If you know what people are afraid of, you know how to reach them


Mick LaSalle (movie reviewer for the San Francisco Chronicle), had a brilliant piece Sunday. Making the point that Oscar-nominated movies are not the big box office hits, he wrote about what the majority of Americans prefer to see at the movies.

“So people are not flocking to the best movies. They’re not flocking even to the movies they believe to be the best. Instead they’re paying to see alien invasions, malevolent AI and civic chaos, films showing either the destruction of the world as we know it . . .or a post-apocalyptic world, with humanity forced to endure a dystopian nightmare.

“What does the persistent popularity of these recurrent themes tell us? . . .The fear of alien invasion is an elaboration and distortion of the fear of immigration. The fear of artificial intelligence taking over is a disguised wariness of automation, of computers taking away our jobs. And the depictions of civic chaos . . . is a manifestation of the modern fear of terrorism. . . .

“As the dominant themes of our films, they probably can be called the dominant fears of our historical moment. They may even help explain the result of the 2016 presidential election. Once you know what people are afraid of, you know how to reach them.”


10 Top-Selling Movies of 2016                     9 Oscar-Nominated Best Films of 2016

 Captain America: Civil War                                          MoonLight

Rogue One                                                                          La La Land

Finding Dory                                                                    Manchester by the Sea

Zootopia                                                                             Hidden Figures

Jungle Book                                                                       Lion

The Secret Life of Pets                                                     Fences

Batman v. Superman                                                     Hacksaw Ridge

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them                Arrival

Deadpool                                                                            Hell or High Water

Suicide Squad.

2 responses »

  1. Another thing to consider: The world is going thru another big revolution, similar to the Industrial Revolution. Lots of people fear what’s happening; their lives are very different than the lives their grandparents lived. It’s not only the climate that’s changing, and all that leads to, it’s also technology that’s eliminating jobs most people rely on. Even how war is waged is changing. These outcomes are mirrored in disaster movies.

  2. jewels marcus

    One of the reasons Superman, the comic hero, was created in 1933 was the onslaught of the rise of Nazi ideology in Germany and the threat of a possible world domination. In times of threats our fears direct us to retaliation and possible retribution and resolution. We hate to feel weak and victimized. It’s why Trump managed to convince the Electoral College to choose him. Egocentric bragot wins the hearts of the frightened downtrodden and forgotten working class.


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