Oscars praise crop of morally-lacking movies
The Oscar gala approaches. Actresses are finding the most bizarre outfits in California and producers are predicting how long the show will be. As always, the nominees are samples of Hollywood's finest efforts, but they are also examples of vulgarity and gore.
A religious weekly offered reviews of all the films nominated for best picture this year, and the reviews included summaries of all the questionable material in each picture. The list is startling.
To summarize their list of offenses in all five movies, there were close to a hundred profanities, several dozen obscenities, 4 sexual situations, several nude scenes (including several nude sketches), an obscene gesture, several instances of bigotry, a few beatings, a couple of killings, a suicide, one cynical diatribe about working for the government and frozen bodies bobbing in an ice-cold ocean.
Certainly a movie does not have to be shocking to be good. Only two years ago the Oscars-nominated films were much gentler and family-oriented. A summary of the offensive material in the films then might read, "a few dozen vulgarities, a love scene with fleeting nudity, a few suggestive scenes, a view of hundreds of mooning Scotsmen and one urinating pig." A much more docile list than this year's tally.
Michael Medved, a syndicated columnist and movie critic, regularly comments on the downward spiral of American entertainment. He particularly takes issue with Hollywood's fascination with bad language and bodily function. He admits that violent action films appeal to a certain segment of the population, but he also points out no one leaves a theater saying, "that film just didn't have enough f-words."
Of course, directors and producers insist they only give audiences what they want, but Americans do not really want their evening entertainment riddled with vulgarity and awkward conversations.
Medved researched movie profits over the last several years and found movies with lower ratings had higher average box-office success. Despite the assertions of members of the movie industry, more Americans will spend their money on a film with a G-rating that an R-rating.
Hollywood insiders continue to defend their creations, claiming they only reflect reality. Again, the argument seems disingenuous. The same celebrities who say their films reflect reality also ask us to suspend belief and view their films as an "escape." Not many people want to escape to a world so filled with foul-mouthed amoral citizens.
Producers and directors cannot expect a few seconds of nudity to make the difference between a box-office flop and the next Titanic. American viewers will not stay home because an otherwise interesting film lacked sufficient skin scenes, but nudity does drive away audiences.
While Quentin Tarantino movies depict unconventional and shocking scenes, the films are not box-office giants. Tarantino is creating his version of art, but his films are not appealing to most people. If Tarantino were trying to please audiences he would make very different films.
Film is a unique industry where success can usually be measured by profits. Excepting a few odd instances like Citizen Cain and It's a Wonderful Life, if a film achieves it goal of providing enjoyable entertainment, it will bring in money.
Certainly not all producers and directors are trying to appeal to a wide audience. Spike Lee, for example, makes films to promote a cause, and he does a magnificent job. Lee's films cannot be judged by their audience appeal, but he realizes his message will reach more people if larger audiences are attracted.
The movie industry is not what it used to be. Theaters are filled with 90-minute plays lacking substance. Titanic made its name by presenting a meaningful (and true) story in the tradition of the studios decades past.
Perhaps the public's encouragement will bring finer movies to the big screen soon.
Dave Johnston is a senior mathematics major.