February 24, 2008, - 11:41 am

Dark, Depressing, Macabre Crap: The Movies The “Academy” Loves, But America Doesn’t

By Debbie Schlussel
I don’t usually agree with liberal Mitch Albom (though on Israel and, usually, Islamic terrorism, he gets it). But on the Academy Awards, he’s spot on.
Around the rest of America, you know Mitch Albom as the best-selling author and sports columnist on ESPN’s “The Sports Reporters.” But here in Detroit, we also know him for his daily radio show and columns beyond sports.
On Friday, at the beginning of his radio show, Albom had a great commentary about how the Oscars–which once nominated popular, positive movies like “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Star Wars” for awards–now only likes avant garde, dark, macabre, bloody, depressing movies. And he’s right. None of the movies America liked at the box office got nominated. Only those that were dark, depressing, and–to my mind–mostly boring get the nod.

oscars.jpg

Albom–on whose radio show I occasionally appear–has a column to the same effect, today. Although I felt his iteration of it was far more powerful on his radio show, the column is pretty good. Some excerpts:

I’m not going to watch the Oscars tonight. Normally I do. But I’ve spent enough time and money on the most depressing, dark and disturbed lineup of movies I ever can remember. I don’t need to see them get rewarded.
Am I the only one who remembers when they actually gave Oscars to movies that had happy endings? There’s not one happy ending in this lot — unless you consider an unplanned teenage pregnancy resulting in someone else’s adoption a happy ending. That’s the big payoff in “Juno.”
Otherwise, you have “There Will Be Blood,” in which a tyrannical oil baron destroys everyone and everything around him; “No Country for Old Men,” in which a serial killer destroys everything and everyone around him; “Michael Clayton,” in which greed gets nearly everyone killed, and “Atonement,” in which a false accusation ruins the lives of all involved.
Um. Remind me again.
Why do we go to the movies?
Now, I’m not a Pollyanna. . . . But lately there’s this sense that unless a movie is dark, violent and hopeless, it can’t be “real.” It can’t be “art.” It can’t truly “matter.” I put these words in quotes because it feels as if critics and awards committees define things that way. . . .
Here’s a news flash: Killing without remorse doesn’t make a story art. Cold and cynical dialogue doesn’t make a story valuable. It’s no accident the films nominated this year, for the most part, didn’t do much box office. People don’t go to the movies to see weirdness, dysfunction or twisted irony.
Most go to be entertained.
This doesn’t mean that “Spider-Man 3” or “Shrek the Third” automatically should get Oscar nominations. But those films, at the top of the box office list last year, do share a good-guys-win ending. There’s a reason people gravitate to that.
And it wasn’t always considered beneath the Academy to celebrate it. In 1973, “The Sting” won best picture, and “American Graffiti” and “A Touch of Class” also were nominated. In 1979, “Kramer vs. Kramer” won [DS: I wouldn't consider "K v. K" a happy or meritorious flick by any stretch], and “Breaking Away” and “Norma Rae” were nominated [DS: Again, I wouldn't call "Norma Rae" a positive or meritorious flick; on his radio show, Albom cited "Raiders" and "Star Wars," which better make the point]. As late as 1994, “Forrest Gump” took the best picture honors. Today, it’s hard to imagine that film would even get nominated. Too many cynics would call it sweet and hopeful.
And I guess that’s what I miss. Hope. If movies were meant to reflect only the real-life worst in us, why would we need them? We could use mirrors.

Not in this column, but said on his show, is another point I agree with. He and I are in the same camp on “Juno,” the smart alecky movie that tries way too hard to be hip, and over which all of the conventional Hollywood types are gushing. A woman called in on his show to say she liked the “pro-life message” of the movie (which in my mind is questionable at best). Albom dismissed that, saying it’s just another smart-alecky movie where a teenager is smarter than every single adult in the movie. That’s my take, too.
Please, conservatives: stop reaching for straws in this crappy movie. It stank. And just because a girl didn’t get an abortion doesn’t mean it was a movie to applaud. It was not. It was simply a movie about how real authorities are idiots and losers, but teens who have sex as casually as they go to the bathroom are the moral authorities.
This movie stank, and so did pretty much all the others that were nominated.
The only nomination I agree with was Philip Seymour Hoffman as Best Supporting Actor in “Charlie Wilson’s War.” He was hilarious in that and the only redeeming part of that otherwise very crappy movie.
Amen, Mitch Albom. At least, this time.

