As the talking-head pundits tell it, Hollywood is a modern-day Sodom of left-wing Commie liberalism intent on poisoning our nation’s youth and providing national menaces like Lena Dunham with steady work. But a slightly more sober appraisal would reveal that most of the lessons imparted by this year’s crop of movies offer distinctly non-partisan wisdom — and act as cautionary tales for the upcoming Presidential election, illustrating the dangers of charlatans and close-mindedness. George Orwell, a guy who knew a thing or two about smuggling political commentary into popular fiction, famously declared all art to be propaganda; by that tack, the prevailing sentiment behind Tinseltown’s output in 2016 has to be “voters, the time has come to get your shit together.”
This Friday, The Purge franchise of horror films returns for a third outing subtitled Election Year — you can’t accuse it of wearing its subtext on its sleeve. And its merely one of a host of other 2016 movies that, courtesy of some subtly coded (and not so subtly blared) messages, might just make us a more reasonable and responsible electorate come November. So read on for a selection of wisdom embedded in recent releases, from grungy grindhouse-style thrillers to big-budget superhero blockbusters. It’s your patriotic duty.
The Witch: “See through the rhetoric”
The villain in Robert Eggers’ rigorously faithful colonial-era scary story never even has to rear his head to inspire fear and get impressionable young Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy) under his thumb. With nothing more than sweetly tempting words, an unseen Prince of Darkness seduces the girl to the dark side, promising her pleasure and power beyond her wildest imagining. Though image consultants would never let Satan’s creepy-whisper voice fly in a media appearance, his tactics to win the girl’s soul boil down to little more than empty rhetoric. Telling the constituents what they want to hear is a time-honored political tactic as old as baby-smooching, so it falls to the individual voter to sift through the manipulative hot air and get at the underlying intentions. The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing Americans to vote against their own interests.