One of the reasons I enjoy “foreign” films so much is because they seem to still center around the story. Hollywood has been disappointing me for quite some time. Instead of centering movies around the story, they place more emphasis on sex, drugs and violence. I understand how those three words are not just part of our vocabulary but part of our society, but why can we not center life around words like health, love and peace. Why is it that those three words do not have the same level of weight as work, fun or food those things are also necessary to our lives and just as much a part of it. It even bothers me more that we can all have a perfectly normal life without drugs or violence, yet they are so important to movies coming out of Hollywood. I would feel more comfortable if Hollywood used the imagery to denounce those negative things, but it bothers me when it seems like they try to make them cool.
Starting with sex. I have no problem with nudity, but pornography in a major motion picture is just a cheap attempt at making money. Sex and nudity are a common appearance in Television outside of the US, I grew up seeing breasts on the TV screen in Colombia, here in the US a little nudity here and there is considered taboo. Magazines and even some periodicals had nudity and it was not something to be ashamed of. In the American culture however, nudity is a hot button that Hollywood loves to press. It makes the youth in this country so hungry for it. The porn industry keeps on getting bigger and bigger every year. It really bothers me that so many movies that could tell a story so much better without the gratuitous sex, are tainted by scenes where nudity is at the center stage shown in a very cheap way. It is at times very degrading to women to the point that I feel Hollywood does not respect women’s sexuality. I find it laughable that so much censorship centers on this topic, not because I believe it should be a free for all, but because it should not be made into the big deal that it is. Remember the half time, Janet Jackson boob moment? Nudity for adults should be natural, beautiful, not something to be either ashamed of or overly excited to see in a movie. The reason to see a movie should not be because Halle Berry is going to show her breasts, which was the reason for so many to go see Swordfish. I did see the movie, but it was because it was supposed to be centered on a computer hacker, I bet you money that there were people that went to see it and did not even know it had so much to do with computers before they saw the film. I don’t even want to start with the portrayal of adultery on film, that is a whole other post. I know that sex sells, but does it really have to sell movie tickets instead of a solid plot?
When it comes to drugs, they are glorified to a level that is scary. While I do understand that the use of marijuana seems to be ok with a lot of the US population, I don’t think that it should appear so much in the movies along with other drugs that are taken very liberally. Taking drugs in some movies is shown as something as normal as lighting up a cigarette. Unless drugs are part of the story, I don’t see the need for a character to have to “light up” or “snort” drugs as if it is a common occurrence of every day life. While most people have sex, not everyone does drugs. Again, this completely sends the wrong message.
Violence is also at the center of Hollywood’s 3 kings. Some might disagree with me, but I think that the constant glorification of bad-mouthed violent characters in the movies does affect us as a society. Scarface has become this generation’s movie hero. Enter a teenager’s bedroom and you will most likely find an Al Pacino poster. I did enjoy the movie, who’s subject was drugs, sex and violence, I also laugh at the various jokes that stem from it (Say hello to my little friend!), what I don’t like is the glorification of a character that personified everything that is violence. In Asian film violence is portrayed in a very different way. Fight scenes serve the purpose of telling the story in a very beautiful choreographed way. Some violent scenes in Hollywood are so brutal that not only do they turn my stomach, but they are burnt into your mind permanently. I love the movie Rounders, but the “beat down” scene is still very hard to watch. Violence serves the purpose of telling the story and not just to complete a weak plot. Watching this kind of violence tends to desensitize us, it makes it easier to see it on TV and not be as shocked as we should be when we do see it in real life. While violence is today’s reality do you really think that is should play such an important role in today’s movies?
I believe that movies about those topics are relevant, and I still want to watch them. What I don’t agree with is the need to have almost every single movie I see have one of those elements present just for the sake of box office success. Why can’t a good storyline be what draws big audiences? Why can’t we make words like peace, love and kindness be what excites us to see a movie instead of the negative ones we now have put on top of the marquees?