Sunday, January 20, 2008
Germany Needs Adam Sandler Now More Than Ever
At last, I have a good solution to all of Germany's problems: more Adam Sandler movies.
The main problem Germany has today is violent youth. This may seem ridiculous to everyone else. Coming from America, where in this election period we labor under problems like a looming recession and the Iraq quagmire, I have to think: if Germany's biggest problem is violent boys, it must be a great place to live in (indeed, it is).
The problem of violent youth arose a few months back, when a subway video of a couple of kids beating up an old man was released. A local politician running for reelection blew it up into a big thing, claiming that violence among youth is growing to epidemic proportions and demanding stricter laws and harsher punishment. In fact, he's right and he's wrong: within youth crime statistics, violence as a form of crime is growing, but at the same time youth crime overall is sinking… so is that an epidemic or is it a miniscule bleep on the radar? But Germans love to argue, and it doesn’t much matter whether the issue is actually completely moot or not, they love the heat of the verbal fight itself.
However, back to my solution: There was an interesting article in the New York Times recently about economists taking a look at the relationship between the media and violence from a slightly different angle.
The economists came to an unusual but possibly quite feasible conclusion: Violent movies and other media actually cuts down on violent crimes. Sure, they say, violence in the media encourages potentially violent kids to fantasize more about violent acts, but at the same time, the more time they spend in front of the video screen or in the moves, the less time they are out on the streets committing crimes. Interestingly, statistically speaking they maybe right: Fewer violent crimes are perpetrated on days when popular violent movies were playing, and not only during the 2 hours of the movie, but afterwards as well. The fantasy of violence in the movie seems to be enough for the moment, so after the kids see the movie, their violent fantasies are momentarily satisfied, so they go out and have a beer and talk about it rather than beating up someone.
It's a weird, if-you-can't-fight-em-join-em kind of way of looking at it: Okay, we can’t stop Hollywood from producing violent fare, and we can’t stop kids from being violent, but we can reduce violence by keeping kids off the streets, using violent media as a kind of babysitter for hoodlums.
And that's where we come to Adam Sandler. The economists found that this works not only with explicitly violent movies (which may encourage violent fantasies in a general, longer-lasting way), but also with movies that appeal to young men in general, i.e. also "dumb-clever" comedies like those with Adam Sandler and Will Farrell and Ben Stiller and all these guys. Guy movies.
So there you have it: The real problem with German youth and its solution: Germany needs more guy movies. Unfortunately, most movies made in Germany are movies about relationship problems and social concerns, which no one goes to see. Only four or five times a year do Germans produce "dumbed-down" comedies movies for "guys".
The German film subsidy system doesn't allow for more: The state subsidies that finance German movies are given mainly to movies that are thought to be valuable in some way – they are art, or they are about homeless persons. I.e., movies that middle class, over-educated culture snobs can be proud of (without actually having to see them). Movies for the lower classes are sometimes made, but generally frowned upon.
Too bad! The lower classes will just have to find ways to go out and entertain themselves!