At some point, just after the turn of the century all cultural consumption became dislodged and disconnected from cultural production. Technological innovation spurred tremendous transformations to produce art that was traditionally curated and managed by cultural gatekeepers.
Digital filmmaking allowed independent filmmakers to bypass the doors of Hollywood at all points: Scriptwriting, Digital Cameras, Non-linear editing software
Musicians could record, produce, and edit high-quality tracks on their computers and upload them to the Internet
Writers could self-publish books and sell them online, bypassing the insulated liberal snobs of NYC and London - the traditional publishing gatekeepers
While these technological transformations were great for access to new audiences for creators, they also had a lasting impact in disrupting the other side of the cultural equation, one that rarely gets mentioned.
Social unity through shared human experiences depends on synchronous cultural consumption. The rise of the Internet and digital technologies created an isolated asynchronous society that consumes and experiences cultural content at different times, rendering them disparate nodes picking at different interests with less enthusiasm and nobody to share it with.
This is not an appeal for a return to collective consumption of culture, the disruptive digital genie is already out of the bottle. However, if you’ve often wondered why the quality of music and film degraded after this technological transformation, consider how we valued cultural production over the centuries, versus how we’ve come to expect everything for free today.
Just two centuries ago master composers were given court appointments by Monarchs who commissioned great works with generous patronage. Just one century ago a productive writer could support a spouse and family working at their local newspaper. A prominent writer could sell one or two articles or short stories to Harpers or even a mediocre literary journal and live for a year or two off those sales to fiddle with a novel in a cheap city like Paris where the dollar stretched out nicely.
While we have more cultural production than ever thanks to those technological innovations, the quality and value have plummeted. The mediocre end of the spectrum has been pulled and extended toward the poor end which now stretches into the digital ether. Even the once-trusted cultural gatekeepers whose sole job was to filter out the mediocre, have completely dropped the ball by favoring politics over art.
Collectivism in political ideologies and social organization is antithetical to prosperity because it undermines innovation and stifles creativity, which can only flourish by maximizing individual liberty, especially the right to dissent.
When collectivism imposes its restrictive conformist orthodoxies on cultural production, the window of artistic creativity shrinks. When it reaches an apex, all art ceases to exist and is replaced by propaganda.
Artistic forms can be used as effective tools to communicate propaganda, but nothing new or innovative that transcends the boundaries of political conformity through creative exploration can be possible when the motives of the artist are in service of ideology and not artistic expression.
Nowhere is this more prevalent today than the artistic choices made for the new Race Marxism permeating all dominant nodes of cultural production.
The gaping ravine between cultural gatekeepers and cultural consumers could not be more unmistakable. Just glance at any film review audience score and see how it completely defies all the critics. When the critics rave over a film, the audience doesn’t share the same enthusiasm. Cultural critics today are simply university-indoctrinated stenographers who celebrate the propaganda posing as art.
The rift is precisely due to the audience sniffing out propaganda that disrupts artistic expression. The audience’s instinct to reject “woke” progressive ideology in literature, film, and music is accurate. They sense they are being lectured to, and great art never carries a political message over its form, it never reveals itself directly.
But propaganda does.
And this has killed the film industry.
Over the past decade, the cancerous tumor dividing and destroying western civilization (among many others), known as the cult of DIE — diversity, inclusion, and equity became the measuring stick of a film’s viability.
Using the preferred tactics of cultural Marxists — shame and admonishment through mob behavior, including the cringeworthy Oscars So White campaign — Hollywood quickly took note and began to surrender to the mob.
The Oscars has been a laughable shit show for years, and the ratings overwhelmingly demonstrate that it is now on the fast track to complete and total cultural irrelevance.
In 2018, two years after the #OscarsSoWhite “controversy”, a gelded Hollywood so thoroughly capitulated to this ideological cancer that the first 16 presenters at that year’s awards ceremony were mostly black women. They ran out of actresses so they lassoed Oprah Winfrey from her grazing pasture in Montecito, and even called tennis player Serena Williams to help quell the emotionally fragile racist mob from online accusations of “white supremacy”.
In the wake of the George Floyd hysteria, and Trump Derangement Syndrome, this cancer has infiltrated all areas of American life, while the unemployment line for white commercial TV actors extends across the continent. You cannot use the word “white” to describe this overt racism, without being bombarded by their red guard as being a “white supremacist”. This is how they enforce their racist ideology, with racist accusations.
This cultural cancer has now been mandated by the Academy of Motion Pictures, the body that hosts the Oscars, signaling the end of art and the beginning of a new era of motion picture propaganda. In order for films to meet awards qualifications standards, they must embrace the cult of DIE, or not be considered at all.
Around the time of the initial #OscarsSoWhite insanity, I exchanged emails with a Cultural Studies Professor about this charade and how in the future only films that check all the DIE boxes will be eligible for production or awards — predicting these mandates three years early.
