Saturday, April 01, 2006

Upon fruitful discussions / criticism on my V for Vendetta review from my better half I came to a realization that could be worth sharing (or maybe not).

I built a two-hypothesis theory, stipulating that Hollywood movies are either ahead of their time and predict societal pressures and evolutions or that they simply reflect the state (conscious/or subconscious) of society in the present tense. Example at hand, the successive vilan-ization of Germans, Russians and Japanese, Germans right after the second world war, Russians during the cold war and Japanese during the 80ies at the height of their economical power. Then came the 90ies, and the Arabs started being vilan-ized by Hollywood, but for no clear reason. Remember, this was way before 9/11, Ben Laden and others. True, there was the First Gulf War, but Iraq, and Arabs in general, posed no threat to American way life; they definitely didn’t impact America anywhere near the level that the Germans, the Soviets or the Japanese did.

Germans were our friends for 50 years now, the Soviets were no more, and the all mighty Japanese machine took a decade long break.

It seemed like there was less enemies than ever. And Hollywood had no one to populate the ranks of the "bad guys".

I believe that’s where Hollywood made the switch form representing present societal pressures, to predicting (or maybe contributing to) future societal pressures. There was a whole string of doomsday movies, and a string of the "evil Arabs" movies. After a few years, we all started to believe unconsciously. Why be scared of the tall and strong vodka drinkers, or the workaholic Japanese and Germans, when the bearded and tanned Arab is so much more of an exotic and imaginative enemy.

I doubt Hollywood did this with bad intensions, but maybe it should realize the impact and influence it has. Their stereotyping has greatly helped to plant the seed of fear and isolationism that the current US government has copiously watered such that its is now a big fruit bearing tree.

Or maybe Hollywood is full of visionaries that can sense and predict major socio/political fads (because this is all a big fat fad to me, and one day everyone will wake up from it and say: "how did I let myself get into this?").

And we get to today, where most of the last Hollywood movies I have seen have not only made me think but have surprised me with the relevance and honesty of their content. True, maybe I just watch much less American crap and maybe I am more selective within this crap, but the last three Hollywood movies that come to my mind are V for Vendetta, Syriana, and Lord of War. And those are not some low budget / low impact Hollywood productions; no, most people I meet seem to have seen them.

V for Vendetta paints a world of autocratic power that uses fear to maintain itself (read previous rant), Syriana portraits, with no soap or paint, the way the US meddles with politics in the Middle East, and finally, Lord of War has quotes like "because your boss, the president, he is the biggest arms dealer in the world".

It vaguely seems Hollywood is trying to say something new; hopefully the trend will remain, hopefully one day, these suits will realize the impact of their art.

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