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11 Responses

No surprise about the movies. It’s part of the
“new” communist offensive which as job one is to stamp the U.S. as an evil country, our Constitution a vehicle to enslave people, and our culture (if we have one left) as degenerate.
This country stinks, period. All our heroes are dirty old White Men, slave owners, oppressors, and capitalists.
This is Hollywood. The Hollywood Left and I won’t be watching the show either. They should show it from Constantinople, Peking, or Havana.
[H: AMEN. DS]

Howard on February 24, 2008 at 12:14 pm

It’s not accident that people are going to the movies less these days. Look what they offer us. It’s not enough that in todays society people are less polite and thus make a trip to the movies more of a challenge than it needs to be. The cost is high too. I went to see No Country for Old Men and got there early. Two guys came in after and sat down 2 seats away and during the scene in the beginning where the cop is choked with the cuffs, one of them begins laughing. For about 20 seconds in a 30% full theater in Canton he’s laughing(trying to quietly but still!) I was about to inform him of his stupidity when his friend elbowed hard and told him to stop it. Maybe my staring helped speed this along. The movie ended like you complained of, without explanaition and not well. It was one of the few movies I went to last year. I see no reason to RUN out and see many more though I used to and no I haven’t watched the awards shows “in my adult lifetime” either. They are all huge butt kissing events for a lot of elitists so who cares. We don’t have that much interest in cop or soldier of the year or best apprehension of the year. I’d like to see something like that on other than an extreme video show.

samurai on February 24, 2008 at 12:37 pm

So tell us then Debs, what would you pick as “Best Picture”? You’ve obviously seen most, if not all of the movies out there. Would you pick some boring crap on a stick, or a good action movie?
(p.s. you are so frekin hot. you remind me of Christmas time at my house… because you’re a hot tamale.)
[T: PERHAPS YOU MISSED MY PICKS FOR BEST AND WORST OF THE 2007:
http://www.debbieschlussel.com/archives/2008/01/debbieschlussel.html
I LIKED "3:10 TO YUMA" BEST AND ITS STAR, CHRISTIAN BALE, WOULD GET MY NOD FOR BEST ACTOR. DS]

tita2juju on February 24, 2008 at 12:53 pm

Watch this video called “How Modern Liberal Think” by Evan Sayet:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaE98w1KZ-c
…and spend some time understanding his theory. It explains much about what these people do.
You won’t be disappointed!
[AI: YOU'VE POSTED THAT SEVERAL TIMES. ONCE IS ENOUGH. I SAW THAT RIGHT AFTER HE MADE THAT SPEECH. WHILE IT'S GOOD THAT ANOTHER HOLLYWOOD PERSON HAS SEEN THE LIGHT, THERE IS NOTHING HE SAID THAT I AND MOST OF THE READERS OF THIS SITE HAVEN'T KNOWN AND BEEN SAYING FOR LIKE A GAZILLION YEARS BEFORE SAYET HAD THIS SUDDEN EPIPHANY. LIKE I SAID, I'M GLAD HE'S SEEN THE LIGHT. BUT IT'S HARDLY "HIS THEORY." OR VISIONARY STUFF OR NEW THINKING TO THOSE MANY OF US IN THE KNOW. RECOGNIZING THAT IT'S GOOD THAT HE SAID THIS IS ONE THING, GUSHING OVER THIS OLD NEWS UTTERED BY A NEOPHYTE AND CALLING IT "HIS THEORY" IS ENTIRELY ANOTHER. CONSERVATIVES LOVE TO ANNOINT HOLLYWOOD FORMER DUMMIES--WHO'VE SUDDENLY DISCOVERED SLICED BREAD--TO G-DLIKE STATUS, MUCH THE SAME WAY AMERICA IS DOING WITH OBAMA (THOUGH HE'S SEEN THE LIGHT ON NOTHING). I'M NOT RIDING THAT TRAIN. SORRY. I DON'T NEED A HOLLYWOOD HAS-BEEN WHO'S NOW BECOME A CONSERVATIVE TO CONFIRM MY LONG-HELD VIEWS. I ALREADY KNEW THEY WERE CORRECT. DS
PS: LOOK AT THIS GUY'S CREDITS:
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1288485/
HE'S HARDLY DONE ANYTHING IN HOLLYWOOD. WHEN STEVEN SPIELBERG AND BRIAN DE PALMA START SAYING THE THINGS WE AS CONSERVATIVES HAVE BEEN THINKING FOR DECADES, THEN I WILL BE IMPRESSED. THIS NO-NAME GUY, NOT SO MUCH. DS
PPS: ONE LAST THING ON THIS EVAN SAYET VIDEO--IT'S AT THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION, WHERE THEY DON'T SEEM TO GET OR PRACTICE ANYTHING HE'S SAYING. ED FEULNER, THE HEAD OF HERITAGE, IS APPARENTLY TAKING MONEY LEFT AND RIGHT FROM THE GULF STATES, VIA HIS FRIEND, PAN-ISLAMIST GROVER NORQUIST. AND HE TOOK LOBBYING MONEY FROM THE THEN-HEAD OF MALAYSIA, AN ANTI-SEMITE WHO OPENLY CALLED FOR HOMICIDE BOMBINGS OF JEWS. AND FEULNER REMOVED ME FROM TOWNHALL.COM, WHERE AT THE TIME I WAS THE MOST POPULAR COLUMNIST, BY MORE THAN TWICE THE HITS OF ANN COULTER, BECAUSE GROVER DEMANDED IT BECAUSE HE DIDN'T LIKE WHAT I WAS WRITING ABOUT ISLAMI, TERRORISTS, AND HEZBOLLAH BUD, CONGRESSMAN DARRELL ISSA. SO, WE--MYSELF AND MY READERS--DO NOT NEED TO WATCH SAYET'S VIDEO. THE PEOPLE WHO HOSTED HIM--FEULNER AND HERITAGE--DO. THAT THEY HOSTED A GUY WITH THIS MESSAGE--AS THEY OFTEN DO--IS HYPOCRITICAL TO THE MAX. DS]

