If Hollywood Went on Strike

the-reading-woman

Children are often naughty in order to gain attention, whether that attention is good or bad. The reason for the lack of discrimination in regards to which kind of attention is received is because in the child’s still-developing mind, the distinction between good and bad is still ripening. On top of that, young children are intrinsically selfish; they believe themselves to be the center of the cosmos and, therefore, they think that they should have the absolute attention of everyone. This is not to disparage children; it has been argued that this selfishness can be explained as a biological survival mentality in which the child assures itself food and attention by acting like the center of the universe. Fallen human nature also takes a substantial hand in this inherent selfishness in children. The true problem, however, comes when the child grows but the selfishness of the age does not evaporate. It would thus appear that many Hollywood stars are children masquerading as adults.

 

 Award shows are often when this inherent selfishness and need for attention becomes manifested the most for the modern actors and actresses; having just received an award, and reaffirming their vital importance in the universe in their own minds, the stars appoint themselves Delphic oracles and prophets. The 2017 Golden Globes was no different in this regard and the chief prophetess of the evening, Meryl Streep, made a very predictable spectacle of herself. In another performance which her co-religious of the left boringly termed “courageous,” Streep gave the predictable speech making most of her five minute onstage a personal attack against Donald Trump, as well as making foreigners, the press and Hollywood the victims of the culture wars against the bullying and hatred of white, middle, rural America. Perhaps the facet of her speech that has received the most attention was the point where Streep, for all intent and purposes, threatened middle America with the phantom of a Hollywood that would no longer entertain them. Her train of logic ran along the following course: Trump hates foreigners and Hollywood, ergo the people who voted for Trump hate foreigners and Hollywood; foreigners and Hollywood are the only ones who can provide the entertainment that Americans, regardless of where they live; if the inhabitants of rural, middle America continue along the path they chose in November, the only things they will be able to watch for entertainment will be football and mixed-martial arts.

 

Many conservatives promptly and rightly pointed out that Streep was being condescending to these two sports and to the people who enjoy watching them; they also pointed out, correctly, the presumption in Streep’s dismissal of the skill needed to actual succeed in these two sports. What was left unsaid was that Streep’s threat of an entertainment Ragnornak was the only ray of light in her speech.

 

Conservatives often and rightly complain about the deluge which comes from Hollywood but what would actually happen if Hollywood was incapacitated (or, what seems, more likely, went on strike?) Contrary to what Streep claimed, even if Hollywood was to abdicate and seclude itself in its own bubble in Los Angeles, entertainment would still be available in the thousands of movies and television shows released to DVD. A Hollywood strike might even encourage people—after the list of modern movies and shows had been depleted—to venture back into the films made in the Golden Age of Hollywood. Not every film made in the Golden Age was a classic, just as every movie made today is not a waste of time and effort but movies of the Golden Age were, for the most part, much more substantial and richer than the movies made today; there is a reason why Hollywood of 1936 to 1963 is called the Golden Age and why Ray Bradbury encouraged would-be writers to fall in love with the old movies. Films today, more often than not, speed through in order to arrive at the next salacious segment, whether it be an action sequence, a love scene or a chance to show off their CGI tricks or cinematography. Movies of the past, while not eschewing showing off the latest special effects, took what might be called the human condition much more seriously than movies today. Movies of the Golden Age spoke of the universalness of being human and what it meant to be human, rather than turning humans into action heroes, cynics, and buffoons in every movie. Take, as an example, the contrast between the 1943 version of Cat People  and the 1982 remake. The original, though a B movie with no major stars and a shoe string budget, still taps into the nature of evil in the soul of man and what happens when that evil is allowed to gain dominance in one’s soul. The 1982 version was much more interested in sex, violence and special effects, even terming itself “An erotic fantasy about the animal in all of us.”

