September 6, 2001

The Daze Rant

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As someone who grew up in Hawaii, I had a special interest in Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer’s Pearl Harbor. Specifically, I wanted to see if Hollywood would drop the ball in its portrayal of my home. And, sure enough, my friends and I played “count the locals” as we sat in the theater and wondered if Bay filmed the movie in Wisconsin instead of Hawaii.

As I read bad review after bad review of Pearl Harbor, one of the most common complaints critics voiced about the massively hyped monstrosity was that it was too simple and too “P.C.” Specifically, Bay seemed overly concerned with showing that the Japanese soldiers were human too. The critics insisted that the movie-going public already knows this. Meanwhile, there were reports of police stationed outside some theaters in Asian populated areas of California in case violence broke out. Apparently, Hollywood hasn’t dumbed down movies enough.

This all got me pondering. Exactly what is the entertainment industry responsible for? Does it have a responsibility to history or to wowing the public? Despite Bay’s insistence that he was making an epic romance and not a historical documentary, it’s inevitable that some people will take Pearl Harbor as a history lesson. Let’s face it, it’s far easier to watch a movie with big explosions than to read a history book.

Further, could a clumsily executed movie really encourage racism? After all, this is America, land of the free and home of the brave. We pride ourselves on our individuality and independence. Surely Hollywood doesn’t tell us what to think; we can think for ourselves.

But according to some parents, we can’t. TV, movies, and video games have been blamed for everything from Columbine to the spread of Communism. Playing one game of Doom will apparently transform normal children into soulless monsters who turn their schools into shooting galleries.

Crazy as this idea sounds, these people may have a point. In the 1930s, Orson Wells convinced America that Martians were invading. Imagine the havoc that could be wrought in modern times, with our robots and computer graphics. Muppet technology is already so advanced that we were fooled into electing one as president.

So some people can’t think without the entertainment industry’s help. This is problematic for people who enjoy watching pro-wrestling and Jackass, yet have enough of a grasp on reality not to light themselves on fire. I want to be able to watch action flicks and play video games, but I also want to walk into class without getting shot in the face. So what’s to be done?

The parents of America could conceivably take responsibility for raising their kids, and teach them that shooting things with assault rifles in real life will not result in bonus points or rescued magic princesses. Then again, I’m a realist.

Thus, I propose that viewers be required to pass a test of common sense before being allowed to watch anything more complicated than Big Bird counting to ten. The test will consist of simple questions like whether or not paint is a delicious snack, or if cows are made for sweet loving. Failing any of these questions will lock out the program and also send a powerful electric shock to the offending moron. That way, despite not being able to see Jackass, stupid people writhing in pain will still be available for my viewing amusement.

Until such a test is implemented, Hollywood has a responsibility to make sure movies don’t result in people getting beaten up in the streets. The American people, meanwhile, have a responsibility to make sure an entire generation of kids doesn’t grow up thinking Ben Affleck won a Medal of Honor.

Archived article by Matt Chock