When Hollywood Buried The Subtext
I haven't been following the review of Shooter, simply because it looked like a typical big dumb post-9/11 Hollywood movie, but Ace of Spades notes that it's essentially a Dick Cheney assassination fantasy:
I checked for confirmation by seeing if Dana Stevens of the amateur leftist webzine Slate liked it. After all, she views movies almost exclusively through the prism of whether or not they flatter her leftist politics.In the 1950s and up until the mid-1960s, it was possible to sneak all sorts of leftwing ideas into films by burying them deep into the subtext of the shooting script. Did you think that The Hustler was merely a film about a down-on-his-luck pool bum brilliantly played by Paul Newman? So did I--until I listened to the audio commentary on the DVD, and discovered that it was a film about the Blacklist. (Hey, if you say so, guys.) Similarly, on one level, it’s possible to argue that The Manchurian Candidate is a leftwing fantasy concerning the assassination of Joseph McCarthy, but the film’s incredible pacing, plot twists, and eye-popping cinematography help to soft-sell that it’s yet another anti-McCarthy movie. And from the same era, while Dr. Strangelove is obviously an anti-military/anti-Cold War film, its Swiftian absurdity and brilliant screenwriting, and pox-on-both-sides message makes it all go down remarkably smooth.
The need to bury these themes to get them past the censors in the Hays Office made for brilliant writing and great moviemaking. As did the need to use innuendo rather than overt sexuality (see: Hitchcock, Alfred). That period ended when--talk about unintended consequences--the demise of the Hays office depressed Hollywood’s box office by removing restrictions upon its writers and directors. Thus subtext and innuendo went out the window, ultimately leading to today’s Hollywood and "liberal revenge fantasies". And its not like Shooter is the first film to praise a would-be assassin. Or worse, attempting to make a successful one into a tragic, sympathetic, innocent figure.
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