July 20, 2012
MATTHEW H. writes:
The movies that Hollywood puts out today are often decadent and evil. They glorify sadism, depravity, and nihilistic violence. They are modern-day versions of the Roman games.
Hollywood isn’t just making crap; it is degrading characters that used to be good and decent. Batman used to be a worthy superhero instead of a sick freak. The 1960’s Batman was clean and wholesome. The show was campy and juvenile, too, but it wasn’t a study in abnormal psychology. Batman was an honest and true hero, not an angry recluse fighting his “inner demons.”
Hollywood is tearing the fabric of our civilization. Pop culture is an important and powerful thing, it isn’t just “entertainment.” For a lot of people, it’s really important. Their families have been destroyed, they don’t go to church, the community institutions that used to bind people to one another have faded away or been forcibly broken up — to these people, pop culture isn’t just light amusement; it has real meaning. In many cases they have little else.
It kills me that a mainstream movie like Dark Knight Rising is a horror show of sadism and decadence. The release of a new blockbuster movie used to be a fun, and largely positive, thing. Whether it was the new Star Wars movie, Rocky III, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, etc., these movies were festive and fun.
But the Boomers changed all that. Starting in the early 1990’s, with The Terminator, the movies became “dark” and started to feature orgies of sadistic violence and killing. In my opinion, the Batman movies are the worst of the lot. I have always been repelled by them.
I am sorry for the kids who went to see this trash, and of course I am deeply sorry for those killed. They didn’t know any better – they are victims of our decadent and depraved popular culture. They were raised in a moral wasteland and don’t know any better than to celebrate movies like this. It is terrible that they were killed, they were just innocent kids. But Hollywood is doing an evil thing by putting out movies like this.
The sick freak who did this was incited by the movie. It spoke to him because it is sick and twisted, just like he is. He wouldn’t have done this at a showing of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Maybe he still would have become a murderer, but he would not have identified so strongly with the movie. I believe that movies like this create guys like that. There will always be troubled people, but school shootings and massacres by lone gunmen are a relatively new phenomenon. If the culture was healthier, guys like this would probably not fall so far. If their home lives were messed up, they’d find solace in something else. They certainly wouldn’t have their sick fantasies excited by “mainstream” entertainment like the new Batman movie.
But in our atomized and decadent culture of today, no one stops them from sinking into depravity and insanity; on the contrary, they are bombarded with images of torture and cruelty and death everywhere they go. So yes, I do blame the movie for the deaths of those kids.
—- Comments —–
I am largely in agreement with the sentiment of what Matthew H. says here. However, I am of the school that believes that form follows function, and that horrible events like the movie massacre are an expression of a sick culture. Hollywood is driven by profit and undoubtedly by some twisted, amoral or immoral imaginations, but the more important question is why do we synergistically engage their productions and feed the monster? We are pulling while they are pushing.
It is curious that whenever the media shouts out the box office records they never provide per capita data. I would like to know if Marty or Gone With The Wind or Bullit enjoyed similar attendance as a percentage of the overall population, versus modern movies where the tickets sold stats always sound stratospheric but are essentially meaningless. I am not at all convinced that a great majority of Americans (across all groups) enjoy or watch sadistic, nihilistic movies. The rejection of Hollywood does not get much press.
One more point– I would defend The Terminator and T2 as action movies that have little similarity to the psychologically demented movies coming out now, 20 years later. One could argue there was excessive killing in those two movies but it was not sadistic and the overall theme was compelling and moralistic. Both movies made me think about one possible future for mankind and about human nature in general. Their substance outweighed the strictly visceral appeal.
John Purdy writes:
I agree modern films are degenerate but it’s important to bear in mind that Hamlet ends with a pile of bodies and Titus Andronicus is even worse. Oedipus Tyrannus is also violent. The problem is more with the graphic and explicit visualization of violence than with the violence per se.
It’s the graphic and explicit visualization; the amount of violence, which in some movies makes even Titus Andronicus look like Ozzie and Harriet; and the lack of heroic or thoughtful characters.
It is curious that whenever the media shouts out the box office records they never provide per capita data. I would like to know if Marty or Gone With The Wind or Bullit enjoyed similar attendance as a percentage of the overall population, versus modern movies where the tickets sold stats always sound stratospheric but are essentially meaningless.
Modern box office numbers come in dollars, not in head counts.I paid twenty-five cents for a movie in 1955. It’s what now; $10 to $20? I was curious, so I looked it up. I’d have thought the answer readily available. It’s not.
Here are some of the statistics from Theatrical Market Statistics 2010:
Over two-thirds of the population (68%) –or 222.7 million people –went to the movies at least once in 2010.
Frequent moviegoers increased to 11% of the population in 2010 –or 35 million people (up from 32 million in 2009). This relatively small group is the locomotive of the industry, now responsible for more than 50% of ticket sales.
Young people 12-24 still represent nearly one-quarter of moviegoers, and nearly one-third of tickets sold.
