Star Wars

Did Star Wars Kill the New Hollywood, Pave the Way for Reagan, and Make Us a 'Nation of Eight-Year-Olds'?

Some writers see Star Wars as a cinematic Death Star.

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Virtually everyone is talking about Star Wars this month—even Hillary Clinton, who with all the subtlety of a guidance counselor desperately trying to relate to the kids threw in a "may the Force be with you" at last weekend's Democratic debate. At a time like this, it was inevitable that someone would bring up the old argument that the first Star Wars picture drove a stake through the so-called New Hollywood of the '70s. Rick Perlstein rose to the occasion with a Washington Spectator story headlined "Juvenilia Strikes Back: How Star Wars turned us into a nation of eight-year-olds."

Perlstein's piece actually contains two intertwined arguments. One gives Star Wars the lion's share of the blame for ending the New Hollywood era, a time when mainstream movies had more room for unconventional stories, anti-establishment themes, moral ambiguity, and a general sense of scruffiness. The second sees Star Wars as a harbinger of the rise of Reagan. We'll get to the Reagan bit in a moment. But first let's consider that '70s movie landscape.

An alternate theory blames everything on a single shitty movie poster.
United Artists

There are three stories people tell about how the New Hollywood died. In the first, the massive success of Jaws in 1975 and Star Wars in 1977 redefined the blockbuster, setting a series of changes in motion that transformed how the studios did business. In the second, movies like Star Wars and Rocky (1976) brought back straightforward storytelling and happy endings, signalling a shift from the frequently downbeat and experimental New Hollywood cycle. And in the third, Heaven's Gate (1980) went wildly overbudget but failed to find much of an audience, bringing down an entire studio in the process; at that point, power shifted firmly away from the director-artists and toward the studio suits. All three narratives end with the industry reoriented toward crowd-pleasing blockbusters.

While the Heaven's Gate debacle was mostly self-inflicted, the other two tales give more credit to an outside force (or Force) for the change. As Peter Biskind summed up the charges in his gossipy but useful book Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg—the directors of Star Wars and Jaws, respectively—"returned the '70s audience, grown sophisticated on a diet on European and New Hollywood films, to the simplicities of the pre-'60s Golden Age of movies….They marched backward through the looking glass, producing pictures that were the mirror opposite of the New Hollywood films of their peers."

There is truth to all three stories, though they can be overstated sometimes. (It's not like people stopped making movies with happy endings from 1967 to 1976.) Perlstein is essentially offering narrative #2: He contrasts Star Wars ("a pastiche of Old Hollywood clichés") and Rocky ("conventionally inspiring, and vaguely reactionary") with films like Taxi Driver, The Godfather, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. With Star Wars' success, he writes, "the executives all but officially declared Hollywood's 1960s over. Beckoning audiences into air-conditioned theaters for pleasant, predictable, escapist fare was just the ticket."

That compresses history considerably—most historians would not pronounce the New Hollywood dead until Heaven's Gate hit theaters with a thud, and even then a few pictures developed under the old order would still be sneaking into projection rooms as late as 1981. But it's not a bad summary of one significant way that Star Wars influenced the industry. My main beef with this oft-repeated story is a fact it leaves out: Whatever Jaws, Rocky, and Star Wars did to destroy the New Hollywood, they're all manifestly a product of the period they helped overthrow.

Come frolic at Watergate beach.
Universal

Jaws is a character-driven movie whose actors were allowed to improvise, and its Watergate-era script gives a prominent place to a politician covering up a threat to the public. Rocky spends a lot of time just soaking in the world of working-class Philadelphia, and in its "happy ending" the hero actually loses his big fight. And for all that Star Wars is filled with callbacks to Flash Gordon and the like, it goes out of its way to build a world that seems as scruffy and lived-in as anything in California Split or The Last Detail; the damn thing may sound like a creaky old sci-fi serial, but it looks like a New Hollywood movie.

