The Corner

God save the King, and motion picture storytelling

I’d like to second Fred Thompson’s remarks re the Oscars. I don’t think The King’s Speech is a classic for the ages, but it didn’t have to be up against Sunday’s competition. As Fred says, it’s not about some (to Americans) obscure Brit toff stammering for a couple of hours, but about something larger and primal – duty and responsibility, even when you don’t want to do something, even when in the objective sense you are entirely unsuited to the burdens placed upon you. The King’s Speech is, in Hollywood terms, a “small” movie, but it’s big at heart. By contrast, The Social Network isn’t about anything other than its own superficial cool. For all its skill, it’s small and shriveled and dessicated at heart. Yet I’ll bet more than a few studio execs are still baffled about this: After all, a year ago, if you’d asked the average screenwriter whether he’d rather pitch a film about George VI (a decent, diffident stiff) or a film about Mark Zuckerberg, I doubt you’d have had many takers for the former.

Readers will sigh that I’ve been making similarly squaresville comments about the state of movie storytelling since I covered the 1929 Oscars for NR. Very true. A few years back in this space, I compared the 1938 Prisoner Of Zenda, with Ronald Colman obliged to step in as a lookalike king in Ruritania, with Dave, the 1990s update of the template, with Kevin Kline as a lookalike US president. The first is about honor and duty, the second is about passing an affordable housing bill. Watching The King’s Speech and The Social Network and their mutually incomprehensible worlds, I wasn’t thinking about Hollywood, but about the broader landscape, and what it says about us and where we’re headed: Nothing good. 

Mark Steyn — Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human-rights activist. That’s to say, his latest book, After America (2011), is a top-five bestseller in ...

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Broward’s Cowards

It is impossible to imagine circumstances under which Broward County sheriff Scott Israel could attempt to perform his duties with the confidence of the public. He should resign immediately, and if, as he promises, he refuses to go quietly, then he should be shown the door by the people he professes to ... Read More
Culture

Courage: The Greatest of Virtues

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays. Dear Reader (Or Listener), As the reporter assigned the job of writing the article about all of Sidney Blumenthal’s friends and supporters told his ... Read More
Immigration

My American Dream

This morning, at 8 a.m., I did something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember: I became an American. I first applied for a visa in early 2011, and since then I have slowly worked my way through the system — first as a visa-holder, then as a permanent resident (green card), and, finally, as a ... Read More
Politics & Policy

CNN’s Shameful Town Hall

CNN recently hosted an anti-gun town hall featuring a number of grieving children and parents from Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., who aimed their ire at the National Rifle Association, politicians peripherally associated with the NRA, and anyone who didn’t say exactly what they wanted to hear. ... Read More
U.S.

The Gun-Control Debate Could Break America

Last night, the nation witnessed what looked a lot like an extended version of the famous “two minutes hate” from George Orwell’s novel 1984. During a CNN town hall on gun control, a furious crowd of Americans jeered at two conservatives, Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch, who stood in defense of the Second ... Read More