Special: While we’re arguing about guns, let’s look at Hollywood’s bill of fare

Garbage in, garbage out. Reservoir Dogs (1992). Social relevance at its most poignant. Image: blogspot.com

While politicians are looking for ways to curb violence, focusing only on some of the implements of violence, I am curious about something that might be contributing to the culture of death with detachment: Hollywood.

The holidays are over, so there aren’t any animated movies playing in Springfield to take my pre-school grandkids to. On Fandango, filtering for “animated” I got zip. Filtering for “family” – zip. I did, however, get four returns filtering for “action / adventure.”

So which of these latest Hollywood bills of fare should I take my pre-school grandson to? Let’s see.

Arnold is back in The Last Stand. Rated R. The synopsis reads, “The sheriff of a sleepy border town becomes involved in a showdown with a violent fugitive.”  Sounds intriguing. Check out the trailer. Car crashes, bazookas, high powered weapons, explosions. And Arnold at his post-gubernatorial best dispensing justice in the form of death and destruction.

Well, probably not a good choice. So, let’s check out Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino’s latest contribution to culture. This looks intriguing, especially since I am all for movies about the end of racism in this country, and this one has the black guy overcoming the horrors of slavery. The synopsis: “Set in the South two years before the Civil War, Django (Jamie Foxx) is a slave whose brutal history with his former owners lands him face-to-face with German-born bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz). Schultz is on the trail of the murderous Brittle brothers, and only Django can lead him to his bounty. The unorthodox Schultz acquires Django with a promise to free him upon the capture of the Brittles – dead or alive.”

But wait. This is Tarantino. You know, Reservoir Dogs? From Dusk Till Dawn 1, 2 and 3? Kill Bill I and !!? Inglorious Basterds? So I checked the trailer. Nope. Not for me. As for the social relevance, I need only refer you to Jaimie Foxx on SNL: “I get free. I save my wife and I kill all the white people in the movie. How great is that?”  There’s an uplifting thought if I ever heard it.

So for this week, at any rate, it seems as though Hollywood and AMC are catering to the lowest common denominator, the way the Romans did at the gladiatorial games. And please, please don’t call me a hypocrite by pointing up all of the westerns that filled theaters in the 50’s and early 60s. Somehow comparing High Noon’s apple to Kill Bill’s orange just doesn’t work. Violence for the sake of violence is a phenomenon of the post-High Noon era, stemming from a society that discarded most of its moorings–ethical and social–in the search for liberation. Seems to me, we have just ended up in chains that are far more damaging to our psyches.

And we wonder why people find it exciting, romantic even, to want to pick up a weapon of major destruction and go out and end it all in a blaze of glory? Especially if our lives are less than glorious, and we sense that nothing will ever change in that regard? If we keep feeding people a steady diet of what Hollywood is dishing out of late, we can’t protect ourselves by taking away some of the weapons they might choose to pick up. Sad, lonely, damaged people with a hyped up need to bring meaning–however inglorious–to their lives will find a way, legally or illegally. Perhaps we need to think about feeding people a slightly different cultural diet. One in which the main course isn’t gratuitous mayhem.

Oh I almost forgot! Coming soon: Sly Stallone in “Bullet to the Head.”  Sounds like a plot we can all live with.

Copyright 2012 Isaac Morris

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