Positive Images & Negative Stereotypes

Discussion in 'Media & Commentators' started by Flanders, Aug 5, 2011.

  1. Flanders

    Flanders Well-Known Member

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    Gerald Nachman’s commentary on old Hollywood movies probably interests we old-timers more than it interests today’s movie fans.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the piece although I was a bit disappointed by the shallow comparisons Mr. Nachman drew between old Hollywood and today’s movies. For instance, Nachman makes no mention of the background noise in today’s movies compared to old black & white studio-made movies where the audience could actually hear what the characters were saying to one another. See my comments on silent pictures if the topic of sound in movies interests you:


    http://www.politicalforum.com/off-topic-chat/154066-oscar-sound.html

    I especially enjoyed this observation by Mr. Nachman:

    Almost any old movie is a virtual thesaurus of colorful slang, especially gangster films like A Slight Case of Murder with Edward G. Robinson, rife with pungent lingo of the era we ought to revive: “Keep yer nose clean,” “When do we put on the feed bag?,” “In a pig’s eye,” “Ya got a bug in yer nut?” “He took a powder,” “Not on yer tintype,” “Hiya, toots!” “Hey, ya big lug!” “He’s crackers!” “It’s a swell burg.” (“Swell” gets a real workout in old movies; it’s the ’30s “cool.”). The ancient language in old movies is part of a recaptured lost world, just a computer click away.

    I could reach into my memory and add a hundred more great lines; none of them from a movie produced after 1950.

    When I was kid in the 1940s my friends and I had fun poking fun at the movies. Fun almost always included a line that we repeated over and over again for laughs. I wonder how much laughter would have been omitted from my youth had motion pictures been an art form worthy of serious analysis?

    Sadly, Nachman talked about what was said, but not how it was said. Actors used to deliver dialogue so that every syllable was understood. Today, actors can barely mumble their lines. To make matters worse, when movies made for theaters are played on television the soundtrack is distorted in order to fit in the time slot; that’s on top of background noises inserted by directors letting their creative juices overflow.

    Not that TV actors are any better than a distorted soundtrack. I swear TV actors are hired because they can’t speak the language. Hiring lousy actors makes the voices in commercials sound like the clear voice of God telling the audience what to buy. I know I’m right about this because the words spoken in TV commercials are the only words the audience can understand.

    Movie stars were the natural offspring of the marriage between technology and movie studios. Stars never impressed me. If an actor bored me, I would not go see their movies. My childhood friends knew that I especially disliked two of the biggest male stars of the day; so they never bothered to ask me to come along when either of the two was in a movie. I had no such dislike for lady stars. Those who were not the personification of glamor were entertaining.

    Finally, the very nature of old Hollywood movies created positive images which is not the same thing as negative stereotypes. During WWII, I was convinced that every general on “our” side was of noble bearing like C. Aubrey Smith. It wasn’t a bad thing to want to grow up and be a man of honor like Smith in these scenes:


    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFF235H55fY&feature=player_detailpage"]‪The Prisoner Of Zenda 1937 (Part 2)‬‏ - YouTube[/ame]

    When you get down to it, kids in my generation wanted to be like the character C. Aubrey Smith played; whereas, you cannot name one image created by movie makers in the past fifty that inspires imitation.

    Here’s the link:


    There's Gold in Them Thar Hollywood Hills
    By Gerald Nachman from the July/August 2011 issue

    http://spectator.org/archives/2011/08/03/theres-gold-in-them-thar-holly
     
  2. Flanders

    Flanders Well-Known Member

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    Motion pictures used to be a force for good. I’m not certain if the negative impact Hollywood had on society for decades can be altered one iota by a new version of Robin Hood. Frankly, I never heard of the movie until I read Jon N. Hall’s piece. Assuming a few others never heard of it, I’ll add a few comments after the article:

    August 6, 2011
    A Ridley Scott Movie for Conservatives
    By Jon N. Hall

    For maybe a decade now, I've been conducting a one-man boycott of Hollywood. Even so, I eventually see some new movies on cable, but I don't pay to see them in the theatre. And now that I have my 1080p Vizio HDTV, not seeing flicks in the theatre isn't a big deal. The reason I'm not supporting Hollywood (by buying first-run movie tickets) is that I'm put off by Hollywood celebrities who use their privileged station in society to espouse their wacky and un-American views.

