Posts Tagged ‘Steven Spielberg’

The first time I happened across an analysis excoriating Steven Spielberg’s films (or by proxy, the man himself), I thought it curious, even strange perhaps, that he was singled out for such invective. It’s indisputable that the fellow is an accomplished filmmaker, and his movies are almost always enjoyable and sometimes even good. If I bother to see a Spielberg movie in the theater, I usually expect to gobble my popcorn breathlessly and forget about the experience quickly after getting home, knowing it will be visually polished but narratively stunted. If the subject is more serious, I’ve learned to expect that I’ll be frustrated by the implications, not merely because the films open up uncomfortable questions on controversial subjects but because his treatments are usually found wanting after being filtered through his odd cinematic lens. (Cinema aspires to being art, but its feet are yet too firmly stuck in business, or money making; otherwise, there wouldn’t be so many formulaic films or constant criticism of cookie-cutter filmmaking.)

The second time I read how Spielberg is bad for film, I had to admit something is there, something more than idle enjoyment of a couple hours spent in the dark. It’s not just that the worldview presented in a Spielberg film is artificial — that’s true for almost all films — it’s that he has had a toxic effect on the whole enterprise. Consider this characterization, published in a review in the Chicago Reader: