an ongoing series by Yours T Ruly
Movies are going to shit because they are more beholden than ever to an official morality. Every story, for reason of some abominable fusion of ethics and capitalism, must illustrate the superiority of this morality.
It reminds me of a line from Roger Water’s song, It’s a Miracle:
By the grace of God Almighty,
and the pressures of the Marketplace
the Human Race
It’s a miracle.
Except, perhaps, Water’s got it wrong somewhat in his thinking about which Church would fuse with capitalism and take over humanity. Turns out it wasn’t the Catholic. Looks like it’s going to be some chimerical fusion of Capitalism, Feminism and Islam. Totally fucking bizarre, if you think about it. So most people don’t.
A Lost Art
I’m having a hard time remembering just why I gave up on watching The Lost City of Z. As a person with a strong and abiding interest in lost civilizations… more than that, as a person who finds it likely true that there was a lost Parent Civilization before the floods, I was drawn to this film, though I had a niggling feeling that Hollywood would fuck it all up. And they did, but I’m not sure if I’m remembering the straw that broke my camel’s back.
I think it had something to do with the hero, Handsome White Goodman, arguing – on the basis of some pottery shards he came across deep in the Bolivian Highlands – that there was once a High Civilization (capable of firing clay and carving rock), older than the Western Civilization his English brethren believed themselves to be the cutting edge of. It was this Faith in Antiquity that stood in the movie as the emblem of Western, and especially Anglo, vanity.
It’s a nice premise, except this dude has no reason to think that. He just found some pottery… and talked a little to the indigenous slave he bought at a decadent colonial jungle outpost. In short, he had no sufficient reason, from his position within the film, for being possessed by such an evangelical faith. He was a man long in search of social status, who had now attained it. He was a man happily wedded to Most Excellent Wife (who later changes her name to Perfect Independent Woman), with whom he has sired Baby Just Born and Son Who Once Knew Him But Had Now Forgotten.
These familial counterweights are meant, I suppose, to heighten the profundity of his belief, except that the only real source of this profundity is the target audience’s certainty of the superiority of indigenous culture. That is: We know that he should feel that way, and passionately; so he does.
Not only is this appropriately sanctimonious, it lets the writers off the hook most conveniently. As this character is transcendentally motivated by the armchair passions of his intended audience, the writers don’t need to figure out how he could ever be motivated by such ends within himself.
What’s more, as a third benefit, by not having to write into him any perverse motivation – any motivation, that is, which would willingly alienate him from the perfect and loving family that pulls at his heartstrings – Handsome White Goodman is freed from any unseemly defects of character. A little truth-mad, to be sure, but that’s hardly a failing. That, in fact, is a dramatic statement of his authentic membership, along with the audience, in the Glorious Human Future.
And this bit of character sanitation, as a fourth benefit, finally relieves the audience from noticing any uncomfortable juxtapositions of Good and Evil within themselves.