    My boycott isn't absolute, however, as I make exceptions for movies I want to support. For instance, as a fan of novelist Cormac McCarthy, I saw No Country for Old Men in the theatre (and the Coen boys did a great job of adapting the book). Despite such exceptions, I've probably been seeing less than one movie a year in the theatre over the last decade.

    So my boycott has kept me until just recently from seeing the 2010 movie I'm recommending to conservatives: director Ridley Scott's Robin Hood. Some may think that another treatment of Robin Hood wouldn't appeal to American conservatives. After all, with his "take from the rich and give to the poor" ideology, Robin had an unwholesome tendency to redistributionism. But since no one knows if Robin existed, Scott had license to put a twist on the story, and that he's done.

    Instead of being some proto-socialist, Scott has transformed Robin into an original classical liberal, what we in America now call a "conservative." The twist in the story is the origins of the Magna Carta (1215). The Magna Carta was the genesis of English democracy; it codified what was the first limitation put on monarchic power anywhere. For constitutionalists and those who believe in limited government, the Magna Carta is like the Pentateuch -- the first text, the original document. So what the devil does Robin Longstride ("a common enough but noble Saxon name") have to do with the Magna Carta? Well, you need to screen the movie. But Scott distills the essence of the Great Charter in the scene in the hamlet of Barnsdale, where King John addresses a band of nobles and commoners who can no longer tolerate his abuses:

    KING JOHN: The king does not bargain for the loyalty that every subject owes him. Without loyalty, there is no kingdom, there is nothing.

    ROBIN LONGSTRIDE: I'm here to speak for Sir Robert Loxley.

    KING JOHN: Speak, if you must.

    ROBIN LONGSTRIDE: If you're trying to build for the future, you must set your foundation strong. The laws of this land enslave people to its king, a king who demands loyalty but offers nothing in return. I have marched from France, to Palestine and back, and I know: in tyranny lies only failure. You build a country like you build a cathedral -- from the ground up. Empower every man and you will gain strength.

    KING JOHN: Well, who could object to such reasonable words?

    ROBIN LONGSTRIDE: If your majesty were to offer justice, justice in the form of a charter of Liberty, allowing every man to forage for his hearth, to be safe from conviction without cause or prison without charge, to work, eat, and live on the sweat of his own brow and be as merry as he can, that king would be great. Not only would he receive the loyalty of his people, but their love as well.

    KING JOHN: So, what would you have, hmm, a castle for every man?

    ROBIN LONGSTRIDE: Every Englishman's home is his castle. (Cheers.) What we would ask, your majesty, is Liberty -- Liberty by law.

    If you are not moved by these words, then you need to hear Russell Crowe deliver them. Another reason conservatives should like Robin Hood is because a central element in the story is taxation. King John's taxes bled England, and brought the barons to rebellion. "Loyalty means paying your share in the defense of the realm." Sound familiar?

    But a dramatic movie can't just be about ideas, however compelling those ideas may be. A movie needs to connect emotionally. It needs to have a story, characters, arresting visuals, and a fine musical score. On all these counts, Robin Hood succeeds. Scott had Brian Helgeland rewrite the screenplay and here's a quick gloss of the story:

    The story begins in 1199 A.D. King Richard I, back from the Crusades, is killed laying siege to Châlus Castle in France. Robin, an archer for the king, goes back to England to inform Richard's mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, of her son's demise and return his crown. Eleanor immediately pronounces John king. Robin then repairs to Nottingham to return the sword of a fallen knight to his father, Sir Walter Loxley. In a delicious ruse, which I won't spoil for you, Robin is persuaded to remain with Sir Walter, and this is the sweet center of the flick. The other part of the story concerns the traitorous marauder Godfrey, who plots with Philip of France to take over England, and this all comes to a head near the end with a battle on Dover Beach.

