I was watching "White House Down" the other night and, believe it or not, I found it to be a decent film.  In my recent review of "Last Days on Mars" I mentioned the fact that it was a good film because it didn't over reach.  The same is true with this film.  But there was one thing about the film that bothered me, which occurs near the end when *SPOILER ALERT*, the daughter of the protagonist goes out onto the White House lawn and begins waving a giant flag to ward off an airstrike.  It is important to note that this was foreshadowed heavily early on in the movie because Channing Tatum was supposed to have attended his daughters' talent show, where she was...wait for it... flag twirling.


        The point I am making is that it takes very little to destroy something like a film.  That one moment in "White House Down" made me regret the preceding 90 minutes.  I felt stupid.  I felt like the people who made the film were making fun of me.  To my mind it was like they were saying "hey, let's make this film with decent dialogue, great action, get the viewers hooked on it, and then make them eat a giant shit sandwich with this one sequence."  And I sort of feel like they do it because they can.  They do it because corporations have gotten into the habit of testing the limits of what we will accept.  Rather than making a good film and charging us 15 dollars, they reduce it's "enjoyment quotient" by %25 percent and still charge us 15 dollars.  What's worse, is they are gradually reducing that quotient while inflating the price.  Then they sit back and see who will recommend the film to their friends, or wait and see what box office returns look like.

      I've been accused, in the past, of being to harsh a critic on films.  But let me say for the record, that making a film is REALLY hard.  I know from personal experience.  And I can imagine amplifying that difficulty and pressure up from the small crappers I've done.  I can see that something that complex, and with so many moving parts, being really easy to screw up.  That one 9 second sequence in "White House Down" is a great example of this.  They could have left those 9 seconds on the cutting room floor and ended up with a vastly superior product.  Granted, an awkwardly foreshadowed plot element would have gone unrealized, but at least it wouldn't have made me feel bad about the film.

        I wondered for a while if there was some other less cynical explanation for these small elements screwing up entire films.  It occurred to me that maybe Hollywood was trying to build in a "Persian flaw".  A flaw Persian rug makers used to build into the complex geometric patters (only discernable by them), because they believed that only God could aspire to perfection.  Then I realized that the flaws in these films are perceptable to everyone.  The couldn't really even be considered art.

        Going back to my original point about how difficult it is to make a film; I realized that if you were going to create something, something really complex and really expensive, wouldn't you do everything in your power to make sure it was perfect?  I simply can't imagine directors looking at films after they are edited and thinking "perfection".  I can't imagine someone looked at the imagery of a girl using a giant flag to wave of an F-22, and thought "no..that's not hokey at all".  Is it really bad taste?  Or is it really some cynical plot on the part of corporate America to test the threshold of taste against dollars spent?

About the author
J. Austin Yoshino
Author: J. Austin Yoshino
That's what I do; I read and I know things.
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