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Style: This is why Hollywood can’t get social criticism right

Hollywood diet-effective or risky?

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  This is why Hollywood can’t get social criticism right © Provided by Refresh Lifestyle AU

The Gucci family is anything but happy about the portrayal of their family members in „House of Gucci“ and with „The Last Duel“ Ridley Scott has succeeded in creating a work that was well received by critics but failed miserably at the box office. One reason for this is that Hollywood has no interest in honest criticism. One comment.

For the British filmmaker, the culprits are also quickly found – it’s the millennials, as he says in Marc Maron’s WTF podcast:

„I think what it boils down to – what we’ve got today [are] the audiences who were brought up on these f***ing cell phones. The millennials do not ever want to be taught anything unless you are told it on the cell phone.“

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So is the audience itself to blame for the lack of success of „The Last Duel“ and can it no longer appreciate important and instructive films? Most likely not. As my colleague already pointed out in her Preview the film has already lost its way in the search for its target audience. On the one hand, the film wants to feminist content convey and point out long-standing injustices. On the other hand, it occasionally loses itself in Hollywood-typical, bloody fight scenes – which of course have to be brutal and dirty, because the modern cinema audience has long been accustomed to the mass death of male characters on screen. Seriously, does anyone feel uncomfortable when in the new Star Wars movie again rows and rows of Stormtroopers are sent over the Jordan by our heroines? Mostly with a comedic undertone, so that everyone understands that it’s funny? The death of female characters, on the other hand, is still used sparingly and especially for its shock factor or to justify a vendetta of our main character – which is just as wrong.

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What do you want to achieve?

So the film wants to tell us to take its female characters and their feelings, experiences and lives seriously, while it puts its male characters (when they’re not in the role of the villain) through the meat grinder without batting an eye. If I want bloody action or a historical drama, I actually enjoy the latter – after all, it’s just a feature film that wants to entertain me and take me away from reality, where I wouldn’t cut anyone’s head off with a sword. But if you want to be critical of society and address injustice, then it only sticks out all the more when Hollywood gimmicks like the devaluation of (mostly male) life are continued, as if they couldn’t be problematic as well. But the promise of bloody carnage attracts a lot of action fans whose money Hollywood doesn’t want to miss out on – and there’s no need to pander to men anyway. It’s better to risk an outcry for which, in retrospect, „inflexible fans“ or „men“ will be blamed. Sexism instead of rethinking Hollywood blockbusters from the ground up.

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And this does not remain the only film by Ridley Scott to cause a stir: „House of Gucci“, also released this year, was heavily criticized by the family involved in the film. The flick is based on the murder of Maurizio Gucci (an heir to the eponymous fashion empire) in 1995 by a contract killer that his former wife Patrizia Reggiani had set upon him. Of course, the family was not approached once during the entire production to get more information about the background of the events and the family members portrayed.

Thus Reggiani was elevated to the status of tragic victim, struggling to make ends meet in a male chauvinist corporate culture, and the remaining family members to „ignorant and insensitive rogues„degraded. Behind this, by the way, lies the equally sexist idea that women only resort to violence when they are driven to it by someone (usually men). „If a man is mistreated by a woman, then there must be a good reason for it“ – this is the first thought that goes through most people’s minds when it comes to Male victims of violence goes. Is that what you want to say? I hope not.

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Double standards

Surprise, women are just as human as men! This also means that they are just as fallible, feel the same emotions and can make the same mistakes. There are always reasons for violence, yes. But the decision to use violence is still reprehensible in the vast majority of cases (an exception is self-defense, of course) – no matter by which gender it is exercised and to whom it is directed.

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So of course I, and certainly many other moviegoers, feel upbraided when the conclusion of the film is: „It’s the men’s own fault, she had no other choice“. Toxic masculinity behavior should not be okay just because it is now the „emancipated, strong woman“ who expresses this behavior. Of course a Captain Marvel is strong and self-determined. But she also takes this strength out on weaker people when it benefits her or her ego is hurt – without consequences or restraint. Nevertheless, she is treated as a role model and Hollywood still lets itself be celebrated for it.

„Success is ours for the taking!“

No, it doesn’t. No one is obliged to watch a film just because it deals with current social issues. If I then notice that the film is simply not coherent in itself and that questionable people are presented to me as role models, then any social criticism it contains is at best a bad joke, at worst it is in bad taste or even hurtful.

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  Ask an expert: Is it good to have peppermint? Ask an expert: Is it good to have peppermint?

That doesn’t mean that a film with a message can’t also be entertaining, fantastic and successful: „district 9“ managed to be both a thrilling, brutal action film with aliens and an impressive, tear-jerking parable for apartheid in South Africa. The film, by the way, grossed more than $204 million worldwide, almost seven times its production cost, and I doubt very much that audiences of ten years ago would be sick of Cinema has.

I’m no expert on what goes on behind the scenes of these or any other films, but there’s one thing even I can say as a layman: as long as Hollywood pats itself on the back for being attention-hungry, if only it focuses often enough on women it tells us are strong, really strong women won’t become the norm in cinema. By that I mean women whose personalities aren’t thrown together from those toxic traits that we would rightly criticize in men.

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Image source: Pixabay; CC0 license

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