Film is of course the art form of Industrial Civilization and its mass culture, whether as a simple historical fact, a manifestation of technical possibility, or in the various ideologies it is adept at expressing.

But it is also the art form of the Anthropocene.  I am overstating the case somewhat, but not entirely, when I note that the prevailing message of film is the power of belief and trust.  This is most visible in the nearly inevitable Hollywood Plot whereby evil, prejudice, self-doubt, or malevolent aliens are overcome, at the plot’s climax, by a leap of belief or trust that transcends the odds.  This is true whether we are talking about Westerns, “Star Wars,” “Rocky,” “Pocahontas,” “Toy Story”—or “A Wrinkle in Time,” which I saw earlier today (don’t ask).  Never mind the odds or probable limits.  Believe.  Trust.  Take my hand.  Look me in the eyes.  Close your eyes.  Jump.  What film doesn’t contain this moment?  The force is always with the film’s hero if only he or she will surrender fussy sensibility and give in to it.

It is easy enough to make a connection between the narrative of belief in yourself against the odds in the context of competitive capitalism, especially as it increasingly becomes a game of roulette in the financialized casino capitalism of today.  But the story of self-overcoming through belief in oneself is more broadly suited to the Liberal life-plan of self-creation.  You can be whoever you want—as long as you dream big: that’s the narrative line of almost every “age appropriate” (a phrase I use in both of its senses) movie or TV show produced for my children.  The meta-myth of Liberalism is that there are no limits, that ideas and ideals can create reality, that any obstacle can be overcome by human ingeniousness–if, that is, we don’t lose faith and fall victim to the sensible or moderate law of averages that are so often represented by the foil if not the antagonist.

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