Movies

Hillbilly Elegy

Unlike the book, the film is not a political story.

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It has been much remarked that Hollywood, whose denizens fall generally to the left of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, often produces movies with conservative themes. That is certainly true of Ron Howard's adaptation of J.D. Vance's memoir Hillbilly Elegy, the moral of which is that hard work and self-discipline can overcome the snares of poverty.

In depicting Vance's true-life journey from the Appalachian hill country to Yale Law School, the film studiously avoids explicit discussion of what caused his family's plight or what his escape implies. Unlike the book, it is not a political story. Yet it has been met with all-but-universally negative reviews in the mainstream press, and it's hard not to think that has something to do with Vance's well-known nationalist conservative politics.

When a movie's audience score on Rotten Tomatoes is more than three times its critic score, something may be at work beyond mere differences in artistic preference. Hillbilly pulls back the curtain on a slice of America that many elites would prefer not to think about, especially in a post-Trump era.

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  1. Everything from restaurant and film reviews to the sports page are now journalists signaling at each other.

  2. It may have met critical reviews because it’s a Ron Howard film. Howard directed such films as Splash, Backdraft, Parenthood, Apollo 13, The Davinci Code, Ransom, A Beautiful Mind and you know what stinkers those movies were. With those kinds of box office bombs on his resume, you kinda wonder how the hell the guy keeps getting work.

    1. Howard directed such films as Splash, Backdraft, Parenthood, Apollo 13, The Davinci Code, Ransom, A Beautiful Mind and you know what stinkers those movies were.

      Wut?

  3. When a movie’s audience score on Rotten Tomatoes is more than three times its critic score, something may be at work beyond mere differences in artistic preference.

    One wonders why people are so reluctant to admit their biases, especially in our post-shame era.

    1. With this logic, we have proof that the Big Mac is the best food ever created.

      1. If you look at the nutritional bang for the buck, a Big Mac is actually hard to beat. You get a lot of calories and significant protein for the price.

  4. As far as Hollywood is concerned, it has several strikes against it.

    1. It’s a true story that portrays poor white people instead of other racial minorities, so it cuts against the “white privilege” narrative.

    2. The people in the film do grow up in poverty, but also remain that way largely due to addictions and poor life choices.

    3. The book author is a Republican, and said he plans to run for political office someday.

    Notice that his book came out before the Trump presidency, or before much was known about his political views, and at that time, it was almost universally praised by critics and nominated for several awards.

    1. The movie producers and director cleansed Vance’s narrative of conservative content as much as possible without casting the family as black. Without politics, the story verges on a trailer park mockumentary, and the vicarious thrills it can provide to superior elites.

      Might as well make a movie from de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America as a foodie travelogue.

      1. Yep, Opie neutered it.

        But that also explains the bad reviews – they are terrified that some who liked the movie might actually read the book and become exposed to a verboten perspective.

  5. “When a movie’s audience score on Rotten Tomatoes is more than three times its critic score, something may be at work beyond mere differences in artistic preference.”

    Yes, this is obvious further evidence that the common people are either ignorant or full-on white supremacists. The critics need to critique harder, and the other keepers of truth and rightness need to crack down harder on the disinformation, saboteurs, and subversives.

    1. I agree, it need to be broken; it is the only way to [separate and] rebuild.

  6. I read the book. A boy grows up in a poor, dysfunctional but proud family. Joins the Marines to become a man then attends Yale to become a lawyer. It wasn’t enough to spark my curiosity to see Howard’s film. Vance dealt with the troubles he encountered with an off hand charm. Howard probably amped up the sentiment to the max, if his other films are anything to go by.

    1. Read the book [because I just wanted to] and watched the movie [mainly in response to the outrage].

      Of course, as with virtually all books, it was better [more thorough, detailed, nuanced, etc.]; but the movie wasn’t bad, but just as with virtually all movies, abbreviated.

      I think the point was the same, and now because of Vance’s known social and political views [though I thought these were fairly evident in his writing] he is now a prime candidate for cancelling.

      1. “he is now a prime candidate for cancelling.”

        Isn’t having Ron Howard turning your book into a movie just about the opposite of cancelling?

        1. No. Howard is an old heterosexual white male, and so can be only an associate member of The Woke. His work is subject to approval of the LGBT♀AA*XQPOC.

          1. “No. Howard is an old heterosexual white male”

            Are you sure about that? You know that he’s Hollywood through and through, don’t you?

      2. “Of course, as with virtually all books, it was better”

        Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia was better than The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, a turgid bore, despite its reputation. Tarkovsky’s Stalker was better than the Strugatsky brothers’ Roadside Picnic. Kubrick’s 2001 was better than Clarke’s Childhood’s End. A great film tells the truth 24 times a second.

