Would Luke Skywalker Vote Republican?
A buddy of mine sent me a review of the new Star Wars movie promising it to be spoiler free (and it was!). Cleanly written and demonstrating a knowledge both of the past films and film making in general. Not a bad review, it makes me want to see the movie even more. I should note the reviewer and his website are upfront about being right of center and the author paints himself as a conservative man's Roger Ebert.
I had two problems with the review.
1) He takes a swipe at what he feels is a cookie cutter approach to racial and gender diversity, calling it obvious and transparent. Does Hollywood truly believe in diversity or it is this just lip service, find-and-replace black-for-white? A different discussion. The author, however, blames the long-standing Hollywood liberal agenda, which is a terrible argument. A decades-old liberal agenda would suggest that the Hollywood power brokers have been chomping at the bit for years to include more women and minorities yet, for some odd reason, are only now doing it. Doesn't make sense. Producers chase the money and are just changing film content to reflect the changes in society lest they offend anyone.
2) His other ding, and inspiration for this post was this claim: "The film stops cold to sling some stale talking points against the rich... tapping a progressive meme instead of focusing on the elemental themes..." Do you see my issue? Zinging the rich isn't a progressive meme, it's an effective story telling meme! He continues: "No, not the usual hives of scum and villainy. It’s a casino where the very, very rich cavort. The evil One Percenters!" In what story ever has good ever emerged from a casino where the very, very rich cavort? For the last 4,000 years of humans telling stories, hedonism and conspicuous consumption have always been the enemy. This "Progressive meme" has been floating around since before the pyramids were built.
Let's look at story telling in general. Are there exceptions? Sure but I think this bag will hold 99.9 percent of every story ever told. A hero is poor, doubts themselves and is doubted by others. A villain is either rich and from the ruling class or deeply aspires to be. The hero represent the common folk while the villain has contempt for such lower people.
Luke Skywalker: Poor farm boy that no one believes in.
Palpatine: Naboo aristocrat willing to kill for power.
Harry Potter: Orphan who is abused by foster family for being different.
Draco Malfoy: Rich, entitled brat who harasses mudbloods.
Cinderella: Laborer. Abused by wicked step sisters. Doesn't believe in herself.
Wicked step sister: Rich, fat and lazy. Cruel. Convinced that they are the most beautiful.
Superman: Could literally be king of the world but disguises himself as a humble newspaper reporter. (He uses his power for good and not self-enrichment. That's why he's super!)
Lex Luther: Rich beyond belief. Wants to be king of the world.
Here are some more in brief:
Rambo/The Sheriff, Bilbo Baggins/Sauron, King Joffrey/Jon Snow, Oceans 11 franchise/casino magnates, Bufford Pusser/rural casino magnates, Red Dawn kids/Cuban communists, Aslan/The Witch, Dorothy/The Witch, etc... I didn't even mention Robin Hood! The villains want to consolidate power. The heroes want it shared. Follow that formula for a successful story.
This notion of good and evil as sharing or hording power can be applied to the policies of the political parties. Net neutrality, voter ID laws, immigration restrictions and tax breaks for the rich; Even if these are sound solutions with noble intent (I'm being very generous) they are perceived as evil because they consolidate power rather than sharing it. It's story telling 101. Nothing liberal about it.