Tuesday - March 09, 2010

Category Image  Oscar

A few people have commented on the Oscars as having been rewarding to almost right-wing political view points this year, noting that "The Hurt Locker" is a war movie and "Blind Side" is a movie about a southern Christian family.

I'm not sure I agree and I'm not sure that this means much at all.  First of all, the makers of "The Hurt Locker" regard their own film as anti Iraq War, which hardly makes it a candidate for a right wing political view point.  Also, I don't think it's entirely uplifting to portray people in the military as being effective or efficient only if they are off their rocker.  I confess I haven't see "The Hurt Locker" but the reviews give me that impression.  I don't think there has been many good war movies made since the 1940's.  You don't see many that give a good impression of men at arms.  They're usually portrayed as idiots or as craven cowards.  This isn't much new.  "The Red Badge of Courage" pretty much has the same theme of the clueless soldier who at first is considered heroic but only because he doesn't yet understand what he's doing, and upon gaining that understanding tries to shirk his duties.  Or just think of Kurt Vonnegut and "Slaughterhouse-Five" where the brave men in the unit are derided as mindless automatons and the insipid coward is the hero.  "The Hurt Locker may not be as blatant as these, but the EOD technician as a dysfunctional man at home who can only exist in the most dangerous conditions - and dragging his men into foolhardy risks - is along the same lines.

As for "Blind Side," I watched that one with my wife and enjoyed it.  I've always had a crush on Sandra Bullock and hoped to run into her while she lived here in Austin, and I think she did a good job in a decent movie.  I'm very happy for her.

But let's not kid ourselves.  "Blind Side" is a movie that should have been an after school special, not an Oscar nominated or Oscar winning movie.  The success of "Blind Side" says less about the rise of Southern Christian values (did they ever go away?) and more about how bad movies have become in general.  In the world of movies there have always been good years and not so good years, but never has the dearth of decent movies been so pronounced.

The alternative to "The Hurt Locker" was "Avatar."  If I'm not impressed by "The Hurt Locker," at least I'm glad that "Avatar" didn't win.  Sure, it was a pretty movie, but it was devoid of any substance of merit.  It was one big, unoriginal cliche.  And it was neither a cartoon, nor real acting.  Movies should not be rewarded just for having big production costs.  It seems that the least expensive part of a movie and the part that can be done with the least technology, is the writing of the script.  I get very discouraged at seeing so much money lavished on special effects, yet the acting and the script are no better than I could have written while in high school.  

I think that the conclusion that this year shows the rise of non-liberal/progressive values in movie making is incorrect.  This is not a sign of the rise of conservative ideas, because the ideas were neither conservative nor very good.  This is a sign of the end of the power and glamor of Hollywood.  Their lack of ideas and their vacant ideology has sucked the life and imagination from the art.  In fact it is no longer an art form and resembles more a factory or industrial process than it does an art form.  At least in the 1930's and 1940's when studios were little more than movie factories, the bad movies weren't so expensive and lifeless.  Now all we have left are B-movies, and they are incredibly expensive.

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