many movies. Crossing off gay cowboy movies and movies about transsexuals makes the list a little shorter.


  19. Quality, Message…Or Mass Appeal?

    Over at Chasing the Wind, Michael posts about the wide gap between movies that appeal to the general public (as evidenced by their high box office takes) and movies that appeal to the ‘critics’ and Hollywood elite (as evidenced by their award nominat…


  20. Michael, what in the world are you going on about? I fail to see where I’ve been “antagonistic” towards any movie – unless your’e counting ROTS, which was a pretty bad movie and hardly includes any of the values Sean listed.

    Since I freely admitted I haven’t seen most of the Oscar nominated movies, not sure why you’re so defensive about not seeing them, either.

    Obviously, Hollywood is churning out plenty of movies which appeal to Mainstream America. Not sure why you’re so concerned that they give peer-based awards to movies you disagree with, even though the facts show that historically it’s not just controversial left-wing movies that get nominated.

    I admit it takes all the fun out of things when those pesky facts get in the way of the whup-whup-whup of the black helicopters overhead, but so far you’ve failed to support your contention that Hollywood is somehow battling mainstream America. Simply making movies that don’t have the broadest possible appeal is not proof enough; nor is the fact that this year, you think the movies are all contrary to Mainstream American Values.


  21. Unless your name is “Hollywood,” I wasn’t talking about you. Hollywood was antagonistic toward “The Passion.” I was less than clear in that sentence.

    I stand by my contention that Hollywood elites are at odds with mainstream America. I do, however, abandon any attempt to convince you. If it were possible for you to see my point of view, then you probably wouldn’t have seen “Brokeback Mountain.”


  22. I’ve never said Hollywood elites aren’t at odds with mainstream America – only wondered why you think they should be.

    And I’m wondering why you think I can’t both see your point of view and not hold it myself. Although that thought process would explain a lot of the responses I get here.


  23. The reason I think you can’t see my point of view is that you call my point of view “inaccurate,” “off-base,” “disingenuous,” “silly,” and “at odds with “those pesky facts.” Even when others understand me and agree with me.

    Dwight disagrees with me, too, yet I feel he understood my point. And he did it without attempting to use belittling words to knock down my argument.

    Only just now have you indicated that you “never said Hollywood elites aren’t at odds with mainstream America.” Which was my point to start with.


  24. Hmm…My very first post here reads “I think it’s apparent that the Oscars aren’t about mass appeal” and yet you claim that I’ve never said Hollywood elites aren’t at odds with mainstream America?

    You asked in your original post, “Is it apparent that Hollywood is pushing an out-of-touch left-wing philosophy that is out of touch with mainstream America?” Did you only want the answer if it was “yes”?

    What I disagree with is your conclusion that a group of artists awarding each other for what they perceive as artistic merit amounts to “pushing” a philosophy on anyone in the general public. No one is forcing you or anyone else to watch a movie you don’t want to see. Heck, you don’t even have to watch the Academy awards, or bother to follow who gets nominated.

    Hollywood gives us lots of choice. Movies for the mainstream, movies for families, movies for niche markets, movies for people who like to see lover’s quarrel and make up, movies for people who like to see things blow up. The public votes with its box office tickets, and what we vote for is what we get more of.

    But the awards…those aren’t about appeal. Those are about filmaking – about the art of it. Filmmakers are going to look at a movie differently than the general public, in the same way an artist is going to look at a painting differently than the general public or an architect is going to look at a building differently than the general public.

    You say, “The reason I think you can’t see my point of view is that you call my point of view “inaccurate,” “off-base,” “disingenuous,” “silly,” and “at odds with “those pesky facts.” ”

    I say, again…what makes you think I can’t see your POV simply because I disagree with it? Is it absolutely impossible that I could see your POV and still think it is inaccurate or silly? That I can see your POV and yet fail to see how the facts support it?

    And your POV isn’t disingenuous, nor can it be. Your argument was, however. And yes, IMO the facts do not substantiate your assertion, because there certainly have been in recent years movies recognized by the Academy that were not “at odds with Mainstream America”.

    And I’m laughing hard at you trying to chastise me for using “belittling” language, given Sean’s entire first post directed towards me.


  25. Did you only want the answer if it was “yes”?

    I thought Dwight’s disagreement was polite and articulate.

    But the awards…those aren’t about appeal. Those are about filmaking –
    about the art of it.


    And your POV isn’t disingenuous, nor can it be. Your argument was, however.


    And I’m laughing hard at you trying to chastise me for using “belittling” language, given Sean’s entire first post directed towards me.

    I am not Sean. My name is Michael.


  26. This is a fascinating and interesting discussion … and I like how everyone is trying to keep it from careening into namecalling.

    Michael: Regarding Brokeback Mountain as “degenerate” … I think making such judgments without seeing it (or reading the original story) undercuts your credibility. I’ve not seen the movie, but my daughter has. A very good friend has read the book. From what they have told me, neither book nor film are about “being gay,” but rather about dealing with intense emotions, feelings and ultimately acts that are not acceptable within certain norms.

