Sunday, April 03, 2005

Don't go see "Sin City"

I think I'm pretty much free to make this statement because nobody is ever going to accuse me of being hip, but Richard Rodriguez's "Sin City" is an amoral, moronic piece of trash.

But why should anyone care? Bad stuff gets made all the time.

Well, here are a few reasons: It's being marketed as cool. It's being lionized. Put another way, "Sin City" isn't just a bad movie: It's pathology being foisted on the public as art, and the mainstream media is playing along.

Millions of dollars have been spent convincing people this movie is cool, and they did a great job of it. The "Sin City" trailer had us Jonesing to see this thing months ago. What a creative, stylized vision.

Only there's no there there. Actually, it's worse than that. There's something there beneath the digital cinematography: Smug stupidity strutting around as intellectual hubris. Everybody is evil and corrupt ... except for these thugs and hookers who live by a moral code for which they will die. How f*cking pathetic can you get?

As Janet so aptly put it: "What's so bad about this is, this is what passes for a critique of culture. It's shallow, it's superficial. If that's hip, count me out."

I actually think it's important that people speak out about this movie (which, yes, looks cool... although after a few minutes you really won't care). This is the best example of Hollywood spitting in the face of regular people that I've seen in years, and to let this pass unchallenged is to bolster the claim of those who would return us to various forms of censorship and artistic control. Janet Jackson's nipple was inevitable given our litany of sexual neuroses, but this disease is preventable.

Yes, bad stuff gets made all the time. But when trash gets treated like genius, when the entertainment press publishes reviews with phrases like "glorious celebration of violence" and "fun thrill ride" about an artless, rip-off script that features a buffet-line of stereotypic characters and perversions, we've lost the thread of the culture.

As Janet observed, "When you've seen that, is it that big a leap to Abu Ghraib?"

Celebrating free speech and artistic expression should not mean that anything goes, that posing as an artist makes one deep, that pretending to be smart grants one intelligence. Caring about free speech and artistic expression should mean that we care passionately about quality -- even if, and particularly if -- doing so might be unpopular with the cool crowd.