Poverty and Hollywood…

Hi all…

Until recently, I had never really given poverty much thought. But with Blogger Action Day coming up, it’s made me think about it some.

If you go back as far as the silent movies with Charlie Chaplin, one of his best loved characters was the Tramp. He never had enough to eat and lived in hard times. But many people were facing hard times back then, so it was good to see a character you could identify with and see the humor in things.

Poverty in movies today isn’t quite as easy to see. There are a few movies here and there focusing on poverty or hardship growing up, but the blockbuster makes more money, so we see more of those from the big studios. Documentaries don’t make money (unless your name is Spurlock). And so it seems to have fallen out of the public eye.

I know I’m guilty of avoiding documentaries where I am not entertained. I go to the movie to enjoy myself, not to be educated or guilted into feeling bad. It doesn’t take much to make me feel bad at the movies. I’m a sentimental fool. And yet it’s interesting how often you see poverty slipped into even modern blockbusters.

Babylon A.D. starts in a war-torn area of Russia. People are trying to sell guns to get money for food.

Death Race is set in a world where the economy has crashed, everyone is fighting over jobs, and too many people are put in jail because they have to fight to survive.

Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden focused on finding Bin Laden, but showed us some of the hardship facing people living in Afghanistan. They had to buy tents on the black market.

Even in the background of The Incredible Hulk, you got to see the poverty and crowded conditions in South America where Bruce Banner was hiding.

So though we’re not seeing “movies about poverty” from Hollywood, the writers and directors are showing us slices of the world that includes poverty. They may not talk about how to solve it. But it’s there.

It’s just sad that these “powerful” people in Hollywood can’t see their way to directing some of their resources to raising awareness of the problem as a way to help solve it.

Can you imagine if Warner Brothers Pictures took part of the $900+ million dollars raised so far by The Dark Knight and [gasp] donated it to a worthy cause?

What would happen if every studio, for one year, decided to donate 10% of the income generated by all their movies? Think about the millions of dollars that would go to worthy charities.

But the odds of that happening are slim. Movie making is a business. Giving away profits is something the little fish do for publicity, not the big fish. But it does pose an interesting what if…

So the next time you watch a movie at the theater, keep an eye out for the signs of poverty. It’s there somewhere.

–Fitz

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