I want to talk about a movie I watched, starring Matt Damon, whom I actually like as an actor(one of the very few).The film was called the Martian.
It was about an astronaut who was a part of a team on a mission on the surface of Mars. During the mission the team encountered a storm and had to take off to save themselves, but Matt Damon’s character was hit by an object before he could make it back to the ship, and was presumed dead. He survived, and eventually made contact with earth. The rest of the movie was about his survival, the plan and mission to rescue him.
The movie itself was quite good in parts, but the underlying typically American messages were there in abundance.
Conflict, when it was not necessary. Stars and Stripes waving. US superiority over everyone. The sense of morals over common-sense or training/orders. Incompetence( just so there is actually a story).
Conflict. The “tried and trusted method” of most Hollywood movies is: create conflict immediately. Viewers love this. But the fact is a large majority of viewers are not stupid, so why do they treat us as such? Some situation call for conflict, but the ” I always work alone/I don’t need a partner”(who they spend most of the film fighting with and surprise, surprise, then become bosom buddies by the end of the movie) line became lame decades ago.
Stars & Stripes. America is not the centre of the universe even though most Americans want us to think this way.All other countries have flags also, but we don’t wave them every 5 minutes to remind people that we love our country. Waving a flag does not constitute patriotism. Many things do, namely a person,s mind set. So please, spare us the flag waving.
US superiority. The USA has many guns, and a large army. These are the 2 things which they spout to tell the rest of us mere mortals, that they are the boss. Having a large army only means in a fight you have better odds of winning. In the movie, America introduces China into the mix, because one of the scientists working on the project is Chinese-American. They need another probe, so they “allow” China to assist them. Typical scenario all too often portrayed.
A sense of morals over common sense. In the movie these “highly trained astronauts” all chosen for their particular top level skills, and decision making abilities, decide that they would rather risk all of them dying because one of their team is “out there” and even though he is on a planet surface which their “years of training” would tell them that he would not survive, they have to get him.
(moral lesson 1. We are so compassionate and care more about our friends them anyone else). Really!!! So why are you guys shooting each other in the 000,s everyday?
After the ship takes off the captain berates herself for not saving her colleague, even if it would have killed everyone on board and ultimately not saved the very person they would have tried to rescue.
( Moral lesson 2. We must beat ourselves up to show “our humanity to our fellow human beings”).
Incompetence. Several incidents in the movie are provided to give us a story. Matt Damon not securing his environment correctly, and losing all of his crop. The probe which is going to be sent to rescue him, not being tested correctly to save time (would NASA really do this?)
Why oh why, do they treat us like imbeciles? Could that be because many of us buy into the whole “this is a movie so it must be totally implausible to make it exciting” syndrome? The obligatory ‘trip and fall’ while running? The ‘running down the middle of street’ to escape from a car chasing us (why would you run down the middle of the street?). The ‘I knocked out the baddie, but forgot to tie him up or disable him’ and he subsequently attacks me just i am rescuing the prisoner. My personal favourite is the one where the “bad guy” makes a 10 minute speech explaining ,and at the same time confessing, and just as he is about to kill the “hero” he gets killed by the partner(cops), the wife(stalker,thriller) or someone who just happens to be there right on cue. Plus the countless examples of utter stupidity thrust upon in the name of ‘cinema’.A good friend of mine who hails from the US, calls them “movie stupids” which is a very apt term.
All of this leads me to Why oh why can’t we return to the days where good plots, good acting and plausible action were all that were needed to make and entertaining movie.