As I recover from an illness, I’ve watched more TV than I otherwise might. And, as I watched, I wondered what was it that Hollywood and Madison Avenue were selling us?
I hope it doesn’t sound too unbearably moralistic, but, after a diet of movies and ads for a few days, it became clear to me that what they were selling us was money, sex, and power.
In fact, there was one ad, I think it was for an aftershave lotion, that had all three so blatantly present that I almost sat up in bed.
The aftershave lotion was in the shape of a gold bar (money). A woman is filmed slinkily walking towards a man. The man snaps his finger (power) and the woman drops all her clothes (sex). Again a shot of the gold-bar bottle.
Well, that sure made it clear.
So many of the movies and made-for-TV films and series are especially about power. This is an age in which America is supposed to have had “full-spectrum dominance” (I have doubts about that myself but it was a good sell).
It is therefore no surprise that so many movies feature heroes who show full-spectrum dominance. There’s a lot of fast-talking, especially in the law-enforcement films where a group is present and a single monologue is being had, but all participants supply one sentence in it – as if the group is of one mind. Look at the whole dialogue and it could have been said by one person.
What criminal stands a chance against such synchronized group mind? This is power.
The same holds for the criminals. When they raid a Las Vegas casino or a city bank, they show similarly-flawless coordination.
Or when a black operative takes on the intelligence organization, or a former black op takes on a criminal organization, or a retired black op takes on an American ninja, their performances reek of full-spectrum dominance. (And why all these black operatives?)
Regimes that subdued whole populations all of a sudden can’t shoot straight when confronted by this type of hero.
And how many heroes have we seen in the last decade who commit criminal acts while the directors ask us to love them? When I first saw this new development with Kevin Costner’s “untouchable” Elliot Ness, who threw the bad guy off a building rather than have him be tried, I was shocked, but it is a commonplace today. We are regularly asked to love heroes who commit criminal acts.
Does that not precondition us to love a government that also commits criminal acts? Has it not prepared the ground for the New World Order?
I’ve only looked at power, but sex is a constant subtheme and money deserves an article unto itself.
But that would require me to watch more movies and I already got the picture. I don’t need more. I don’t want more.
Our generation took the baton and this is what we produced? To go along with weapons technology that kills faster, more remotely, and in larger numbers, we made slick films that keep pace?
Blow up the place. Take everybody down. Then end with the hero in the heroine’s embrace.
Not quite happily ever after. What does it gratify? A lust to dominate and kill?
I see it as a fitting epitaph to this entire period that the world should explode in 2012. The Movie. It is also fitting that we are asked by the hero of that film to feel sympathy for the people who were refused admission to the all-saving arc, even though every one of them was there only because they could pay $1 billion a seat (or was it 1 billion Euros?).
The fabulously-wealthy shall inherit the Earth.
I think we’ve reached the end of our collective myth-making tether. There’s no more to explore. We memorialize a naked grab for money, sex, and power, no bones about it, not even much justifying dialogue about it.
The formula was boiled down to a few shots in the aftershave commercial. Rich man clicks his powerful finger and woman undresses. The new and ultimate American Dream.