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Hollywood: In Or Out Of Tune With Middle America?

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Mistletoe Angel
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0 posted 02-26-2005 03:01 PM       View Profile for Mistletoe Angel   Email Mistletoe Angel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Mistletoe Angel's Home Page   View IP for Mistletoe Angel



As we prepare for Oscar Sunday tomorrow, many news personalities have been discussing and debating of the political view of Hollywood in recent memory, where some argue Hollywood is out of touch with middle American values, perhaps even anti-religious.

Joe Scarborough of MSNBC's "Scarborough Country" ran an hour-long segment Friday, where a bulk of it ran on an impression that Hollywood is extreme politically and culturally, has tended to run movies with dark, defeatist themes (Joe argues "Million Dollar Baby" is about euthanasia, "Ray" about brain damage and disorders, and "Sideways" about alcoholism) and that with "The Passion of the Christ" getting no Oscar attention is proof that Hollywood is anti-religious.

According to Scarborough, in a recent Fox News poll, the following was said:

* 81% of conservatives, 72% of moderates and 58% of liberals believe Hollywood is too out of touch.

Note that this is not a scientific poll and we may have different results from a poll on the other side of the spectrum.)

On the other side of the debate, others argue that Hollywood has long been known for being diverse, and for decades have released films with dark themes, have embraced religious themes in motion pictures like "Ben Hur", and that Hollywood remains a powerhouse to the American economy and culture.

So, here's a few questions I've thought up here to start this debate:

1) Does Hollywood reach out to you or recognize your set of values?

2) Is Hollywood anti-religious?

3) Did "The Passion of the Christ" deserve to be a shoo-in for a Best Picture nomination, Mel Gibson for Best Director and Actor, etc.?

4) Is Hollywood "too dark"?

5) How much has Hollywood played a cultural role in America's history?

*************************************************

Sincerely,
Noah Eaton

"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other"

Mother Teresa

Mistletoe Angel
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1 posted 02-26-2005 04:26 PM       View Profile for Mistletoe Angel   Email Mistletoe Angel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Mistletoe Angel's Home Page   View IP for Mistletoe Angel



Here's my take here on this debate.

First of all, I believe that Hollywood is a little out of touch here, I just feel that those setting up the debate are looking at it the wrong way.

Some say the reason Oscar ratings have continued to go down, people stop going to the movies, etc. is because many feel these movies they release don't represent themselves or their values. Actually, the reason I don't go to the movies as much as I want to is simple; ticket prices. Many I know say the same thing. I don't know if that is representative of a national opinion, but I think it's safe to say movies would be making more if the ticket prices were adjusted a bit cheaper.

Look, I absolutely agree that though I believe our media, overall, leans to the right, or is at least fairly intolerant or neglectant of progressive views, Hollywood is one strong liberal-leaning market. I actually believe Hollywood has long leaned that direction. Maybe the "extremity" thing can be argued here, but this gets right into the second question.

I certainly don't think Hollywood is anti-religious. There hasn't been a Best Picture winner with religion serving as a themed centerpiece since 1959's "Ben-Hur", but faith, whether religious or secular-oriented has played a theme in many Best Picture winners since then. Particularly in the dramas centered on war or in "Titanic". In explaining why movies centered on religion don't seem to get Best Picture attention, religion indeed is a lifetime education and commitment. I just find it's difficult to convey religion at whole in a concise form in three hours or so, and abridging something of sorts like that usually leaves much vague, or unquestioned. And indeed, from what I've learned thus far, the truth indeed can be blinding and it just takes time for your eyes to adjust to it. But some just perceive the process differently than others, and it is shocking to many, and I guess to many, religion is just a lot to swallow in the form of a film.

Besides that, take "Joan of Arcadia" for instance. I find it to be the best drama on television in years, and is very religion-friendly and full of moral backbone. This CBS dark horse has ended up becoming a huge hit on Fridays and both liberals and conservatives are enjoying it.

Now, about "The Passion of the Christ".

No doubt it is a powerful, striking, gripping film, all great elements to a great film. It bears a strong message that unquestionably has resonated to many regarding its huge box office gross of $370 million domestically, the most ever for an independent film, and second only to "Spider Man 2" for the greatest-revenue film of 2004.

However, it also must be noted that the film didn't exactly get reviewed enthusiastically. According to Rotten Tomatoes, a web-site which averages up all reviews and labels each film with an average percentage approval of 60% or below as a "rotten tomato" and any film 60% or above as a "fresh tomato", "The Passion of the Christ" received a 51% average, marking it as a "rotten tomato". In addition, the average grade given to the film was in the B-/C+ range.

