Recently I had the displeasure of a sojourn in a psychiatric ward, my fourth and first in 20 years. I was left with the dubious ambition of indulging in some current movie fare… Hollywood potboilers. A mix of comedy and action thriller, I was left with some rather depressing thoughts on culture.
The comedy, Observe and Report, was about a disgruntled security guard who subsequently runs amok with a colleague. As I was incarcerated in a locked ward, I was slack jawed at the depiction of a female date being offered Klonopin in addition to her “Nurse please. Four shots of Tequila.” The ultimate fucking scene showed her to be more than half alive, something I know to be impossible. Too, at one point the two men get drunk and do drugs, with one of them shooting smack. Is there still a censorship code for American movie making? And does it still have to do solely with sex?
I forget the name of the B action thriller, but I found the routine, gratuitous and obligatory murders and bomb explosions tedious and painful. As though I still had to be convinced of the popularity of this genre, I stayed put for The Expendables, and all stops pulled cast including Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger in a minor role. The gun bursts in this one were carried out nonstop for a full 15 minutes, and I am embarrassed to admit that even I was engrossed. A blockbuster, no doubt.
Just as an afterthought, there was also a Pixar feature with an elderly curmudgeon in a starring animated role. Before long he was assailed by an overweight Asian boy scout. I can’t be the only one to notice the continuing depiction of our children as being grossly overweight. I have some thoughts on this too.
Why would we go to the movies to be put into a state of pain? I suppose for the heavy weight action thriller, as with state-of-the-art video games, the faster and less interrupted the violence the better. But why do we put up with it at all? I’m one of those strange, paradoxical antiwar activists who is also mesmerized by war, something more than an action thriller. If reality is not already threatening, do we need to make it so? How many nation states can we demonize, threaten with war and sanctions? How many people, individuals and groups, do we need to Satanize in order to preserve our own comfort zone? I’m free associating here, but there is indeed something Satanic about American culture. The right hand won’t acknowledge the left. We condemn steroids as providing athletes with an unfair edge, but oh do we love the unfair and monstrous results.
Are we really captivated, inspired by the idea of beings of robotic monstrosity, as shown in many of these grade Bs? Is this how we prepare our psyche to deal with ‘the other’, either foreign or native? Everything needs to be killed. I like to think I focus on loftier Hollywood fare, but I found and find the kind of movie making I deliberately exposed myself too in the environment of the Bon Secour psych ward troubling enough to comment upon.