“So far as we are human, what we do must be either evil or good; so far as we do evil or good, we are human: and it is better, in a paradoxical way, to do evil than to do nothing: at least we exist.” –T.S. Eliot
So I went to see Godzilla.
Big mistake. I knew it was going to be a big mistake. The film was clearly written by people who either flunked every science course they ever took or cheated as it understood even less than most movies understand on the topics of nuclear weapons, radiation, evolution, electromagnetic pulses (EMP), geology, or nature in general. And then there is the fact that Ken Watanabe has this look on his face throughout the entire film that screams, “there is no way they are seriously paying me money to read lines this stupid? They are? I just can’t believe this.” And HALO jumping is easy; you can just do it without any training. This movie was so stupid I can’t call it entertaining because I was never able to buy even a second of it.
But the reason I went to see it despite knowing how stupid it was going to be was to confirm something suspected based on reviews I had heard (that and someone else volunteered to pay for the ticket, so I am only really out two hours of my life, two hours I would gladly have back). And my worst suspicions were confirmed.
I had heard some positive feedback from fairly conservative reviewers, and equally positive word of mouth from people who are usually liberal. Now both sides were just going for dumb entertainment…but usually there is some disagreement between these two groups on what dumb entertainment constitutes. But whereas other movies seem to try and play the middle and avoid anything political, this movie seems to have done something that went a very different way. It tried to be all things for all people.
For conservatives there’s one badass military…for liberals there was the fact that it was under NATO control.
For conservatives there was a scene where soldiers pray…for liberals it was very clear no one was paying attention.
For conservatives there was a lot about family…for liberals FEMA came off as somewhat competent in this film.
For environmentalist liberals nuclear energy as usual comes off as dangerous…for religious conservatives evolution is more or less lambasted in this film.
For liberals mining apparently is a slave labor operation out of the 19th century to this day…for conservatives you have a government trying to hide the truth from the public.
For anti-war liberals and libertarians we have the rather random reference to how horrible Hiroshima was and that we can’t undo such damage (ignoring they’ve rebuilt Hiroshima and Nagasaki)…for conservatives you have the tale of a common man who fights against all odds.
I could go on but I won’t.
And unless you’re like me you would probably have only seen what you liked and missed the things you didn’t like. Everything was in small pieces so unless you’re attuned to it, you wouldn’t see it. I have some deep suspicions that the script and film were very carefully crafted through heavy use of test screenings and carefully picked test audiences to make it appeal to everyone without actually having any core meaning.
But I don’t think this is only this film, I’ve seen touches of this in lots of movies over the last couple of years, but Godzilla managed to have both clear liberal and conservatives points so seamlessly put in that you would be cheering for the ideas that you like and ignore the ones you didn’t. It may very well have mastered the formula of seeming to please everyone…while actually saying nothing.
And that’s a major problem. Before, to make money, Hollywood had to have films that at least had to have some core values that were fairly conservative. Movies that didn’t have a conservative core didn’t do well, and thus capitalism forced Hollywood to stay at least neutral in their works by usually having core conservative values with some obviously liberal message shoehorned in. Think about it, even movies made by some of the most liberal of people, the heroes and what they stand for in most movies could be called fairly conservative. Of course there are exceptions, but as a general rule this is true.
But now they seem to have mastered (or at least come close to mastering) pleasing everyone without any soul to the movie. Yeah it was just a stupid movie this time…but if they’ve figured it out with this, they’ll move into movies that might have had a deeper meaning before.
Now, they more or less, seem to have found ways to have the appearance of conservative core, without actually having it. They can make money on movies without having to at least placate the people they revile with core values. Now you can make movies that stand for nothing, that mean nothing, that are nothing (even in a passing way) and yet still appease most people.
You think movies were meaningless before? This bodes a future of film that could be even worse. Now we’ll have movies that have no meaning, making money, and the usual steady tripe of overly political films with a clearly liberal message. And nothing really to counterbalance it (with the exception of those terrible Christian films that make Lifetime movie standards look rather high).
It was already bad enough that light and fun Marvel movies made more money than the more meaningful movies like the Dark Knight Trilogy (pick any genre… the more meaningful it was the less it made) but this just gave permission to Hollywood to never make a serious film again if they don’t want to.
I’m going to go curl up with my DVD’s of movies that actually have a point.