Thursday, April 17, 2008

Debate, schmebate

What debate? The only thing to debate is how much money Forgetting Sarah Marshall will be bringing in since much of the Jewish viewers will be busy cooking for Pesach.

Did you notice this trend? I sure didn't until now.
Americans vote at the ballot box, they also express their political preferences at the box office. And recent cinematic trends suggest that conservatism is not as moribund as some hope and others fear.

An intriguing case in point is the inability of Hollywood to translate the unpopularity of the war into domestic box office success. Major studios have produced movies highly critical of Bush's war on terror with some of Hollywood's most bankable stars.

However, every one of these movies bombed at the box office. Consider "Rendition" with Reese Witherspoon and Jake Gyllenhaal, "In the Valley of Elah" with Tommy Lee Jones and Charlize Thereon or "Lions for Lambs" with Tom Cruise, Robert Redford and Meryl Streep. These box office flops led Jon Stewart to quip at the Oscars that "Withdrawing the Iraq movies would only embolden the audience. We cannot let the audience win."

By contrast, recent movies with distinctly conservative messages have been huge hits. Judd Apatow's recent films are a case in point. "Knocked Up," and "Superbad," earned a combined domestic gross in excess of $270,000,000.

With their drug use, drinking and gross humor, these movies might seem like unlikely platforms for traditional values. However, no less an authoritative source than Seth Rogen, star of "Knocked Up" and co-writer of "Superbad," said, "We make extremely right-wing movies with extremely filthy dialogue."

The thematic content of these movies supports Rogen's point. Each movie is a traditional morality tale, a poignantly humorous work where characters come of age by overcoming modern temptations and embracing conservative principles.

"Superbad" is the story of two geeky boys about to graduate high school who spend a night quixotically searching for liquor and meaningless sex, only to find that they do not need the former or desire the latter.

"Knocked Up" also unabashedly celebrates traditional mores. Rogen plays a stoner and a slacker who impregnates a young career woman during a night of drunken sex. However, the young woman decides to have her child even though an unplanned pregnancy might jeopardize her budding career as a television reporter.

Equally as telling, Rogen's character redeems his feckless life by committing himself to his partner and their child. The result is a movie that is as expressly pro-monogamy as it is implicitly anti-abortion.
And I thought Hollywood was full of liberals.

Speaking of Judd Apatow and Sarah Marshall, The Hollywood Reporter has a great article up.

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