Perlstein, as I said, isn't just making an aesthetic argument. He has a political point to deliver too:

Was it escapism? Think of the recent history: from 1965 through 1973, massive American gunships rained so much ordnance upon North and South Vietnam that by one estimate the entire land mass could have been paved over an eighth of an inch thick with the metal from all the bombs. The planes took off from huge offshore aircraft carriers—you might even call them "Death Stars"—or from colossal air bases like Tan Son Nhat, by 1965 the busiest "airport" in the world. America had upwards of 500,000 soldiers stationed at a time in South Vietnam, equipped with all the best armaments the richest nation in the history of the world could supply, incinerating village upon village in which we were guests.

You might even call us the "Empire."

Those adorable Ewoks

And yet we were somehow laid low by a scrappy band of guerrilla warriors, whose weapons were sometimes as crude as sharpened, Ewok-like bamboo spikes. They didn't defeat us by pin-pointing proton torpedoes into tiny exhaust ports, but it was close: you might say the slow, soiling defeat America watched on TV night after night looked a hell of a lot like the work of a "rebel alliance."…

Now, to be sure, the Vietcong and North Vietnamese had sophisticated weapons too, provided by another empire. That was part of the complexity. But no wonder the man who erased that complexity—who granted us the imaginative power to reverse these polarities, and identify ourselves only and always with the scrappy rebels resisting an evil empire (and only two years after the fall of Saigon)—won more wealth than he could imagine. He gave us permission to stop growing up. George Lucas, I mean; though the formulation applies to Ronald Reagan, too.

The trouble here is that it's easy to imagine someone using the same examples to make the opposite argument. It's not exactly hard to see something subversive in inviting the audience to identify with a galactic Viet Cong. (That same sort of identification, incidentally, takes place in some '80s action movies with right-wing reputations, such as First Blood and Red Dawn.) Lucas himself, according to Biskind, saw the Emperor as a stand-in for Richard Nixon. I don't want to reduce the movie to any particular interpretation; I agree with my colleague Peter Suderman's comment that Star Wars "does not insist on any particular political point" and "offers a broad template onto which multiple ideas and interpretations can be applied." It is therefore constantly co-opted by tribes from every corner of the political map, each projecting itself onto the Rebel Alliance and its fears onto the Empire.

The Rebel Alliance
United Artists

Something similar happens to many movies with vaguely anti-authoritarian sentiments, from conspiracy thrillers to slobs-vs.-snobs comedies. As Perlstein's friend Tom Frank pointed out after Harold Ramis died, liberals do not "own the imagery of subversion and outsiderness." You can even see this dynamic at work in some of those New Hollywood classics. The best ones usually had enough nuance and ambiguity to resist simple black-and-white readings, but that wasn't always the case. Perlstein calls One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest a "deeply subversive, anti-institutional parable," and that it is; but its heroes and villains are marked as clearly as any in Star Wars. And while its political leanings are more concrete than Star Wars' sympathies are, it's worth noting that those leanings are more libertarian than liberal. (There's even a scene sticking up for patients' right to engage in economic transactions that leave them worse off.)

So did Star Wars spread revolutionary fantasies or did it co-opt them for the right? Was it product of the New Hollywood, or did it help kill the New Hollywood off? In each case, the answer is "both of the above, and more."

————————————————————

Aesthetic cards on the table: I think the '70s may have been Hollywood's best decade. I think the '80s were Hollywood's worst decade. I like most of the New Hollywood pictures that Perlstein cites. I think Heaven's Gate is underrated but I'm not especially eager to watch it again. I think Jaws is by far the best Spielberg movie I've seen. I think Rocky is so-so. I think the original Star Wars is a fun little movie, but I'm not a big fan of the franchise that grew out of it and I'm way more interested in seeing The Hateful Eight than in eventually getting around to watching The Force Awakens. I have tried not to let these matters of personal taste interfere with how I present the history here. I reveal them in this footnote partly in the interest of full disclosure, but mostly to give readers something else to argue about in the comments.