And if you insist the critics shouldn't be taken seriously, etc, though the film did receive a much better score (77%) among regular fans, it still falls well short of other average user scores for other films, including "The Incredibles", "Maria Full of Grace", "Hero", "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", "Shrek 2", and "Garden State" (that last one absolutely deserved a nomination).

With that said, I absolutely don't believe the Academy Award Committee of 5,800 intentionally left out "The Passion of the Christ" out of spite or because it ran against their beliefs, etc. The fact is, there have happened to be even better movies than "The Passion of the Christ" released last year, and some conservative groups upset by the film's lack of Oscar attention should understand that. I absolutely respect Mel Gibson as both a person and an actor, and admire him for this bold, cinematic effort, but box office success just shouldn't always expect to translate into Oscar domination. After all, "Spider Man II" hasn't got any either. "Shrek II" didn't get any besides Best Animated Picture. "E.T", "Jurassic Park", "The Lion King" and all the Star Wars saga never won Best Picture.

Now, onto the next question.

I absolutely believe Hollywood releases a lot of dark-themed movies. Of course, it's nothing new in my mind either. "All's Quiet on the Western Front", the Best Picture Winner for 1929-1930, which is also the thid movie ever to win Best Picture, was very dark, with its chilling horror of war message. We had "Mutiny on the Bounty" in 1935, "Gone With The Wind" in 1939, "Mrs. Miniver" in 1942, "The Lost Weekend" in 1945, Gentleman's Agreement" in 1947, all movies themed on struggles during war-time, alcoholism and racism.

"The Bridge on the River Kwai", "Tom Jones", "Midnight Cowboy", "Patton", "The French Connecton", "The Deer Hunter"...the history of the Academy Awards is loaded with Best Picture winners with dark themes. It's nothing new, and neither is the year or years in-between when a more uplifting film takes the golden statue.

In final word, I feel when you look beyond the politics of Hollywood, which I feel have always leaned to the left somewhat there, Hollywood is unquestionably a cornerstone of American culture, in which, regardless of your political, cultural or social background, everyone is influenced by.

As an American liberal, I too agree that Tinseltown is not perfect by any means. I believe there is too much violence and sexual situations in our programming that is so easily accessible to children everywhere, and that is a problem that needs to be handled one way or another without encouraging broad censorship. It sees one way or another our youth will be surrounded by these themes or hear it from their friends anyhow, but I believe we should be asking Hollywood to put more heart in, if not exactly more moral programming, just simply more clean-fun programming.

Also I think Hollywood could use some sort of face-lift. I've been there myself a few times and indeed it appears rather plain to visitors, totally apart from the kingdom or palace many imagine Hollywood as. It should appear to its visitors more as a place of magic, not a little plastic castle. I don't know exactly how it should be done, but the place has a dark side to both visitors and the stars themselves.

That's just my take there. With that said, allow me to share my predictions for tomorrow's Oscar evening:

*****Best Picture*****

"Million Dollar Baby"

*****Best Director*****

Martin Scoresce (Clint Eastwood shouldn't be ruled out, but he'll win and I think Scoresce deserves it.)

*****Best Actor*****

Jamie Foxx (but it deserves to go to Don Cheadle, which I do hope he earns a suprise win.)

*****Best Actress*****

Hilary Swank (She's good, though I was impressed with Catalina in "Maria Full of Grace")

*****Best Supporting Actor*****

Morgan Freeman (no complaining here)

*****Best Supporting Actress*****

Cate Blanchett (But it deserves to go to Natalie Portman for her wonderful performance in "The Garden State" and I'd love to see her make a suprise win here.)

*********************************

Sincerely,
Noah Eaton


"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other"

Mother Teresa
nakdthoughts
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2 posted 02-26-2005 05:10 PM       View Profile for nakdthoughts   Email nakdthoughts   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for nakdthoughts

here's what I don't understand...
why do they have to offer the nominees thousands of dollars of "goodies" each  to show up when the prestige alone should be enough.

Guess those companies get tax write-offs and advertising by this and the actors who make  lots of money as it is, walk away with freebees...

aggravates me...why not donate to charities the value of the "goodies" instead..

