As Hollywood declines, so does the West
|Actually, this is Hollywood logic|
- A remake of "Godzilla", attempting to reboot the franchise after the disaster that was the 1998 version;
- A Disney movie that retells the story of an older Disney movie from the point of view of the antagonist, starring Angelina Jolie's amazing cheekbones and somehow still exceptional rack;
- A Dreamworks sequel to the (admittedly great) Dreamworks film loosely based on a children's book about learning how to ride dragons;
- An explosion-laden follow-up to the most explosion-ridden movie trilogy of all time containing giant robots beating the gears out of each other;
- A film reboot of a much beloved children's television series;
- A(nother) sci-fi film that stars Tom Cruise and rips off pretty much all of the best ideas of classic 50s and 60s Heinlein and Dick sci-fi;
- And bunch of other movies that I can't remember now because, well, they're eminently forgettable.
They keep making essentially the same movie over and over again, too- a phenomenon probably best explained by the classic 90s cartoon Men in Black: The Series, at the end of a great episode called "The Star System Syndrome":
Indeed, in the last ten years, I can think of precisely one movie produced by a major Hollywood studio that actually presented traditional ideas and institutions in a positive light. That movie was 2012's "Act of Valor"- and that was essentially a propaganda film for the US Navy. (I have no objections whatsoever to it on that basis, by the way; I really liked that movie, despite its many and glaring flaws.)
And the thing is, it's not just Hollywood's fault. It's ours- yours and mine.
The rot extends deeper than Hollywood. Look at the trash that you see on TV today and all you will find is a mindless stream of filth, stupidity, and fluff. Reality television attempts to sell scripted outcomes as "real-world" events. The news channels- on both sides of the spectrum, including both Fox News and the BBC- are so insular and vapid that you can actually feel your IQ draining away as you watch the nonsense that they present as "news". TV drama and comedy shows range precisely from the absurd straight to the ridiculous, and no farther. Even rather enjoyable shows like "Castle", starring the inimitably excellent Nathan Fillion, are simply too stupid to believe after a certain point.
|Kate Beckinsale: scientifically proven to|
This is not the first time we have seen this phenomenon. The same thing happened to Rome through its last two centuries of existence. As the power and influence of Rome declined, as its citizens lapsed ever deeper into moral laxity and intellectual turpitude, Rome's ability to export its art and culture to its empire declined in proportion. The artistic skills of the Romans withered and died- to the point where, according to at least one legend that I've read, when Emperor Constantine the Great looked to found his capital in Byzantium, he transplanted the greatest works of art from the mother city to his new city, because he knew that the empire's artisans could no longer produce works of the same quality and skill as their forbears from a mere generation or two earlier could.
Meanwhile, Rome slipped ever deeper into decay and misery, as the stoic, strong, hardworking, austere Romans of the Republican eras gave way to the hedonistic, insular, insipid, and lazy mongrels of the late Empire. Weakened from within by the decline of the native Roman population and the consequent destruction of Roman civic virtue, as well as the insistence by later Romans on letting supposedly civilised former barbarians take over the dirty jobs of defending the declining empire, and weakened from without by both constant barbarian invasions and declining trade flows, Rome's fall was assured. In all honesty, the only thing that surprises me about the decline and destruction of Rome is that it took so damn long.
It's not hard to see where the parallels lie today. Hollywood once told stories that spoke to America's core values. The greatest movies of Hollywood's golden age were, at their core, morally simple: they presented clear demarcations between good and evil, right and wrong. They communicated simple but profound ideas- concepts rooted in America's founding and in the Good Book. Today, the only way Hollywood can possibly present anything found in the Bible is by turning the original source material- which has stood the test of time and holds the reader's attention more strongly than steel- into a washed-out, depressing, deeply nihilistic dark parody of itself.
Hollywood serves as a barometer for the culture which it purports to represent. This is not a claim that I make personally- it is a claim that Hollywood studios and directors take upon themselves. Logically, then, if Hollywood deserves to be destroyed, so too does the civilisation that spawned it.
So... does Hollywood therefore deserve to be destroyed?
If you've been paying any kind of attention at all for the last 20 years, you don't even need to think about the answer to that one.
Let's put it another way: I'm sure the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah thought that their punishment was a wee bit harsh. The rest of us, of course, know better.