Patterico's Pontifications

1/31/2022

Hollywood Continues the Mindless Politicization of Our Entertainment

Filed under: General — JVW @ 2:58 pm



[guest post by JVW]

As a quarter-century-long denizen of the City of Angels (well, OK — really the County of Angels) I spent years and years reading Los Angeles magazine. Even if you aren’t familiar with that particular periodical, you undoubtedly have seen a cookie cutter version in your own neck of the woods: the urban or regional journal chronicling fashion, the arts, commerce, politics, cuisine, and other important aspects of the surrounding area. All of these magazines at some point (usually late spring or early summer) publish a “Best Of” issue in which they guide you to what they believe are the most outstanding exemplars of dry cleaning, spa treatments, street tacos, yoga instruction, private preschooling, and other trendy obsessions of the upper-middle class, and then they use their pronouncements to sell advertising space to the lucky winners.

In any case, as I got older (and phenomenally grumpier) I had less and less interest in this year’s $400 pair of must-have denim pants or who indeed makes the chai latte to end all chi lattes. Los Angeles focuses heavily on trendy hipster areas of town such as Silver Lake, Larchmont, Venice, Sawtelle, Westwood, Pasadena, and the like, neighborhoods which as I reached middle age I seldomly visited. The domiciles and destinations for scruffy beach bums like me is studiously ignored, except for the couple of times each year when the magazine reviews a new en vogue restaurant in Manhattan Beach run by a celebrity chef and featuring locally-sourced menu items and a three-course deal with wine which will set you back a mere $149 per person. And the politics of the magazine as you can well guess are California comfy-left, with approving write-ups of art galleries hosting $1000 ticket fundraisers for progressive candidates who promise to do something about homelessness. Because the magazine went from slightly amusing to incessantly annoying — remarkably at the exact time that I went from passably tolerant to terminally grouchy — I decided not to renew my subscription even though it was only setting me back something like $15 per year.

But I remain on their daily email list, so I can continue to be updated on the new downtown condos with panoramic views which are an absolute steal at $1.325 million for two bedrooms and the emergence of the Asian lesbian baking community and their fusion muffins which incorporate lychee and rice. This ensures that I can always carry my end of the conversation those two times a year when I find myself standing in line to get some free trade Bolivian coffee with a cube of Pakistani sugar and a dollop of authentic Kenyan gnu’s milk at a food truck parked on La Brea. So I was pretty excited that today the magazine reported back to me on their movie reviewer’s trip to the oh-so-important Sundance Film Festival. It’s important to know which touching coming-of-age film about a transgendered Inuit teen struggling to overcome the effects of colonialism and unbridled capitalism while striving to master (oh, that’s a problematic word!) the fine art of toothpick sculpture is the one to crowd into an arthouse theater on Santa Monica Boulevard to see within two days after it opens. This sort of intel is exactly why I choose to continue to receive the magazine’s daily briefing.

So imagine my surprise when the lucky reviewer who got to spend a fun weekend at the festival hobnobbing (virtually of course; no expense account dinners at Riverhorse on Main for you!) with Hollywood royalty returned from his weekend on Zoom and declared that (emphasis added) “[T]he documentaries are far more dramatic than the actual dramas. Scripted films I’ve seen are so agenda-laden that with few exceptions, they trundle weightily to obvious and boring conclusions.” I mean, goodness: what’s the point of making a Hollywood movie these days unless you can take a mighty #resistance thwack at Trump, whiteness, capitalism (at least the kind that doesn’t involve the arts), flyover country, religious belief (and here we really mean Evangelical Christianity, traditional Catholicism, and Orthodox Judaism), law enforcement, the military (newly-minted Admirals excepted), and in general anything that even hints at an America which existed before the first Baby Boomer picked up a book by Michael Foucault? The reviewer, Allen Salkin, declares that too many of this year’s Sundance dramas “seemed like high-falutin’ versions of Lifetime movies from the 1990s,” and provides brief encapsulations of some of the movies he watched over the weekend. You can read his own words on the website, but allow me the indulgence of providing my own interpretation of what’s in store for the woke film fan:

Watcher – Cute young feminist moves into apartment and is haunted by an unseen stalker (which represents Donald Trump and Samuel Alito), but her cis-male partner and other representatives of the rape-culture patriarchy (i.e., red state voters) gaslight her by telling her she is imagining it.