    Both works (the film closely follows the books) are about coming to grips with yourself and with expectations in the light of harsh realities. In a sense, it’s an artistic mirror of the very discussion we’re having in this post.

    But because the trigger for the conflict is gayness, it’s drawn the ire of people with a political agenda, or those who perceive that it is somehow promoting being gay. What the “art” is, is the author’s expression of conflict between self and society. But too many folks cannot get past that — all they see is the setup, not the overall theme.

    Art often is not aimed at the masses. I think the makers of Brokeback Mountain never intended it to be seen by the same folks who’d go to see, say, Harry Potter. But they have taken a very delicate subject and treated it with intelligence and respect. I don’t think that’s “elite,” that’s just telling a story to make a point, which is very hard to do and do well. That’s why it’s being considered for awards.

    What I’d suggest, Michael, is that you go see it — look at it as in the interest of research, and self-education on a topic. Then come back here and tell us, once you have an informed opinion, if you think the whole point of it was to push the acceptance of being gay. You may still think that way, but at least you’ll know what you’re talking about when it comes to the source material.

    Or, read the story, which is by the wonderful author Annie Proulx. Just reading anything by her is worth the effort.

    I plan to do both.


  27. Dwight, if the movie is only about dealing with intense emotions, then it’s certainly possible to make the same point without including a subject that can be considered offensive to many. Would you have felt the same about the movie if you knew the trigger was something offensive to you?

    Conservatives long ago seem to have given up protesting portayals of homosexuals on the periphery of movies, ala the gay neighbor. Then they sort of gave up protesting gays in clownish roles ala Rocky Horror and The Birdcage. Now that the heroes, especially traditional conservative heroes like cowboys, conservatives are reacting as though John Wayne himself was portrayed as gay.


  28. Rather than digress into scholastic argument – can we agree that the Hollywood academy – more often than not – honors movies that are in conflict with traditional American belief?

    Otherwise, I’ll just let Jo’s shrill words carry the day and let her words speak for herself. (I owe Jo a drink now.) 😛


  29. BrokeBack Mountain slid past Glory Days (Highly recommended by me) by $10,000 nationwide on Thurs. to gain top movie sales status.

    Think that the boost was from the awards?

    We’ll see how it does overall gross – vox populi


  30. I think the boost was from the increase in theaters. Brokeback Mountain has had a very high per theater gross since it was released. As the number of theaters increases, that per theater number decreases, but it’s still ahead of many current releases in that regard.

    What I think the numbers show is that there is a very high interest in Brokeback among a very niche market.

    You can compare it to Serenity – the sneak previews sold out in a matter of minutes, which could give the illusion of the movie being in high demand. But when it went to wide release, the per theater numbers dropped dramatically. Brokeback is the same way – there is a target market that is very eager to see the movie and so is finding its way to the limited release theaters, but I don’t see it sustaining that kind of interest in wide release.

    It will do well, though. I know plenty of women that will go see it just for the eye candy. I think it would have done even better if the movie had shown Heath and Jake topless more than Anne and Michelle.


  31. Michael:

    I think the notion that there aren’t any cowboys who are gay is wishful thinking at best and naive at worst. … or NFL players, firefighters, astronauts or any other of the “traditional heroes” out society holds up.

    This overall discussion raises an interesting point, though, about art, artists and their politics.

    Film is the dominant art of our time. Artists, in general, have always been liberal in the classic sense of the word — open-minded, willing to experiment with ideas and themes, often in the name of a cause to seek change in the society. Then tend to encourage tolerance and want to push back at those parts of society they see as hemming them in.

    Traditionally, that’s how artists are. That’s often a very different from the masses, who usually want to play it safe; don’t want the boat rocked; and believe sticking to the status quo will keep the glue of society intact.

    I think a lot of conservatives are concerned that film gives artists a giant megaphone to tout views that push harder at the envelope than they would like. But I do think that doesn’t give much credit to the audience. People choose what art to partake; they mull it over, talk about it with their friends and family; accept or reject ideas as acceptable or not, then move on.

    The leavening factor in all this, of course, is that films that push hard in one direction don’t attract the mass audience. They garner attention from within the artist community, but the initial filter is indeed the box office. Thus, we’ll always have both kinds of films — “popcorn” movies, as critics call them, and the art films, in which artists explore unconventional ideas in creative ways.

    And that’s good. You want both. But I don’t think it speaks to any great liberal agenda in Hollywood. What it is, is a continuation of a centuries old tradition — it’s what artists do, period. They push the envelope.

    Overall, our civilization is better for that. The natural push-pull between the conventional and unconventional keeps us, in the long view, on track. It may get uncomfortably close one way or the other — in the 1950s, the stifling feeling of enforced conformity; in the 1960s and 1970s, the spinning-out-of-control feeling as long-held norms were unraveled — but in the end, we find the right path through the minefield …

    or Mindfield, if I may coin a pun!


