12/31/2019

The Social Conservatism of Hollywood

"The message of all this cinema: Follow the path of bourgeois virtue. Work hard, keep the peace, abstain from alcohol, have very few sexual partners, and keep your whole family far away from anyone who lives otherwise. Think about how many fictional characters would have lived longer if they never set foot in a bar.


Is this the message the writers intend to send? Unlikely. Instead, they try to create engrossing stories – and end up weaving morality tales.

True, Hollywood could make movies where criminals are “victims of their toxic social environment.” It could make movies where the people who face retribution are the self-righteous bourgeoisie who “created toxic social environment in the first place.” (This is arguably the plot of Natural Born Killers, though that’s giving it too much credit). Such stories, however, would be sorely lacking in emotional truth. You can’t credibly depict the life of a criminal without showing his choices; and when you see his choices, you see all the ways he could have done otherwise, “toxic social environment” notwithstanding."