The Vanishing Middle (That’s Still There)

For years now I have been listening to or reading the work of Terry Mattingly, who has been a teacher, journalist and public commentator for almost forty years.

Yesterday on his GetReligion podcast with Lutheran Pastor Todd Wilken (an excellent weekly production), they decided to comment on the Oscars that took place last weekend, which was the least successful in modern history, if TV Metrics are any indication, .  Not only are dwindling members of the American Public watching the Oscars, very few have watched the majority of the movies they recommended for the prestigious awards.

It was noted that increasingly there is a “chasm” between the more independent ‘artsy’ films and the big budget blockbuster films.  In other words, there is what Hollywood likes: films especially of a particular ideological or artistic bent, and then there are the films which can reach a broad audience mostly because they are spectacular and entertaining.  It is becoming increasingly rare that ‘medium scale’ films are having a broad popular impact: Forrest Gump and My Big Fat Greek Wedding come to mind.

As Mattingly even observes in his blog, there is a huge disconnect between what the public thinks is important and what Hollywood thinks is important.  But what is even worse, there are “fewer shared spiritual spaces” which make such a cohesion possible.

Can our society continue to coalesce as our shared metaphysical positions continue to break down?  Is Hollywood an ironic institution, in that it laments the same lack of cohesion which it helps to create, by breaking down established cultural norms?

Is our media the large reason that the “center cannot hold”?