It turns out that Hollywood is not always about money. As readers of this blog know, I have no problem with art crossing the line that so many believe should separate art and money. I think they can, are, and must be intertwined. One of the big criticisms leveled at Hollywood, of course, has been its voracious appetite for money at the expense of producing higher quality art through film-making.
First of all, that is not true. For the past several years, countless movies with anti-Bush and anti-Iraq War themes have made their way into theaters. With one exception (Fahrenheit 9/11, and even that was positively filled with obvious lies and grotesque distortions), they have been box office disasters. It seems like we can predict ahead of time that movies that are far less about art and more about political commentary masquerading as “timely, trenchant analysis.” I find it interesting that Charlie Wilson’s War’s conclusion is placed on a lack of aid, according to the New York Times:
…the blame for the Islamic ascendancy is not placed on the support for the Afghani warlords, but on the United States’ failure to maintain its aid to Afghanistan after the Soviet retreat.
So then we can get a movie about the Islamic ascendancy in Iraq being due to the United States’ failure to maintain its aid to Iraq after al-Qaeda’s retreat? Yeah. I’m sure that movie would get made. I’m still waiting for the one talking about President Truman’s responsibility for North Korea and Mao. Maybe I can write the screenplay. Anyone want co-writing credit?
Second, look at a film market where money doesn’t really matter. It has had some gut-wrenching ups and downs. The French government endlessly subsidizes moviemaking for a people who don’t see movies as much as they used to and don’t really care. Few of France’s top hits are French anymore — though there are notable critical successes — why do you think that is? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the industry, insulated from consumer demands due to subsidies, only tries to appeal to itself and elite critics. I am trying to find the graph showing this published recently in The Economist, but so far no luck.