David Thompson
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October 27, 2016

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Connor

Seeing tomorrow. I'm collecting the set. :-)

Truman

Not putting a pence in this man's pocket...

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/benedict-cumberbatch-what-do-you-know-when-it-comes-to-brexit-a7039811.html

David

If I shunned films based on my not agreeing with the actors’ politics, I’d have no idea what the inside of a cinema looked like.

tkdkerry

If I shunned films based on my not agreeing with the actors’ politics, I’d have no idea what the inside of a cinema looked like.

Indeed. I don't mind paying the dancing monkey to dance. When the monkey pontificates, I ignore it.

David

When the monkey pontificates, I ignore it.

Given the prevalence of leftist posturing among well-heeled actors, there’s little practical alternative – unless you’re prepared to never visit the cinema. That said, I can certainly understand how it can grate to hear an actor whose work you enjoy mouthing views you find fatuous, even detestable. You’d think they might realise that it’s unwise to risk alienating half their audience.

Captain Nemo

When it comes to art and artists, I think one has to accept that many artists will not share the politics you do. And so one has to separate who they are, from what they do. Even when it's the case that they're arseholes. Richard Wagner's politics were truly appalling, but we'd be all the poorer without his operas. I think Vanessa Redgrave's politics border on insanity, but she is an exceptionally gifted actress, and I do enjoy watching many of the films she's made over the years.

Richard Cranium

"You’d think they might realise that it’s unwise to risk alienating half their audience."

So what if they do? People such as yourself will go watch their movies anyways.

Ray

On the one hand I'm going off Cumberbatch as he starting to seem like a dick, one the other hand Ejiofor is vastly improved now he talks like a normal person, so I'm torn, really.

Daniel Ream

There are the usual origin story tropes to get through and the inevitable exposition

The dirty little secret of comic book superheroes is that there are only so many superhero stories, and most of them were told in the 1960's and 1970's. The superhero cinema explosion has been marvelous for us fans, but note it's only taken us 16 years to go from X-Men to Old Man Logan.

David

So what if they do? People such as yourself will go watch their movies anyways.

Yes, if it looks like a fun film. Which in this case it is. (The tone is a little uneven, like the lead’s accent, and it’s essentially a very expensive B-movie with an overqualified cast and boggling effects. But it’s a fun ride. I left feeling entertained. No small feat.) And I suppose those left-of-centre noises are helpful, maybe obligatory, to pass in the circles they do, where such pretensions are commonplace, a social default. It seems to me that avoiding films with actors and directors whose politics diverge from one’s own would be a difficult thing to do coherently for any length of time. I mean, for a start, where’s the threshold?

David

but note it’s only taken us 16 years to go from X-Men to Old Man Logan.

Yes, there are only so many good stories. And in the comics, the characters either don’t age or age imperceptibly, unlike the reader, whose attention generally moves elsewhere. I’m not convinced Marvel Studios will survive the inevitable, fairly imminent, loss or recasting of key characters. At least not at the level they’ve been playing.

WTP

I mean, for a start, where’s the threshold?

For me it's the point where the actor/whathaveyou is so often in my face expounding on their leftist crap, ubiquitously. At some point I can no longer see the character they are playing because the character that their face is attached to overrides my ability to see the character in the play/movie/show/song. For me, personally, Alec Baldwin has crossed that line. Yet oddly Sean Penn has not. There seems to be a factor to the quality of the acting. It's a bit of a moot point for me as I see/sense/feel the leftist slants of the plot worse than the actors. Basically, the only movies I can stand anymore are Batman. And even one of those annoyed me beyond my capacity to enjoy it.

I will admit that I have a problem. Early in my youth I studied propaganda, both from my school and independently. One of my favorite authors was George Orwell. Plus being of 7/8 German ancestry I was fascinated, and thus devoured all I could find about how people from the great various German cultures responsible for so much beauty in the world could turn so visciously ugly. I feel I am watching history repeat itself. I hate it when that happens.

David

At some point I can no longer see the character they are playing

Fair enough. I struggle to make it through a Bourne film on TV for similar reasons. But also because Matt Damon isn’t a very gifted actor.

David

At some point I can no longer see the character they are playing

The Other Half has just suggested Leonardo DiCaprio as someone whose political activity has made him unwatchable, either on TV or at the cinema.

David

At some point I can no longer see the character they are playing

I think a key part of it is that sane people don’t want to be thinking about politics all the time, or even much of the time, and going to the cinema is generally meant to be fun – i.e., the antithesis of politics, especially leftist politics. So when one intrudes on the other, even by association, it’s rarely welcome.

dicentra

Hollywood's target audience is CHINA and the rest of the non-Western world. Those audiences don't give a rip about an actor's politics because they don't give a rip about any Western politics.

