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Hollywood Killed the Cinema StarNovember, 01, 2013
Before we’re five minutes in, I can tell you the basic plot of the film simply by the opening credits and the trailer which gave away its genre. Then, from its genre being a rom-com, I can establish that first will come the protagonist’s background, then a meet-cute upon which the bulk of the film begins to unfold [the only part that is mildly unique in order to satisfy copyright laws] until the end when the girl-meets-boy couple finally get together despite the crazy situations that were against them. And cut. Don’t worry about what happens next or whether they actually stay together for longer than a week; it doesn’t matter, because the film’s given all that’s required to turn over-paid and underworked heiresses into movie stars. And us into the chumps that pay for their yacht parties. That’s show-business.
Beginning in the 1880s with the first moving-picture camera, film has been transforming modern society for over a hundred years, all escalating from that first pinhole camera idea that was documented in the year 1021. Cinema has moved from rudimentary silent films right through the twentieth century and into the 3D generation of the twenty-first, becoming one of the primary forms of entertainment in modern society. However, when we compare the great classics of the previous century, such as Citizen Kane with its overlapping dialogue and deep-focus photography, it is with a certain amount of shame that we look upon this year’s parade of films which include Ice Age 4, LOL and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2. Ouch.
In the early twentieth century, the popularity of film snowballed as the cinema became a more profitable and noteworthy method of entertaining the masses. Like all other art forms, its purpose was to convey ideas of both normality and grandeur in a niche and novel way. It was considered, as previously mentioned, as art form in itself and as technology developed so did the experimentation of film, with the likes of Woody Allen and films such as A Birth of a Nation transforming cinema. Film was about expressing what books could not, through visual stimuli and the rise of the ‘unsaid’; it was escapism from the mundane whilst remaining relatable to popular culture.
However, with increasing success comes increasing greed, and as the likes of Twilight, High School Musical and generic RomComs like 27 Dresses/The Proposal/The Break Up take home profits well into the millions we see the decline of art in favour of the uprising of easy money. Just as sex sells, so do clichés, predictability and happy endings – and the big-bucks directors know it. I’m not saying that the whole Hollywood industry is dictated by this principle – generalisation wins no points – but what we do see is a severe lack of originality making the headlines.
Thirteen years into the twenty-first century, the role of film still holds its age old value of entertainment and continually striving to portray ideas to the public as its two main roles. However, the ideas saturating modern day cinema are those force-fed to us by Hollywood which subtly publicise American ideology and McDonaldization, a phrase coined by sociologist George Ritzer in 1993. We’re told that happiness is having a spouse, a large house, two point three children and the American flag tattooed on our souls.
Like everything, there are extremes of film at both ends: those that epitomise my above point and those that are so surrealist you’d have a better time making sense of someone’s acid trip. And whilst there’s an obvious desire for Hollywood clichés (the films wouldn’t be blockbuster hits if there wasn’t), I implore you to think about how much more beautiful an art form cinema could be if perhaps ‘indie’ became mainstream and people made a conscious effort to consider the benefits of what they set their eyes upon. The plot does not even have to be original, but the cinematography does. Or perhaps we’d rather just watch Jennifer Aniston finally get the guy just as the credits roll. Again. And again…. And again.
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