I don’t watch many films, but when I do, it’s usually on planes. Why I don’t watch many films is a mystery shrouded in the mists of time… Actually, it’s more to do with attention span and imagination, I think. I prefer, on the whole, to read for myself (fast) and imagine action, rather than to watch it (slowly) on screen. It was the same at college – I preferred to read my lecturers’ books rather than attend their lectures which basically only rehashed the books.
Anyway, back to films… the few I have seen recently seem to be more along similar lines. I tend not to choose to watch romances, remakes of classics, or action movies. Historical, yes, and various kinds of “other” productions, including childrens’ films (I like the Minions and Despicable Mes, for example).
A few that I have watched recently all seem to fit the same pattern, though, and I think it is a reflection of the current state of affairs in the world. Or maybe the world is being influenced by them, and people are emulating the stars and the plots of these films, but I think this is Hollywood doing what it has done for a long time – providing viewers with the realisation of their fantasies.
The mass of people in this world are unaware of the true nature of things. There is, however, a small secretive group of people who know what’s really going on. They often have the power to change things, and it’s often a paranormal/magical power that’s employed. Usually the plot revolves around an outsider who is recruited into the secret group.
It’s not a new plot device – of course The Matrix was one of the first I can remember, but the concept seems to appeal to filmmakers, possibly because it resonates so powerfully with a large proportion of the population. Superheroes are another, if more specialised, example of this, and on a slightly more down-to-earth level, the Kingsman series provide an interesting (if violent) escapist fantasy.
Right now, there seems to be a wish to be on the inside, through the knowledge of a secret piece of information: chemtrails, moon landing hoaxes, crisis actors, wild conspiracy theories about past US presidents, and so on.
It’s unfair to classify all of these believers as right-wingers, or as libertarians, but there does seem to be a disproportionate number of “true believers” on the right. Why?
I can think of a few reasons, some of which might actually be true:
- Those who tend to believe some of the more outrageous untruths being put about tend to be those who have been dispossessed by the Establishment or the “elite”. Knowing such “facts” provides a small feeling of control over those who have kept the believer in his/her place. Harry Potter, of course, is an underdog who makes good through powers not given to everyone.
- The knowledge that the powers that be have definitely lied at some times in the past has been extrapolated to “all in authority always lie”.
- Post-modern “there are no objective facts, only subjective opinions” and “everyone is entitled to express his or her own opinion” means that complete cranks are viewed on the same level as experts who have spent years studying the subject in question.
- On a semi-related note, academic journals have been taken in by complete nonsense “research” and papers, even after peer review.
- And there has always been, to a greater or lesser extent, an anti-intellectual strand to American thought for a large part of the population, seeing the acquisition of abstrract knowledge and learning for its own sake as being useless, since it doesn’t lead to material gain. Knowing something practical, like the fact that several species of alien are held captive under Area 51 providing the Air Force with anti-gravity technology (“and it must be true, because a retired NASA scientist said so in a YouTube interview”) strengthens one’s belief that “they” don’t know it all, and if they do know, they’re liars anyway for denying it.
But in any case, next time you see a film with the esoteric few in possession of a powerful (and often irrational, in the sense of paranormal or magical) secret, ask yourself why Hollywood made the film.
Anyway, just for fun you might want to check out my First Contact about aliens. Listed on this page.