The Case Against Steven Spielberg

I don't know if I agree with this Bill Wyman essay on the master film-maker, but I enjoyed it very much:


Beneath all his technical wizardry is only a simulacrum of aesthetics. The gassy high-mindedness; the complete lack of all but the most bland humor or self-awareness; the boring, slightly pompous exposition that bespeaks a person whose every word is hung on, and never challenged, for far too long. (Watch Spielberg in the promotional material that accompanies the DVD release of his films. 

He speaks with the breezy self-importance of someone who is no longer contradicted, seemingly, by anyone. He appears to exist in a cloud.) Steven Spielberg has built a remarkable career by amplifying the familiar--taking what we know, both with regard to the language of cinema as well as his thematic concerns, and saying them loud. But he hasn't said anything new.

I'm a simple man and generally Spielberg makes films that are a bit too big and loud to me. Even his quieter ones. I suspect I am one of the few people who enjoyed Alice Walker's The Color Purple, more than Spielberg's. I found Walker's characters to be fuller.

Anyway, even as I say that my favorite Spielberg film, unquestionably, is Jaws. I think technical limits are often the handmaiden of good art. Though not always, Lord of the Rings comes to mind.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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