Hollywood's Government Hate
There is a new bad guy in town. It's not islamic terrorists. They're still a little too real for comfort. Aliens don't really make the cut (check out the tepid box office for "Edge of Tomorrow".) Zombies and other ghouls seem content to exist on our television screens not the movie theaters so we're left with a void to fill. Who is so evil that they appear in various forms across almost all of the year's biggest blockbusters? You know them well: they live in fortresses, enforce all the rules though a variety of means, and collect your taxes. That's right folks, the new villain in town: your own government.
I first noticed this while viewing the latest Transformers "film." All previous films in the series had the U.S. Government as the heroes with every other scene featuring American badasses using their wits and firepower to kick ass and save the day. That all changed in the latest film, which sees a shadowy secret division of the Government threatening as the primary antagonist of the film. As a fan of the franchise, this change was shocking to me! I wanna see Tyrese and company kicking ass with Optimus, not government agents threatening to kill teenage girls. This change from the government as the hero to the oppressor is jarring but not surprising - after all, government approval ratings are now at a six year low. But still, this was a Michael Bay movie and like Optimus Prime, he is not known for subtlety, so maybe the evil government oppressor was limited to his robot opus? Of course not.
Everywhere you look on the screen this summer is some type of overlord government who definitely doesn't have the American people's wellbeing as there number one priority. The biggest movie of the year so far is "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" where we see the hero actively turn against the very government he works for when he discovers the surveillance state. In "The Lego Movie" government and big business are interchangeable and they are both designed to crush individuality. "Godzilla" saw the Government covering up monsters and being completely inept at fighting them, a big change from the 1998 version which had the troops defeat the monster. "X-Men:Days of Future Past " features a corrupt political system that goes onto destroy the world via technology. If you think the current government is bad - just wait until you see what's coming!
It wasn't always this way, was it? Think about "Independence Day" which literally saw the entire world uniting around the American government to save the planet. Even "Men In Black" portrayed the government as badass good guys - so cool in fact that people thought it was rad when they covered up evidence via memory wipe. Don't forget older blockbusters like "Top Gun" which pretty much established the pro-government formula. The kick-ass government film may have worked in the past but these days people don't want it. Everyone seemingly has a gripe with the government now, it's not unique to one party, so why would audiences want to see the oppressors as heroes. The two greatest fictional American spies of the century (Jason Bourne & Jack Bauer) personify NOT following the orders of the Government. You want to see a heroic C.I.A. agent on the big screen - go see "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit," - oh wait, no one (except me apparently) saw that movie*.
Look, I realize this sounds a little paranoid and kind of far off the rails. I'm a big fan of the USA. I had a blast on July 4th and was crestfallen when they got bounced from the World Cup. And if it wasn't clear by me seeing Transformers opening night, I love ra-ra-ra America kicking ass movies. But right now I'm just telling you what I'm seeing on the silver-screen. People want to see Katniss fight "The Capital," they want to see Captain America destroy the government apparatus, and they want Optimus to remind us that freedom is "the right of all sentient beings." And right now, in the eyes of Hollywood, the government is the bad guy impeding on those rights.