Al on February 24, 2008 at 1:58 pm

I rent movies from the library, you check out six for a week for free. Doesn’t bother me that I have to throw over half back in the pond after watching the trailers.
Best last week was “Surf’s up”. Just cool, kids loved it.

bill-tb on February 24, 2008 at 3:38 pm

Debbie, I think Evan’s contribution is that he discusses why these lefties (Modern Liberals) are like they are. Many people wonder why Hollywood puts out the such a large number of dark and anti-human movies. When I read what you wrote, my mind jumped to Evan’s description of this mindset.
I’m not into Feulner or Norquist, but I will do some reading on them.
I don’t know if you are somewhat blinded by these people and the Heritage logo boiled your blood, but Evan’s theory is good. You may have known this stuff for a “gazillion years”, but most people do not. Too many of us on the right talk about the symptoms of the modern left, but we’ve been dancing around the causes.
Our logic has bounced off them (so to speak) because they don’t care about our logic. Maybe I’m naive, but Evan struck a cord.
The fact is the people that you point out as being wrong (people at ICE, pro-Islamists, etc.) believe they are right; Evan’s description explains why. If people have a problem with Heritage, then just imagine Evan is speaking somewhere else or just listen to it.
…time passes…
This was good on Norquist:
http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Read.aspx?GUID=C7CD908B-6D7E-49EB-A0A9-DA0A18745A29
I can see why you are on top of these people, but there has to be reasons why these modern lefty’s actually believe in this modern leftism. If you take the Islamic-funding/influences issues out of it, there are still many, many people that subscribe to the lunacy on their own. Evan’s descriptions are sound and valuable.

Al on February 24, 2008 at 5:01 pm

The perfect oscar movie is about teen-aged homosexuals with aids who have abortions and “expose” some right-wing angry preacher.
Also it should be 3 hours long.

airy anne on February 24, 2008 at 7:27 pm

American TV is composed of violent cop shows, Autopsy shows, court TV filled with crazy violence….punctuated by drug commercials and docudramas about sick and disgusting American “celebrities”.
I really don’t care. It’s just a diversion from the real story……about how America has set a deadline for the destruction of Israel and one half of the remaining Jewish people.
Michael and Tamar (Formerly IsraPundit, IAF and IDF)

Miluimnik on February 24, 2008 at 8:52 pm

Evan Sayet credits are submitting a few jokes to Bill Maher,writting a short, and submitting what sounds like a college editing project on the 70′s.
I made 3 college shorts plus completed 3 additional editing projects and I think Carlos Mencia stole a few jokes from me.
Maybe I should speak out about Hollywood.Miss Schlussel can you contact the heritage foundation and let them know they’ve overlooked booking someone with my stellar resume.
Also my uncle once pumped gas for Elvis Pressley.

gordito on February 24, 2008 at 9:13 pm

The Obit. I could not believe that no one clapped for Roscoe Lee Browne. Disgusting.
It’s clear that the current crop of self-absorbed do-gooders are clueless. Every Black — real or fake — actor in Hollywood owes him a HUGE debt of gratitude. (If you don’t know who he is, rent “The Cowboys” with John Wayne) He was clearly an awesome talent who was more like the the stars of the 40s 50s and 60s, than today.
Some guy on Nikki Finke’s blog was making excuses for the so-called actors of today, blaming the technology for causing short careers. Yea, right.
I was incredibly offended by the ham-handed showmanship of the ‘troop appreciation’ segment. Unreal. Don’t break your arm Tom.
The only thing more transparent than that bit of schlock is Obama’s chanting of “Hope”. Hey wait a minute, didn’t another “negro” (hey, it’s a time-based reference) use that? Oh yeah, the black man’s Bill Clinton; Jesse Jackson. “Keep hope ahhhhliiive!” Amen, Brother.
The funniest bit, in an ironic way; is that the writers decided to tell everyone how great they are by writing bits (the montages) that were funnier than the actual show.
So many jokes that could have been made about those clips. So many opportunities blown. Could have easily referenced Godard, Trauffat, Pau, Kovacs (was in Obit reel). It would have been an edgy avant-garde sort of night. Could have been night to study DP (cinematography) greats. The best part would have been no talking by the hosts.
All the writers did was prove that they were not needed. Please go back on strike.

Mark L. Jackson on February 25, 2008 at 4:04 am

sorry for the dupe

Mark L. Jackson on February 25, 2008 at 4:05 am

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