Why I Dislike Hollywood

Category: Weekly Columns

Photograph of Hollywood Sign

Whenever there’s a mass shooting, the mainstream media and different political factions always want to find someone to blame. The recent shootings at a naval base in D.C. promoted the usual declarations when it was pretty evident that the shooter was simply mentally unstable. So, instead of accusing our society of having a problem, why not just fix the issue of letting mentally unstable people not only have access to guns, but have unfettered freedom?

Most big cities are littered with the homeless, many of which either suffer from mental illness or some bad addiction. Again, why are we not getting these people off the streets and into treatment? We used to. But, privacy legislation and other politically correct thinking have led to this deterioration of the public space.

Movie Poster from Prisoners

For me the one of the biggest culprits to the deterioration of our culture and society is Hollywood. My son “took” me to see Prisoners because he’d read good reviews and said it was a likely Oscar contender. I didn’t ask him much about it, but his brief description made it sound like a good thriller and it had a stellar cast.

The movie was among the most unpleasant movie-going experiences I ever had. Yes, it looked good. Yes, there were good actors and performances. But, there was absolutely nothing about it that was redeeming as far as the human spirit, goodness, making the world a better place, or even the long-dead Hollywood standard of good fighting evil. It was simply ugly.

I’ve always respected Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal and will continue to respect their work, but I can’t help but wonder why they’d want to be part of something that so debases us as human beings? Would they take their children – at any age under eighteen – to see their performances in this dismal soul-less film? Are they actually proud of their participation in this dreadful exercise in morbidity?

Heath Ledger at The Joker

I suppose the answer is, “Yes” because actors love to play villains and “challenging” roles. When Heath Ledger got all that deserved acclaim for playing The Joker in The Dark Knight, I understood why he chose the part. But, that movie and that character left me empty. I appreciated the performance and the outstanding special effects but the movie left me wanting to take a shower and cleanse myself of its ugliness and dirt.

The same happened today while enduring Prisoners. I’m irritated with myself for not leaving. I kept on thinking, “This has to get better,” when in fact it only got uglier and uglier by the minute. My son extolled the virtues of the twists and turns, which we’re indeed clever but SO WHAT if it’s not matched by humanity and grace?

It’s so common for people to reflect on the past through rose-colored glasses and I fear I’m guilty of that when it comes to Hollywood and music (sorry, I just can’t get into rap and especially its often mean-spirited lyrics). There was a time when Hollywood celebrated the human spirit, made and supported America in times of crises, and its stars served in the military with honor and pride. Those days ended in the sixties when it became fashionable to rebel, regardless of whether the rebellion really had any merit.

Grand Theft Auto V

So, Hollywood began easing its self-imposed standards on the depiction of sex and violence, beginning a descent into ugliness that has culminated with video games like Grand Theft Auto and movies like The Dark Knight and Prisoners, not to mention the plethora of torture/horror/suspense movies that are among the most profitable of the times. They make those movies on the cheap so that the profit margin justifies the content choice regardless of any concern for its affect on our collective soul (and our children).

I spent a quarter-century in showbiz and I’m proud of much of what I produced and much of what we did in television. Then so-called Reality TV entered the television space and it began a descent to much of the content of television though there are quite good quality comedy and drama series. Those series on cable do tend to be more violent and “ugly” but often they at least have a moral core. The movie-movies have no such thing much of the time.

Scarface the Movie

No one wants to be accused of being a prude or holier-than-thou preacher but I sure as heck don’t want to pay $25 – for two people – to attend a movie like Prisoners only to feel literally dirty afterward, dispirited, and actually mildly depressed until I talked myself out of it!

I guess I’ll just put in the DVD of Singin’ in the Rain later and get uplifted at the joy of that film that came out right around the time I was born. Different times, for sure.

Cartoon about Hollywood violence

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Book Cover from The Empty Nest