It has been noted recently by many of the greats within the comedy arts that wokeness has killed comedy.
But the truth is wokeness may actually be killing art itself.
Walter Hill is a famed director, screenwriter and producer.
He directed an amazing number of film projects over the years, including “48 hrs,” “Southern Comfort,” “Streets of Fire,” “Red Heat,” “Hard Times,” “The Warriors” and “The Driver.”
He also penned the screenplay for the crime drama “The Getaway” and produced a majority of the “Alien” film franchise.
Throughout his career, his baseline for storytelling has been the venerable western, the singular American genre that once upon a time was the envied export of the world.
He kick-started his Hollywood career as a production assistant. He was afforded the opportunity to work on iconic television shows that were set in the old American West; series such as “Gunsmoke,” “Bonanza” and “The Big Valley.”
To this day this classic American entertainment fare continues to be treasured by audiences around the globe.
Walter’s love for westerns has spanned the decades. It was on full display in works that include the 1980 movie “The Long Riders,” the 1995 film “Wild Bill,” the 2004 – 2006 television series “Deadwood” and the 2006 TV mini series “Broken Trail.”
The filmmaker once told a reporter, “Every film I’ve done has been a western.”
In a separate interview, he astutely pointed out that “the Western is ultimately a stripped down moral universe” and shared that he likes applying this principle to modern-day tales.
It is precisely this moral universe of which Walter speaks that is part and parcel of the western genre itself. It is also this moral universe that is in direct conflict with the dictates of contemporary woke ideology.
Traditional westerns have storylines that are in complete alignment with the moral constructs of integrity, justice, courage, individualism and loyalty, among others.
At the core of the filmmaking arts is contrast; i.e., clear distinctions between right and wrong, good and evil, hero and villain, etc. Not that there aren’t dimensions of character or plot or interrelationships. But good storytelling via film typically demands that the scriptwriter is able to freely create his or her work, untethered by external restrictions. This process results in characters to which viewers can intimately relate and storylines that can provide virtual life experiences that only one’s imagination could ever limit.
The present arts have hit a proverbial brick wall. This is because art cannot survive the current woke restrictions that Hollywood is imposing upon the entire entertainment industry.
Thankfully, the artist in Walter is unwilling to conform. Instead he is going against the grain, giving new life to his favorite genre.
His latest western, which he has directed and co-written, is titled “Dead for a Dollar.” The movie stars Christoph Waltz, Rachel Brosnahan and Willem Dafoe.
Perhaps not surprisingly it hasn’t been easy for even a successful director like Walter to get a western made these days. He recalls in his notes for the film that “getting it financed was a miracle” and that it had to be shot on a “very low budget.”
Waltz portrays a Danish bounty hunter who travels into Mexico. While there he encounters an individual, who years earlier he had sent to prison. The man, played by Dafoe, is a gambler and an outlaw.
While making the press rounds to promote “Dead for a Dollar,” Walter revealed some of his thoughts on the current woke state of affairs. In an interview with Moviemaker Magazine, he said ominously that wokeness is “death to the arts.”
“You’re giving me a chance to say this: this woke environment, politically correct environment, is a terrible thing. And it hurts. It is death to the arts and it’s death to creativity. There’s no question that there were injustices in the past. Nobody is arguing that point. But how you redress it is how you treat the future,” Walter remarked.
Most folks in Hollywood are under pressure to mold their projects to the prevailing woke mentality.
But like a character in one of his beloved westerns, Walter remains steadfast.
He understands that the creative impulses essential to filmmakers and all contemporary artists are thoroughly stifled by woke constraints.
Shallow characters, forced plots, anachronistic themes and the like make for extremely bland product, which is the antithesis of art’s purpose and its very essence.