By Henry P. Raleigh
ART TIMES April 2015 online
Back in the days when filmmakers were simpler, more caring folks than they appear to be now our movies proudly promoted satisfying, even comforting values. You know, the bad guys pay the price in the end, true love never failed to triumph. You could put your money on bravery, patriotism, loyalty, honesty and mom and her apple pie. Oh, it’s not that movies are racing down Hell’s Highway. We still have our Captain Americans, and Bruce Willis (as well as his descendants) will never go down in defeat, for goodness sake. Still, just the same there’s some kind of funny business going on, I can tell you. Just take a look at this movie of last year, “Assault on Wall Street”. Here’s a story of an average middle-class, straight-as-an-arrow working man who is wiped out in this last financial crash. He loses his job, home, wife, meager savings, his self-respect and POW! There goes the poor fellow’s American Dream. Naturally he’s pretty upset so it’s patiently explained to him that these do sometimes happen and it’s all in the natural course of things and certainly nobody’s fault. Refusing to see the reasonableness of this he goes berserk, assassinating every broker, banker and financial consultant he comes upon, winding up in the bloody trashing of the entire brokerage firm including its office boys and secretaries. And get this - He gets away with it. He has been turned into a kind of folk hero, not only escaping scot-free but vowing to continue his grisly good work. Now where is the redeeming value that we had come to expect in our films? I mean who exactly deserves to rue his (or their) dreadful (or innocent) deeds? This indecision is maddening and just note how much has changed since a film “Axed” only a year before dealt with very much the same issue. There the situation of the principal is identical to that of the lead in “Assault on Wall Street” but he, showing a lot more restraint, settles for simply murdering his family in a fit of pique. I imagine we’re going to get more of this kind of value inversion and I ask you, what are we coming to?