    History sticklers may take exception to Robin Hood, but at least it makes a nod to history. On that score, it reminds me a bit of Antoine Fuqua's 2004 King Arthur. (One historical figure in the film is William Marshal, who also appears in Shakespeare's King John.)

    The acting in Robin is excellent all around. Russell Crowe's Robin, Cate Blanchett's Marian, Mark Strong's Godfrey, Oscar Isaac's John, Eileen Atkins' Eleanor, and William Hurt's William Marshal are all tiptop. But Max von Sydow's fabulous performance as Sir Walter Loxley takes the cake. (It's gratifying to see ole Antonius Block still on top of his game.)

    Visually, Robin is stunning. The candlelit scenes at Loxley Hall, with roaring fires in the hearth, are gorgeous. The musical score by Marc Streitenfeld is terrific, and supports rather than dominates. In addition to the conservative elements, the film has action, intrigue, suspense, and romance. There's also a lot of humor, as when Marian retires for the night: She lets out a blood-curdling whistle, and then stomps off upstairs with all the hounds and setters following her in tow.

    When Scott's film came to theatres in 2010, I didn't realize that it was much more than the usual "men in tights" stuff. Ridley Scott's Robin Hood is one of those movies for which a conservative can break his boycott. There's a Director's Cut out in Blu-ray, and HBO is showing it tonight at 11 PM Eastern Time.

    Jon N. Hall is a programmer/analyst from Kansas City.

    http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/../2011/08/a_ridley_scott_movie_for_conservatives.html

    First let me say that Errol Flynn (1909 - 1959) was the best Robin Hood ever. Nobody could compare with Flynn when it came to buckling a swash. That’s why he will always be Robin Hood. So good was he to my generation, I watched Diana’s wedding to Prince Charles fully expecting Flynn to burst into the cathedral with a dead deer draped over shoulders; throw the deer at Charles’ feet; thereby, saving Diana from a feckless marriage. The picture would have been perfect had Diana been named Marian.

    Listen to Flynn’s words in this video. He could have been talking to Hussein:


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=Evof-iVDOwQ

    On a more serious note, I have to disagree with the longstanding view of Robin Hood’s motives:

    After all, with his "take from the rich and give to the poor" ideology, Robin had an unwholesome tendency to redistributionism.

    It has never been accurate to say that Robin Hood stole from rich to give to the poor. Robin stole from the tax collector and returned the money to the poor. There was no redistribution involved. So to be absolutely correct, you have to say that Robin stopped money from going to the rich. With that definition in mind Robin did steal from the rich because tax dollars always end up in their pockets. Think about that when Democrats tell you they want to tax the rich.

    Finally, it wasn’t until the US Constitution came along that individuals could acquire personal wealth without getting it from tax dollars. Individual liberties that sprang from severely limited government proved so beneficial to mankind America changed the world for the better. Today’s borrow, tax and spend ideology is a step back in time in that tax dollars go to the same people they went to in European monarchies of olde.
     
