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What's the Deal With 'La La Land'?

by Marianne Farrell

Photo Courtesy of Facebook

As the curtain rose at the old and magnificent Coolidge Corner Theatre, the audience went quiet as the flashy show tune, “Another Day in the Sun,” blasted through the speakers. La La Land has become Hollywood’s biggest hit and has not only swept through box offices throughout the country, but into the hearts and homes of many. La La Land’s commercial success has only been further boosted by the large amount of award show nominations and wins.

However, while La La Land seems to hold the position of America’s sweetheart right now, not everyone agrees with the extensive and overwhelming presence that La La Land has this award show season.

“I think it certainly deservers recognition and praise, but not the amount of hype it has received recently,” said Tyler Fennyery (COM ’20). “Though it is a stunning homage to classic Hollywood musicals and cinematic tropes, it should not overshadow the successes of Moonlight and Fences, which mark a new milestone in contemporary black cinema.”

After La La Land’s cleanup at the Golden Globes earlier this year, many people criticized the award show. With groundbreaking movies like Moonlight and Hidden Figures as its competition, having the director of La La Land talk about his struggle making a movie about jazz with big named stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling seemed almost ridiculous. Moonlight and Hidden Figures faced a far greater struggle against a precedent set by the industry’s history than La La Land, a homage to Hollywood history, likely ever did. It is a feat that both of these films were nominated only a year after controversies like #OscarsSoWhite tore through social media.

“Personally, I don’t think it deserves all the hype, because it really isn’t revolutionary in the same way Moonlight or Hidden Figures is,” said Sarah Cristine Burrola (COM ’20). “But it definitely is a great film, I just don’t think it’s as important in terms of society or culture as other films that are out right now.”

With all of these critiques and social matters surrounding the award show season lately, it can be easy to criticize all of Hollywood for not hiring more black actors and making it a struggle for movies about black life to be made. However, at the end of the day, Hollywood is solely focused on making money. After Damien Chazelle’s success with another highly lauded jazz centric film, Whiplash, Hollywood giants knew that this content was economically viable. Creating a movie with two big name Hollywood stars singing and dancing to catchy tunes is something the public wants to see, especially in the context of recent turmoil. The current award show success of La La Land accurately reflects the public’s mindset and desire for lighthearted fare.

“I think it deserves the hype to a certain extent yes, but seriously overshadows some worked that are more important for society and cinema and putting out messages that need got be heard,” said Harrison Rusk (COM ’20). “La La Land is what Hollywood wants and the Oscars will most likely demonstrate that.”

Following the aftermath of such a big movie, it is important to note that perhaps the success and “over-hype” of La La Land is a good thing. America was given a quality movie that will be remembered fondly for a long time; the songs will become classic modern musical hits. Furthermore, it is quite possible that with such a fun hit as this movie, the public will become more aware of the social brevity and impact that movies like Moonlight and Fences truly have. Having the proper balance during an award season seems important, and maybe next award show season a more serious and informative movie will capture the minds and hearts of America the way that La La Land has.

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