Hollywood has trained us to anticipate summers full of action movies, goofy (raunchy?) comedies, and a few predictable romantic comedies. I’ll no doubt cooperate by seeing several movies over the summer. I’ve probably seen some of them before.
“There’s a lot of No. 2 coming to local movie screens this summer…The annual avalanche of sequels, remakes, reboots and franchise fodder proves once again that Hollywood plays it safe in the summer by counting on the tried and true.” (Dann Gire, “2 Much” in the Daily Herald, ” May 3, 2012)
Despicable Me 2, Grown-ups 2, RED 2, Smurfs 2. Star Trek 2, The Hangover 3 (I will ignore this just like I did the first two), Fast and Furious 6 (really?), Man of Steel (a.k.a. Superman) are just a handful of summer sequels.
It seems that there are more sequels, prequels, and re-makes than ever before.
…if our profit driven culture is crushing creativity. In my opinion, movies featuring thoughtful and engaging stories are rare exceptions to special effects, lazy adolescent humor, and predictable plots. I heartily support the former and studiously avoid the latter. Hollywood seems to do exactly the reverse.
…if passively watching other people’s stories has dulled our ability or desire or imagine a new story. Years ago, during a basketball practice carpool, my son and his friends spent the entire trip repeating and laughing over dialogue from The Simpsons. I remember bouncing a challenge off of the rear view mirror: Why don’t you guys talk about your own lives instead of Bart Simpson’s? They gave me the puzzled looks typical of 10-year-olds and returned to their hilarious recitations. D’oh!
Of course, many talented artists continue to write and produce excellent stories in literature and film. (I’m happy to report that my Simpsons quoting son now lives and writes quite some good stories of his own.)
There will always be compelling stories to tell. I pray that we will not lose the eyes to see them or the skill and passion to tell them.
After all, we are created in the image of the One who wrote marvelous stories in the medium of human history. Unlikely and complex heroes prevailed over trials and villains, but only when they relinquished their own strength and trusted in God. The faith stories of Joseph, Moses, Ruth, Esther, and David are some of the greatest literature ever written.
God’s masterpiece is the overarching biblical story of God coming to earth as an unlikely hero, a carpenter from Nazareth, who saved the world by surrendering all of his power on a cross. That was a masterful plot twist that no one, not even those to whom it had been prophesied, saw coming.
It is a story worth re-telling, and thankfully it is still being played out like personal sequels in the lives of those who follow Jesus.
Do you think that cultural influences are dulling our ability to tell a good story? What are some of your favorite movies? What kind of story does your life tell?