April 23, 2008


McCain's Hollywood advantage (Lindsey Meyers, 4/17/08, Brown Daily Herald)

If 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. [...]

Apatow's ability to translate social conservatism into box office success should be an object lesson for Democrats and Republicans alike. If voter dissatisfaction with the Republican handling of the war and the economy is an irresistible force, social conservatism may be an immovable object. As a result, no presidential candidate will be able to decisively win or effectively govern without operating within the framework of traditional social values.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 23, 2008 8:21 PM

Three words: "South Park Republican." Three more: "Republican Party Reptile."

Posted by: PapayaSF at April 23, 2008 10:50 PM

the unpopularity of the war

The war is unpopular with the left who don't want to watch an anti-war movie because it reminds them of their impotence in stopping the war. Conservatives don't care about so-called Hollywood stars. Thus all war movies are flops.

Posted by: ic at April 24, 2008 12:21 AM

Maybe we've done this before but, here's a perfect forum for our favorite war movies of all time. I'll nominate three to see if we can get something going...

A Bridge Too Far

The Longest Day

Kelly's Heroes

Posted by: Bartman at April 24, 2008 2:00 PM

Paths of Glory

Posted by: LC at April 24, 2008 2:18 PM

I'd always thought that Hollywood made bad anti-war movies for the same reason politicians make bad negative ads: it doesn't matter that they're bad, it matters that you hear about them. It's just Hollywood's way of making a campaign contribution to the Democrats without running afoul of McCain/Feingold.

Posted by: Just John at April 24, 2008 4:00 PM

Master and Commander

Sand Pebbles


Posted by: oj at April 24, 2008 4:35 PM

Since when did "traditional social values" involve unemployment, illegal drug use, hooking up, and having children out of wedlock? Writers like this guy/gal (Lindsey?) think that libertarianism is the same thing as conservatism. It's not. It may be better than liberalism. But it leads to a hell of its own.

The problem with the anti-Iraq war movies is that they do not present the anti-war views of intelligent critics of the war (which includes many conservatives). Instead, they offer absurd conspiracy theories, anti-American caricatures, and pro-enemy propaganda. In other words, the Daily Kos and MoveOn.org view of the war. This may appeal to Hollywood types, but not to the general movie-going public

Posted by: Republican Patriot at April 24, 2008 4:47 PM

We were Soldiers (2002) and the book its based on,
We Were Soldiers Onceā€¦ And Young

Amazing movie...

Posted by: Perry at April 24, 2008 8:43 PM

Twelve O'Clock High
Das Boot
Command Decision
Bridge on the River Kwai
Lawrence of Arabia
The Great Escape
Northwest Passage
Sergeant York

Posted by: PapayaSF at April 24, 2008 9:53 PM

Does The Great Escape count?

(Little-known story: The real-life character for Steve McQueen's role in that film was once told by a German official that if he promised not to attempt any more escapes the official would make him police commissioner of New York. This would happen after the Germans won the war and took over the United States. The guy responded that he couldn't make such a promise and, besides, he planned on becoming mayor of Berlin. He got the "cooler" for that remark.)

Posted by: Matt Murphy at April 24, 2008 11:53 PM