I’m really sick of these American blockbuster movies. Have you noticed that every week Hollywood releases a new big expensive-to-make film, and, luckily, it just happens to get a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes? We discover, to our surprise, that it has also ‘rocked the box office’ in its first week, and set a new record (a new record every week wow!) in ticket sales. Co-incidentally – well no, obviously because the film is just so fabulous -- everyone is talking about it. Well lately, the media has added a new twist. Whatever the big film happens to be, it also just happens to be the centre of a giant debate that keeps tongues a-flappin’. Last week the record-breaking blockbuster was Gravity. All America was just itchin’ to see it, CNN told us. And, also – astronauts were being interviewed about the requisite ‘controversy.’ Were depictions of space travel in Gravity accurate? They had to get a rocket scientist on CNN to discuss this one. Gee whiz, Sandra Bullock is bouncing around from space station to space station, and manages to return to the earth on her own, and she’s never even flown a plane -- and her makeup doesn’t get mussed. How accurate could this piece of humungous garbage filmmaking possibly be?
This week it’s Captain Philips – starring the Oscar winning Tom Hanks, who, amazingly, has managed to master a New England accent for the role – wow, what acting chops, eh? But check this out -- there’s a huge controversy over the film. Was Captain Philips really a hero, or did he steer his ship into pirate-infested waters -- effectively causing the entire bloody attack himself?
Well I guess you’re just going to have to go to the stupid movie and create your own opinion.
I’m sorry to be so sarcastic about this whole damn thing, but it's not just that our brains are being destroyed by bad movies. I’m frightened of the Brave New World we live in, where even our entertainment has been homogenized to such an extent that most people are being fooled into thinking they are watching challenging art when they are in truth watching the latest government approved crap to keep us all docile and compliant.
Hey, wait, this isn’t Old Soviet Russia! This isn’t Woody Allen’s Sleeper! These are not messages from our fearless leader telling us all that our lives our okay, and we should not oppose the government and just shut up.
Or are they?
I remember -- when I was a kid --learning that there were two kinds of dictatorships, fascist and communist. Communist dictatorships sprang from socialism, whereas fascist dictatorship sprang from capitalism. This never made sense to me. How could capitalism be totalitarian?
But capitalism IS totalitarian; the profit motive insures that – if it is not checked – we will never again have to deal with radical ideas that might disturb us. Remember when the internet used to be the wild wild west of information and ideas? Now, watch out -- don’t try putting too much gay stuff into a youtube video or it might get censored. Don’t try and sell a book with too many naked pictures on Apple Online. And Google is starting a World Library. Hey don’t be fooled by that. Google is not starting a World Library, they are hoping to become the World’s Biggest Bookstore (which is why Toronto is closing the store by that name downtown!). As profit motive becomes the primary engine driving the web, we will only be reading what the capitalists want us to read, nothing else.
Adorno and Horkheimer predicted it all many years ago in The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception. They said that as Hollywood became more and more driven by the profit motive we would no longer see movies that artists wanted to make, but instead movies that movie moguls would like us to see.
Yes, folks, the time has come to clear your mind. No more troubling thoughts about the worldwide rise of fundamentalist religions that oppress women and gays (isn’t that too complicated to figure out, what with political correctness and all?), or global warming (aren’t we just tired of it?) or the implications of a global capitalism that manages to enslave the east in a massive project to provide cheap labour and cheap goods for the affluent west?
Clear your mind of these ideas. They are far too tiring for your tiny brains, anyway.
Worry about Sandra Bullock tumbling through space in her tiny gym shorts, and Tom Hanks’s potential, as he gets older, to to transform himself into Everybody’s Cuddly Daddy.
That’s the kinda stuff that should keep you busy.
Cuz, this is the way the world ends…..