 

Past movies, a Hollywood strike might even mean that people return to reading again. It is one of the ironies of the 21st century that while books are cheaper and more available than ever before, people are much more likely to be seen with their noses in their phones rather than in a book. Once upon a time, however, reading was the primary means of entertainment. It is true that people do still read and bookstores are filled with the latest New York Times bestsellers but, as with movies, the quality of the books of today are often inferior to the books of the past. The Harry Potter series, for example, was praised for its ability to excite children to actually read again and the books do indeed possess several good points, both in terms of action and development and in the morals which they possessed. But when compared to The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter is revealed to be much more impoverished than it first appeared. Tolkien’s world is deep and discoverable by both the reader and the author himself whereas the world of Harry Potter, while imaginative, also seem to be consciously created. Beyond even the classic literature of the 19th and 18th century, the great works of the West, such as Dante, Shakespeare and the Greek legends of Jason and Herakles and the poems of Homer, have the potential to enrich our souls as they did for our great-great-great grandparents. This enrichment comes from the universal character of man that is portrayed in these classics—we can sympathize and draw strength from Odysseus, not because we are ancient Greek kings like him, and so cannot “relate” to him in that sense, but we are all men who all face hardships and that is where the power of the Odyssey comes.

 

A re-communion with nature could be another product of a Hollywood strike. When the federal government feels that it is necessary to sponsor radio ads, encouraging families to take advantage of the outdoors, something has gone definitely wrong. But, with the evaporation of entertainment as Meryl Streep threatened, bored individuals and families might once again venture into the wilds of the outdoors and find themselves fed by the sun and wind, the water and the grass, and the music of the animals.

 

It is a pretty picture but if Hollywood actually did initiate a strike, I do not think that it would blossom. Rather, the vast majority of the grassroots of the conservative movement would collapse. Far too many people who identify themselves as conservatives do not seem to have the courage of their convictions when it comes to entertainment. They will, for example, complain loudly when Mark Rufflo stand atop his social-justice-warrior soapbox or when Robert Downey, Jr. and Scarlett Johansson appear in an anti-Trump video, but they will be in line at the box office when Avengers: Infinity War Part I is released. I have had personal experience with this type of thinking: the younger brother and father of my ex-fiancé are serious science-fiction fans and were planning on seeing Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, when it was released in the theatre, this, in spite the fact, that the writer for Rogue One, called the Empire of the Star Wars universe a white supremacist organization in the aftermath of Trump’s electoral victory. Both my ex-fiancé’s father and brother voted for Trump and both consider themselves to be conservative. The makers of Rogue One not only insulted the man they had enthusiastically voted for but themselves, equating them with the Empire. Rather than expressing their displeasure by forgoing the movie until it came out in Red Box, both of them, I know, went to see it in theatres. My ex-fiancé herself, as another example, would often voraciously watch Friends on Netflix, even though many of the show’s elements (most particularly in the realm of sexuality) were in opposition to her values as a conservative. This is a demonstration of compartmentalization—the ability to see life in different categories rather than as a unified whole. In the examples cited above, entertainment is separated wholly from any sort of conservative world view. The idea seems to be that Hollywood is liberal but it makes entertaining movies and as a free-market capitalist, one should be able to see whatever entertainment one wants, even if the actors in a particular movie, aspects of the film itself, and Hollywood in general spits on everything which conservatives claim to believe. This compartmentalization seems to be widespread in the conservative movement: we know what Hollywood is and yet their movies still make hundreds of millions of dollars; Robert Downey Jr., may take part in a ridiculous video but he is the Iron Man that we will go to see on the big screen; Starbucks may publicly tell conservatives that their business and money is not wanted and yet the Starbucks outlets in middle America remain open. Some may defend this compartmentalization—as I have heard it be defended—with the mantra that we have to keep living our lives. It is never asked at what cost must we keep living our lives, or even of what the good life consists.

 

It is worth remembering that the American colonists held the Boston Tea Party because they would not pay a pittance of a tax on the tea because of the principle it represented. Although there are still Tea Parties vowing to “fight for America” the heart to actually fight has shriveled up.

 

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