Successful Movies Represent American Culture

What are our movies telling the rest of the world?

Grace Ersfeld-O'Brien, Contributing Writer

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Throughout the 2020 Awards Season, themes run through movies that are nominated and are winning. Filmmakers are sacrificing narrative intricacy for a subtle resistance to the expectation of discernible nuance. In determining what is being rewarded in cinema, one must look into who is on the boards deciding the winners and driving forward these ideas. They are controlling the narrative, if you will. What does celebrating these trends in thought say about where we’re moving in media representation? In the Golden Globes, the board is the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a highly diverse group of journalists from around the world. Their common goal is to establish strong foreign relationships through the sharing of American culture and tradition through screenplay. This year, Golden Globes went to:

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood: Tarantino’s core point is concerning Hollywood in the 60s, which Joan Didion once referred to as “the last extant stable society.” Rules and hierarchies are respected and countercultural people seeking to upset the balance of the time were in the wrong. The film essentially revels in the general acceptance of peaceful inequality and hierarchical structures of the time. 

1917: The movie’s narrative excludes much of the history and context of WWI itself, opting instead to deliver a more palatable representation of war with great emphasis on cinematographic prowess and less on nuance or human cost of war.

Missing link: Once again, technically and visually, with its stellar animation, the film is brilliant, but lacks an innovative storyline and ends up being reduced to a fight against antiquation—it lacks inspiration or a refreshing new sense of direction, the impressive vessel of its intricate animation putting forth an underwhelming storyline.

When considering the critic consensus on these movies and the fact that these films have been chosen for their representation of American ideals and culture to be disseminated by the Foreign Press, the majority of American filmmaking is becoming uninspired, and in turn American directors and screenwriters are rendered as far more concerned with turning a profit while presenting merely satisfactory films. These movies ultimately don’t have much to say that hasn’t been said before, and that lack of originality being projected outwards to the rest of the world doesn’t seem to align with American culture’s coveted position of influencing and perpetuating ideas developing across the world. The rewarding of these films will only result in further inhibiting artists as they continue to create films without true direction, continuing to churn out movies that meet the standard presented by the Foreign Press. This could prove to slow film’s progress as an art overall, as with such a highly capable film industry the US has a standard to uphold for other nations as they create movies, and cannot afford to drop the ball when it comes to introducing new and compelling ideas. The screenplays created in the US have an obligation to speak to issues present in foreign relations and within itself that truly matter, as the country has placed itself in the position and possesses the resources both in ideological diversity, and wealth of industry to effectively diffuse those statements.