        1. VIRTUALLY all books; I would never knowingly paint myself into an always or never corner.

          Agree re 7 Pillars by the way; tried to read it more than once after going to the Middle East many years ago. Turgid boor is kind.

      3. Just wait until the woketards discover almost any picture of Ron Howard in “Eat My Dust” in his Johnnie Reb hat.

  7. “…hard work and self-discipline can overcome the snares of poverty.”

    And, to progressives, that is apostasy. How dare they achieve anything [without massive government intervention] and stop being dependent? Victims need to know their place, and their value.

    1. “…hard work and self-discipline can overcome the snares of poverty.”

      I’ve been told that such things are white supremacist.

      1. Yes, the SFUSD has most recently re-defined that for us as including objectivity, perfectionism, and a sense or urgency. Wanting teachers to return to a classroom to do the f’n job is also white supremacy, by the way.

        I suppose surgeons get an exception, at least when you need one?

        1. Surgery is white supremacy (even though the arabs were doing it first). Voodoo shamans or nothing!

    2. He had White Privilege to escape his poverty. Nevermind that 99.97% of the White Folk in his home town/county/state are still stuck in their position, because it was only his White Privilege that allowed him to escape.

      If he were Black he would still be stuck back on the plantation, because no Black has ever escaped his poverty without help from his White Liberal brothers. It’s the White Liberal Burden to help the Black man up from the condition that White Liberal Folk created in the first place.

      1. “He had White Privilege to escape his poverty. ”

        He had intelligence and ambition. Plus he was able to avail himself of the various government and private programs set up to give veterans and the disadvantaged a leg up. His skin color had nothing to do with it, as you’d understand if you read the book.

        1. I you are replying to facetious post. Is facetiousness akin to whiteness? Asking for a friend.

    3. “…hard work and self-discipline ”

      I was disappointed with the course of his career. Becoming a marine (a tax parasite) and then a lawyer (a legal parasite) was not how I wanted the story to turn out. I was hoping Vance would have chosen a more productive, innovative course.

      1. “I was hoping Vance would have chosen a more productive, innovative course.”

        I suppose you have done better? And, by the way, signaling your specious virtue here does not count as “a more productive, innovative course.”

        1. “I suppose you have done better? ”

          I’ve managed get through life so far without being a soldier, cop, judge, politician or lawyer. Running your own roadside lemonade stand (which I have done as a lad) is a more productive, innovative way of life than Vance’s choices.

          1. I don’t do any of those things either, but when I need one, I need one, so they do have their value [and some more than others].

            Except for politicians. I never seen to have need of those.

  8. The book is way better than the movie. In leaving out the politics and the more systemic causes of Appalachian poverty they are only left with abuse, drug and physical.

    1. Well that’s still most of the reason. Appalachians are not systematically abused by their betters. They may shake their fists at the elite, but it’s not the elite who keep them down. Like with many other “po white” they have bought into the narrative that their fate rests in other hands, and if they aren’t doing well then the proper response is to complain. The core problem is the external local of control. “It’s not my fault” as an excuse.

      Sure it might not be their immediate fault, but for generations to keep blaming someone else is pathological. It’s why the best and brightest keep escaping. Eventually the best and brightest realize that everyone around them has just given up.

      I didn’t grow up in Applachia, but I did grow up in rural low class area of the country. My cousins are all outstanding successes, despite the fact that their grandfather had nothing and lived in a log cabin and hustled cattle. They aren’t all Yale Lawyers and fancy doctors, they’re still the reddest of the rednecks living on the land.

      No excuses for generations still living in the same poverty. The problem is not that they voted for Trump. So did all of my cousins. The problem is that they thought Trump would be their personal savior. Their problem isn’t their politics, they’re problem is that they believe someone else has to save them.

      1. “… they’re problem is that they believe someone else has to save them.”

        Describes much of the Democrats constituency as well. Or, to paraphrase Nancy Pelosi, “vote for us or it will be the end of civilization as we know it.”

        If people don’t need saving, they don’t really need politicians.

      2. “Appalachians are not systematically abused by their betters.”

        False.

      3. I’m reminded of the book “Black Rednecks and White Liberals” by Thomas Sowell.

  9. Hillbilly pulls back the curtain on a slice of America that many elites would prefer not to think about

    They’d prefer not to think about anything outside the I-95 corridor.

  10. I read the reviews and decided to skip, even though Glenn Close. But my SO loved it. He’s identifies with the narrative, having come from country people himself.

    The country people in my own family are all right. Lots of drugs. Not educated. Not overly political the last time I saw them, though. I kind of wanted to be a fly on the wall this past Christmas, but they weren’t paying attention to pandemic conditions. Which unfortunately is political, thanks to the rich fat elites who exploit their ignorance for votes.

  11. Work hard and save your money, and avoid debt like the plague that it is.

    Do this no matter who you are, where you are, where you come from, or where you plan to go.

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