Over Kill

I've just finished watching the film 2012, about the end of the Earth and (American) humanity's attempt to save what we can aboard arks. Feasibility entirely aside, here's my question:

How long until movies have explosions in the first scene? 

My theory is that the Hollywoodized public feels - and has been indoctrinated through various means to think - that their lives are not good enough. (Good enough for what is not specified.) They want a bigger, better, more exciting proxy life on screen. Fair enough; that's what entertainment is for.

Once upon a time the threat of violence was the extent of the conflict in a film, because that was the extent of most human conflict in day to day life. But here's the thing: the chronic adrenaline drip the average American lives on due to social, environmental, financial and other stressors (commuting, anyone?) means that films have to constantly raise the dose to cause the same kick. I was taught that a storyline followed this sequence:

scene setting -> introduction of conflict -> escalation -> crisis -> dénouement

and I suppose they still do, but the first is minimal, the second comes in the first 5 minutes, and the line between escalation and crisis is increasingly blurred. The critics call it "gripping from start to finish", but I think it's just a bigger fix of stress juice.

Sure, you can walk out of the theatre afterwards and bask in the reassuring feeling of having escaped from the war/tidal wave/apocalypse/shark etc, but you've spent nearly two hours (and lord knows how much money) in a moderate state of panic to achieve that. You did not vicariously experience a bigger and better life, just a louder, more violent, more expensive invented crisis.

The further cost of this "diversion" is the wear and tear on your physical panic-response systems, already overwhelmed though they likely are, which will raise your risk of physical ailments as that system buckles under the pressure, and raise your need for ever wilder movie crises.

What's next? 3D nuclear war from the first scene, complete with the piped-in smell of burning I-don't-need-to-know-what?

Am I just an out-of-touch fuddy-duddy, or have the principles of public theatre (p.8) been blown up in the pursuit of expedited adrenal burnout? How much could the social safety net be strengthened if the millions spent on producing, promoting, and consuming these mind and body numbing blockbusters were redirected?

Edit: As much as I love me a Cusack, if this film could have been made anywhere but America, Johnnie's character would've been sucked into the door cogs, not the step-dad. You need surgeons on an ark, not obscure writers whose book is already on board and whose family is taken care of.

1 comment:

  1. I think I know what you mean. I have been watching "The Game of Thrones" on tv... it comes with an R18... (ON TV!)
    I'm really enjoying it, BUT it scares the bejeebers out of me... it is shockingly violent (though always in context - if you know what I mean...) There is nudity (as in full-frontal totally in the nuddy)...
    I don't think I'm a fuddy-duddy, but I do wonder... what else is left???
    Do we eventually get so accustomed to the violence that we just don't notice... and how can that be a good thing?
    Oh, and just as an aside... would you WANT to survive an apocalypse?... I'm not sure I would...