Sunday, November 11, 2007

X-Axis comments thread - 11 November 2007

- Goodness, it's been a while since I posted anything at length here. There'll be more this week, honest.

- Meanwhile: this week on the X-Axis, Astonishing X-Men reaches the penultimate issue of Joss Whedon and John Cassaday's run; Uncanny X-Men continues the "Messiah Complex" crossover; and Silver Surfer: In Thy Name gets reviewed because it was the only new series of the week. It's not bad at all, though.

- Watching the US writer's strike from afar, I'm intrigued to see that American strikes still work on the basis of other union members refusing to cross picket lines, and talk of permanently expelling people from a closed-shop arrangement if they don't honour the strike. To British eyes, this is all a weird pre-Thatcherite throwback, and the sort of thing they still do in France. It's very odd to see this sort of thing cropping up in America, of all places. Perhaps it reflects the fact that American unions haven't had the same tradition of militancy that made Thatcher want to take them on. Feels weird, anyway.

- Lions for Lambs has apparently bombed at the US box office, according to Deadline Hollywood Daily, which prompts a load of right-wing commenters to declare that this clearly shows Hollywood is out of touch with what the market wants - i.e., drooling patriotic nonsense.

Actually, they're probably right that that sort of movie would do better, but they're missing something more fundamental. Iraq is a very divisive issue in America. Why would you go and see a broadly anti-war film full of people talking about how terrible it all is? If you support the war, it doesn't exactly sound like a great night out. And if you oppose the war, it's still basically an evening of celluloid-assisted autoflagellation. It's hardly surprising that mass audiences don't want to watch this stuff. To make them pay to see miserably depressing movies about political subjects, you have to pitch them as Important Cultural Moments along the lines of Schindler's List. But the Iraq war is probably too divisive for that to work.

I wonder whether Hollywood is really able to deal with a topic as divisive as this, when anything you say is guaranteed to alienate half the population of America from the word go. It's a lose-lose proposition, if your movie has to haul in the viewers at the end of the day.