The Two 007s

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In the movie business, conventional wisdom has it that to succeed at the box office a film must include profanity, obscenity, blood, gore, blasphemy, and, of course, lots of sex. There’s only one little problem with this theory. Empirical data illustrates that the opposite is true. Clean, wholesome family affairs generally do much better at the till. Yet motiveless violence and crimes committed at random continue to be the order of the day.

The awful Quentin Tarantino leads the pack among the talentless directors now forming our culture. His dialogue is mostly mindless, he makes no distinction between right and wrong, and most of his characters wallow in violence and brutality. His point is slaughter for slaughter’s sake, and in slow motion to boot, in case we missed any of the gore.

The pattern of honoring ugliness, violence, and brutality in films is a recent phenomenon. The message seems to be that portrayals of cruelty and dementia deserve more serious consideration and automatic respect than any attempts to convey nobility or goodness. In the past thirty years the entertainment industry’s most influential leaders have demonstrated a powerful preference for the perverse. Even the stars have followed this pattern. During the golden era of Hollywood—the 1930s to the 1960s—stars were different from you and me. They looked, talked, and lived better, and had replaced the millionaire robber barons as the dream figures in the popular imagination. Now they look as grubby as the characters they portray on the screen—or better yet, like homeless people. They talk like thugs and act like drug dealers, menacing fans and waiters alike. Most are incapable of stringing a sentence together without the word “like” repeated ad nauseam.

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