Much has been made lately of Hollywood’s ongoing slump. Theories for it have ranged from the technological (DVDs and high definition television create home theaters that rival big screens) to the qualitative (for the first time, studios are openly considering the idea that bad scripts, bad directing, and bad acting might have something to do with audiences staying away).
While both are valid arguments, screenwriter Craig Titley pointed out on this site that history reveals another culprit: political hubris. Titley suggests that the film industry’s blue state machinations have turned 51 percent (the red-state percent) of the ticket-buying market off by insulting their values and mocking their patriotism.
He seems to have a point. Forgetting propaganda dressed up to look like movies like this summer’s The Constant Gardner, even those films that aren’t particularly political are hurt by association with actors who make anti-Bush statements in the wake of natural disasters and anti-American statements in the wake of their morning coffee.
But the junket I recently attended for Cameron Crowe’s Elizabethtown indicates that filmmakers may finally be getting the message that if they want to sell movies to the “right” half of the country, they can’t make America the bad guy. In fact, if the Elizabethtown marketing machine is any indication, Hollywood’s new movie-selling mantra may very well be, “We love the U.S. of A!”
During Townhall.com’s interview with the cast and crew, Brit Orlando Bloom returned consistently to the idea that Elizabethtown highlights the best part—the flyover part—of America:
“[This film] is a journey through an America that I think the whole world needs to see right now: the heartland of America. I never understood that phrase before. I never understood southern hospitality until I was there… I mean, I’d experienced New York and Los Angeles and other big cities around the world, but I hadn’t experienced the heartland of America and I think that’s what’s portrayed in this movie.”
Of course, film buffs could argue that the heartland gets portrayed plenty in films. It gets portrayed as the place where people lead desperately unhappy, colorless lives filled with racism, oppression and chauvinism (Pleasantville, American Beauty, and Far from Heaven come to mind). But Bloom quiets any concern that this is where Elizabethtown is headed.
Megan Basham is the author of Beside Every Successful Man: A Woman's Guide To Having It All
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