Ankler Preview: The Civil War Cometh; Where Do Studios Goeth?

Civil Sheppards

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There is no more miserable usage of the English language than the "What's Hollywood Saying" piece in the trades.

If you had to prove in court that this town is populated by miserable narcissists unfit for membership in the human race, you'd only have to point to how quickly after a cataclysmic event that the trades post one of these.

"Earth Destroyed By Asteroid: What's Hollywood Saying?"

Nonetheless, during these dark days, the role of entertainment in shaping the world we're stuck with is not irrelevant, so this week in particular, a little bit of self-absorption is not completely beside the point, even if it takes us from the horrors in Washington to PVOD a little faster than one might like.

I've spent a lot of time in the past year in general trying to wrap my addled brain around the question of about what role Hollywood could and should play in the combative days ahead. In some ways, giant Hollywood tentpoles are the last neutral public squares America has. Even the Super Bowl has become politicized. If you say everything is political, fine. But Avengers movies, to name one example, for better or worse, have got to be the least overtly political thing standing out there.

That is to say, of course they are political – on the one hand, establishmentarian, defenders of the neoliberal order including presenting one’s self as the champions of the oppressed in the same breath as tying one’s self in knots to avoid offending the Chinese regime, while on the other hand, going all in with woke casting and topic choices.

But all that manages to stay as background noise to the spectacle of the films. You can be bugged by any of the above and still enjoy the cinematic experience of the films.

There are a few people on either side who would say that an Avengers movie makes me feel unwelcome. Which people on the extremes of either side would say, that's a problem, you should be making X people feel unwelcome. You should be using that platform to stand up against . . . you name it.

Another way to think about it though: Without being overtly political, how much more good has Marvel done by producing Black Panther and Captain Marvel than by a million table-pounding lectures? How many people who would've tuned out a lecture five milliseconds in enjoyed these movies, were touched, and in some small way changed by them?

But that was in gentler times. The question on the table right now is: Can you counter-program a civil war?

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