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Musings on the Conservative Cinematic Universe

Robert Franklin

Posted on April 23, 2019 22:33

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Right-wing propagandist flicks with reality-bending factual deficiency are finding box office success. Is this just a niche genre becoming profitable, or could it be indicative of something more?

The success of a movie, in terms of box office, is generally considered against its budget. By this metric, the new conservative propaganda film Unplanned is a smash. Its $17.3 million domestic draw is nearly triple its budget of $6 million. For comparison, Avengers: Age of Ultron also tripled its budget in box office receipts. So not bad for a flagrantly politically-partisan portrayal of Planned-Parenthood-employee-turned-anti-abortion-activist Abby Johnson.

I could devote the next 400 words to breaking down every lie, half-truth, and misleading position Unplanned took over its 106-minute runtime, but writers all over the Internet have beaten me to it. It's really just the same hyper-partisan verbal slight-of-hand religious conservatives have been peddling since Reagan bestowed the Religious Right with political legitimacy.

I think there's a topic actually worth our time buried in this though. Maybe it's worth discussing how movies like Unplanned are generally terrible movies with a fanatical premise and pedestrian craftsmanship, but appear to be cinematic darlings to their target audience? What does this say about that target audience? Are our cultural political turf wars making their way into our local theaters?

I'm reminded of the time my wife and I attended a screening of AmeriGEDDON, a 2016 masterwork of conspiratorial absurdity by Mike Norris and Gary Heavin. I was writing about the movie for my previous employer and my wife joined to help me take notes. That note-taking caught the attention of a middle-aged couple who seemed like the type of people who owned a house accented with everything one could buy in a Texas Treasures. They applauded us for taking notes, because apparently we needed to "stay aware" of the looming liberal threat.

Another example would be God's Not Dead, which made over $60 million on a $2 million budget. The movie is another terrible movie with a focused message for a specific grouping of American conservatives (in this case, the "persecuted" Christians). An atheist philosophy professor is the villain, and dies at the end, while the Christian student defending God's existence is the triumphant hero.

Of course.

To many conservative Christians, it's an important film that perfectly encapsulates their perceived social struggle and it paints not only atheists, but intellectual elites, as virulent hucksters hellbent on destroying Christian values.

Like Unplanned and AmeriGEDDON, God's Not Dead doesn't meet any generally accepted definition of a "good movie." But that doesn't seem to matter. The toxicity of our politics has seemingly permeated into movie theaters, with certain box office draws being draws solely on their inflammatory, reality-bending subject matter.

It's been said that movies are supposed to be an escape from reality, but it seems conservative cinema doesn't buy into that. Or, maybe, they do, which indicates, to me anyway, that the distortion of reality ever-present in modern conservatism may be more dynamic than Fox News programming, Devin Nunes' lawsuits, or the President's Twitter account.

Robert Franklin

Posted on April 23, 2019 22:33

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Source: Vox - All

The movie paints the anti-abortion movement as pro-woman. Early in the film Unplanned , Abby Johnson gives an abortion...

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