When the history of Western civilization is written, it is becoming increasingly clear that 2020 will be pinpointed as the year in which some of the most advanced societies on Earth completely lost their minds. They were taken over by some kind of collective hysteria, a contagious insanity that was self-feeding on social media. This insanity spread like a fire by taking it’s own fuel from the surrounding environment then built and built until it was seemingly unstoppable. Only ashes and destruction left in it’s wake.
Usually we only flirt with politics here, and culture is only discussed through the lens of cinema or popular entertainment. After all, we are just a pokey film website set up by some passionate people to provide a place for everyone to talk crap with each other about movies and TV and gaming. However now the two worlds are colliding and, in the immortal words of Rose Tico, we may have to save what we love.
It has been a strange world in 2020. Everything seemed to be going OK until word started to reach us from China about a strange new virus that seemed to be spreading because somebody smoked a bat, or licked a pangolin, or something. Then, in a constantly changing situation, huge swathes of the world were locked down as governments attempted to halt the spread of a disease that their models showed could kill millions.
As governments borrowed heavily to introduce special economic measures and effectively pay all wages and bankroll all businesses, we all ended up getting a free trial of Communism. This got certain people very excited, their time had come.
Then it started to become evident that maybe the pandemic wasn’t quite as deadly as the models had predicted, and that is where the insanity really started.
Having succeeded in scaring the entire populace into their homes, governments had to find a way to re-start their economies, or even their entire societies, without being seen to underplay the pandemic and therefore undermine their entire approach from day one.
Alongside this it turned out that 30 years of relatively easy times had bred entire generations of the weak and the molly-coddled who seemed unable to self-manage, incapable of judging risk vs. reward and were therefore perfectly happy to stay locked indoors, frightened and paid by the state.
When an incident involving an arrest in the USA provided a spark into a highly strung and uncertain world, it seemed the fire was lit as certain parties sensed an opportunity to pounce. The culture war has exploded again and we somehow reach world where anarchists have declared autonomous zones inside the United States. Alongside this, a convicted multiple felon was given a quasi-State funeral.
We were told it was too dangerous to go outside, and then the same people went outside in groups of thousands to protest. We are told we should not consider a person’s past when judging their character, and then the same people who tell us this topple statues because of a person’s past.
Unbelievably American corporations, that have real shareholders and enjoy all of the benefits of free-market economy in a democracy, are falling over themselves to appease BLM. This is an organisation that has a publicly stated aim in a manifesto, among other things, to undermine Western democracy in its current form and to disrupt the nuclear family. It does this while it’s leaders are on tape describing themselves as professional, trained Marxists.
Now we know Hollywood isn’t smart. Years observing the industry teach us this. It is quite clear that they are not clever enough to understand the very forces they are playing with here. How they are the useful idiots, appeasing the very organisations that would rip from them everything they have. Frankly, the last people we need on the front lines in a culture war are the 3rd Platoon, 5th Division of the Beverly Hills Dress Up And Play Make-Believe Lancers. This is especially true as they seem to be somewhat confused which side they should be on, and may well have completely misread the mood and position of most of their customers.
Now they have come for the movies. Somehow, Gone With The Wind, the movie that delivered the first African American Oscar winner, has been cancelled. The insanity burns even stronger as broadcasters add trigger warnings to popular movies on their on-demand platforms.
In the UK the new Comcast acquisition Sky TV has added a new disclaimer to some popular and highly acclaimed works. The disclaimer states:
“This film has outdated attitudes, language and cultural depictions which may cause offence today.”
The list includes Balls of Fury, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Dumbo, Flash Gordon, Gone With the Wind, The Goonies, The Jazz Singer, Jungle Book, The Last Samurai, Lawrence of Arabia, The Littlest Rebel, The Lone Ranger and Trading Places.
Hilariously, the list also includes Tropic Thunder, where the cultural appropriation angle is kind of the entire point of the joke! It also includes Aliens, which is set in the future, and Aladdin which was only released in 2019.
Corporations appeasing a rabid ideology that is committed to their downfall? Winston Churchill had a very astute observation about appeasers. That they are the ones who feed the crocodile in the hope it will eat them last. Now that they appear to be coming for movies, popular culture is under attack, as is movie history, and the studios have their own heads in the mouth of the crocodile.
So, now we find ourselves in an unusual situation where our normal stance of keeping political editorializing to a minimum doesn’t really stand anymore for this topic. Movies and culture and politics are becoming interlinked with movies and entertainment in their sights. We know from the past that trigger warnings are simply the thin end of the wedge.
This feels like something we should be discussing as a community.