NEXT: Grand Jury Declines to Indict in Death of Sandra Bland—May Still Consider Charges Against Officer Who Arrested Her

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  1. What the fuck is a Star War? How come we can’t have some articles about Trump instead?

    1. Would you rather Jesse’s next book was about Star Wars or HilDump?

      1. I’ve been hoping Lou Reed will pick him to ghostwrite his autobiography.

        1. What was done by you there was seen by me.

    2. Can’t we at least poll some millennials to see what they think?

  2. Star Wars is responsible for almost as much as global warming.

    1. Hey, if it bankrupted the Soviet Union, it gets a free pass pretty much everywhere else.

    2. Well, Alderaan’s globe *did* get pretty warm.

  3. “So did Star Wars spread revolutionary fantasies or did it co-opt them for the right? Was it product of the New Hollywood, or did it help kill the New Hollywood off?”

    Hell, I don’t know.

    1. And I don’t care. It was a fun movie. That’s it. That’s all it was, and all it needs to be.

      1. ^This. Hollywood was giving the public the movies they should watch, and the damned public went to see the movies they wanted to watch.

        Poor Hollywood.

    2. Easy: the rebels we arm are like the rebels in Star Wars. The rebels we bomb aren’t.

  4. TRUMP – TRUMP – TRUMP -TRUMP -TRUMP -TRUMP -TRUMP -TRUMP !

    1. There is literally no mention of Donald Trump in this article.

      1. Read between the lines, dumbass.

      2. Hence our clamorous demands!

        ATTICA! ATTICA! Er… TRUMP! TRUMP! TRUMP!

      3. Or millennial polls either.

    2. Come they told me Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump a newborn king to see Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump….

  5. I’m way more interested in seeing The Hateful Eight than in eventually getting around to watching The Force Awakens

    Yeah, I’m curious to see where The Hateful Eight ranks on the “not as good as Pulp Fiction” to “nowhere near as good as Pulp Fiction” spectrum that describes everything QT has done in the past 20 years.

    1. You must really hate Tarantino films.

      1. I’ve seen all of them at least once, which I generally wouldn’t do for a director I hate. Even his worst movie wouldn’t be as bad as, say, one of John Carpenter’s bad ones, but I stand by my opinion that Pulp is clearly his peak.

        1. I did not find pulp fiction to be a good movie.

          Worse, it stole the label, making impossible to use in the proper context.

          1. Pulp Fiction was an excellent movie. And the label was apt because of its episodic nature.

    2. Inglorious Basterds and Jackie Brown were both fantastic. In fact, Jackie Brown may be his best movie.

      1. Jackie Brown doesn’t get a lot of love, but I agree that it is at least on par with Pulp Fiction. I liked Basterds but it wasn’t on the same level.

        1. I like Basterds a lot. I don’t like Jackie Brown at all, except for Bridget Fonda’s asset.

          1. rank ordering those three:

            (1) Pulp Fiction.
            (2) Basterds.
            (3) Jackie Brown. I thought it was slow and self-indulgent.

          2. And I’m on the other side: I liked Jackie Brown, but Basterds just kind of bounced off me without leaving an impression.

      2. It’s been too long since I watched Jackie Brown to say anything specific about it, but Basterds is a strange case for me. Part of what caught me off guard on my first viewing was that the movie has an incredibly, and probably deliberately, misleading trailer. It gives basically no indication that the bulk of the plot is devoted to the Jewish theater owner’s revenge scheme, and instead makes it look like the entire movie is about Brad Pitt and the guy who made Hostel running around picking fights.

        When I watched it a second time recently, I tried to convince myself to appreciate the movie for what it was, rather than what it was advertised to be. Sure enough, I liked it more than my first viewing …… up to a point. Still found it quite flawed though. It’s just flat out repetitive a lot of the time. Scene after scene of “oooooh, this character is trying to fool a Nazi – but I think the Nazi is wise!”

