Actress Jennifer Lawrence, once considered a "sure thing" for movie ticket sales, had her third box-office flop recently in the form of the Cold War spy thriller "Red Sparrow," following her epic flop "mother!" and the tepidly-received "Passengers."
Lawrence's "Red Sparrow" pulled in just $16.4 million on its opening weekend, a sad finish in what can only be described as a three-year fall from grace. A multitude of factors played into Lawrence's box-office demise, including her expressed political leanings, which sometimes border on hateful condemnations of conservatives.
As evidenced by the Academy Awards last week, many of Hollywood's top actors hold the same views toward middle America and are unapologetic about it. In response, much of middle-America has turned their backs on Hollywood by rarely turning out for their films and failing to identify with actors the way they used to.
The result: actors alone can no longer bring in an audience. Instead, studios believe they must rely more on brand names like Marvel, Star Wars, and other familiar titles.
But is any of this a good thing? Should Americans revel in the fact that the movie star is dead? Think about that answer for a second. Here's how Stephen Galloway at THR put it:
Studios have increasingly turned to brands, rather than brand names, to the Star Wars and Marvel movies, rather than individual actors. They’ve come to favor a product over a personality. They’ve given up on the notion that film can be about real people, warts and all. And in doing so, they’ve turned their backs on their most important social role, the one thing that makes them more than mere corporations: their ability to teach us how to care.
Without developing character pieces, they won’t develop more stars. And without more stars, they’ll be forced back on machine-honed product, which might be fine entertainment but hardly nourishes the soul.
Is Galloway right? It sure seems like it.
While we conservatives might be giddy over the fact that liberal elites are getting their just desserts for taking our money while stabbing us in the back, we need to remember that the movie star came as a product of character-driven, good storytelling on the silver screen. Character-driven stories allowed for talents like Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant, Harrison Ford, Ingrid Bergman, Audrey Hepburn, and yes, even Meryl Streep, to become the icons that engaged our hearts and minds.
As studios move toward brand names, writers and directors have grown discouraged about making original material that not only entertains the masses but provides some catharsis to our souls. No surprise then that this has led to the death of the movie star.
The death of the movie star might mean the death of political speeches that annoy us (that's something to celebrate), but it also means the death of films that more fully explore the human condition in a profound and satisfying way.