God’s Country – Rural Colorado college professor Thandie Newton yasssss queeeeens her way through whooping ass on a couple of mouth-breathing white rednecks with guns who are illegally hunting on her property, a metaphor for trying to remove Critical Race Theory from kindergarten instruction.

Resurrection – Hip, urban, professional Rebecca Hall has it all together and is really crushing it, until creepy ex-boyfriend Tim Roth, who probably listens to Joe Rogan’s podcast, shows up and brings with him some bad vibes from her past. One reviewer reports that the film features a nearly ten-minute monologue from Ms. Hall, so if you go and see it at least you will know there is a good point at which to take a bathroom break and buy a box of Junior Mints.

Call Jane – An incredibly Strong! and Brave! movie about pioneering female entrepreneurs of the 1960s running an illegal abortion clinic, whose vital life-denying business was disrupted by that goddamned Roe decision which put conglomerates like Planned Parenthood in charge of this lucrative industry. Hopefully the new Supreme Court with Justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett can once again provide opportunities for small businesses to make a dishonest living in back alleys.

When You Finish Saving the World – The title and the fact that it stars Julianne Moore really tells you all you need to know, doesn’t it? But here’s a short synopsis which I gleaned from a quick glance at YouTube: gawky white teen boy tries to win the heart of a woke black (or at the very least bi-racial) teen girl by emulating her progressive pretensions. Maybe the clever title indicates that it is a wry look at youthful self-righteousness, but I kind of doubt it.

Anyway, this is apparently what we have in store for us in 2022. It’s almost enough to make you long for the latest Marvel Comics extravaganza or an unwanted remake by current Saturday Night Live cast members of a beloved 1980s comedy. I don’t think I’ll need to devote a great deal of my household budget to movie tickets for the next nine or ten months.

– JVW

46 Responses to “Hollywood Continues the Mindless Politicization of Our Entertainment”

  1. When you’ve lost Los Angeles magazine. . .

    JVW (ee64e4)

  2. seldomly–didn’t know it could be an adverb

    Charlie Davis (6775d5)

  3. seldomly–didn’t know it could be an adverb

    You seldomly find it used that way, and seldom do I use it in that respect. Spellcheck rejects the word, though dictionary.com is pretty chill with it.

    JVW (ee64e4)

  4. Hollywood Continues the Mindless Politicization of Our Entertainment

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYeNuISN4Dc

    =mike-drop=

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  5. When people are free to do what they want they may not do what you want. When they are not like corporate radio/tv you hear and see what the corporation want you to hear and see. When is the last time you listened too “we should be together or the times they are a changing on a corporate oldies radio station. Corporate television stations will show rambo until it comes out your ears ;but when was the last time you have seen a movie that wasn’t a loner ;but collective action taking on the government like is paris burning? Battle of algiers, which was shown to the pentagon ;but not bush the younger(Cheney thought it would scare him) to show what would happen if we invaded a muslim country. or even billy jack.

    asset (973c81)

  6. @5. After a drink or three, an old Hollywood hand liked to remind staff, ‘The Golden Rule in Hollywood is— he who has the gold, rules.’

    “Follow the money.” – ‘Deep Throat’ [Hal Holbrook] ‘All The President’s Men’ 1976

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  7. Hollywood films have been political since day one.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  8. @7 correct: Birth of a nation supporting the KKK!.

    asset (973c81)

  9. @7. Day One is a 1989 made-for-TV documentary-drama movie about The Manhattan Project, the research and development of the atomic bomb during World War II. Sponsored by AT&T, aired on CBS and starred Brian Dennehy, David Strathairn, Michael Tucker, Hume Cronyn, Richard Dysart, Hal Holbrook, Barnard Hughes, John McMartin and David Ogden Stiers.

