A Bleak Future: The Fall of American Cinema

While skipping over some channels on television, I happened to stumble over a channel that I do not routinely find myself watching during a Saturday afternoon in the summer. The channel: Turner Classic Movies (TCM). The film: 1956's The Bad Seed.

After contemplating the sheer genius of both the cinematography and the cast, I realized there was a debacle at hand -- no, I'm not talking about Rhoda attempting to find her medal. What has happened to the once-iconic American symbol of cinema, Hollywood? Has it disappeared? Was Hollywood only gilded and not truly gold? All of these questions arose after a prior viewing of Orson Welles's classic film, Citizen Kane.

Now Americans are boggled with the grueling task of choosing films that are simply too similar. Films in the 21st century can fundamentally not be separated, for they feature the same, recycled, sexual innuendos and gore-fests. Nevertheless, these are the types of films that a majority of 21st-century Americans seem to simultaneously crave and embrace.

These blockbuster films that are denounced by elitist film critics are the very films that the typical audience -- struck by a myriad of problems such as unemployment, low wages, financial instability and a stagnant market -- wants to see on a Friday night. After all, these films still act as distractions for an overwhelming amount of Americans, still reeling from the recession of 2008 and the current recovery.

However, as the Hollywood machine continues to pump out horror flicks full of gore and absolutely no plot (à la The Devil Inside) and romantic comedies with endings that a toddler could have predicted, a larger problem needs to be addressed: Hollywood's belief in quantity over quality.

As more and more people both in America and the world choose to stay home and watch films, Hollywood needs to increase the quality of films, not the quantity, which seems to be the unfortunate norm for 21st-century cinema.

There needs to be an incentive for people to go to the movies, and that incentive should come from Hollywood creating better films.

Even though Hollywood today still maintains a global influence, that influence has significantly declined from the mid-20th century. It is an indisputable fact that Hollywood still dictates what stays and what goes in a world full of critics.

Film producers should not provide an excuse by mentioning that people want to see (recycled) comedy films to be distracted from the tough economic times. Consumers didn't watch Charlie Chaplin star in mediocre films in the Great Depression, did they? Why shouldn't consumers today be exposed to that same level of excellence as they were in the past?

Maybe it's just me reminiscing on the past (even though Die Hard With A Vengeance was the highest grossing film the year I was born). But as Paul eloquently states in Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris, "Nostalgia is denial -- denial of the painful present."

Hopefully movie-goers recognize that the present state of Hollywood is painful, and begin to think outside the mainstream when selecting a movie.