So Benny isn't alienating half his audience: he's not even alienating a quarter of them.

If there's no pain associated with doing X but plenty of pleasure, X will be done.

A lot.

Richard Cranium

"It seems to me that avoiding films with actors and directors whose politics diverge from one’s own would be a difficult thing to do coherently for any length of time. I mean, for a start, where’s the threshold?"

I say again my last: "So what if they do? People such as yourself will go watch their movies anyways."

I'm not telling you what to do, BTW. I'm simply stating what appears to be a fact. You haven't told me what it would take for *you* to start boycotting movies.

I, on the other hand, have not rented a movie or stepped inside a theater in over 10 years. I'll watch some stuff on TV when it comes on, but if an actor/actress in the movie has shoved their political beliefs into my face (and I do not agree with them), I'll change the channel or go do something else.

BlogDog

Yeah but that Tilda Swinton guy looks weird. I still can't figure why his parents named him "Tilda." Isn't that a punctuation mark? Actually "Punctuation Mark Swinton" makes more sense because people could just call him "Mark."

David

You haven’t told me what it would take for *you* to start boycotting movies.

The word boycott sounds overly dramatic, but there are films I don’t bother seeing. As I said upthread, I’m not sure how consistent I am on this point. For me, it isn’t so much a principle as just responding to a cloud of negative associations.

Leonardo DiCaprio, for example, is sufficiently charmless and annoying to be easily avoided. But, say, Scarlet Johansson or Robert Downey Jr? Both have made political noises I disagree with and which strike me as arrogant, but those noises aren’t (yet) sufficiently prominent or habitual to put me off. I suppose once an actor’s political pronouncements – which generally means leftist pronouncements – have become so, um, pronounced, so much part of their public persona, it can make it much more difficult to maintain a suspension of disbelief. As noted by WTP, the actor’s ability to be the character, and only the character, is compromised.

I think I’m more susceptible to this kind of thing in the world of comedy. There are any number of skilled comedians – people who’ve made me spill drinks with laughter – David Mitchell and Stephen Fry, for instance - who I now can’t be bothered to watch and whose panel shows I’ll actively avoid. There’s just so much political baggage attached to them – attached by them, outside of their comedy, in interviews, columns, etc. – that it’s hard to get past it. And so the comedy, like the acting, has been compromised. Or at least the number of people it might connect with and who, as it were, feel welcome - has been significantly reduced.

Captain Nemo

On the subject of panel shows, this may amuse: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2z-AdzgKjY A rather brilliant little skewering, in my opinion.

Jonathan

I think Vanessa Redgrave's politics border on insanity, but she is an exceptionally gifted actress...

For me, this is the crux of the matter. If they're a good actor, then you see the character they're playing rather than the performer themselves, along with all of their baggage.

wtp

Keep coming back to this...I believe that Hollywood educates the general public, and thus greatly influences the zeitgeist and ultimately politics, much more than our academic institutions. Just an example, after 9/11 when talk of letting pilots carry guns was raised there was much fear that a stray bullet would depressurize the cabin and could crash the airplane. Many people weighed in on this with much confidence in their understanding of science. Yet when serious people looked into it, they found this misconception was derived from a scene in Goldfinger. For instance you mention the Bourne films, it's not Damon who bothers me in those but the plot twists where for some reason The Agency (don't recall who he works for) is constantly doing critical work, putting top-secret safes or critical information centers, in buildings with lots of windows and doing these critical things RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE WINDOW. Which itself is silly because in these scenes Bourne in generally only equipped with binoculars or such and if you've ever looked across a city street from one building into another you can never see much of anything. Which takes us to Hitchcock's Rear Window...but yes this is silly...but then it is what forms the reality matrix for even many highly educated people. Which is why so many of them fall for conspiracy theories. I'm not saying these things are always tied directly to politics but if the non-political false concepts do such a good job of forming peoples mental image of the real world, just think what such power can do in nefarious hands.

Was thinking about my original point about Baldwin vs. Penn...in a similar vein I can watch older films with Jane Fonda in them like Klute or Barabarella and they are watchable for me. But anything later is just annoying. Back in the day, I never knew what Steve McQueen's politics were. Back then if you didn't read People or other star-obsessed publications, you only found out about such stuff from your friends who did. And many of them got their info from friends. So it really wasn't all that in-your-face as it is today. Today, no matter what subject I may be reading about on the web, if you click down to the source news story you can't help but be inundated with click-bait. Now to this day I can avoid the Kardashians and Caitlyn/Bruce and such as I at base really don't care. But if a story involves someone I vaguely know about or at one time was a fan of, even without reading the story I get the gist of it from the headlines.

