Sunday, May 27, 2007

"The Aviator," a business hero and libertarianism

Here's a fairly lengthy but continually interesting piece by Paul Cantor, English prof and pop culture expert, on the 2004 movie "The Aviator," in which Martin Scorsese directing and Leonardo DiCaprio starring managed to make Howard Hughes into something of a hero, if a flawed hero. As Cantor usually manages, the piece is full of insights, such as noting that the moneyed class from which Katerine Hepburn sprang was rather different from the one that produced Howard Hughes. Most fascinating about the film, however, is that it portrays a businessman as a hero, and one beaten down by the government, whereas most Hollywood movies have it the other way -- businessman as villain and government agent as hero.

I find it interesting that the film was Leonardo DiCaprio's dream -- and quite frankly, the first film in which he played where I began to take him the least bit seriously as an actor rather than just a pretty-boy. DiCaprio is notoroious for being something of an environmental militant and is generally viewed as fairly left-wing, as is Martin Scorsese. Yet together they made what Cantor describes as a fairly libertarian film (which accords with my memory, though I saw it only once). Fascinating phenomenon.

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