    Have it on tape. It’s actually quite good.

    “If you want to send a message, try Western Union.” – Frank Capra

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  10. @9 Little know fact gen. groves shut down the centrifuge project in philadelphia because the scientists were not working on saturday or we would have had the atomic bomb in in 1944 because centrifuge is the quickest way to extract u-235.

    asset (57f1aa)

  11. Star Wars/Star Trek crap aside, most space films- such as 2001, Marooned and Apollo 13 are personal favorites but my all-time favorite film remains 1949’s ‘Twelve O’Clock High.’

    Tip-top Peck.

    And the ‘message’ in the film is a not what most would catch on the surface. Strip the war veneer off and it is a classic depiction of American corporate management structure and techniques of the era. So much so, that new hires at many overseas firms [particularly Japanese] still run it as part of employee orientation.

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  12. @9 Little know fact gen. groves shut down the centrifuge project in philadelphia because the scientists were not working on saturday or we would have had the atomic bomb in in 1944 because centrifuge is the quickest way to extract u-235.

    Untrue. It was because of this.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  13. ‘Hollywood films have been political since day one.’

    Shut down the virus, Joe? Duck soup, of course.

    ‘If any form of pleasure is exhibited, report to me and it will be prohibited! I’ll put my foot down, so shall it be… this is the land of the free! The last man nearly ruined this place he didn’t know what to do with it. If you think this country’s bad off now, just wait till I get through with it!’ – Joseph R. Bi-…. oops, Rufus T. Firefly [Groucho Marx] ‘ Duck Soup’ 1933

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  14. But let’s all reme3mber the bad old days of the Hollywood Blacklist. Let’s all be glad that Stalanist stooges are no longer kept from creating our brain fodder. Freedom!

    Now, as for those who would misgender, diminish or otherwise be mean to people like us, let them rot in Hell a really bad place; maybe Texas.

    Kevin M (38e250)

  15. Thandie Newton

    I will watch her do whatever she wants with her ass. Oh, wait. Someone else’s ass? Not so much.

    Kevin M (38e250)

  16. @14, Yeah, that Dalton Trumbo, who quilled ‘Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo’ and ‘Spartacus’ was blood-thirsty Red. 😉

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  17. It’s not all like that. Yellowstone seems to have taken the Red pill. Not very fond of yuppies from California who move to Montana. Damn fine show. What can you say about a family that really doesn’t take sh1t.

    Kevin M (38e250)

  18. Dalton Trumbo was anti-anti-Nazi during the Stalin-Hitler Pact.

    Kevin M (38e250)

  19. If there is no Hollywood blacklist today, let me know the next time Kevin Spacey stars in something.

    Also, see here: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/10/23/us/metoo-replacements.html

    That is not to say they did nothing wrong, but treason is bad, too.

    Kevin M (38e250)

  20. @18/19. Splitting ‘red’hairs: Lucille Ball registered to vote in 1936 as a Communist to please her grandfather, a longtime follower of Eugene Debs. 😉

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  21. @20. Rest easy. Alec Baldwin is shooting something… someplace. 😉

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  22. @17. What can you say about a family that really doesn’t take sh1t?

    LOL Put’em back in the White House: Trump 2024 😉

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  23. I love how grumpy you are, JVW. Never change! Also, none of those films sound terribly interesting to me. I don’t like being “taught” by a movie. Just emotionally manipulate me and make me forget I’m sitting in a theater watching a movie.

    Also, Kevin M., I might have to have words with you about Yellowstone. I just finished the first season and am emotionally exhausted as I still try to latch on to at least one redeemable character. (I’m going with Kaycee’s wife’s grandfather, for the record.) I am, however, watching the prequel to Yellowstone, 1883, and love it. Of course, Sam Elliott elevates everything.

