Over the past several years, there has been a trend in Hollywood towards socially aware films that seem, at least partially, intended toward sensitizing viewers to the plight of people who are excluded in our society. I have seen a number of them, enjoyed some and not enjoyed others. But I have often wondered if these films succeed in their goal of sensitizing people to the plight of our world’s underdogs.
Case in point: On April 25, Nomadland, a film about the unhoused who are forced to live in cars and other vehicles, won the Academy Award for Best Picture. On April 26 the Eugene City Council held a work session on a series of proposals intended to crack down on people who have had to resort to living in vehicles. Councilor Randy Groves, the sponsor of these measures, rather emphatically explained that the people who want car campers out of their areas are “real people with real problems.”
I couldn’t help but wonder why the people living in cars were not “real people with real problems.” Entertaining topics for films perhaps, but not people you would want in your neighborhood?
And what other kinds of excluded people are our city’s political and economic leaders willing to watch movies about, but unwilling to have in their neighborhood?