10 February 2008

Why I Avoid the Movies

Yesterday, my wife and I went to see Juno. Quite a good movie, I think. It’s a solid story with a level, sometimes uncomfortable, of honesty. There is also the fact that the message is far from the standard “what is right for me” theme. The protagonist chooses the more difficult road – not aborting her baby – in order to do the right thing for the baby.

I’m thankful that I made it through the previews to watch Juno. The previews reminded me why I don’t go to the movies much anymore. The trash spewed out of Hollywood is simply astounding. The capper yesterday of a full twenty minutes of previews was one for some waste of digital “film” called Stop Loss. It features – since I think the whole movie was shown in the preview – a country boy who has served a tour in Iraq and is ready to be discharged only to find out that he is being involuntarily retained. This is known, really, as being “stop lossed”. Of course, for dramatic effect, he finds this out as he’s ready to sign his discharge papers (or what he thinks are his discharge papers). And then there’s the standard “how can I run from this situation” plot, with obligatory references to Vietnam (Canadian passport and running north to escape Uncle Sam). It’s simply preposterous.

While I realize that there are folks who are stop lossed, I have to default to the fact that they signed up for it. I signed up for it, too…twice. I’ve been stop lossed – though admittedly, I allowed it to happen by not pushing my departure until the stop loss order came through for folks in my military specialty.

What digs at me about the movie Stop Loss is that it feels dishonest. Things simply don’t work the why they are portrayed in the preview. However, for millions of Americans, particularly young Americans, this movie may be the only information they ever get about stop loss, and it is tripe.

But I suppose for those who make a movie, honesty isn’t important, drama is. Not that there’s enough drama in more mirror-of-life productions. The shocking (and probably shockingly false) must be more entertaining, more meaningful than the depiction of the extraordinary and not uncommon drama contained in real life. For every Juno, a dozen or more Stop Loss-type movies will be made. I can only hope that the latter lose money hand over fist, because that’s the only message film makers might understand.

No comments: