The Corner

Culture

Why Moralistic Film Criticism?

“Morality? What’s morality?” Armond White asks sarcastically in his disquisition on the “Antifa Film Syllabus.”

With respect, it seems to me that this kind of moralistic evaluation of films is very much in the same spirit as the moralistic evaluation of statuary (and films and young-adult novels and everything else) we are seeing from the mob of the moment. I have never been exactly clear on what the moralistic criticism of films or other such works is intended to accomplish. Are we supposed to think Joker is a poor film, or a film we should think poorly of, because it is consonant with the nihilistic mood of the moment?

(Surely it is too much to think that these films are individually or collectively the cause of that mood.)

If given a choice between a moralists’ cinema that excludes No Country for Old Men — one of the greatest and most morally serious films of our time — and an “Antifa syllabus” that includes it, I suppose have a black bandana around here somewhere. If our political commitments mean that we cannot enjoy Pulp Fiction or The Dark Knight (which is esoteric Straussianism anyway, right?) or — angels and ministers of grace defend us! — Vertigo, then maybe our political commitments are too restrictive.

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