Where Ann Hornaday is Right About Elliot Rodger and Hollywood
First, Washington Post critic Ann Hornaday is right: movies matter, and we are influenced by them in incalculable ways, and the violence and sexism that is threaded throughout Hollywood history can’t be doing us much good.
At the same time, laying the crimes of Elliot Rodger at poor Judd Apatow’s feet is itself a kind of crime.
Second, Ann Hornaday is still right: the movie industry is sexist, in that it’s dominated by men who are interested in greenlighting stories about men, which leaves 50% of the population leading only 15% of our stories. That creates imbalance. That’s creates marginalization. That creates a sense of privilege.
At the same time, even if half the execs in Hollywood were women, greenlighting stories starring women, these stories would most likely be wish-fulfillment fantasy. Maybe less violent but still wish-fulfillment fantasy: a spirited woman, say, choosing between two handsome men against a backdrop of historic tragedy. With bows and arrows. Or witchcraft. Or cooking. Or …
Because what’s missing in Hornaday’s column about the movie culture Hollywood creates is the true culprit, the man behind the curtain: us, the moviegoers.
Hollywood is a business, a very risk-averse business, and it spends most of its time trying to create what they think we will like. And they do this by looking at what we’ve liked in the recent past. Then they re-do that. Hey, here it is again. This thing you liked. Happy happy.
Which is why we get this story again: a lone man using violence to achieve justice. And why we get this story again: I love you and you love me … but not for 70 minutes yet. And this story: a spirited woman (or girl) choosing between two men (or a vampire and werewolf) against a backdrop of historic tragedy (or high school on the Olympic peninsula).
That’s worth mentioning. The fault lies less with our stars than in ourselves.
New Yorker staff writer John Cassidy is right, too: Blame the gun laws for all the people who died because of Elliot Rodger's crime.
You could actually combine Cassidy’s and Hornaday’s columns and get something worth positing as a question: to what extent can we blame our gun laws on Hollywood’s 100-year glorification of the gun?
A discussion like that might even make my day.
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