Has Hollywood Crossed the Threshold of Implausibility?
Hollywood had a tainted history of manipulating movie audiences into feeling better about themselves, even stooping to the margins of implausibility to do so.
In the thirties and forties, the studios hatched a scheme to portray elderly multi-millionaire tycoons as bumbling, stumbling, grumbling, over- upholstered patriarchs—-paterfamilias of Leading Ladies like Carole Lombard, Maureen O’Hara and Claudette Colbert. Repeatedly at the head of the caravan of grouches were crackerjack character actors like Charles Coburn, Eugene Pallette and Hugh Herbert. It was their consistently irascible buffoonery that led Mr. and Mrs. Average Joe to a comfort level that allowed them sparks of mockery, temporarily setting aside their resentment of the rich in the sheltering darkness of baroque movie theaters. For an hour and a half, they could luxuriate in the comforts of vengeful mockery. Annual income levels ranging from not-bad to impoverishment. these moviegoers were engaged in the entertaining pleasures of Getting Even.
The collective enmity wasn’t limited to doddering dads of exorbitant prosperity. There were their Eastern-seaboard-accented, spoiled-brat daughters to despise, the marginally winsome Other Women–played by stalwart semi-stars like Trudy Marshall, Nina Foch and Ruth Hussey–who never failed to lose the affections of the Leading Man to the spotless charms of the wholesome, prettier, unspoiled Leading Lady played by fully-flowered stars like Carol Lombard, Jeanne Crain and Claudette Colbert. And then there was the dully innocuous, slick-haired, Yale-milled stuffed shirt, The Other Man (reluctantly painted beige by the likes of not-quite-handsome-enough actors Lee Bowman, George Brent and Lyle Talbot ) whom—-in the competition with Leading Men (such as remorselessly handsome Clark Gable, Robert Taylor and William Powell) for the heart of the Leading Lady– was invariably trounced by unanimous decision.
These secondary cinema characters were, to a large measure, kept just this side of the threshold of implausibility by the Hollywood establishment (mostly populated of FDR-grade progressives) to the presumed titillation of America’s Working Stiffs and Blondie Bumsteads. Fair enough, I guess.
But recently, I gasped I witnessed the probably inevitable trespass over the threshold. There, in a promo clip of the new remake of Cyrano, was Peter Dinklage, as the celebrated, swashbuckling, greatest swordsman of France in the stirring process of lethally perforating a dastardly opponent into the bottomless pit of the cosmic void–despite the lout standing at least two feet taller than Dinklage, and flailing a rapier at least two feet longer. Now, really?
What, I asked myself, has Hollywood done in the name in even-handed elevation of marginalized minorities? Descended to abject absurdity, I heard myself answering. More questions crowded my skepticism. What other berserk ideas would invade the cinematic imagination of my fellow Progressives?
A biopic of Andre the Giant starring Danny DeVito?
A remake of Rambo starring Jim Parsons?
A film version of Aida starring Marlee Matlin, signing to the Verdi”s music*?
A remake of Gandhi starring Sylvester Stallone?
A new, reimagined version of a cop-movie franchise, now re-titled Dirty Harriet, starring Judy Dench in the lead role?
A biopic of Mother Theresa starring Stormy Daniels?
The Bible with Mel Gibson as David, King of the Jews and Paris Hilton as God.
And, what- the -implausible Hell next?
Note: Okay,, okay, maybe this example is somewhat dark, but I’m claiming an exemption from rebuke, since I am–in truth–the offspring of deaf-mute parents.
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