        1. Christopher Walz was fantastic in it, you gotta admit.

          1. Agreed, my post was already running long so I didn’t bother to mention the acting. He was great, but Brad Pitt was kind of hammy, and not in a good way.

  6. Fun Fact: I was in Telluride, CO last year while the Hateful 8 was being filmed nearby. I didn’t spot any celebrities but I was too busy skiing.

    1. Not really all that fun.

      Just sayin’…

      1. It was more of a “fun brag” than a “fun fact.”

        1. It was fun for me!

  7. the other two tales give more credit to an outside force (or Force) for the change.

    [narrow the gaze, Swiss… /haunting voice]

    *turns toward Jesse and narrows gaze, waits for explosion*

  8. If Star Wars killed New Hollywood, cheap video cameras and editing software re-instituted it (or could have). It’s possible to make a feature film for a fraction of what it used to cost. If people are more interested in stars, special effects and paper-thin plots, that’s not really SW’s fault.

    1. I don’t know how American Graffiti played to foreign audiences. Nor do I know how Deadwood or The Wire play to foreign audiences.

      There’s the lowest-common-denominator bockbuster audience, and there’s the audience that wants something else. In the late 60’s-70’s, the l.c.d. avoided theaters like the plague because either because they were in the bad part of town or television was giving them what they wanted. So film studios catered to the remaining theater audience who wanted what tv wasn’t providing – the lines were clearly drawn The combination of cheap Japanese home electronics and easy construction financing (along with developer subsidies from gov’t) really blurred those lines.

    2. There are a lot of economics unrelated to Star Wars that help explain why it’s only Star Wars you’re ever going to see at your local Regal, AMC, Carmike or Cinemark theater. (And it is one of those four that’s your local movie theater, isn’t it?)

      Yesterday, my nephew was complaining that the popcorn and cokes cost more than the tickets but the theaters don’t make any money off the ticket sales. They have to pay out the ass to get the movie scheduled so they can sell the popcorn and cokes they actually make their money off of, they aren’t going to take a chance on a movie that isn’t already guaranteed to sell tickets. They ain’t gonna take a chance on foie gras when they know how well Cheetos sell.

      And movies are no longer a rare treat, they’re everyday entertainment. Appealing to the lowest common denominator with intellectual junk food is what brings in the big bucks – rather than decry the loss of the high-brow art, let us be happy that the low-brow are being served. (That sort of crap always bugs me in the same way people complaining about air travel becoming just like Greyhound – yeah, air travel used to be much classier because you had to be rich to afford it. Now any old fat toothless stinky no-class Walmart shopper can afford to hop on a plane, and how elitist do you have to be to think it’s a bad thing that air travel has become so cheap?)

      1. The primary route for the movies I’m talking about would be through film festivals, and then possibly to artsy theaters and then to limited distribution through the secondary market. It still exists, and is still viable, or the movies wouldn’t get made. The options available on Netflix tell me they still are getting made.

      2. Actually, theaters make money on both ticket sales and refreshments. The big chains generally pay a percentage of ticket sales to the movie distributors for big studio films, so they take no risk showing Rob Schneider movies. It’s the indie studios that they pay a specific fee for, so it’s not really that cheetos sell well, it’s that Frito-Lay subsidizes the cheetos while the butcher demands up-front payment for the foie gras. I don’t know if that’s a problem, or what could be done about it, but that’s the reality. But the big theaters make money on both sides; they don’t have a loss leader.

  9. Michael Bay wasn’t even mentioned in this article.

    How can you kill Hollywood without using MB?

