The Hollywood Vision

Join the DebateJohn Horvat II, the author of Return to Order, regularly updates this site with insights about the cause and solution for our economic crisis. He invites you to share your insights too. Please join the discussion. Mr. Horvat is committed to make a serious effort to answer posts, schedule permitting.

ISSUE BEING DISCUSSED FOR Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Hollywood has long had a special role in encouraging the avoidance of suffering and the denial of tragedy which we believe to be part of the present crisis. The film industry actually takes this vision to an extreme. How has Hollywood done this? What are specific examples that can be cited? Why is the vision wrong?

  • John Horvat II

    Hollywood stars radiate health, youth, and vitality. The standard
    Hollywood film has settings that are idealizations of our material
    paradise that do not exist in real life. Film plots include incredible
    escapades and happy endings that an adoring public is invited to imagine
    themselves reenacting.

  • By presenting the surreal as real and broadcasting it to the masses, Hollywood skews reality and conditions viewers to believe in the illusion that happiness consists in living like the actors on the big screen.  However, in real life, we have roses with thorns.  Everyone has their crosses (thorns) to bear. There’s no easy way out.  In fact, off the screen, too many actors suffer from deep depression, serial divorces, broken families, and lead lives devoid of deeper meaning or purpose. 

    • Francis Slobodnik

       They try to create the illusion that there are no thorns as you astutely mentioned, whereas their real lives are nothing but thorns, they really have no roses in their lives since most have sold their souls for their fame, which is very temporary.  

  • Norman Fulkerson

    It is done primarily through a portrayal of life that always has a “happy end.” In this perspective a life with difficulties is seen as one where the individual has done something wrong. The lie of this perspective can be seen in the enthusiasm many Americans have for the rigors of war endured by our brave servicemen, even when it does not “end well.” Case in point are the shining examples of those who gave “the full measure” like Navy SEAL Michael Monsoor. Whereas there are those who look upon such a life as a waste, the majority see it as a life well lived. Examples of the contrary? What about the Christmas classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” While the main character does something admirable by turning his back on a military career and a chance to see the world and broaden his horizons, his final choice of taking care of his fathers savings and loan seem to be glorified as a supreme example. Sure, he did a lot of good for the people of that little town, but what might he have accomplished had he chosen the path he most desired? Just a thought….

  • Richard Segerstrom

    Hollywood uses the theme that the “good guy” beats the “bad guy” and the “good guy” saves and gets the girl.  The old westerns were like that.  Roy Rogers and his theme song “Happy trails to you until we meet again”.  More modern hollywood uses take offs of that same story and today we have Super hero’s (Batman) who save the world from the real bad guys (the Joker). 
    The audience imagines they are like the characters in the movie and become attached to them, using them as their role models.
    This leads people to a distorted and non realistic view of society and what to expect from life.  It gives them no principles or rules to live by.  They believe that the Hollywood character can do everything (either good or bad).  Case in point was the recent Joker incident in Colorado where a crazy man opened fire in a movie theater on the audience killing several people for no reason other than the Hollywood Joker did the same thing and got away with it.
    Hollywood also uses the theme to show drug use as a virtue, immoral life styles as exemplar and uses the movies to promote communism, socialism and all behavior opposed to the ten comandments.
    Hollywood could be used for the good to promote a Return to Order, but sadly that will never happen.

  • gji

    The problem of theatre is not a new debate on the horizon
    and it is painfully clear that the screenwriters and promoters of Hollywood
    understand its peril in the minutest detail.

    According to Plato, a society must monitor what art it allows
    because people are naturally impressionable. If they are exposed to hatred, violence
    or perversion they will become callous to imitating these actions and the same
    danger applies to comedy. However, the danger of theater is much more
    pronounced as an art form because it incorporates a variety of characters to
    imitate and is all the more likely to corrupt a person’s character and morals.

    He adds that watching a theatre is a greater cause for
    corruption rather than reading a book precisely because the spectacle
    and vividness of live theater is too exciting to resist. It accomplishes this by utilizing
    the senses of sight and hearing and condensing a large volume of information to be
    analyzed in a short period of time and that, which is not rejected, is accepted.

    Therefore, to create a theatre or movie without grounding it
    upon reality, one intentionally creates the circumstances for some degree of
    corruption, as it is most likely that a viewer of the presentation will
    identify himself with one of the characters and admiration results in

    What content should a society allow its artists to exhibit
    and its people to see versus what should be censored or restricted for the
    common good? This question is undoubtedly best answered by Catholic morality
    and our good elites.

  • JRB

    You could say that they “escape” suffering in two different ways.

    1. By ignoring it. They create an alternate reality where suffering doesn’t exist, or is quickly and decisively overcome, culminating in a “happy ending.” Most films, at least until recently, fit this narrative.
    2. By accepting it, but cynically denying that it has any higher meaning or purpose. Films such as Forrest Gump essentially teach the audience that reality is irrational and unknowable, and any attempt to make sense of it must ultimately end in frustration. Many more recent films convey this idea.

    Both these visions, although seemingly polar opposites, are equally wrong, imbalanced, and lead to despair, because they are both wrong. Virtue is in the middle, and the only way to have a truly balanced view of suffering (to both recognize it’s existence and accept it cheerfully) is with grace and the wisdom of the Catholic Church.

  • Francis Slobodnik

    One of the worst aspects of hollywood besides its immorality, is that almost all of the heroes depicted have serious moral flaws real or imagined.  If it is a historical figure they will dig up something bad that the person did and highlight that so as to diminish the heroism of their real accomplishments.  If they are a fictional hero they will use bad language, be narcissistic, be immoral, etc..  This is all done to create an idea that true heroes are an illusion, when in fact there are many legitimate heroes.  The person who reads will discover these true heroes whether canonized saints or great men.  
    I remember reading a biography of the great Marine Hero, Colonel John Ripley.  He was approached about making a film about his heroic actions.  He insisted that there be no bad language or immorality.  That’s where it ended. 

  • There are more than one way to deny reality.  The most obvious way is to simply make a statement to such an effect.

    Another way is to focus so much on one aspect of reality that the others get forgotten.  In Catholic circles, for instance, there is so much talk about love that one never hears about justice.  There’s so much talk about mercy, but so little talk about justice.

    By only focusing on one aspect of reality, we effectively deny the other harmonic contrary aspect of that same reality.

    In the case of Hollywood, they have so often focused on fun and the disordered enjoyment of earthly things that the natural counterweight of seriousness and love of eternal things has effectively been wiped out.

    It’s not that in every Hollywood movie there is a direct denial of God and the eternal, but in fact, they act as if He did not exist, and as if there we no Heaven of Hell, no Angels of Devil; just the hear and now.

    We can reverse this false notion of reality by emphasizing in our customs what is good and evil, rewards and punishments for being good and evil, and the reality of eternal life after death.

  • Kenneth Murphy

    Many historians who are against monarchy tell horror stories of how people were supposedly forced to imitate their kings or knights because these authors can’t imagine any other reason why honorable people would be imitated.

    However these same authors smile approvingly as many thousands (especially those in my age group) alter their very own personalities to imitate Hollywood celebrities. Celebrities’ hair styles, clothing and even favorite perfumes are blindly imitated or purchased no matter how ridiculous they are.

    “How has Hollywood done this?” Only by taking advantage of the hierarchical vacuum left by the
    forceful decapitation and suppression of legitimate elites.