Two pieces in the New York Times I want to call attention to today:
Barbara Ehrenreich has a column, “Let Them Eat Wedding Cake”, which has a finely satirical take on the hypocrisy between the Administration’s marriage policies regarding poor women versus their policies regarding gays.
But just as interesting, and more revealing of its sub-culture, is A.O. (Tony) Scott’s piece, “A New Market for Bravehearts?” Some quotes:
“For an R-rated political documentary to make $100 million would be a show business anomaly, surpassed in strangeness only by an R-rated scripture-based foreign-language film making three times that much. It is unlikely that either picture signals the beginning of a trend, since the success of each was leveraged by the stardom of its maker. But Mr. Moore and Mr. Gibson did not succeed simply through their fame or their knack for using the news media as an engine of publicity. It was clear long before anyone had seen a frame of either Passion or Fahrenheit that what audiences would witness was the uncompromised, unfiltered vision of a strong-willed, stubborn and bloody-minded director.”
“Perhaps more than ever before, the movie studios are ruled by timidity, anxiously tailoring their releases to avoid giving offense… Above all, the local multiplex follows the code of an old-line country club, in which religion and politics are not to be discussed.
The justification for this kind of bland cowardice is economic, and follows a marketing logic that is hard to refute. Why risk alienating potential customers? But the movie-going public can be alienated as much by boredom as by distaste, and it may be that the studios should be more afraid of our indifference than of our anger. At the moment, we are in a state of spiritual and political agitation, and while we may still be looking for entertainment to distract us or calm us down, we also clearly have an appetite for entertainment that does the opposite, that focuses our attention and raises our blood pressure. We worry about the health of the body politic and the state of our immortal souls and, at least some of the time, we want a culture that responds to these concerns. In other words, we are willing to pay good money to be provoked, enraged, exalted and challenged.”
“(I)t is also proper, and healthy, for audiences to overrule (film critics’) anxious, qualified judgments, and to respond to movies like these with more heat and more passion. The basic critical function of consumer advice, in any case, is overridden when movies become part of a larger debate, which may also be hard for critics to deal with, since it threatens our authority.
Which is, all in all, a very good thing. Movies are a democratic art form, and democracy, at its most vigorous, can ride roughshod over polite opinion, responsible judgment and cool appraisal. When that happens, we should relish our discomfort, and gratefully acknowledge that, sometimes, hotter heads prevail.”
Which provides yet another piece of evidence to the O’Brien view that the problem with most companies in the US is that they don’t want to make money enough. That they’re far more invested in control. Or in feeling good about themselves. Self-image, above all.