As Hollywood declines, so does the West

Actually, this is Hollywood logic
To argue that the quality of Hollywood's artistic output has "declined" over the last few decades is rather like saying that it is "a bit windy" during a hurricane. If you look at the current list of major films coming out this year from the major Hollywood studios, you're looking at the following offerings:
This is what Hollywood has become: a cesspool of recycled ideas, idiotic libprog cliches, and utterly excessive CGI in the name of making big bucks at the box office. It is an environment that rewards only the "safe" ideas, that scorns old-fashioned or traditional values, and that sh*ts all over any source material that is genuinely supportive of old-school values. Just look at what happened to the film version of the greatest military sci-fi novel of all time, Starship Troopers; Paul Verhoeven, a legendary director who was the creative genius behind Robocop, admitted cheerfully that he had never even bothered to read the book before filming started.

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
cure stupidity
Meanwhile, the very, very few shows that actually try to present a positive message, that are grounded in strongly traditional values and ideas, are the ones that no one wants to watch. Shows like ABC's "Last Man Standing" are few and very far between, but they are great fun to watch precisely because they present conservative and libertarian values ranged in vibrant, living, stalwart opposition to the choking, dying, putrescent corpse of American pop culture- and yet they receive little or nothing by way of network support.

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.

Comments

  1. I'm a sucker for a good horror film. As I watched "Devil's Due" last night, this post came to mind. I thought of the calm, rational terror of Peter Blatty's "The Exorcist." The men in the film who had authority acted as such, to the point that, in the face of an evil he couldn't comprehend, Father Karras did not panic but gave his life to free the little girl, Regan, from the demonic force. Max Von Sydow's Father Merrin, despite the character's age and frailty, commanded the demonic force with authority. We do not always prevail over evil, but both men determined to die trying.

    In horror films today, especially ones concerning God, the men of God are weaklings, seemingly devoid of the notion of self-sacrifice at all. Husbands are mostly worthless or less. The husband in "Devil's Due" panicked consistently (his panicked breathing into the camera added nothing to the tension. Instead, it made me want to slap him and say, "SNAP OUT OF IT, WOMAN!"), spoke in-eloquently, bordered on complete stupidity and, more or less, served as no help to his wife in any situation. One could watch the wife in the story to note just exactly how little a woman cares for a "nice" guy when that "nice" guy is a weaseling, weak-willed feelings slut. She needed help. He could not and did not provide any at all.



    Hollywood most definitely deserves chaotic destruction.

    ReplyDelete

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