Although Caucasians make up the majority of the population and moviegoers (141 million), they represent a lower proportion of ticket sales, down to 56% of tickets in 2010, compared to 60% in 2009. Hispanics are more likely to go to movies. In 2010, 43 million Hispanic moviegoers purchased 351 million movie tickets, up from 37 million moviegoers and 300 million tickets in 2009.
There are more than 39,500 screens in the U.S. as of 2010, the majority (79%) of which are located at venues with 5 or more screens.
From Going to the Movies: Early Audiences: “By 1910, nearly one-third of the nation flocked to the movies each week; by 1920, weekly attendance equaled 50 percent of the nation’s population.”
One source put the peak number of theaters pre-TV at about 19,000. It seems that that number was cut in half by TV by the year 1960. In 1987 there were 20,595 indoor theaters and 2,084 drive-in. By 2011 there were 38,974 indoor screens and 606 drive-in. (Where are those drive-ins?)
I’m still in shock about yesterday’s events, but may I respond specifically to a few points that your readers have brought up.
“I would like to know if Marty or Gone With The Wind or Bullit enjoyed similar attendance as a percentage of the overall population, versus modern movies where the tickets sold stats always sound stratospheric but are essentially meaningless. I am not at all convinced that a great majority of Americans (across all groups) enjoy or watch sadistic, nihilistic movies. The rejection of Hollywood does not get much press.”
By an order of magnitude, Gone with the Wind the biggest box office hit of all time. The top ten are mostly non-violent movies. The most violent is The Exorcist.
About the violence in Hamlet and Titus Andronicus, I have two responses. One, the violence in these great works is not put in there for titillation or cheap thrills. It is necessary to the drama, and the ultimate effect is to sensitize us to the horror of violence. Second, they were originally written to be performed on stage, and not filmed. This automatically puts a break on what can be portrayed. Film is the most graphic and gripping of all art forms, melding sound and image in a way that no other art form can match. The filmmaker has a power over his audience that is unparalleled even by the great classical conductors.
A good example of necessary film violence would be the first 20 minutes of Saving Private Ryan. [Laura writes: I entirely disagree. The violence in Saving Private Ryan was stupid and unnecessary. It interfered with character development. The greatest war movies convey the tension and horror of war without graphic violence.] I remember sitting in the theater, nearly throwing up with nerves. I was scared our guys would lose. The violence in these BATMAN movies is insane: gratuitous, sadistic, and perverse.
Their ultimate effect is to desensitize us to the horrors of violence. May I give one example?
Near the beginning of The Dark Knight Rises, Batman confronts the villain, Bane. Bane beats the heck out of Batman, breaking his back. (Literally.) Bane is a huge bruiser of a man, probably played by an actor on steroids. I kept asking myself, why did Batman confront this monster without a weapon?
Besotted Batman fans would call me a killjoy nitpicker, but Christopher Nolan (the director of the Batman “franchise”) sells his movies as being more realistic than other “superhero” movies. Fine, if these films are realistic, I can’t think of a more realistic thing than to take a weapon to a fight with a physically superior enemy. Of course, I know the reason why Batman neglects to take a weapon to a confrontation with a physically superior enemy. If he did, the audience would be deprived of the joy of seeing Batman’s back broken while he gets stomped to jelly. I think in a sane world you call this “sado-masochism.”
Well, you and I will have to agree to disagree about Saving Private Ryan. I don’t think the first 20 minutes interfered with character development at all. And I don’t think that the graphic description of war in Ryan was violence, per se. It was carnage that young draftees were thrown into. I do think that the audience should be shown this. I do not see how it interfered with the development of the characters.
Meanwhile, the neo-conservative Breitbart website runs the following gushing review of The Dark Knight Rises. Having seen the movie, I think this reviewer is crazy. He’s a typical neo-con. A movie says something he agrees with, and he goes ga-ga. It’s true that Nolan doesn’t look favorably on revolutionary violence. But that’s not because he thinks it is wrong. He’s just a misanthrope. There’s no hope, according to his view, not even in overturning the current, corrupt order. I say he’s a bad filmmaker, with no conception of normal human behavior, let alone the ability to tell a coherent story.
Simon Newman writes:
Matthew H. wrote:
“Starting in the early 1990’s, with The Terminator, the movies became “dark”
The Terminator came out in 1984. It was a UK 18-rated (US R-rated, I believe) low-budget horror movie about a killer robot from the future, aimed at adults.
Terminator-2 came out in 1991. It was UK 15-rated big-budget action movie aimed at teenagers, yet as violent as the 1984 film, and I think it does arguably mark the start of the trend Matt describes.
By the way, Spielberg of the Indiana Jones movies, and George Lucas of Star Wars, are both Baby Boomers I believe. So is James Cameron of The Terminator movies, but the worst of the modern ‘grimdark’ movies seem to be Generation X products.
Posted by Laura Wood in Uncategorized