I was somewhat taken aback by Sasha Simic’s article in the last edition of Socialist Review. Three of the world’s best known and critically acclaimed filmmakers — Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and the socialist Ken Loach — have criticised the methods and output of the corporate giant Disney and its franchise outlet Marvel. Sasha criticises the filmmakers but not the corporation.
Amazingly Sasha dismisses the opinions of the three on the basis that he thinks they are being elitist.
Coppola’s movies such as The Godfather films and Apocalypse Now are among the most popular ever made in terms of the number of people that have viewed them and made huge sums at the box office.
These works along with Scorsese’s are so popular that they have changed the way we think and speak with lines such as “make him an offer he can’t refuse” and many others entering popular speech.
Ken Loach’s films are part of the very fabric of the labour movement. From Cathy Come Home to Sorry We Missed You, he has done his best to challenge the elites and to do that in as popular a way as possible making tough and hard hitting but accessible films.
All these movies are critical works of art that challenge the medium they are part of and challenge us to to think about the human condition.
If we look at what the filmmakers actually said we find that their criticisms are about the corporate nature of Disney films leading to blandness and repetition. The dominance of one huge corporation is squeezing more creative film makers out of production. It is, according to Scorsese, harder and harder to get types of film that don’t fit the corporate model made and shown.
This is not an argument principally about genre nor an argument about high or low culture but about corporate control and the squeezing out of critical thinking from filmmaking.
Sasha says, “There is room for Loach’s brilliant social dramas, Scorsese and Coppola’s gangsters and for superheroes.” Not if Disney gets its way.