  32. Dwight, I respect your opinion and you make excellent points. Where we disagree is that Hollywood’s “art” is not like a single controversial piece shown to a few, it’s shown to millions at a time. In otherwords, it’s mass-produced envelop-pushing art.

    I also disagree that civilization is always better for it, especially when the art tramples over other’s beliefs and treats them trivially. When that art exhibit a few years ago showing the Virgin Mary covered with dung, was civilization better for it? The movies that Hollywood awards lately also trample the sensibilities of faithful people with little or no regard to whether some people may find it offensive.


  33. If constantly bombarding people with the message you want them to accept didn’t work, we wouldn’t have such a booming advertising business in this country.

    I also think that the awards are given to ‘legitimize’ a product, whether it is music, movies or TV. Gina Davis just won an award for her “acting” in the unwatchable (and I tried, really I did) “Commander in Chief”. Her acting is part of the problem with the program – it is just plain bad. However, by awarding her the establishment is giving the show and it’s premise a bit of a credibilty boost. Same with “Fahrenheit 9/11”, “Brokeback Mountain”….

    If the products they were awarding were of a higher quality, I don’t think there would be as much of an arguement for the conservatives to make. The fact that they give awards to products that are not only offensive, but often also poorly done, makes it fairly obvious that there is an agenda to be pushed.


  34. I agree that the awards are often not about the quality of a particular product, but they aren’t so much about an “agenda” as they are about the internal politics of the awarding body.


  35. I’m with Michael on that one – “agenda”, “internal politics of the awarding body”, same thing.

    And I am a big Oscar’s lover. I have a party almost every year (last year being the exception) and it is always a big deal. However, knowing the “internal politics of the awarding body” I don’t put much stock in their picks as actually being the best movie/performer/script of any given year. I do love the spectacle of it, though.


  36. Well, by “internal politics of the awarding body” I mean interpersonal and studio politics, not anything having to do with societal political leanings.

    I just like seeing what everyone wears.


  37. One more point I would like to make (boy, this is a long comment thread) is that the story itself would be offensive to many people’s values, whether the cowboys were gay or not.

    The gist, as I understand it, is these two men have a long term relationship. Said relationship causes pain to their respective spouses and destroys their families. Somehow, we are supposed to think it is beautiful and tragic because they are gay – as opposed to selfish and self indulgent, which would be obvious (I hope) if they were heterosexual people in the same situation. Anyone pointing out that the characters and their actions are offensive is considered homophobic, when there are certainly other issues with the story that are questionable.

    The same was true when the Methodists( ? ) were debating whether to ordain their first openly gay minister. Pointing out that he was hardly a good choice as a church leader because he abandoned his wife and children and was living in sin in a sexual relationship was homophobic, as if giving in to your urges and dismissing your vows is somehow OK if you are gay. He gets a free pass and you are not allowed to question his morality.

    Brokeback Mountain doesn’t have to be a quality film, or even tell a good story, because it involves selfish gay characters. Selfish heterosexual characters are handled on a case by case basis.


  38. I’d agree with you, Vox, if there had been a tenth of the outrage at any other movie featuring an affair that there has been at Brokeback.

    Tragic? Sure – it’s a tragic movie. Tragic for everyone, not just the two lovers. Beautiful? Not sure where that comes from – not at all the impression I got from watching it.


  39. I had problems with “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail” – both films where one or both of the characters were in other relationships when they started on a new one. Apparently, in those instances, it was OK because Meg Ryan (and/or the story) was so ‘cute’

    I had a teenage boy tell me that, even though he had a girlfriend, he kept another girl as back up. I think it is movies like that that make it seem A) Bad to ever have a day or two between relationships (and therefore risk being alone) B) OK to carry on with multiple romantic/sexual partners.

    These are the values we embrace in mass media and therefore transfer to our kids.

    Sex is not only a fine thing to engage in at 12, it is expected. I’m not that old, but when I was in school, a girl having sex was not something to be proud of. Now they brag about it.

    Adultery is fine because it feels good to ME.
    Anything goes if it feels good to ME, I don’t have to think about how it might affect my spouse/children/friends/community because I have a right to do whatever the heck I want.
    Violence is fun.
    Family is passé and overrated.
    It is never OK to defend yourself and your values.
    Christianity and Judaism are fair game for ridicule and scorn.
    Alternative religions/lifestyles are sacred and off limits for questioning or doubt.

    Et cetera….


  40. I didn’t say there wasn’t some outrage – I said it wasn’t on the same scale.

    And Vox, I have no idea what you’re supposedly quoting at the end of your post. Although I am curious exactly when in western history Judaism hasn’t been fair game for ridicule and scorn.


  41. Perhaps you don’t read the same sources I do. There has been plenty of outrage against Hollywood depictions of morals.

    I understood Vox. Scorn and ridicule of Judeo/Christian morality are fair game to Hollywood. Scorn of a gay and lesbian lifestyle in the movies? Just doesn’t happen.


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