SF Signal asks several SF authors If you ran Hollywood, what changes would you make? What would stay the same?
John C. Wright has an excellent response which centers around his complaint of "philosophical product placement" a term I find perfect in describing how so many films are ruined.
…Bollywood, movies from India, are more wholesome, more family-friendly, have better song and dance numbers, and notably more attractive actresses. The weft of the Culture of Death hangs over our Hollywood films, which I do not scent from these overseas films. It has been many a year since I have seen a Hollywood film that does not use "philosophical product placement" to thrust one or another particularly annoying little ad for their materialistic, mildly pinko, morally relative, or anti-American world view in my face. We see such things as would make Cicero or Marcus Aurelius blush with anger, not to mention John Adams and Tom Jefferson.
I am not talking about deliberately politicized films whose anti-American bias is bold and clear, like V for Vendetta or Starship Troopers. I am talking about a universal atmosphere. Even lighthearted kiddie fare like Happy Feet or space opera like Revenge of the Sith or epics like Beowulf cannot be told in a straightforward and honest fashion, a story for the sake of a story, but some little message has to be inserted either mocking religion, or sneering at George Bush, or belittling Christianity. I call it "product placement" because it is the intrusion, never where needed, of one extraneous line or extra quip that allows the film-maker to display his political correctness. And we all know that moral relativism and multiculturalism are good right? Because only a Sith would speak in absolutes.
His comments are not all negatives and lists that almost all of the top 20 films are science fiction and fantasy extravaganzas and that the quality of Babylon 5 and the new Battlestar Gallatica match anything else quality wise. He follows up his interview with a post on his blog answering a complaint.
…The first comment in the comments box chides me for not admiring the healthy dissent and vibrancy created by the willingness of mainstream cinema to call into question the core values of the society. Myself, I would retort that this is exactly my complaint: the core values of society are countercultural, and they are expressed with a lockstep uniformity I find both non-vibrant to the point of boring and non-healthy to the point of morbid.
In the past, the values of the culture and the counterculture were at odds, but were not necessarily enemies. The culture prized things like modesty, fidelity, sobriety, and thrift; the counterculture was kept in check until holidays or late nights after work was done, and it was permitted to express itself. The counterculture prizes things like bragging, sexual nonchalance, wild fun, and immediate self-gratification: it is the culture of Just Do It and of Fa-La-La Live For Today. The counterculture expressed itself in off-duty hours and drinking songs in much the same way the culture expressed itself in hymns and austere public monuments. The speeches made at graduation ceremonies are solemn (and forgettable) precisely because they are the most pure expression of the culture: graduation speeches are the last opportunity for the elders of the tribe to impart their wisdom to the next generation, to transmit the values of the culture. The ribald lyrics, mocking altar and crown, that workingmen sing over their mugs of beer at the public house after the children are abed, were an expression of the counterculture.
In terms of religion, the culture believed in things like the Holy Ghost, and the counterculture believed in things like ghost stories. No one wants to hear about saints when they are drinking a pint; but they don’t mind hearing about some eerie Oriental spiritualism. It is no coincidence that rock stars and film stars go in for Zen Zoroastrianism or the study of Wiccan Cabalism rather than Rotary Club Episcopalianism.