Monday, March 15, 2010

Hollywood Goes to War

Ross Douthat reviews the new film The Green Zone, an Iraqi war action movie starring Matt Damon about the search for non-existent WMD’s. He wonders why Hollywood can’t make movies that deal with “political complexities” — meaning, in this case, that don’t make the Bush administration look bad, and laments,

Our nation might be less divided, and our debates less poisonous, if more artists were capable of showing us the ironies, ambiguities and tragedies inherent in our politics — rather than comforting us with portraits of a world divided cleanly into good and evil.

I guess Mr. Douthat never saw any of John Wayne’s war films like “Flying Leathernecks” or “The Fighting Seebees.” They were just loaded with political complexities.

I wonder if Mr. Douthat understands the idea behind art. Portraying the world as divided between good and evil is what it does most of the time (ever read Shakespeare or Sophocles?). The last thing art is supposed to do is act as a remedy for our political differences; if anything, it succeeds when it emphasizes them.

Besides, the cherished demographic of a Hollywood action movie is men between the ages of 18 and 34. They’re not going to the movies to see political complexities. They’re going to see things get blown up.