    Dana (5395f9)

  24. Of course, Sam Elliott elevates everything.

    He’s so young and unrecognizable in ‘Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid’ and stellar in a small but pivotal role in ‘Gettysburg.’

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  25. Don’t forget this Sam Elliot gem.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  26. 10. Thus seems to be more true:

    https://www.osti.gov/opennet/manhattan-project-history/Events/1942-1944_ur/navy_ltd.htm

    … President Roosevelt had instructed that the atomic bomb effort be an Army program and that the Navy be excluded from deliberations. Navy research on atomic power, conducted primarily for submarines, received no direct aid from Leslie Groves, who, in fact, was not up-to-date on the state of Navy efforts when he received a letter on the subject from Robert Oppenheimer late in April 1944…

    Sammy Finkelman (c49738)

  27. Don’t Look Up (Netflix 2021) is said to be a very good movie so long as you ignore the message the director claims to send, which you would never guess from watching the movie.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/dont-listen-to-dont-look-up-global-warming-climate-denialism-movie-11643407715

    Fortunately, the film’s availability on Netflix is its saving grace. Nobody has to pay $15 to give it a try, so hopefully audiences won’t be deterred by Mr. McKay’s blabbermouth act.

    How somebody would improve that movie:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/08/opinion/dont-look-up-decadence.html

    I’m going to offer some script doctoring, and give you the cut of “Don’t Look Up” that might have been, had somebody hired me to consult.

    Sammy Finkelman (c49738)

  28. Dana,

    I guess it all depends on your outlook on things. These are hard people with a code that they abide by. It is probably different from yours, but they do have a code. I will point out, as the series goes on, that the people they are up against are meaner and with no code, other than winning, and that some of the Duttons mellow some, some others not so much, and probably not the ones you’re expecting.

    Kevin M (38e250)

  29. In any event, the point was that there are counterpoints in popular culture to the mindless drivel JVW sees.

    Kevin M (38e250)

  30. Sammy, that reworking by Ross Douthat is priceless:

    (Warning: semi-spoilers for those who haven’t seen it yet)

    Act 1: The comet is discovered by amateur astronomy geeks who comb telescope footage the government collects but doesn’t bother to examine. Their findings are hyped by a mix of doomsday preppers and tech bros, while academic authorities dismiss the claims as misinformation and Twitter censors users who insist the comet is going to hit Earth.

    Act 2: A group of Harvard astronomers confirm the comet’s dire trajectory, and suddenly the media turns on a dime and begins hyping the threat. But the president, a right-wing populist aiming for re-election, prefers to postpone dealing with it, so she hypes an obscure Bible-college astronomer who thinks the chance of impact is under 10 percent.

    But read the whole thing

    https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/08/opinion/dont-look-up-decadence.html

    Kevin M (38e250)

  31. @27 Navy effort was thermal defusion which I read helped in the enrichment with prof. lawrences method in1944/1945. This is not the centrifuge method being used in philadelphia.

    asset (57f1aa)

  32. but when was the last time you have seen a movie that wasn’t a loner ;but collective action taking on the government like is paris burning?

    Dune (2021)? It’s on HBO Max.

    And I wouldn’t mind even a low-budget production of AOC Arouses Arcturus if they could find a face double for her. That barracuda mouth only arouses the panic response in swimmers.

    nk (1d9030)

  33. You seemed shocked by this. You shouldn’t. The left politicizes everything. It is what they do. They scold. They lecture. Do as I say not as I do.

    Wear that mask! Unless you are a liberal politician or Hollywood starlet.

    Everything is about race, except the Holocaust for some reason.

