Thursday, March 15, 2007

Blue-Corner Hollywood?

As I've discussed before Hollywood has never been entirely left wing and many films are complex enough to interpret in either direction or address a philosophical theme in a right-wing manner. However, what appears to be a new trend is the release of explicity right-wing political films. It is in the 'count on the fingers of one hand' stage but I think that South Park has demonstrated that politically charged and right-wing material can be successful. Thank You For Smoking followed in South Park: The Movie and Team America's wake.

Now, 300 is not a political movie in the same way but be under no doubt that if it closely follows the comic, which everyone says it does, it is very right-wing. It is based upon a comic by Frank Miller, creator of Sin City, which has a "Further Reading" section at the back including Victor Davis Hanson, author of "The Western Way of War" and well respected by a certain kind of conservative. Many left-wing reviewers in the US are getting worked up just because it's the first war movie in an age not to have an anti-war message. More than that it is a specific tale of war against and sacrifice to defeat an enemy trying to crush the nascent West.

Is it any good? There are loads of reviews out there and I'll add my own next Thursday once I've seen it at the BFI IMAX.


Meg said...

I haven't seen 300 and I'm sure I won't, but I'd like to hear a little more about why you feel Thank You For Smoking and (to a much lesser extent) Team America were right wing movies. Team America I think you're mostly right about, although there were clearly quite a few swipes at rightist US foreign policy (like the general destruction of Paris in the first scene).
Thank You For Smoking, though, I saw as intensely apolitical to the point of being antipolitical. The movie didn't sympathise in the slightest with the freedom-touting smoking industry any more than the senator in Birkenstocks; it was basically a two-hour paeon to the magic of spin in that it made us root for the lobbyist while shuddering at what he said. Basically, the movie was laughing at its own audience. It was a skewering of the media, the lobbying industry, and the American public, but it either ignored or poked equal fun at both sides of the aisle while doing it.
In terms of waaaay right-wing productions, though, have you seen 24?

Matthew Sinclair said...

Thank You For Smoking was libertarian, explicitly so. Its central message was that you shouldn't let people tell you what to do. While it does skewer both sides of the public debate that is in order to ennoble a determination to maintain your own independence.

That the blue-corner films have mostly been libertarian is something I meant to comment on. 300 is more conservative and that's a big difference.

What I'm currently wondering is whether Sin City was conservative as well (same author for the comic as 300) in that it was portraying a society where law and order has broken down and the brutality that entails.

Thanks for the comments Meg.

Meg said...

See, this is the problem with outdated political terms... I no longer think of "libertarian" as necessarily being right-wing. Traditionally conservative, yes, but traditional conservatism has very little to do with modern-day conservatism, especially in the US where the movie was set.

End of hijack...

Anonymous said...

I hope you didn’t see 300 as “Conservative” in any way, unless by “Conservative” you mean“not left”. What you have is a society founded on a tradition of power worship, complete with state sanctioned social Darwinist policies, and 300 of their number ended up paying the price for their machismo, and after that someone decided to put a propagandistic spin to the whole thing to rally the troops. Where is the Conservatism in that?

The two films which made me think about Conservatism are Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange”, which basically is about the dangers of the state legislating thoughts and values, and Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil”, which in my opinion is the greatest argument for small government ever: bureaucracy, rent seeking, botched central planning, it’s all there.

I think you may find Werner Herzog’s films Conservative too. They either deal with self reliance, or with the fragility of civilization, or with the savageness of the world without authority. His boxed sets sells for only 20 quid at HMV, so do check him out.