Hollywood and gaming, part 5

[Just to bring everyone up to speed,

Part 1 (“A Reply to Bob ‘Moviebob’ Chipman”)

Part 2 (“An Open Letter to Mr. Bob ‘Moviebob’ Chipman”, tangential but added for posterity and disclosure)

Part 3 (“Iconoclasm”)

Part 4 (“A Response to Mr. Bob ‘Moviebob’ Chipman’s Latest Commentary”)]

I saw this Uproxx article this morning, and found it incredibly appropriate to mention and discuss in context of previous writing on the topic and the still-ongoing GamerGate, especially with Hollywood figures continuing to weigh in on the controversy. Namely, this paragraph from the article:

Pick up any text about the period and you’re hit with with talk of the “New Hollywood” and the collapse of the bloated studio system that bled money during the “golden years” of Hollywood. It was a time to take those risks you hear guys like Coppola and Stallone talk about. There was a search for that brand new method of success and features like Blazing Saddles could thrive there.

I would strongly urge to read the linked articles in the Uproxx article itself — namely the Entertainment Weekly interview — as well. It is true Blazing Saddles was created and released during New Hollywood’s heyday. So was another of Mel Brooks’ classic films that proved highly controversial upon its release:

So were the various exploitation film genres that gave filmmakers and actors of color a voice and platform to express themselves, as well as gave rise to cinema luminaries like Roger Corman whose influence on Hollywood vastly outstrips his own filmography. So was Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom (New Wave cinema was not limited to the United States), a film which was censored or outright banned near-interionally and the film for which its writer and director, Pier Paolo Pasolini, was allegedly murdered by Italian fascists. Oh, and just for fun, so was this little-known, serially underrated film:

Blazing Saddles and The Producers certainly would not have been made today. Neither would the blaxploitation films that rose individuals like Melvin van Peebles and his son, Mario, to prominence, paving the way for later directors like Spike Lee. Roger Corman would have been right out, and likely so would have the individuals under his tutelage — people like Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, James Cameron (okay, maybe that one wouldn’t be such a bad thing).

[Speaking of which, I have to wonder why not even the boldest feminist film and pop culture critics will so much as rhetorically throw shade at Corman, even taking into account his grindhouse/exploitation origins and omnipresent love for on-screen female nudity, usually if not always for the sake of audience titillation, otherwise known as “male gaze”.]

See, on what many of these critics and current Hollywood and pop culture figures (especially those critical of GamerGate) are tellingly silent, is that while New Hollywood was a paradigm shift in filmmaking and golden age for independent cinema…it was the high-water mark for freedom of expression in American cinema, especially controversial and “politically incorrect” speech. That is thanks to auteur theory, which I discussed in my own blog posts linked above.

Compare that to today, where a politically risk-averse Hollywood produces films “by the numbers”, always conscious of avoiding potential offense. Free expression, save a handful of filmmakers who specialize in ‘edgy’ (like, for example, Tarantino), is a thing of the past. While, paradoxically, Hollywood leaves politically correct, minority- and women-centric, films for “award season”…when did Twelve Years a Slave and Selma premiere, again?

Why, it’s almost as if Hollywood uses women and minorities as props for inflating their own prestige, status, and “progressive” image. Meanwhile, White People Save New York City from 9/11 Because That’s the Only Place on Earth and the Only Thing that Ever Happened 2K15 23: Token Mary Sue Edition Because Feminists Will Literally Buy Anything with Straw Feminist Characters, oh and Here’s a CGI Monkey Just to Make Sure the Crotchfruit Throw Tantrums to See It and Buy Shitloads of Merchandise gets first-billed in blockbuster season and makes billions.

[This is known as the “tentpole” model, because “White People Save NYC’ s billions in revenue are what fund the award-bait movies and arthouse wankfests over which the aforementioned critics go ga-ga. Not that they’ll ever admit it.]

I can’t say I necessarily blame Hollywood, because at the end of the day Hollywood is a profit-driven institution and that’s where the money is. It is, still, what it is — exploitation with a feel-good veneer of progressiveness and inclusion.

This sounds pretty shitty, right? Well, this — the feel-good veneer of progressiveness and inclusion, and damn all else — is pretty much exactly what those critics really want of video games as far as I can personally tell. It also happens to be the complete opposite of the New Hollywood to which they pay lip service, considering the ubiquitous employment of heckler’s vetoes and critical/industry pressure against “offensive”, “objectionable”, “problematic” or “politically incorrect” content (that is censorship, thank you). We didn’t get New Hollywood/New Wave without auteur theory, and auteur theory could not coalesce without free expression.

Keep your Hays Code 2.0 ambitions to yourself, please.

Advertisements