Lately, many Americans have recognized that the past several generations of students have been indoctrinated into notions on history and behavior, taught by Marxism-infatuated educators, that encourage a new kind of dissidence, unrecognizable from the anti-war demonstrations of the Sixties. Blurring loose notions of anti-fascist activity and inverting the meaning of black solidarity have come to define a miseducated demographic that has itself misappropriated racial virtue and become fascist.
Movies have been part of these students’ pop-culture instruction — and their political instruction. Should bored college kids ever go back to school, hit the seminars alongside the fentanyl, they’ll get a syllabus, a course outline similar to the ones that already taught them ideas on social conduct and personal beliefs. And you need to know what it looks like. So this Saul Alinsky–style syllabus outlines the notions of history and behavior common among contemporary pedagogues (and reviewers); it explains today’s generational unrest. Here are 25 films that spoiled a generation.
The Dark Knight (2008): Comic-book culture’s subversion of heroism into nihilism took root with Christopher Nolan’s pompous seriousness. Heath Ledger’s goblin (the Face of the Millennium) joked, “Why so serious?” — turning life into Halloween and eventually taking more lives than his own.
Vertigo (1958): Hitchcock’s most obsessive love story became a how-to manual for “people who are not sure who they are but who are busy reconstructing themselves and each other to fit a kind of [social] ideal.” That’s Sight and Sound editor Nick James nailing the degraded use of good filmmaking to negative purposes, when Vertigo overtook Citizen Kane in 2015 as film culture’s new favorite “Best Film.”
Joker (2019): This cruel study in psychopathology is a mash-up of both pop-lore and social instability. Just as the stadium terrorism in The Dark Knight Rises echoed 9/11’s apocalypse, Joaquin Phoenix’s new Face of the Millennium predicted the Black Lives/Antifa mobs — and won an Oscar for it.
The Battle of Algiers (1967): Gillo Pontecorvo’s brilliant neorealist-style drama was first adopted by Sixties militants as wish fulfillment. Since then, its misguided Third-World sympathy only confuses anti-colonialism with diaspora retribution. (Guest lecturers: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar — or whoever writes their soundbites.)
The Social Network (2010): A celebration of tech narcissist Mark Zuckerberg taking revenge on the world — the envy of every Ivy League nerd and those who envy them.
Pulp Fiction (1994): Quentin Tarantino’s nihilist carnival turned cinephilia against itself. Violence and sadism presumably made hip. Morality? What’s morality?
Good Will Hunting (1997): Gus Van Sant’s homoerotic version of academic class war between Boston Southies and Cambridge preppies turned a Horatio Alger story into a Howard Zinn movie. It twists appreciation of American social history into liberal guilt, then declares, “It’s not your fault.”
Gladiator (2000): Another comic-book movie for those who never read Gibbon, Virgil, Horace, Socrates, Plato, Ovid, or Steve Reeves. Yet frustrated Occupy Wall Street anarchists take inspiration from its rallying cry: “Unleash Hell!” (Guest lecturer: Bernie Sanders on the classical fantasies of intellectual 90-pound weaklings.)
The Matrix Reloaded / The Matrix Revolutions (2003): The Wachowski siblings expropriate notions on black sexuality (queer studies hijacking black liberation) in a two-part sci-fi fantasy using identity madness to justify political anarchy.
The Lord of the Rings (2001–2003): Peter Jackson’s digital mobs act out undigested Western history as one utterly confusing revolution after another, with J. R. R. Tolkien’s ethical, religious meanings completely extracted.
The Harry Potter films (2001–2011): The dullest, most inept franchise in Hollywood history was not harmless; it served to subvert C. S. Lewis and Christian Sunday School parables.
No Country for Old Men (2007): A switch on Old West heroism from law and order to modern violent psychosis. The film’s felt “hero” is serial killer Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem’s version of Joker from the subconscious), hopefully to the Coen Brothers’ everlasting regret.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015): George Miller’s souped-up dystopia is really a comic-book catalogue sporting the uniforms and Port-A-John bric-a-brac of drug-addled Autonomous Zones.
Black Panther (2018): Marvel’s ultimate hoax became a tool for confusing community activism with the absurd legend of Wakanda, an Afro-futurist fantasy for those who have not read Frantz Fanon or Invisible Man.
Parasite (2019): The justification of class warfare, sentimentalizing all violence as per Stalin, Lenin, Mao, Pol Pot, Kim Jong-un, and woke Hollywood, a lesson for socialists and globalists.
Taken together, these films (some good, mostly bad) construct a nihilistic sensibility that has been accepted as part of the modern cultural curriculum. Their aesthetics — and most of all, their lessons — have been taught and indulged, as have naïve young consumers. Indulgence disguised in solipsistic entertainment is a lethal formula.