Hollywood loves a good sequel. Especially when that sequel guarantees a lot of money. There’s nothing a Hollywood mogul loves more than getting his hands on a lot of money. Actually, as we’re finding out, or as we’re finally being told as if we didn’t already know, that’s not true. Money’ is second on the list when it comes to what a Hollywood mogul loves to get his hands on.
So the sequel I’d most like to see up on the big screen this summer is Spotlight II, a followup to the original, and brilliant, Spotlight that focussed on the sexual sins of the Catholic Church in Boston. Those sins were overlooked by politicians and police alike, but were exposed by the fearless Spotlight team reporters at the Boston Globe.
Spotlight II could star Michael Keaton and all the crew, only this time the spotlight will be firmly turned back on itself, as Hollywood does the definitive piece on the sexual sins it has covered up, and has kept covered up by dint of its power and influence.
And the script virtually writes itself, doesn’t it? All you have to do is take the original Spotlight script and replace the words “Catholic Church” with the words “Hollywood Establishment”.
Nothing else needs changing. The lies; the cover-ups; the look-the-other-ways’; the “Yes we knew it was happening, but they were powerful people” confessions; the hush monies; the denials; the full-blown endorsement of sex offenders by major figures in the movement during big gala nights that challenges the law enforcement agencies to put up or shut up. Actually that last one’s unique to Hollywood and its slavish devotion to Roman Polanski.
Hollywood has done a lot of movies about itself – all very funny, self-referential stories. Think Get Shorty (a personal favourite), Barton Fink (love the two Johns; Turturro and Goodman), LA Confidential (with a particularly sleazy Kevin Spacey, who would have thought?). And of course, Entourage, in which many Hollywood doyens play fictional versions of themselves.
I’d love to see Spotlight II be as daring and brave as that. I’d pay gold lounge prices on a non-Tuesday just to witness it. Fancy seeing Hollywood stars playing fictional versions of themselves in a realistic drama! Or is that realistic versions of themselves in a fictional drama? Who can tell! It’s all smoke and mirrors these days isn’t it?
Is there a taste of Schadenfreude in all of this? Perhaps. Not that the Catholic Church in Boston needs any support for its heinous cover ups. But Hollywood’s soft power is the soft power that is intent on replacing the hard power of churches and states in an effort to set the tone of the culture of the West. And quite frankly it’s all over bar the shouting. Soft cultural power, as espoused by Hollywood, is the West today.
And yes, if I have to say it to keep people from saying I don’t say it, Trump is the problem as well. But let’s face it, as a friend observed this week, former Presidents don’t become movie stars in the US, but former movie stars (and reality TV stars) do become Presidents.
That shows you which direction the power flows. Politics in the West never leads the soft cultural trend so beloved of the entertainment industry, but merely follows it. And when Hollywood wants to do a President in, it creates a show about it. And when Hollywood wants to eulogise all that a liberal President could be if we’d just vote for him/her, it makes a show about it. Makes the McCarthy hearings of the fifties, in which the scrutiny went the other way, seem quite obvious and twee doesn’t it?
Spotlight II will never be made of course. It would be too damaging to the brand. Which puts Hollywood into a bind, because the brand is being damaged by cover up as well. All that Hollywood can do now is throw as many of its own to the wolves as it dare, keep its head down, and hope that something bigger, more disturbing, more harrowing, appears on the horizon, which will give it the opportunity to direct the spotlight away from itself, and on to something or someone even more unworthy.
The result may be a movie called The Donald; a movie about a powerful man play acting as President, who’s in it only for himself and who hides some terrible secrets, that if they get out, would ruin him. And I know the perfect man to play him.