Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

Identity Crisis 

American movies once enthralled the world with their exuberance and clarity. What happened in the 1990s?

Wednesday, Sep 24 1997

Page 7 of 7

Moviemaking has always been a matter of putting twists on formulas. (Critics refer to old formulas as "genres.") But in better times, moviegoers did get variations instead of recapitulations. At no period has it been less of a deal to guess what an "adventure" or a "comedy" or a "fantasy" will look like. Marketing in the '90s does more than pave the way for movies -- it turns them into pieces of a Pavlovian purchasing system.

Unless filmmakers and moviegoers revolt, the image Americans will project to each other and the world will continue to be that of a bloated consumer. The quote at the beginning of this article was actually an answer to a question: It's from an essay called "What Is an American?" With wholehearted optimism, De Crevecoeur dubbed us, "The western pilgrims, who are carrying along with them that great mass of arts, sciences, vigour, and industry which began long since in the east; they will finish the great circle." In the 21st century "the great circle" may turn out to be Flat City: an endlessly restocked mall stretching all the way to the horizon.

About The Author

Michael Sragow


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"