    1. He didn’t kill anything except childhood memories.

    2. Michael Bay didn’t kill Hollywood. He’s just the rat king that feasts on its unclean corpse.

      1. That is…excellent. *applause*

  10. The 80s movies that hold up pretty well (to me) are the action films. Die Hard and Lethal Weapon are still really fun to watch, but the key word is fun. Movies in the 70s tended to be gritty and realistic, like The French Connection or Dirty Harry.

    Also, that anchor sport coat the mayor in Jaws wears is still great.

    1. RoboCop is another 80s masterpiece.

    2. Pretty in Pink holds up.

  11. “Aesthetic cards on the table: I think the ’70s may have been Hollywood’s humanity’s best decade”

  12. I’m way more interested in seeing The Hateful Eight than in eventually getting around to watching The Force Awakens.

    You and me both, Jesse. Tarantino’s cast has me giddy, and a friend who has already viewed the movie said it was fantastic.

  13. I think it’s a mistake to put any “blame” on the demise of “New Hollywood” or any other major shifts to anyone but the Fed.

    I don’t think “New Hollywood” was killed by a few hits like Jaw or Star Wars, it was essentially killed by debt. You get a failed blockbuster right at the time inflation and high interest rates make it impossible to roll over debts. The death of New Hollywood was just a harbinger of the death of Savings & Loans. Hollywood became scared shitless – it used to be that a flop wasn’t a career killer, but the idiocy of central planning made it so. (Unless one wanted to work for central planning, of course.) Whatever else one wants to say about Jaws and Star Wars, the basic truth is that they can play to a non-American audience just as easily as an American one. And when a studio needs to roll over debt, they need to look to foreign investors and for whatever cash flow they can get to tide them over they have to look for whatever they can milk out of foreign audiences. This wasn’t necessary prior to the closing of the gold window and the subsequent financialization of the economy.

    At the same time as the studios (and networks) were becoming, shall I say “less daring” with the entertainment, they were also slashing R&D in technology. The major American entertainment companies like RCA, CBS, etc. all slashed their home electronics R&D roughly at the same time and became purely content companies.

    1. ….
      ….this seems unnecessarily complicated, so i’m just going to summarize it as “The Jews dun it”

      1. You know who else summarized something as “The Jews dun it”?

        1. Pontius Pilate?

          1. +2 washed hands

      2. I blame global warming.

  14. with all the subtlety of a guidance counselor desperately trying to relate to the kids

    Like Rosso on Freaks and Geeks?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvN8z5i9w6U

  15. The problem with movies, and art in general, that makes a statement is that you eventually run out of interesting statements to make. To me, this is largely the explanation of the demise of the New Hollywood. Over time, you get more and more movie-goers who really don’t particularly care about how much you hate “that bastard Nixon”. And the people sneering with you about “bourgeois values” get married and have kids.

    1. There’s that, and there’s the fact that the “making a statement” bit tends to get priority over the “making a good piece of art” bit.

  16. I think the ’80s were Hollywood’s worst decade.

    Regardless of how the ’80s compares to the ’70s, I think the oughts or the teens are worse than the ’80s by a mile.

    Batman.

    Raiders of the Lost Ark.

    Empire Strikes Back

    Escape from NY/LA

    Ghostbusters

    Back to the Future

    Fatal Attraction

    Body Heat

    The Shining

    Evil Dead 1 and 2

    The Fly

    The Thing

    Seriously, it goes on and on. Great movie decade, IMO.

    1. I think your list makes a pretty clear distinction between the two periods. The “great” movies of the ’80s were entertaining movies. The “great” movies of the ’70s were high-art cinema. And early on, some of the high art cinema had the advantage of being really fun to watch movies. But, like I said, eventually that runs out of steam and becomes repetitions of the same dogmas and pointless naval-gazing.

      1. This doesn’t compute.

        Dirty Hairy movies were High Cinema?

        Blade Runner and shining were not?

        I think the problem is that a lot of people confuse the self loathing “Malaise” of the 70s and the apocalyptic mindset of the 80’s as something different than the feel-good notions of the 90s. For some reason, they think it is art when the good guy dies at the end, and populist drivel when the bad guys are defeated.