Darleen

And I suppose those left-of-centre noises are helpful, maybe obligatory, to pass in the circles they do

I have a friend who is a successful screenwriter - and a practicing Catholic and a conservative. Friend learned early on to just not talk any politics or anything to do with personal values with most in the industry. It is almost like a secret club when non-Leftists find each other ("psst, are you?" "yeah, shhhhhh ..."). Friend was a longtime member of Friends of Abe.

Darleen

If they're a good actor, then you see the character they're playing rather than the performer themselves

Which is why I've haven't watched Sean Penn in ages.

Daniel Ream

I’m not convinced Marvel Studios will survive the inevitable, fairly imminent, loss or recasting of key characters.

DC hasn't had a problem with this in the Batman and Superman franchises; beyond Marvel saturating the cinema with more films than DC, why do you fear it will be different for them?

David

beyond Marvel saturating the cinema with more films than DC, why do you fear it will be different for them?

It’s not a definite prediction. But I wonder if the fact that Marvel has generally been very good at casting will work against them. In two or three years, how do you follow Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark, for instance? With another Tony Stark, or another character in the suit? Either way, it’s hard to imagine a successor maintaining that level of interest and box office clout.

In contrast, while Henry Cavill bulges agreeably, he’s essentially blank. Two films in, there still isn’t much of a character there. He just pouts or looks sullen and gets kicked about. Replacing him at some point doesn’t seem likely to be overly traumatic for the studio or the audience.

Daniel Ream

That's a fair point, and I think it's also true that DC characters have always been mythic archetypes - Batman the grim Cthonic avenger, Superman the Moses/Samson/Jesus/sun god figure - while Marvel characters have had real personalities. As inconsistent as those personalities have sometimes been.

I'm watching the new Han Solo Star Wars movie production carefully, because I think that's a watershed moment. The audience reaction to young Han Solo will determine if you can recast Han Solo. Because if you can recast Han Solo, then you can recast Indiana Jones, and the dominoes begin to fall from there.

To be honest, though, I'm already seeing signs of what I think is creative fatigue on the 4-colour Spandex action blockbuster side of things. The Marvel Defenders Netflix shows are not really superhero shows, they're 1970's Death Wish/Dirty Harry style reactionary vigilante films crossed with 1980's Golan-Globus martial arts films, and that's giving them legs. DC's TV offerings have devolved into SJW-compliant housewife porn and on the big screen, both studios have exhausted all the characters anyone's ever heard of and are into the D-list now.

I think that the 4-colour Spandex superhero blockbuster's days are numbered, and I shall bet you a hefty jingle of the tip jar that it won't be recasting that does it but rather creative exhaustion and the inevitable deconstruction turning audiences off.

David

Marvel Defenders Netflix shows are not really superhero shows, they’re 1970’s Death Wish/Dirty Harry style reactionary vigilante films crossed with 1980’s Golan-Globus martial arts films, and that’s giving them legs.

I haven’t watched them. I saw a couple of episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, both of which were pretty dire, and ditto Agent Carter, which was mildly, very briefly amusing, but that’s it. The DC thing, Legends of Tomorrow, looks awful.

David

both studios have exhausted all the characters anyone’s ever heard of and are into the D-list now.

I sometimes wonder what it would be like if someone attempted a visually faithful big screen version of Steve Ditko’s 1970s series Shade, the Changing Man. Though when I wonder this, wine has usually been drunk.

Daniel Ream

I haven’t watched them.

I happen to think that Daredevil is excellent modern superhero filmmaking, but I will freely admit that you need to watch the whole 13 episode season. It moves slowly. Season 2, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and the upcoming Iron Fist are of a piece with tone and style.

I saw a couple of episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, both of which were pretty dire, and ditto Agent Carter, which was mildly, very briefly amusing, but that’s it.

I concur. I'm told AoS gets much better somewhere around third season, and there's a lot of connections to the MCU, but the time investment to emotional payoff is too high for me.

The DC thing, Legends of Tomorrow, looks awful.

Exhibit A in my creative exhaustion case. It's the worst of the DC CW superhero shows, and that's not a high bar.

David

I’m told AoS gets much better somewhere around third season… but the time investment to emotional payoff is too high for me.

Well, who in their right mind spends month after month watching a show that simply isn’t good, in the hope that eventually, years later, it may get better? When there are shows like Westworld and Game of Thrones, which hit the ground running, it seems awfully quaint.

Daniel Ream

If you look at the demographics for the shows, it quickly becomes obvious. TV in general is aimed at women, because they're the ones watching and they're the ones who control the household finances. All of the broadcast network superhero shows are aimed at women, not male comic book fans. And women have a very different gauge for quality.

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