We tinkered with various synopses for future Hollywood films.
A young Mexican guy who has been deported six times illegally crosses into the u.s. and transitions into a girl while falling in love with a black lesbian in Tuscon. White male ice agents are on zer trail but zer transitioning helps zer get an ACLU lawyer and become a “dreamer” who raises money on gofundme to afford a first-class ticket to the sanctuary city of San Fransicko where zhe shoots heroin all day. One day zhe shoots and kills an unarmed white woman with a stolen gun on the pier in San fransicko, is arrested but acquitted and not deported. Nancy Pelosi invites zer to the state of the union where democrats give zer a ztanding zovation as zhe twerks with zer black lesbian lover.
Solid gold. solid gold. Major roles for the bald Mexican lesbiatrix who showed up emoting after the Broward County school shooting and Cuba Gooding II. Oscars in every conceivable category, and some new ones they make up for us. Lifetime achievements awards, the keys to every sanctuary city, a fortune on the back of massive advance betting on the awards, our own late night super-edgy comedy show for the resistance audience. And that's just for starters. This is the break I’ve been waiting for.
Movie audiences are so hungry for authenticity, for quality storytelling, for anything that doesn’t check the DIE matrix or appears to be another woke lecture. After decades of vacuous remakes with token character substitutes and endless superhero spinoffs of Marvel or Star Wars melded amusement park CGI porn, the moment anything remotely deviates from the status quo, audiences go berzerk and rightly reward it at the box office.
Top Gun: Maverick is nothing particularly brilliant, but it is one of those films that has been rightly rewarded. (no spoilers ahead)
It doesn’t stand out as an exceptional film in any way aside from the fighter jet action sequences, which, thanks to the help of the U.S. Navy, are superior to anything ever attempted. But fancy fighter jet action would be nothing without balanced storytelling, decent acting, and knowing how to skillfully engage the audience.
It doesn’t pretend to be sophisticated. It doesn’t try to remake the action genre or get bogged down in the nostalgia of its predecessor. The film knows when to pull those nostalgic strings visually, musically, and with dialogue, and when to leave them alone and build something new and better from its past. For sequels that’s nearly impossible.
The film avoids lecturing the audience, doesn’t overwhelm them with obnoxious dizzying CGI fluff, and most importantly embraces the hero’s journey to resurrect an iconic character who represents a past that the new cultural Stasi are intent on burying.
It can be campy at times but that’s only because the film knows it’s badass in the same way that Johnny Lawrence from Cobra Kai knows something’s badass, in that instinctual, unapologetically toxic-to-the-hilt masculine way that movie audiences have been yearning for again.
Sure there’s obvious “diversity” in the cast, plenty of tokens and a woman fighter ace, and a few were not chosen for their acting skills as is the norm these days, but it doesn’t weigh the whole bird down or force the audience to hit the eject button while shaking their heads in disappointment.
It doesn’t take itself too seriously if the viewer simply surrenders to its flow. This was something that entertainment as a form of escape from the drudgery of everyday life used to provide on a consistent basis before everything became political.
This is what made movies the most adored cultural medium last century.
It’s nice to know there are still some who care to take us there again, and that they can still hit the target without sacrificing any artistic aces in the process.
These days that seems like a double miracle.
Good Citizen Rating
Top Gun: Maverick
* This is the first Good Citizen spoiler-free short film review
Future films will be rated based on the 5-S Dagger system (fighter jet emoji)
🛦 - Suicide
🛦🛦 - Skip
🛦🛦🛦 - Sloppy
🛦🛦🛦🛦🛦 - Stupendous
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Top gun maverick director Joseph Kosinski also helmed Only the Brave. Hope he can make more movies like those. As someone who has been a terrified passenger of many Asian female drivers, I don’t think an Asian woman could ever be an elite fighter pilot - that was the only glaring diversity issue in the whole film.
You've nailed it on the cultural de-evolution/evolution of the Information Age. Many years ago my mother pointed out the obvious; as the quantity of information and ease of communication increases, the quality of it decreases. For years she and her siblings exchanged a "round robin" letter, initially handwritten by most and eventually upgraded to manual typewriters. Now our thousands of emails and crudely spelled text messages disappear into the ether, while our families have boxes of those carefully crafted letters.
There is nothing so constant as change though; as people slowly wake up, or are rudely awakened when they're mugged by reality, personal relationships will become more dear and once again the cream will rise to the surface. As the masses begin to reject and ignore the mindless drivel that Hollywood and the MSM churn out, the momentum will eventually be lost, making a way for individuals to be recognized for their merit.
For some, it's going to be more painful. As my mother also said; "Experience is a dear teacher, but the fool will learn no other way".