        Rather than a bunch of beard stroking around when art lost its way (hint, it hasn’t) people will find more fulfilling discussions in trying to understand how the films are an expression of the times they were made.

    2. You make a good point. I am including Blade Runner and Conan the Barbarian.

      Plus you got a few really good and dreary war movies, like Platoon and Full Metal Jacket.

      Currently we have Marvel movies or remakes of older films.

      1. The new Bond and Batman movies are good. Hunger Games series isn’t bad. Marvel movies are definitely good.

        1. None of those are going to hold up over time, except for Batman Begins.

          1. I think the Marvel movies will.

      2. I’d add in the Blood Simple and Raising Arizona from the Coen brothers.

          1. You ate what?

      3. Currently we have Marvel movies or remakes of older films.

        And Pixar. They remember that there’s an important part to making a movie called the “story.”

  17. These discussions are hilarious. They are essentially every person declaring “There have been no good [movies, songs, other pop art] since [Decade after that person’s 20’s]”

    1. Yep. You nailed it.

  18. Although I dislike the term, the “golden age” of television, where the quality of television programming has improved tremendously, is a shift from the 70s when television was seen more as entertainment and movies were thought of as being more thought provoking.

  19. …ending the New Hollywood era, a time when mainstream movies had more room for unconventional stories, anti-establishment themes, moral ambiguity, and a general sense of scruffiness.

    Hey guys, the Empire WAS the Establishment, Han Solo was pretty scruffy, and what’s more unconventional than a beeping droid and a Bigfoot co-pilot? Methinks it is the lack of moral ambiguity that liberals really have a problem with.

    1. STEVE SMITH APPLAUD FOR CHEWBACCA

  20. This is as good a time as any to point out how godawful the new Star Wars is. A lot of you here on Reason liked it. It’s enough to make me question my libertarianism. The movie was an utter piece of shit. JJ Abrams is only a hair better than Michael Bay in developing characters and a coherent plot.

    For shame, Reason. For shame.

    1. Eh…my kids liked it. I was vaguely disappointed – too recycle-y and Abrams simply cannot tell a story. But I can hope the next couple straighten the story out.

  21. Here we go:
    1) TFA is a fun movie, though not original in the least bit. But based on how Lucas so royally screwed up the prequels, can you really blame JJ Abrams?

    2) Perlstein is a fucking moron. I am so fucking sick and tired of hearing about how the Viet Cong fighting in pajamas defeated us with spikes. The Viet Cong (along with the NVA) DID NOT WIN ANY MAJOR BATTLES. From a strategic perspective, the VC were not nearly as important as the NVA. We didn’t make any progress in the war for several years, because we couldn’t bring the fight to the North. As a matter of fact, Nixon bombing the shit out of Hanoi brought the North to the Paris Peace Accords. As of 1973, WE WON THE WAR. Until Congress voted to defund the South, then the North decided to test and then finally overrun the South in 1975 when they figured out we weren’t coming back to help. Even though the Warsaw Pact sure kept providing weapons to the North.

    3) Jesus H. Christ on a popsicle stick. Star Wars and Jaws were fucking movies. Not everything is “political”.

    1. 1. I can blame JJ Abrams because he’s done the same shit with his other movies. The guy is an overrated hack. Star Trek is another overrated, bloated, boring and tame piece of shit.

      1. I know what you mean, and I think there is some room for that in STID. But as a life-long Trekkie, I actually liked his first Star Trek. Admittedly it was heavy on looks and a bit light on depth.

        My main complaint about JJ Abrams in these movies is that he doesn’t have a fucking clue about instellar distances. I mean, seriously its like he is the most uneducated science-fiction director of all time. And compared to George Lucas, that is saying something. But I thought his character development in Star Trek was not bad. (Into Darkness not so much).

