"The Lego Movie" is already a commercial smash but here's the irony: It has a villain not-so-subtly named "Lord Business" and a strong message against consumerism.
Yes, that's the message of a movie inspired by a consumer toy product, that is meant to cross-promote said products and introduce them to a much wider audience at that.
Only in Hollywood.
The fact that this script is being delivered by a blatantly capitalist and consumerist project should not be lost on anyone.
But this is not some new left-wing Hollywood trend. Since the first silent movies, where the rich greedy landlord is tying his destitute female tenant to the train tracks, wealth has been Hollywood's public enemy No 1. From "It's a Wonderful Life," to "Blade Runner" to kids' movies like "101 Dalmations" and "The Muppet Movie" and thousands of movies in between, the bad guys are almost always rich and powerful men who have an insane fixation on getting even richer and more powerful. Even business people who aren't quite rich, but are just trying to make a living, are often portrayed in the worst possible light on screen.
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I'm talking about Gordon Gekko ("Wall Street"), Keyser Söze ("The Usual Suspects"), Mr. Potter ("It's a Wonderful Life"), Dr. Evil ("Austin Powers") and even the dragon in "The Hobbit." They're all pure evil and all stinking rich.
OK, so it may not be new but it IS a disturbing problem, right?
You see, the political, economic and moral messages of Hollywood movies are just another part of a movie magic make-believe. Call it a "scriptural special effect."
But now we have to ask the next question: Why has Hollywood decided to make the wealthy its No. 1 punching bag?
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During war time, it's easy to make films showing America's enemies of the moment in a bad light. Hollywood did that to perfection in World War II.
During the Cold War, Soviet and East German bad guys were pervasive in films that went way beyond the "James Bond" series. That practice proved successful at the box office for four decades. But with the end of the Cold War, and the waning popularity of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, choosing war-inspired villains has made Hollywood uneasy.
And now, Hollywood needs movies to do well overseas to ensure profits. They can't afford to alienate the Russians or the Germans and forego that revenue stream.
Some of the alternative go-to bad guys of the 70's, 80's and 90's, like drug dealers and sexual predators, have somehow been protected by an ever-widening cloak of political correctness.
The rich remain the one enduring bad-guy mine that still "works" for Hollywood despite the film industry's equally enduring obsession with the bottom line.
And yet, I would argue that the greatest films of all time transcend this two-dimensional class warfare paradigm.
Think about movies like "Forrest Gump," where the hero unwittingly becomes wealthy, but he's still rich. Or "Star Wars," where money plays a very small role, and, while the bad guys have all the trappings of enormous power, we don't see them showing the slightest interest in capitalism. I mean the reason why the Death Star was destroyed WASN'T because the Emperor and Darth Vader outsourced the maintenance to Mexico, right?! The main characters in "The Godfather" are wealthy and ruthlessly involved in their business, but we still root for and admire them. "Casablanca" hero Rick Blaine is a business owner, Rhett Butler from "Gone With the Wind" is a blockade runner and war profiteer who still is the most-loved character on the screen. Oskar Schindler of "Schindler's List" is another war profiteer who shows that great deeds can be done while still pursuing a capitalist enterprise.
Of course, the above classics are all super exceptions to the rule, (each of them cracked the top 10 in the AFI's list of the 100 greatest films of all time), but they do show how far you can go with a script and characters that buck the Hollywood norm. Doing so requires taking a risk, but isn't risk raking a prime ingredient of capitalism?
— By Jake Novak