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Attack of the Conscience? Hollywood and the genetic revolution

Charles A. Donovan

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The political liberalism of most Hollywood filmmakers is a commonplace. In its views on everything from the death penalty (Dead Man Walking), to nuclear armaments (Dr. Strangelove), to Christianity (Cape Fear, Dogma, Priest, ad infinitum), to the "gentle" spirit of Lillian Hellman (Julia) and the idealism of the Russian revolution (Reds), the Hollywood mainstream is well to the left on the American political spectrum--except perhaps in times of war, when patriotism is de rigueur.

This truism makes it all the more remarkable when the artistic community in Southern California tacks in a direction that is consistently conservative... Hollywood writers and directors share a dominant creed: These are not good ideas...they can be terrifying ideas.

The most direct embodiment of this belief is found in the science fiction genre...In these stories, and the movies based upon them, "clone" and "villain" have typically been interchangeable terms.

Even comic films that make more elaborate statements about the moral meaning of cloning and genetic engineering tend to capitalize on this revulsion...

The most significant movie to address this subject is The Truman Show, a film that combined a futuristic sense of the artifice of television with the mundane monotony of planned communities... Ultimately a hymn to human freedom and an updated critique of the "Skinner box" where order comes at the price of happiness and individuality...

...Call it instinctive revulsion or moral intuition, Hollywood's prevailing take on cloning is a sound artistic response to the twin pitfalls of human greed and arrogance.

Read the entire article on the Breakpoint website.



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