Monday, December 19, 2005

Movie mystery

“Why, oh why, has Hollywood seen its worst boxoffice receipts in 15 years? The Golden Globe nominees for 2005 Best Picture say it all. Thought to be the precursor for the Oscar, here’s what Hollywood thinks is their best of the year, and consequently what they think our culture should look like:

“A love story [‘Brokeback Mountain’] between two gay sheepherders (erroneously labeled ‘cowboys’ by the media, I suppose because they wear hats).

“A film [‘Good Night, and Good Luck’] portraying as noble the efforts of journalists to demonize and ‘take down’ a U.S. Senator whose anti-communist policies they did not like. …

“Hollywood honchos continue to wring their hands over why you’ve stopped going to the movies. They blame ticket prices and DVD availability. They had better start considering the fact that filmmakers are so disconnected, so nihilistic, that the hopelessness and hostility they feel toward the world now permeates their work. Americans will no longer go see movies which are nothing more than the manifestation of the backwash of malignant narcissists.”

— Tammy Bruce, writing on “And Hollywood Wonders Why They’re Failing,” Dec. 13 at

Family fears

“‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,’ a movie about a white couple’s reaction when their daughter falls in love with a black man, caused a public stir in 1967. … Now, almost four decades later, the public hardly reacts at all to interracial relationships. Both Hollywood movies and TV shows, including ‘Die Another Day,’ ‘Made in America,’ ‘ER,’ ‘The West Wing,’ and ‘Friends,’ regularly portray interracial romance. …

“Proportionately, interracial marriages remain rare, but their rates increased from less than 1 percent of all marriages in 1970 to nearly 3 percent in 2000. …

“Many white Americans apparently remain uneasy about interracial intimacy generally, and most disapprove of interracial relationships in their own families. …

“While resistance to interracial relationships in principle has generally declined, opposition remains high among the families of those so involved. Interracial couples express concern about potential crises when their families become aware of such relationships. Their parents, especially white parents, worry about what those outside the family might think and fear that their reputations in the community will suffer.”

— Zhenchao Qian, writing on “Breaking the last taboo,” in the fall issue of Contexts magazine

Penguin politics

“‘March Of The Penguins’ … became one of those cultural artifacts instantly seized on as proof of whatever one wants to prove. Some of my friends on the right advanced the penguins as exemplars of conservative family values; others on the left replied that they’re the same family values as conservative congressmen — the male penguin trades his female in for a new model every season — and the ones that aren’t serially monogamous are apparently gay. …

“Perhaps the problem is that penguins come, as it were, pre-anthropomorphized. The moment they come into view in Luc Jacquet’s documentary, waddling across the ice, swaying from side to side, they look like well-fed flat-footed pillars of the community making their way down Main Street to a Rotary Club luncheon. — [W]ho needs animators? They’re like cartoon characters dropped in some godawful wasteland and left to fend for themselves.”

— Mark Steyn, writing on “March of the Penguins,” Dec. 10 in the British magazine Spectator

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