An editor once taught me an invaluable tip about liberal media bias.
Sometimes the real news in a story is buried at, or near, the bottom of an article. That’s the direct opposite of Journalism 101, but it’s increasingly how the press operates today.
We were once told, “if it bleeds, it leads.” That’s become, “if it doesn’t adhere to the liberal narrative, bury it.”
It isn’t as catchy, but it’s accurate.
Take this story from the far-left Deadline.com. The article explains in gruesome detail why “Charlie’s Angels” flopped this weekend.
The film is looking at an $8.2 million opening, an abysmal tally to what was hoped to restart a Sony franchise. The story runs through a variety of reasons for the film’s lousy performance. The reporter buried this nugget at the bottom.
“Angels is the latest example in a ‘woke’ effort to reboot a franchise that many were not all that interested in to start with. In fact, many references to the 2000 version get a call-out as a reason this one doesn’t seem to compare – whether it’s the cast or the action teased from the film. And, as observed with other recent films, some action/adventure, unfortunately fans say they’re steering clear of this one because of its ‘girl power’ messaging.”
That information should go higher up in the story, no? Maybe it’s your lede given the collapse of other woke reboots like the recent “Terminator: Dark Fate.”
Deadline.com saw it differently. To paraphrase The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro, facts don’t care about a film reporter’s feelings. And the facts are clear. This year proved disastrous for Hollywood’s woke obsession, be it gender swap remakes or films loaded with liberal lectures.
“What Men Want”
The latest gender swap comedy performed the best of the films listed here, scoring $54 million at the U.S. box office. Taraji P. Henson takes over for Mel Gibson, playing a character who can read what men think.
How did Gibson’s version fare at the box office? The comedy snared $182 million stateside — 19 years ago.
How do you replace Steve Martin and Michael Caine? You can’t. This misbegotten “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” gender swap remake tried, and failed in not-so-grand fashion. Rebel Wilson and Ann Hathaway are talented stars in their own right, but they’re no match for that comic duo. Nor was their movie, which bombed with $35 million. The film itself proved one of the year’s very worst films.
This one added a wrinkle to the already tired woke formula. It’s arguably the most progressive comedy ever made, a compendium of empowerment, virtue signals and feminist bromides. And, shockingly, it’s good. Very good. First-time director Olivia Wilde is a bona fide double threat, and this critic is eager to see what she comes up with next.
Still, audiences ignored “Booksmart” in dramatic fashion, witness the film’s $22 million haul.
The current late night lineup actively alienates Red State USA. This fictionalized, feminized take on that battlefield does the same. Stephen Colbert’s “Late Show” can afford to attack half the potential audience given our splintered media landscape. Films can’t always do the same, witness this film’s anemic $15 million box office results.
Seth Rogen woos Charlize Theron? Only in the movies, eh? The stars do more than that. They mock Republicans and embrace social justice tropes. Audiences steered clear of the rom-com, delivering a wan $30 million.
“Terminator: Dark Fate”
This failure can’t be pinned entirely on woke posturing. The box office grosses for the franchise have been in free fall. The story line doesn’t beg for new installments. Franchise mainstay Arnold Schwarzenegger is no longer a marquee attraction, and that’s being kind.
Still, the film’s marketing machine played up the “Girl Power” elements of the sequel, while the director mocked anyone who didn’t fully embrace characters like Grace, played by Mackenzie Davis. The movie took pains to embrace illegal immigration while suggestions a key female player, who looks as menacing as a Keebler Elf, could be humanity’s savior.
The film’s woke lectures start with the very first line of dialogue. That’s not an exaggeration. It gets worse from there, with montages so obviously pandering to feminism some liberal critics howled in protest.
Elizabeth Banks may have helped sink her own film. The actress-turned-director told every reporter within earshot how her movie would strike a blow against the patriarchy. Here’s one interview example.
Banks has ditched the male gaze of Charlie’s Angels past and has loaded the film with “sneaky feminist ideas”. “Little things,” she says, “like, ‘Don’t forget to smile!’”
Wouldn’t she better serve “Charlie’s Angels” by talking about its entertainment value, its actions sequences or the irreverent spirit Kristen Stewart brought to the project?
So what happens in 2020 and beyond? Will Hollywood continue to crank out woke stories, ignoring the box office realities? Or, will studio executives see the error of their ways and put the focus back on entertainment?
Director Todd Phillips complained that woke culture killed the big screen comedy. A crush of media outlets raced to attack that point of view.
Meanwhile, Phillips’ woke-free “Joker” shattered box office records despite a full court press attack by some of those very same scribes.
It took anti-war flop after flop after flop for studios to stop making such movies during the Bush era. Hollywood will learn its lesson, eventually, but it may take a few more box office debacles before it sinks in.