I am sure many don't agree, but when the entertainment shows  talk about all that they receive it irritates me.
serenity blaze
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3 posted 02-26-2005 05:27 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Maureen? They do it because it's good business. I'm thinking of designers mostly, but you have to figure the cost of advertising during the oscars, as opposed to gifting a celebrity with a beautiful gown, and having the designer label name mentioned ad nauseum on various shows, as well as becoming a footnote of oscar history for all time. This is such an effective advertising campaign that celebrities are now not only gifted with beautiful gowns and accessories, they are also paid cash sums to mention the designer on the red carpet, along with luxury services "comped" to them (such as limo service, vacations, etc.)

It's very big business, and a shrewd move financially. And everybody wins.

Except, um, us. And we'll continue to lose as long as we keep buying into idealized standards of beauty created by the media.

(sorry for straying off-topic Noah, but I don't think it would be a stretch to suggest that our political ideals are being bought and sold as well--considier the patriotic barrage upon the public by Hollywood during WWII)



Now pardon me while I go blow my flu-suffering nose in a lotion-treated tissue, which the box SAYS smells of lavendar (but I'll have take their word for it since I can't smell anything anyway, but hey, if it's good enough for J-Lo...)  

Mistletoe Angel
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4 posted 02-26-2005 05:53 PM       View Profile for Mistletoe Angel   Email Mistletoe Angel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Mistletoe Angel's Home Page   View IP for Mistletoe Angel



Yeah, Scarborough was arguing that too on the program, when on Joe's Got Issues segment he complained that just getting "nominated" gives a nominee $100,000 or so.

I'm not exactly sure what to think there. Of course "Scarborough Country" is a right-wing program and I watched that because I do think it's an interesting debate worthy of discussing. But as the edition winded down, I just got the impression Scarborough was whining a bit more and more, and I thought Scarborough was actually tackling some worthy points earlier to then.

And yes, Karen is correct that Hollywood did share the same stance with the rest of America at large during World War II. Of course it's not suprising, but though I do believe Hollywood has always leaned to the left more, I also believe they are not intolerant of other middle American views. I just don't believe that.

After all, it's not like Michael Moore got nominated for anything either. "Fahrenheit 911" was shut out in no fashion differently than how "The Passion of the Christ" was. And I can absolutely see why. Because there were simply better movies released this year than both of those.

And for those who say, "Well, Hollywood basically sppon-fed the Oscar to him for Best Documentary in 2003.", that's ridiculous too. Everyone knew "Bowling For Columbine" would win in that category that year, there was no contest. He had the good reviews, the strong box-office run, buzz, everything. Nothing was working against him there. Partisan film or not, he was a shoo-in for that award.

That's just a thought I had lingering there in response to those particularly upset "Passion" didn't get the Oscar attention they wanted.

There's no doubt in my mind "The Passion of the Christ" will live long in popularity and will enjoy a great longevity in the movie rental/retail department. So many great movies we never forget, after all, are those cult comedy classics and such I talked about in that other thread I started. "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" will be a cult classic forever, "The Breakfast Club" is a cult classic, and I'm feeling "Napoleon Dynamite" will end up becoming one.

Sincerely,
Noah Eaton

"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other"

Mother Teresa

nakdthoughts
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5 posted 02-26-2005 05:59 PM       View Profile for nakdthoughts   Email nakdthoughts   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for nakdthoughts

I know why they do it Karen..and the gowns   and lent items are one thing..since then they are reproduced in the cheaper markets...

but it is the packaged items given to each nominee.( choices of jewelry and handbags and makeup)they aren't items seen  during the Oscars, they are presents given in a package to them and the presenters...the average person unless watching a show this week that was talking about the items will never ever see nor be able to buy anything that was given since their costs are so outrageous.

Anyway Noah I do agree with  the picks and I loved Million Dollar Baby. But I don't watch any of the awards shows anymore. There are too many of them. I read about it the next day on here if I want to find out the winners (and it doesn't make me want to see a movie, just because it won)
and Karen...feel better soon
M
Mistletoe Angel
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6 posted 02-26-2005 06:22 PM       View Profile for Mistletoe Angel   Email Mistletoe Angel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Mistletoe Angel's Home Page   View IP for Mistletoe Angel



You know what, Maureen, that's exactly what a number of my friends say too. There's just too many awards shows, so what's the point in watching, since the more and more award shows you have, it continues to subtract the overall value and merit of the golden statue.

And I agree that's exactly why Oscar ratings have continued in a downward spiral and has very little or nothing to do politically, socially or culturally.

We just saw this year's Grammy ratings at their third-lowest ever (and, ironically, I watched the Grammys this year but never tuned in before.) And that's probably either because everyone knew Ray Charles would dominate because of all the posthumous hype and love surrounding him like what happened for Johnny Cash and Warren Zevon last year, or simply because the awards are all decided on commerical appeal, and nothing more.