  3. Peter Szarycz

    Peter Szarycz New Member

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    Negative stereotyping has been driven to the point of obsession today in Hollywood and media in general. You may call it Hollywood hysterics and a lust for revenge over some lousy little remembered flicks from years past, nowadays remade into blockbusters. For instance, Will Smith's I am Legend as a rebuff to Charlton Heston's Omega Man. A typical tactic is to portray negative stereotypes of a normal presenting male, while glorifying a mophead/peasent looking one. Then there is all that score settling and in your face shoving. For instance, and excuse me for stretching my case in point argument just a little, that J.Lo flick Angel Eyes. Well, there was another movie produced by the same name back in 1992 starring Rachel Vickers, John Philip Law and the late Richard Harrison. In the plot there was this girl named Angel who had a troubled upbringing, but who was not completely robbed of her dignity. In some scenes she acted in the manner of a dignified, mature and charismatic individual, while in others she did act troubled. To offset her character, it was well balanced by another female personality, that of Steven's wife who always acted mature and emotionally balanced. So in effect there was no negative stereotyping of women, just an exploration of one odd character, and as a woman viewer watching that flick, you could relate/associate yourself with the character of Steven's wife rather than Angel and assess Angel's personality through this other woman's perspective. A few years later the plot from Angel Eyes was losely remade into U-turn, starring J. Lo and Nick Nolte. Again, it featured a troubled young woman, but who again encompassed different sides (girlish and mature) to her and hence was not robbed of her dignity, while Nick Nolte was no role model either. But some feminist influence deemed both flicks as demeaning to women and as a payback the script for the new Angel Eyes featured primarily a single male who happens to be a total retard of course. So the pattern and template were set for everything that followed for the next decade.

    For a further contrast b/w contemporary flicks and classics, there is another movie that comes to my mind, made in the 60s, about a wacky early 20th century automobile racing. In it, there was a single clause directed at a sufferage-type character that sounded a bit unfair to women perhaps, that "you want all the advantages without bearing any of the responsibilities". Now, today as far as most workplace responsibilities are concerned, women and men bear equal responsibilities. And there are even certain trades where women predominate, such as the advertisement industry (so vital to the health and well-being of our society). And a movie was recently made about it starring either Susan Sarandon or Sigourney Weaver set in a role as an advertising firm exec, where there was hardly any inter-gender dialogue (well, except with the charismatic gay associate), just relentless male bashing and negative stereotyping. How times have changed, paying for the sins of the dark, ignorant eras of the Studios ten times over. At least back then when they wanted to bash someone they did it with style and good humour. Today, you're just sitting there with a wry smile or yawning. No style, no substance.
     
  4. Peter Szarycz

    Peter Szarycz New Member

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    I guess I was referring to Devil Wears Prada. So-so comedy.
     
  5. Peter Szarycz

    Peter Szarycz New Member

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    Oh, and you see most of this mophead glorification in the media targeting kids, taking advantage of their naivity and tendency to mimmick. A cynical exercise in positive reinforcement. There was some criticism some 10 years ago, that movies should reflect more of a real life rather than constant sci-fi nonsense, so the viewer could actually relate to characters. So TV's rebuff was to create media for an average Joe mophead with all the reality spinoffs.
     
  6. CherryWood

    CherryWood New Member

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    Actually Hollywood used to work in concert with our government to some extent, particularly for the war effort during WWII.

    At some point the concept of the antihero was introduced and grew popular and while I don't think the media, particularly motion pictures, is cohesively pushing a concentrated agenda, I do think there is a great deal of bias toward political correctness which might not be healthy individually or for society as a whole.

    Unfortunately the alternative to art imitating life imitating art even for the negative is censorship, which is probably worse.
     
  7. Flanders

    Flanders Well-Known Member

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    To CherryWood: Interesting take.

    First let me say that I think Karl Marx had it wrong. I consider art the opiate of the masses especially if you believe movies and photography are art forms. I don’t.

    You may not agree, but you might enjoy the OPs in these threads:


    http://www.politicalforum.com/media-commentators/184161-art-ripoff.html

    http://www.politicalforum.com/budget-taxes/186170-art-masses.html
     
  8. CherryWood

    CherryWood New Member

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    Thanks for the heads up on the arts threads. I'll have a look.

    I shall have to consider your comment that art might be the opiate of the masses. Offhand, I don't think I agree, but I'm not entirely sure I disagree either, lol.

    I suppose it could be. Of course anything used as an escape that falls into groupthink instead of simply added input might be considered an opiate of the masses. I can say I completely disagree with Marx that religion in and of itself is the opiate of the masses, although under my own stated response to your interesting theory, it could fall there for some.
     
