When I took a corporate job over a decade ago that brought me out of the easy living of Yukon, Oklahoma, to the high-cost living of Orange County, California, one of the biggest motivators at the time was so I could write and sell a screenplay. I had one started, fully fleshed out in notes and likely requiring a month or less to finish. The allure of the proximity to Hollywood made the decision to move my family easier; a better job in a place where I could shoot for a dream was a godsend.
Life happened. As the corporate world became more demanding and time to spend on my Hollywood dream became essentially nonexistent, I reluctantly let go of the notion of ever finishing my screenplay, let alone pitching and selling it in Tinseltown. As godsends often are, I eventually realized I was supposed to be in California but not for the reasons I initially thought. Today, I adamantly oppose Hollywood to the point that I see fewer movies and watch less television in a year than I used to watch in a month. I’ve effectively boycotted Hollywood, opting only to see things that either have cultural/religious/political significance so I can write commentary about it or while succumbing to my family’s desires.
When A Quiet Place was released, I actually wanted to watch it. But the only time I watch a movie without my wife is if it’s on a plane and she had seen the movie with my son. So, I reluctantly skipped it. It wasn’t a big deal; after four or five years of conditioning myself to not rely on Hollywood for entertainment more than a few times a year, missing one highly rated movie didn’t hurt.
Then, the sequel was announced. I figured it was time to go ahead and see the first movie since the sequel may be the only movie date night we have in 2020. I’m glad I did. It renewed a sense in me that Hollywood, for all of its political, religious, cultural, and creative failings, may be redeemable.
I remember when the Oscar nominations were announced that A Quiet Place was conspicuously missing from the Best Picture list despite several movies in the 60%-range on Rotten Tomatoes getting nominations. A Quiet Place had a 95% to go with strong buzz throughout its theatrical run. After watching it, I understand why. Writer-director-star John Krasinski put out a very conservative movie. It likely wasn’t intentional; the Elizabeth Warren supporter is either a standard Hollywood Democrat or has done a fabulous job of masking his true political leanings to remain in Tinseltown’s good graces. We’ll go with the former and assume rumors of his and wife Emily Blunt’s conservatism are completely false.
Nevertheless, the movie they made together had so many conservative moments and undertones that many on the left protested it. That’s likely why despite being a much better film than most (maybe all) of the Academy Award nominated movies, it received one measly nomination for Best Sound Editing. It didn’t win. It just wasn’t “woke” enough. In fact, it was the opposite of “woke” in many ways.
After reading a handful of reviews from radical progressives, here are some of the things that triggered them the most:
- The protagonists (and all of the characters, for that matter) were Caucasian.
- They prayed before a meal.
- Despite being in a world that was absolutely not-conducive to having a child—a noisy baby could literally get everyone killed—they bent over backwards to make sure the baby was delivered and protected after birth.
- They were self-reliant farmers with firearms and pickup trucks.
- Family first and always.
Of course it was shunned by the Academy. As for the radical progressive reviewers, there were several other unhinged arguments such as the main character, Lee, being “obviously” named after Robert E. Lee. You can’t make this up. Well, radical progressives can.
A movie that featured conservative values and a completely Caucasian cast (there were only eight actors, including an infant) received critical praise and was a box office success grossing over $340 million. It has a sequel coming out next month and there’s talk of turning it into a franchise like Cloverfield, though not abysmal. THIS is what Hollywood needs, or more accurately, THIS is what America needs from Hollywood.
The all-white cast isn’t necessary, but neither is forced diversity. The days of whitewashing should be over, but there’s no need to swing the pendulum back in the other direction. Caucasians should play Caucasian characters. Blacks should play Black characters. Arabs should play Arabian characters. Men should play men. Women should play women.
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But the biggest lesson Hollywood should learn from A Quiet Place is that creative storylines and plot elements that focus on achieving a strong film can be very successful. Not everything has to be based on a comic book to get mass appeal and being “woke” shouldn’t be a criteria for critical acclaim. People saw this movie in a genre that doesn’t normally put out blockbusters because it simply told the story as it was supposed to be told without forcing a political, religious, or cultural message. The fact that they prayed before their meal was a testament to family unity, not an overt pitch for religion. Considering the monsters were alien invaders, there’s no Biblical backing for the movie. But by having them hold hands while they prayed silently, it inserted the audience into the equation. What would we pray for in that situation? Would we still pray? Did the symbolism of the act supersede the act itself?
I really hope Krasinski and Blunt can strike a fresh chord with A Quiet Place 2. I also hope this can be translated into an enduring franchise if only to demonstrate to Hollywood successful filmmaking doesn’t require woke comic book characters.