It’s a perennial conservative complaint that Hollywood is too liberal, that it ignores – or worse, denigrates – the values of many Americans and doesn’t treat their experiences as worthy subject material.
But in a year where members of the white working-class, especially men, were the subject of intense political debate and a series of much-discussed books, including J.D. Vance’s memoir “Hillbilly Elegy,” “Strangers in Their Own Land” (Arlie Russell Hochschild’s sociological study of conservative Louisianans facing environmental catastrophe) and historian Nancy Isenberg’s “White Trash,” credit ought to be granted where it’s due.
In 2016, Hollywood turned out three excellent movies about working-class white men that neither classed their characters as deplorables nor responded to them with slavish deference. “Hell or High Water,” “Loving” and “Deepwater Horizon” do what great movies always do. They treat their characters as fully realized human beings and take their concerns seriously. In this one area, at least, pop culture did what great art is capable of: staged conversations that break out of rigid political conventions.
The men in these movies face serious but human-scale challenges, and ones that might even be recognizable to liberals.
In “Hell or High Water,” Toby and Tanner Howard (Chris Pine and Ben Foster, respectively) begin robbing banks to pay back a $40,000 reverse mortgage on their mother’s land so they can sign a long-term oil lease on the property that will…
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