    Hoi Polloi (998b37)

  34. Like most conservative you think liberals are the same as the left. thinking it is monotlhic and runs the gamut. You consider nancy pelosi and joe biden along with hollywood as leftists your not sure how AOC fits with them so you ignore the difference. The far left are not hypocrites they do as they say. Liberals are the phony hypocrites who are the do as I say not as I do crowd. The far left unlike liberals are pro second amendment. Bill ayres was on a right wing show and to the hosts amazement agreed with supporting the second amendment. The john brown gun club is left not liberal and the AK-47 is its weapon of choice. As sun tzu says know your enemy like yourself. The left knows the difference between them and corporate liberals you should too!

    asset (57f1aa)

  35. The show bill ayres was on was alex jones.

    asset (57f1aa)

  36. Comrade, do you know how wine-and-cheese-party parochial bourgeois dilettante you sound?
    Bill Ayres? Try Lyudmila Pavlichenko.
    The John Brown Gun Club? Do you need a link for the Viet Cong? How about ELAS? As a young child, I sat on the knees of some of those comrades.
    And that is AOC, too. A parochial bourgeois, mouthing socialist platitudes for wine and cheese parties and political fundraisers. Not for Revolution.

    But she does fill out a bodice, I’ll give her that. If not for those teeth ….

    nk (1d9030)

  37. I feel like I did in HS when the English teacher was explaining how everything everywhere in every book and piece of poetry is symbolic. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

    Nic (896fdf)

  38. Um, some of you are suggesting that I think it’s a new development for the cultural left to politicize movies. Note the title of the post is “Hollywood Continues the Mindless Politicization of Our Entertainment.” I certainly understand that this has been going on since time immemorial. I would have just figured that given the hit the industry took during the coronavirus scare and the attendant movie theater shut-downs, and given the fact that they managed to drive their bête noire Donald Trump from office, they might want to hunker down and focus on movies which will actually appeal to a cross-section of Americans who live outside of the dominant cultural bubble. But I suppose that Hollywood can always find dumb money to finance various jeremiads agains the acceptable targets, and — who knows? — maybe these movies will end up turning a small profit. But considering that even the reviewer for Los Angeles magazine thinks they are heavy-handed and hectoring, I’m thinking we’ll be reading articles about how a number of “critically acclaimed” movies failed to capture much of a box office, and no doubt that streaming services and COVID will be given the lion’s share of the blame.

    JVW (ee64e4)

  39. I would have just figured that given the hit the industry took during the coronavirus scare and the attendant movie theater shut-downs, and given the fact that they managed to drive their bête noire Donald Trump from office, they might want to hunker down and focus on movies which will actually appeal to a cross-section of Americans who live outside of the dominant cultural bubble.

    It’s a biz that’s been pitching the comic book genres now since the Superman/Batman crap hit the screens in the 80s– and are still going strong. Follow the money. Look to how the biz adjusted to sound, color, unionization, the birth and death of the drive-in… and the most terrifying menace of them all: television.

    First they balked in denial, then rejection– the pitch of much hyped Cinemascope, 3-D films, aroma-o-vision, stereophonics, sense-around and so on– which didn’t bring butts back to the seats. Then acceptance – and the creation of TV production divisions at MGM, WB, Paramount and so on – and of late, CGI studio processing. The VCR and the camcorder spooked them w/fears of pirating and copying; they tried to scramble VHS tapes sold at first for $85 each– then at the make or break price point of $29.99 by the mid ’80s! Unbelievable today. The weekly BO numbers began to incorporate int’l boxoffice tallies when domestic numbers alone began sinking and financing was sought overseas- as marketing revenues from movie kitsch- everything from action figures to videogames, became a goldmine [‘Spaceballs’ the lunch box!].

    The pandemic only accelerated the inevitable growth of streaming services along with the explosion of web as well as quality, affordable home tv/theatre systems- many with screen sizes virtually as big as what’s you’d pay $15/ticket to see. Add up a family of 4, costly munchies and parking and it’s at least a $100-$150 night out. Going ‘out to the movies’ in 2022 is for suckers. But the biz will adapt. And they’ll produce product the consumer- that is the audience- wants to see and they can wring every marketing penny out of… Superman prequels, Batman vs. Godzilla 12… Spiderman 50… just more damned comic book remakes. 😉

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  40. @38. ‘I feel like I did in HS when the English teacher was explaining how everything everywhere in every book and piece of poetry is symbolic. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.’

