'Crypto-Fascist Hollywood?' Who could have guessed?

I read this drivel from Rick Moody at the Guardian and it took me about 5 minutes to physically lift my jaw from the floor.

Did you know that Hollywood is a bastion of right wing propaganda?

A sturdy corollary emerges in the wake of the graphic artist Frank Miller's recent diatribe against the Occupy Wall Street movement ("A pack of louts, thieves, and rapists ... Wake up, pond scum, America is at war against a ruthless enemy"), available for perusal at frankmillerink.com). That corollary, of which we should be reminded from time to time, is this: popular entertainment from Hollywood is - to greater or lesser extent - propaganda. And Miller has his part in that, thanks to films such as 300 and Sin City.

Perhaps you have had this thought before. Perhaps you have had it often. I can remember politics dawning on me while watching a Steven Seagal vehicle, Under Siege, in 1992. I was in my early 30s. The film was without redeeming merit - there's no other way to put it - and it was about a "ruthless enemy" and the reimposition of the American social order through violence and rugged individualism. Why had I paid hard-earned money for it? Good question. Before Under Siege, I had a tendency to think action films were funny. I had a sort of Brechtian relationship to their awfulness. And I was amused when films themselves recognised the level to which they stooped, as Under Siege assuredly did.

But wait. Did you know that the film "Gladiator" is an "allegory" for the candidacy of (wait for it) George Bush?

Or what about the expensive and aesthetically pretentious Gladiator (2000), which I still contend is an allegory about George W Bush's candidacy for president, despite the fact that director and principal actor were not US citizens. Is it possible to think of a film such as Gladiator outside of its political subtext? Are Ridley Scott's falling petals, which he seems to like so much that he puts them in his films over and over again, anything more than a way to gussy up the triumph of oligarchy, corporate capital and globalisation?

Note to Mr. Moody: When you actually admit that "the fact that director and principal actor were not US citizens" while trying to posit an allegory relating to something American, it either denotes massive personal confusion or a towering disconnect with reality. In your case, I'll settle for simple minded idiocy - it explains things a lot better.

The entire raison d'etre of action films is the triumph of order over chaos. Unless you're on the side of chaos, this is generally an emotionally satisfying experience for the audience. Mr. Moody doesn't mention it, but a slew of Hollywood movies have made the CIA or the American government the bad guys - agents of chaos - and their defeat at the hands of super heroes or Bruce Willis type everymans a confirmation that order has little to do with politics and everything to do with the survival of civilization. Liberals may have despised Jack Bauer's methods, but the "24" hero was cheered on by both sides for his determination to defeat those who would destroy us.

Perhaps Moody would like to see the forces of chaos triumph. I doubt it. Moody is just throwing crap against the wall to see what will stick. Juvenile in the way it will get him attention, but as film or cultural criticism, it lays an egg.

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