  22. This all has the same taste as “Phil Collins killed Genesis” does.

    Maybe, just maybe, a decade of “edgy” movies had had its day in the sun and people were ready to move on. Just like people weren’t hip on Supper’s Ready Part IV in their music, people were ready to move on from the weight of The Godfather in their movies. It doesn’t mean Collins killed Genesis or Lucas killed The Epic Movie. The consumer decides above all. The Money Guys can push something, but if the consumer doesn’t buy it, they don’t make any more. Instead of lamenting the “death” of something, just appreciate that it was around for a period of time and enjoy it. And understand that there are limits to all “good things”; Supper’s Ready is a great album side song, doesn’t mean every album I ever buy again has to have a full album side for one song. The Godfather is a great movie, but it doesn’t mean every movie from then on has to in the same mold. I like John Hughes movies too. And just like a I don’t listen to Invisible Touch when I’m in the mood for Return of the Giant Hogweed (or vice versa), I don’t watch Dog Day Afternoon when I’m the mood for Sixteen Candles. And marketing and tastes have always shifted, “killing” what came before, and it’s largely in the hands of consumers to “vote” for more (at least for now, I’m sure if Bernie or Trump are elected they’ll set up a Ministry of Proper Movies).

    1. Wait. Phil didn’t kill Genesis? Nah, you’re right. I love songs like Cinema Show and Los Endos, but I also love Throwing It All Away and Turn It On Again, but for different reasons.

  23. Star wars was nothing but a new cowboy film set in the future with good guys and bad guys and lots of conflict. It only broke new ground with special effects, but that was coming in any event. It was a good young adult adventure story, and people of all ages can enjoy that.

  24. Mark Hamill’s guest turn on the Muppet Show was great, by the way, and not just because of the Pigs in Space sketch. I’ve never quite gotten over Gargling Gershwin…

  25. No mention of others good movies of 1977 like Smokey & the Bandit, Slap Shot and Saturday Night Fever?

    1. I definitely prefer Slap Shot to Star Wars. I mean, obviously.

  26. Dude that makes no sense at all man, none.

    http://www.GoneAnon.tk

  27. If Star Wars killed off the “New Hollywood” of the 70s, I am glad of it. I’ll take the low-brow, mindless action/adventure type movies over the serious, art-house type any day of the week. I live in a serious, gritty world, and when I go to see a movie I want to be taken away from that, not reminded about it. Same thing applies to novels, music, and pretty much everything else.

    I can appreciate the darker movies, and even enjoy them at times. But as a whole, I’d rather have the good guys wear white hats, the bad guys black, and have the good guys win in the end after an epic struggle. I’ll read Reason for my daily dose of reality…

  28. I’m way more interested in seeing The Hateful Eight than in eventually getting around to watching The Force Awakens.

    From what I’ve heard about The Hateful Eight, to paraphrase another great Hollywood Blockbuster of the era, “You chose poorly.”

  29. Interesting, insightful piece. As a MAJOR supporter and historian of the film, HEAVEN’S GATE (which time and again gets a bad rap without many of the actual facts surrounding it’s production, release and decided quality being accurately cited) I find it interesting that what the film HEAVEN’S GATE deals with was not at all brought up in this piece – as it also involves a scrappy band of rebels (immigrants) fighting against a powerful, imperious force (land barons), under desperate odds (and with a decidedly different outcome than the original STAR WARS – both in plot and also in terms of it’s actual success and place in history as a motion picture.) Now THAT would have been compelling!

  30. Like everything art is in the eye of the beholder and the only thing that could kill hollywood would be from making stuff few want to see not just any particular movie. what most of what the author is referring to as art was actually self loathing movies the befit the Nixon Carter Era. its the same reason cars were beige, national depressive self loathing

  31. Come to think of it, I might actually prefer a nation of eight year olds to a nation of 13 and 19 year olds. Think about it.

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