Learn, Hollywood, Learn

Learn, Hollywood, Learn


Heh. Looks like I’m not the only one who noticed the off-putting preachiness of last year’s Hollywood crop. Even a liberal — sorry “liberal,” as we’re putting the word in scare quotes now till we know for sure the subject’s attitude toward Locke and David Lloyd George — such as Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir has a funny take on it as he doles out the statuettes he calls “the Liberal Guilt Awards, otherwise known as the Guilties,”

in which Hollywood congratulates itself for its general condition of progressive enlightenment and lectures the rest of us from its newfound position of half-baked moral seriousness. Now, strange to tell, this year’s nominated films are exactly the same for both the Academy Awards and the LGAs.

Among the nominees are:

“Brokeback Mountain”

Message: A three-parter, as I see it. 1) Real, manly men sometimes like to, you know, do it with other real, manly men. 2) Gay people who had to live in the closet were damaged or even destroyed by the experience. 3) The effects of closeted sexuality were more widespread than that; it damaged the American Family, dammit!

“Good Night, and Good Luck”

Message: Television can speak truth to power or lull us with mindless pap. If we lose faith in popular journalism as a last line of defense against demagogues and autocrats, we’re in deep … whoops! Too late!


Message: Violence begets violence. An eye for an eye leaves everybody blind. Oh, and: Dad? Where are you, Dad?


Message: Race in America: It’s complicated, yo! (Or, as Stephanie put it in her review: Racism is bad for children and other living things.)

He’s especially good on “Crash,” because he’s especially hard on it. But then a bad review is always much more fun to read than a good one.

This entire film is a spinach-flavored schematic, going from one overloaded symbolic encounter between angst-ridden people of different ethnicities to another. … You could say that “Crash” is aware of the ironies and contradictions of race in America, but that’s literally the only thing it’s aware of. It’s grasping you by the lapels, like that uncle you generally avoid at family gatherings, and screaming into your face: “My God! The contradictions!” It virtually throbs with meaning, and it’s the kind of migraine throb that approaches meaninglessness.

  • http://www.kozoru.com Justin Gardner

    “the Liberal Guilt Awards, otherwise known as the Guilties,�

    Heh. Good one.

    Although I will say that Brokeback was very powerful. A decidedly honest meditation on love lost given certain cultural circumstances. Heartbreaking stuff.

  • http://vernondent.blogspot.com/ Callimachus

    Yes, O’Hehir makes the point that BBM was overall the best of the bunch and the least worthy of being lampooned for this.

  • http://offlineadventures.blogspot.com David Markland

    As I work and live in Hollywood (damn that Oscar traffic), I always take personal offense at these types of posts. Indeed, I’m a sissy. But I also get annoyed at this gross generalization of the entertainment industry, as if everyone here conspires together what types of movies to release.

    I think last year was one of the worst in terms of overall film releases. More major releases in 2005 than in over a decade. As a result, decent medicore films like “Crash” and “Cinderella Man” received more critical acclaim than usual.

    I am confident that the films up for awards this year are the best of the best… but there wasn’t much competition. “Munich” was good, but not great… any other year it would have been passed over.

    It just so happens that the best films happen of 2005 have a social message of some sort… then again, almost every great film has a social message.

    But “Brokeback” preachy? Even “Munich”? Neither film spells out a particular point of view, and leaves the audience to come up with their decisions. If you left the theatre feeling only one side was portrayed, you were making out in the backrow, maybe or maybe not with a cowboy. “Crash” and “Goodnight” are definitely preachy, so two out of five ain’t bad, but not enough to paint the label as a Hollywood problem.

  • http://www.thex.com/rd/ the english guy

    It’s a pity Capote wasn’t on that list. It was one of the best performances I have seen in a long time. Hoffman is incredible, and went way up in my book of talented actors.

    Munich, although an interesting tale of history, ended somewhat abruptly. But then again, I suppose, so did the lives of the terrorists… Crash was, hmm, disturbing on some levels. Real though. And for that worthy of some nod somewhere. Good night, was a bit lacklustre and slow-moving in parts, for me at least. I guess as a morality tale it’s a good one, but it’s ancient history and difficult to apply to today’s media.

  • Jim

    Things I liked about BBM and carsh and haven’t heard mentioned elsewhere –

    Crash – I thought the little scene where one immigrant, the Honduran cop, made fun of another immigrant’s English, the Korean woman, was sjust great – what a piece of Americana.

    It may be simple-minded to some, but the point that someone can be a racist one minute and then turn around and risk his life to save someone from the group he despises is important. There has been a witless tendency in the last few decades to divide the country up into black hats and white hats and it does nothing to make any sense of anything.

    BBM – I loved it that a Chinese director made such a good cowboy movie – laconic and intense. I appreciated his Chinese eye for landscapes. I think it was important to show what a dishonest scam the Exodus program is, how much misery wives of closeted men endure.