Saturday, December 29, 2007

Purpose of movies

In article on today, Charlie Reese said, "When people go to the movies, they want to be entertained, not depressed or lectured." To bolster his assertion he cited the line of legendary producer Samuel Goldwyn, who reportedly said that if he wanted to send a message, he'd use Western Union.

Movies should entertain. They should also say something. It's pretty hard for even the dumbest movie not to deliver some kind of message. But wouldn't it be nice if we came away from our entertainment with a better understanding of issues that affect our lives critically? Al Gore won a big propaganda victory with An Inconvenient Truth. How about a few inconvenient truths for Gore and his carbon-neutral buddies, entertainingly packaged?

Later in his article Charlie quotes Ayn Rand favorably. Rand's novels are a masterful combination of message and entertainment. If Atlas Shrugged ever makes it to the screen a lot of people will be outraged if the producers soften or obliterate its messages. The difficulty in finding producers brave enough to stand behind its messages is one of the biggest reasons it remains unproduced 50 years after its first publication.

Movies and the entertainment industry generally do send powerful messages, just not the right ones. How many movies portray businessmen favorably? How many portray politicians as good guys? Or our Good War as an exercise in unprecedented mass murder and state growth? Songwriters write patriotic songs to sanitize the state's wars and motivate subjects to sacrifice themselves. I have yet to see a movie that portrays Lincoln or FDR as the monsters they were; they're usually treated as saviors.

Notwithstanding Goldwyn's comment, the entertainment industry is not merely a messenger but an important one, especially for statist causes.

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