And even when I watched the Grammys, I did predict the ratings would be among the lowest ever regardless.

Anyway, I am predicting the ratings for this year's Oscars will continue their downward spiral (Chris Rock won't save the day), primarily because, heck, the Golden Globes and such are often a mirror image of the Oscars later on, and besides that, the nominated films are just not raking in much green right now. "Ray" is creeping onto $100 million, but that's about it.

Sincerely,
Noah Eaton

"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other"

Mother Teresa

serenity blaze
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7 posted 02-26-2005 06:29 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Mo? It's done for the same reasons, as evidenced by the amount of publicity these "gift bags" have been receiving.

I mean, I'm a realist. Even if I could afford a Vera Wang knock off I just don't have the same stuff to put into it to make me look like Charlize Theron.

But? I can buy a more affordable dream.

For a couple of hundred bucks, I, can have one glamorous cup of coffee thanks to the Krupp's coffeemaker.

(and I know, it's silly isn't it? But if it didn't work, they wouldn't do it)

and a tip for the serious coffe drinker:Buy yourself a percolator for about ten bucks (and there is a product on the market now called "The Magic Bullet" which quickly grinds damned near anything) and just buy fresh coffee beans. Krupps be damned.

(and thanks for the get well wish, Maureen, and gawd help me, I AM feeling better, and considering how bad I feel that's scary)

*warm sanitary hug*

back atcha
Brad
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8 posted 02-26-2005 06:33 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

quote:
1) Does Hollywood reach out to you or recognize your set of values?


I'm not sure I understand the question. I go see a movie in order to be entertained.

quote:
2) Is Hollywood anti-religious?


Ha!

quote:
3) Did "The Passion of the Christ" deserve to be a shoo-in for a Best Picture nomination, Mel Gibson for Best Director and Actor, etc.?[quote]

Hmmm, it should have been up there. It was a very good movie. I broke down in tears at least four times. My buddy was sick and my other buddy didn't talk about it for about two days.

[quote]4) Is Hollywood "too dark"?


Ha!

quote:
5) How much has Hollywood played a cultural role in America's history?


I think it plays a central role, but not in terms of Oscar night. No, the movies that truly influence us are the Arnold, Bruce, and animated films.
Mistletoe Angel
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9 posted 02-26-2005 06:57 PM       View Profile for Mistletoe Angel   Email Mistletoe Angel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Mistletoe Angel's Home Page   View IP for Mistletoe Angel



quote:
I'm not sure I understand the question. I go see a movie in order to be entertained.


I think that's many other's sentiments as well.

I happen to think "Spider Man II", for example, was not just a great action movie, but a great movie. Then again, I believe most people went to see it for the same reason they flocked to the original; all the comic-book action, stunts and special effects.

There's no question people love inspiring pictures too, but let's just leave it here; it takes all kinds.

quote:
Ha!


This can be open to debate, but let me just add something here.

I believe if Hollywood was truly anti-religious, wouldn't they actually want to be releasing more bible-based fare?

If Hollywood was truly anti-religious or wanted to damage the Christian faith, all they'd need to do is pick any number of the more controversial stories from the bible and act it out as written.

Take, for instance, the story of the Amalekites. That is a very controversial story that strikes some as the innocent people God didn't like and encouraged the armies of Israel to kill them all, including children. THAT would be the type of project that would truly make infuriate many and paint Hollywood as anti-religious, but that hasn't been the case and I too find it unfair to consider Hollywood "anti-religious".

quote:
Hmmm, it should have been up there. It was a very good movie. I broke down in tears at least four times. My buddy was sick and my other buddy didn't talk about it for about two days.


Yep, I am one of those who did give a thumbs-up on "Passion" also. No doubt it is very heart-wrenching and moving and can really tear you up. And that's what great movies do.

I don't know, I guess I just enjoyed "The Motorcycle Diaries", "The Garden State" and "City of God" better.

quote:
Ha!


Again, open to debate, but the history of Best Picture Winners clearly shows a consistency from the beginning of movies dwelling on dark themes winning. Nothing new.

quote:
I think it plays a central role, but not in terms of Oscar night. No, the movies that truly influence us are the Arnold, Bruce, and animated films.


Again, it takes all kinds, and indeed there are many who just love to be entertained; nothing more, nothing less.

Take those teen-sex romps, Adam Sandler comedies or the new wave of cheesy horror flicks spawned off the success of "The Grudge" for example.

Sincerely,
Noah Eaton


"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other"

Mother Teresa
 
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