March 09, 2006

Why Today's Hollywood Doesn't "Get It"

Peggy Noonan is one of those writers you look forward to reading every week. But every once in a while she puts one out that's so good you want to bookmark it and go back later to read it again. And again.

Although the subject of the Academy Awards has been written about to death, she is able to express so clearly what so many of us feel about today's film industry. There are so many pull quotes I can only urge you to read the entire column.

But here's the closing section that addresses George Clooney's self-aggrandizing acceptance speech as it applies to Hollywood in general:

"But Mr. Clooney's remarks were also part of the tinniness of the age, and of modern Hollywood. I don't think he was being disingenuous in suggesting he was himself somewhat heroic. He doesn't even know he's not heroic. He thinks making a movie in 2005 that said McCarthyism was bad is heroic.

How could he think this? Maybe part of the answer is in this: The Clooney generation in Hollywood is not writing and directing movies about life as if they've experienced it, with all its mysteries and complexity and variety. In an odd way they haven't experienced life; they've experienced media. Their films seem more an elaboration and meditation on media than an elaboration and meditation on life. This is how he could take such an unnuanced, unsophisticated, unknowing gloss on the 1950s and the McCarthy era. He just absorbed media about it. And that media itself came from certain assumptions and understandings, and myths.

Most Americans aren't leading media, they're leading lives. It would be nice to see a new respect in Hollywood for the lives they live. It would be nice to see them start to understand that rediscovering the work of, say, C.S. Lewis, and making a Narnia film, is not "giving in" to the audience but serving it. It isn't bad to look for and present good material that is known to have a following. It's a smart thing to do. It's why David O. Selznick bought "Gone With the Wind": People were reading it. It was his decision to make it into a movie from which he would profit that gave Hattie McDaniel her great role. Taboos are broken by markets, not poses."

To quote Nirvana: "Here we are now. Entertain us."

Posted by: Gary at 08:44 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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1 Good column by Peggy! My only complaint is she didn't bash Clooney . A few more punches would have made me happier...

Posted by: Georgia Girl at March 09, 2006 02:23 PM (ZMwFa)

2 Edit: "...didn't bash Clooney ENOUGH." The word enough was missing...

Posted by: Georgia Girl at March 09, 2006 02:24 PM (ZMwFa)

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