“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man?” – Galatians 1:10
As an undergraduate college student, I worked multiple jobs during the first few years. One of those jobs was managing a Blockbuster Video rental store. Of all the jobs that I had, this one was perhaps my favorite. Today’s youth will likely never understand the joy of renting movies on the weekend. The video rental store was truly a community gathering place. Even as an employee, there was something wonderful about running into your neighbors, friends, and classmates at the video rental store.
One of the greatest perks of working at the video store was the expectation that you be prepared to give a review of new releases to the public when they came in to ask for recommendations. Because of this, every employee received five free movie rentals per week and a fair discount on previously rented titles as they went up for sale. As a result, I amassed a sizeable collection of great movies.
A great movie involves characters you can identify with and, resultingly, immerse yourself in the film. Perhaps you can view yourself as the protagonist in an edge-of-your-seat action thriller or the love interest in a sappy romantic comedy. Often in Hollywood, actors and actresses are typecast in roles where a certain persona is desired. It is because of this that the viewer perceives an actor or actress in a certain light, and their character becomes the embodiment of the actor or actress themselves. These likable characters are often someone that you would like to sit and share a drink with. However disparate a role they may portray, it’s hard to view Tom Hanks or Will Smith as anyone but Tom Hanks or Will Smith.
During the first Obama Administration, America started to drift in the political poles. Coincidentally, America also saw the loss of communal spaces like video rental stores as they gave way to Netflix and Redbox. Simultaneously, personal politics came to pre-empt nearly everything in the arrangement of society. Hollywood did not escape this.
Though celebrities have always dabbled in fringe leftist politics like climate alarmism, it was largely during the Trump Administration that they dropped any illusions of cordiality and humanity and showed us their true colors. Television became unwatchable and in particular, comedy became unimaginative and singular in theme. Donald Trump became the punchline of every joke. From Steven Colbert to Chelsea Handler or Saturday Night Live, viewers were subjected to cringe-worthy one-liners and misplaced laugh tracks. It was this obsession with all things Trump that led to the coining of the term Trump Derangement Syndrome, and before COVID, it seemed every bit as contagious and terminal.
If Trump Derangement Syndrome was not enough to completely turn me off to Hollywood, COVID certainly put the nail in the coffin. How celebrities responded to COVID and particularly to the public told us a lot about their contempt for their audience. From those such as Howard Stern and Jimmy Kimmel wishing illness and death on those who protested government responses to many others flaunting the rules like going maskless at galas and sporting events, they supported imposing rules on the general public that they did not deem themselves subject to. It is clear that these self-important individuals do not count themselves among the commoners.
Given the consistency with which our idols disappointed us, my brother called 2020 the year of no more heroes and I think that aptly described it. Like pulling the mask off of a superhero and finding out they’re just your nerdy kid neighbor, the luster of celebrity wore off and a culture in decline was exposed for what it was. The protagonist of the latest blockbuster became nothing more than the angry leftist lecturing you about your carbon footprint from the deck of their mega yacht.
I eventually sold my DVD movie collection on eBay when I needed to make rent as a broke college kid. That was perhaps a wise investment, as I’m not sure we still own a DVD player. If there was an upside to the year of no more heroes it’s that much of our priorities were realigned, and the intangible things that give life flavor, like health, family, and friends, became more important than ever.