Of course movies have messages
Disney's problem is sending the wrong messages.
18 months ago, the media cheered Disney in its battle against Ron DeSantis for the hearts and souls of the children of Florida. Disney favored having teachers promote gay lifestyles to kindergarteners. DeSantis opposed this. While the media denied that teachers were grooming kids, the media also called the DeSantis proposal the Don’t Say Gay bill, which was an admission that teachers were recruiting for the LGBT.
The media assured us DeSantis would lose this battle.
However, last month CNN reported, “Disney’s stock, at about $84 per share, is at its lowest level in nearly ten years. It is down 8% since CEO Bob Iger returned as CEO last November, and it’s down 3% since the start of the year. Compare that to some of Disney’s rivals: Comcast’s stock is up more than 18% this year, and Warner Bros. Discovery, which owns CNN, is up 22%.
“Like its competitors, Disney faces an uncertain media environment as viewers increasingly tune out linear TV in favor of entertainment sources Big Media doesn’t control, including TikTok and YouTube. But Disney has been hit particularly hard by some big misses at the box office and questions about how it will replace its fading cash cow, ESPN, among other issues.”
As for DeSantis, after barely winning election in 2018, he took Disney on and breezed to a 19-point re-election victory in 2022. Standing up for decency on social issues can win elections.
Conservatives smile. The woke are going broke. By watching the collapse, they finally have found their first Disney show in decades that entertains instead of lectures. It is popular to quote Sam Goldwyn — the G in MGM — as saying, “If you want to send a message, use Western Union.”
The quote is misattributed and misapplied. Hollywood made movies with messages all along. For 40 years beginning in the 1920s, those messages were uplifting and promoted a healthy society. Often the moral to the story was that violating any of the 7 deadly sins would bring doom.
Shraddha Mishra wrote on November 9, 2022, “The story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is a popular bedtime story for children. The fairy tale has been told since generations to teach children important values like love, kindness, friendship, helping each other, and refraining from vanity.”
Walt Disney took that message and turned it into the movie that built the House of Mouse. In the 21st century, Disney’s leaders have lost their way and their customers because the messages they send are at odds with Western values — values that Disney no longer shares.
Like Disney, the other men who built Hollywood were patriotic. Most were immigrants or sons of immigrants who were appreciative of the opportunities America provided. The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest American Movies Of All Time shows the wholesome values Hollywood once honored and promoted.
Topping the list is Citizen Kane, a tale of the corrosive nature of money and power. Money is not the root of all evil; the love of money is.
No. 2 is Casablanca, a tale of duty and honor through the redemption of a cynical and self-absorbed barkeep. The war forces him to stop moping over a dame and do what is right. His decision to do the right thing is the film’s climax.
Rick: I’m saying it because it’s true. Inside of us, we both know you belong with Victor. You’re part of his work, the thing that keeps him going. If that plane leaves the ground and you’re not with him, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.
Ilsa: But what about us?
Rick: We’ll always have Paris. We didn’t have, we, we lost it until you came to Casablanca. We got it back last night.
Ilsa: When I said I would never leave you.
Rick: And you never will. But I’ve got a job to do, too. Where I’m going, you can't follow. What I’ve got to do, you can’t be any part of. Ilsa, I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you’ll understand that. Now, now. Here’s looking at you kid.
Message received. It wasn’t delivered by telegram. Julius and Philip Epstein — identical Jewish twins — wrote the screenplay which they loaded with great lines which was acted by great men and women. Everyone involved in that movie became Rick Blaine.
The work’s importance remains appreciated today.
A modern study guide to the film noted, “These lines are the clearest statement of Casablanca’s moral resolution: the triumph of the political over the personal. But Rick is saying more than just this. Although Rick calls himself, Ilsa, and Laszlo little people, he also recognizes that Laszlo is something more. These lines are not a cry of despair but a recognition of the fact that large political considerations trump the individual concerns of lovers. Laszlo must survive in order to continue his political work. Ilsa must accompany him, not necessarily because she loves him, but because he loves her, and her presence will make him more effective politically. Through the personal sacrifice these words imply, Rick catapults himself from the realm of little people into the sphere of large causes. Like Laszlo, Rick becomes a partisan, a warrior, and a hero, and he seems to realize that whereas Laszlo’s heroism is amplified by Ilsa’s presence, Rick himself functions best on his own.”
America went all-in on saving the world in World War II. Pearl Harbor had much more to do with that than this little film, but the movie reassured the public that they were on the right side.
Saying movies shouldn’t have messages is like saying fairy tales shouldn’t have happy endings.
People still write about and enjoy Casablanca because it has a message. Its message was why Warner Brothers hastened to make the film. Its message is why all those wonderful character actors did their bit. Its message is why Bogart and the other stars were at the top of their game. Its message is why all of Hollywood hailed it as the best picture of the year and tossed it and its cast Oscar after Oscar.
Successful movies have messages.
The Wizard of Oz told us there’s no place like home.
It’s a Wonderful Life showed us that we are all part of something greater and yet every one of us matters. Thank Ted Turner and an expired copyright for this movie being remembered today.
Walt Disney’s animated films had superb messages. His TV shows told American history the way it happened. My favorite was Swamp Fox, whose only super power was outfoxing the British.
Not every offering from Hollywood was magically transforming America. I cannot remember one Three Stooges short that made me think, but I also don’t remember one that didn’t make me laugh.
On the other hand, Hal Roach slyly made the Little Rascals (nee Our Gang) always included one black kid and he never was a token.
Hollywood has lost its way. Its messages went from being John Wayne to being Jane Fonda. Instead of loving America, Hollywood came to despise the land of the free and the home of the brave. Conservatives saw it and began abandoning Hollywood 60 years ago.
Now liberals are bailing.
Variety wryly noted, “Pixar’s chief creative officer Pete Docter recently told the press that he doesn’t ‘think of Pixar as making children’s programming.’
“By the look of box office returns for the studio’s recent animated offerings, it would appear that kids have taken notice — and haven’t been so inclined to watch those movies in theaters.”
DeSantis didn’t do this; it was Disneycide.
A year ago, the Spanish web site Marca reported on the first openly gay Disney movie flopping at the box office.
Marca said, “Strange World received mostly favorable reviews, but the box office results after its November 23 release aren't looking great.
“Given that Strange World appears to be in perfect order on the surface, these statistics may come as a surprise to many spectators. A captivating voice ensemble, including Jake Gyllenhaal, Jack Quaid, Gabrielle Union, Lucy Liu, Jaboukie Young-White, and Alan Tudyk, is featured in Disney’s newest film.
“While the story follows the Clades, a family of explorers who travel to many planets, it presents a novel sci-fi/adventure idea. Strange World is a lighthearted, animated film with a sweet message about family at its core, but it isn’t all that different from what Disney often delivers.
“Another improvement in Disney portrayal is Strange World. An openly lesbian adolescent, a mixed-race couple, and a dog with only three legs are all included in the animated movie.
“Naturally, given these features, the anti-woke mob won’t take long to start jeering that the box office flop is Disney’s punishment for diversifying its films.”
Every movie is diversified these days. Openly lesbian adolescents are a drug on the market and the only people who oppose mixed-race couples now are academics.
The problem is not having a message but having the wrong message. People rallied behind Casablanca’s call to fight evil. People now rally against the evil by staying out of the movie theaters.