  9. Flanders

    Flanders Well-Known Member

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    To Cherrywood: I don’t think group-think and true art are compatible. And I doubt of art is an escape for the artist, or for patrons of the arts.

    I hope I’m not going too far afield here, but is it group-think, or an escape, if adolescent boys all fantasize about the same thing? My generation, at least my friends and I, thought that having sex with a toe dancer was dabbling in the arts. Today’s little boys fantasize about making it with the gals in show biz. God only knows if they think about art at all. Is either fantasy group-think? or is sex the true opiate of the masses?

    In any event, Hollywood and television dumbed down everything else in our society; so why not fantasies, too?

    p.s. Check the muscles in the prima ballerina’s legs. I’ll bet you those thighs could crack Brazil nuts. That’s art.


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=TDwgK9JKUiw
     
  10. CherryWood

    CherryWood New Member

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    A case could be made that sex is and always has been the real opiate of the masses. In times of chaos or national poverty birth rates go up. When people can't afford to do anything else, they... procreate.

    Perhaps sex with a ballet dancer might be dabbling in the arts if the man involved is doing it right.

    I think the overuse of sex as marketing up to and including feature film has numbed out sex to some extent, but now that we are in recession it might make a come back. I think the constant sexual media has also created more confusion between genders, not less and has veered sex off it's original simple joy by misrepresenting and complicating the subject by way of attaching it to ads and jobs and everything else besides sex itself, alone.

    Dancers have notoriously good bodies. I agree with you that this woman's body itself is art, even without the ballet. :)
     
  11. Flanders

    Flanders Well-Known Member

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    To Cherrywood: That’s not exactly true. America’s birth rate declined dramatically during the Great Depression as did the birth rates in most First World countries in that era. On the other hand, the folks in Third World countries always breed like rabbits.

    Note that the birth rate in the Soviet Union fell off the cliff under communism. Also note that Communist China enforces abortion in order to reduce the birth rate.

    There does not appear to be one size fits all when it comes to birth rates.
     
  12. CherryWood

    CherryWood New Member

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    I'll agree that there might not be a cut and dried pattern but I still think it's a trend. You could pull out your links and sources and I could pull out some of mine and in the end all we will still have is our own opinions.

    I think it's a trend, you don't think so. Que sera sera. It's not that relevant. I think if you count in poor health care for the poor in times of recession and depression leading to infant mortality and legal abortions the numbers might more match my trends.
     
  13. BuckNaked

    BuckNaked New Member

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    Heard once that Shakespeare wrote every plot to every story within 8 (I think was the number) tragic human plays, and storytellers have been trying to improve on those same story lines ever since.
     
     
    Don't know if I actually believe that or not, but people in general have short attention spans and terrible memories (look at politics alone in the last 40-50 years), so maybe there is something to it after all.
     
  14. Flanders

    Flanders Well-Known Member

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    To Cherrywood: Abortion was decriminalized by seven lawyers on the Supreme Court. There was a time when taxpayers (the majority) who opposed abortion were force to pay for infanticide. That’s changing; so I do not think Que Sara Sara applies.

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZbKHDPPrrc&feature=player_detailpage"]Doris Day - Que Sera Sera - YouTube[/ame]

    To BuckNaked: I heard that every movie ever made used one of only ten basic plots.
     
  15. BuckNaked

    BuckNaked New Member

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    Couldn’t find anything on movies but in literature, this link lays it out pretty thoroughly.
     
    http://www.ipl.org/div/farq/plotFARQ.html
     
     
  16. CherryWood

    CherryWood New Member

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    Great video.

    However, I believe you addressed me in pol - GOP candidacies to be exact, then requested me to address arts and I came along. Now we are in arts and on abortion. I think that subject however tangetal to the arts/opiate-of-the-masses discussion is probably not the theme of this thread, so perhaps I'll see you in an abortion thread at another time. Here it's off topic.
     

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