Please absorb the basics of (a) the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial, (b) Stanley Kramer‘s Inherit the Wind (’60), and (c) the small-town Christian zealots who condemn the sensible, scientific-minded Bertram Cates (Dick York), his defense counsel Henry Drummond (Spencer Tracy) and especially Baltimore Herald journalist E.K. Hornbeck (Gene Kelly).
In damn near every scene, the holy-rolling Bible-thumpers are positively throbbing with the spirit, completely convinced of their God-given righteousness, and unwavering in their conviction that Cates, Drummond and Hornbeck deserve to suffer the pains of hell and then some.
Now remove yourself from this small Tennessee town (i.e., Hillsboro) of nearly a century ago, and ask yourself if these Old Testament wackazoids remind you of any particular group or social movement today. Think about it. Take your time.
I was just as surprised by the Andrea Riseborough thing as anyone else, but to paraphrase Stephen Stills, “There’s something happening here.” Paul Schrader, Marc Maron, Rod Lurie…something has snapped.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences is just trying to placate the Riseborough conversation — we all understand that, no worries — but there’s an early groundswell thing happening regardless. Right here, right now.
What we’re all witnessing or at least sensing is the very early beginnings of the end of woke tyranny.
I am the groundhog — Hollywood Elsewhere is the groundhog.
Obviously the Riseborough thing (which is partially driven by the “hey, what happened to Danielle Deadwyler?” thing) and the climate of fear within film festivals are separate concerns. But they’re also linked in a certain oblique way.
When Eric Kohn, of all people, is noting that goose-stepping woke groupthink is inhibiting artistic freedom, you know something’s up.
Go ahead and chortle if you want, but I think we’re witnessing the nascent beginnings of a Spartacus moment. It’s some kind of boiling-water, bursting-tea-kettle thing — a combination of a lot of triggers (and not all them contributing to an articulate whole) but it’s some kind of emotional socio-political catharsis that boils down to “we’re tired of this Big Brother-esque, guilt-tripping, Great Cultural Revolution, Twitter tyranny shit and we’re not gonna take it any more…fuck you!”
Remember Kirk Douglas, John Ireland, Harold J. Stone and the others yelling “aahhggh!!” as they attacked the Roman guards inside Peter Ustinov’s gladiator school in Capua?
IndieWire’s Eric Kohn, one of the original woke commissars who once challenged me about the validity of the word “woke” — he suggested it was arguably an imaginary construct used by righties — Kohn actually posted the following paragraph on 1.29.23, and this definitely means something…it means that all the cowards who raise their damp fingers to the wind before saying anything…the cowards are now asking themselves if woke fascism might need to be walked back a bit.
Journalist to Jounalist: “Can you imagine how a movie like Neil LaBute’s In the Company of Men, which premiered at Sundance in 1997, would be received today?” Such a film (a blistering critique of misogyny) wouldn’t be shown today, of course. And that’s what’s the matter.
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