    Sometimes it’s not:

    The Betrothed

    Open the old cigar-box, get me a Cuba stout,
    For things are running crossways, and Maggie and I are out.
    We quarrelled about Havanas — we fought o’er a good cheroot,
    And I knew she is exacting, and she says I am a brute.
    Open the old cigar-box — let me consider a space;
    In the soft blue veil of the vapour musing on Maggie’s face.
    Maggie is pretty to look at — Maggie’s a loving lass,
    But the prettiest cheeks must wrinkle, the truest of loves must pass.
    There’s peace in a Larranaga, there’s calm in a Henry Clay;
    But the best cigar in an hour is finished and thrown away —
    Thrown away for another as perfect and ripe and brown —
    But I could not throw away Maggie for fear o’ the talk o’ the town!
    Maggie, my wife at fifty — grey and dour and old —
    With never another Maggie to purchase for love or gold!
    And the light of Days that have Been the dark of the Days that Are,
    And Love’s torch stinking and stale, like the butt of a dead cigar —
    The butt of a dead cigar you are bound to keep in your pocket —
    With never a new one to light tho’ it’s charred and black to the socket!
    Open the old cigar-box — let me consider a while.
    Here is a mild Manila — there is a wifely smile.
    Which is the better portion — bondage bought with a ring,
    Or a harem of dusky beauties, fifty tied in a string?
    Counsellors cunning and silent — comforters true and tried,
    And never a one of the fifty to sneer at a rival bride?
    Thought in the early morning, solace in time of woes,
    Peace in the hush of the twilight, balm ere my eyelids close,
    This will the fifty give me, asking nought in return,
    With only a Suttee’s passion — to do their duty and burn.
    This will the fifty give me. When they are spent and dead,
    Five times other fifties shall be my servants instead.
    The furrows of far-off Java, the isles of the Spanish Main,
    When they hear my harem is empty will send me my brides again.
    I will take no heed to their raiment, nor food for their mouths withal,
    So long as the gulls are nesting, so long as the showers fall.
    I will scent ’em with best vanilla, with tea will I temper their hides,
    And the Moor and the Mormon shall envy who read of the tale of my brides.
    For Maggie has written a letter to give me my choice between
    The wee little whimpering Love and the great god Nick o’ Teen.
    And I have been servant of Love for barely a twelvemonth clear,
    But I have been Priest of Cabanas a matter of seven year;
    And the gloom of my bachelor days is flecked with the cheery light
    Of stums that I burned to Friendship and Pleasure and Work and Fight.
    And I turn my eyes to the future that Maggie and I must prove,
    But the only light on the marshes is the Will-o’-the-Wisp of Love.
    Will it see me safe through my journey or leave me bogged in the mire?
    Since a puff of tobacco can cloud it, shall I follow the fitful fire?
    Open the old cigar-box — let me consider anew —
    Old friends, and who is Maggie that I should abandon you?
    A million surplus Maggies are willing to bear the yoke;
    And a woman is only a woman, but a good Cigar is a Smoke.
    Light me another Cuba — I hold to my first-sworn vows.
    If Maggie will have no rival, I’ll have no Maggie for Spouse!

    — Rudyard Kipling, 1886

    “Ahhh yes. Yes, indeed.” – W.C. Fields

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  41. @34. The left politicizes everything.

    ROFLMAOPIP.

    Again:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYeNuISN4Dc

    =mike-drop=

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  42. I really enjoyed that, JVW.
    Thanks.

    mg (8cbc69)

  43. The john brown gun club is left not liberal

    Yeah, I know hard left gun owners. It’s not that uncommon.

    Kevin M (38e250)

  44. 21. Eugene Debs was not a Communist! Did her grandfather equate them?

    Sammy Finkelman (c49738)

  45. Jeff Zucker resigns at CNN, due to previously undisclosed relationship with much younger co-worker.

    Kevin M (38e250)


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