Hollywood Is Shameless This Holiday Season, And I Like ItBy
It’s strange to think that you could bring your family to the movie theater right now and on either side of your innocent entertainment could be explicit, hardcore sexual content. As I walked through the theater the other day, I noticed The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Shame were separated only by Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked.
Now, I’m not complaining here. Not at all. The two movies that make up the bread in this awkward sandwich are the epitome of exquisite niche cinema. They push the boundaries of what an audience member is comfortable watching and I approve of that. To an extent, Chipwrecked does that too, but in a totally different way. It’s just a strange time for movies like those, or even Young Adult and The Sitter to be playing in theaters.
I looked at the past few years of movies playing during Christmas to see if this really was out of the ordinary. In 2010, the only movie with shock value was Black Swan. In 2009, the biggest risk was Up in the Air and all that had was a promiscuous Vera Farmiga. 2008 gave us The Spirit, which is more offensively bad than offensive. And in 2007, Hollywood served up Sweeney Todd and Walk Hard, a pair of musicals that used shock value in a theatrical and comedic way, respectively. My point is that I’m not really sure where this sudden gusto came from, but I like it.
Right now, we’ve got a raging bitch, a foul-mouthed babysitter, a sex addict and a . And those are just the main characters! I’m used to the overwhelming amount of infidelity that gets tossed around during the holidays’ romantic movies like New Year’s Eve, but this is so wonderfully out of character for Hollywood and I just can’t seem to put a finger on it. There’s no question that movies are getting darker. I wouldn’t pin that on any single film, but it’s a trend that is building, especially in the blockbuster tentpoles. Essentially, it is creating a more de-sensitized moviegoer, which is a good thing. In the past, it’s been clear that Hollywood shied away from showcasing the dark, gritty and shady side of entertainment. It’s rare that we get a holiday season in which Blue Velvet would seem like a fit.
War Horse and We Bought A Zoo force enough inspiration down your throat to be full for months. Hugo and Chipwrecked can hold the kids down for a while. New Year’s Eve has the lovers in check. Sherlock Holmes, Mission: Impossible and Tintin fill our need for adventure. There seems to be a plethora of options for every movie fan right now, which is a good thing. But I still can’t grasp why we’ve got at least two highly controversial movies in theaters as well. And yes, Shame is not playing in 3,000 theaters, but for an NC-17 movie to be showing at an AMC Theater location, I was pretty surprised. And good on them for doing it. It’s a damn good movie, albeit tremendously depressing and hard to watch. Dragon Tattoo is kind of the same way.
I am fully aware that this article didn’t really come to a conclusion, but that’s kind of my point. I don’t know why Hollywood suddenly had this urge to push this kind of cinema into the public perspective during the holidays, but I am happy they did. It’s a rarity, and it’s worth pointing out. It’s worth pointing out that arguably the best movies out right now include extremely graphic material. And on top of that, the R-rated comedy is still alive and well during its resurgence in 2011.
It’s a tough question to answer: Why? I’d like to think the studios got together and decided to challenge us. I’d also like to think it’s just “coincidence,” much like The Prestige and The Illusionist releasing in the same year was a “coincidence.” It may be a combination of both. It may just be something else entirely. Frankly, we don’t know that these two films will be successful at the box office. Rest assured, if they do well financially, the sick freaks of your town won’t run amok on the streets. It’s just a new wave of shock cinema.
What Do You Think? Did Hollywood Grow A Set Of Balls Or Is This A Unique Circumstance?