Weekend July 28, 2012
Peggy Noonan is the former speech writer for President Ronald Reagan. Her star was cemented in the political heavens by penning the phrase 'The Evil Empire' to describe the Cold War Soviet Union. And so she has a column in the Weekend WSJ. Her latest non-event was cheer leading for six term Senator Richard Lugar who only garnered 39.4% of the vote in the Republican Primary Run Off. Read the link to see if you can identify the socionomic reasons why he lost. Voters are angry and a 'collegial moderate' is not what they are seeking. She missed the social mood by the proverbial indiana country mile.
At any rate, her column this weekend, The Dark Knight Rises, reverses the basic causality of what is happening This is the most common mistake of conventional wisdom and demonstrates why socionomics is a superior methodology.
Readers will recall that I identified the latest Dark Knight Release was released about the same time as the 2008 version. That was on the way to a market top. This time won't be any different.
Conventional wisdom such as Ms. Noonan displays in the column is that people are affected and moved by events or the news. She even contends that 'studies have demonstrated conclusively that viewing violence on screen increases aggression.' We do not argue that others have not been so moved by the publicity of the shooter. But she also notes earlier films with an etirely different take on the same theme.
-Jack Nicholson's Joker from 1989 was a garish comic figure who made people laugh
-same thing for Dustin Hoffman's Captain Hook in 1991
-she notes Tipper Gore was complaining about rap lyrics in 1985, at the end of the 1966-1984 period.
-then she notes that Heath Ledger's Joker is pure evil.
Why the difference in Nicholson and Ledger's portrayal? That is how socionomics explains the difference.
Socionmics holds that social mood is endogenously generated. This means change comes from within the organism, not from outside forces. The 1984 -2000 period was uplifting a bull market. Hence we saw a pleasant Joker via Nicholson. The current period from 2000 forward mirrors 1930-1948 and 1966-1984. Those were periods of negative mood which produced an interest in the dark side. People did not pack movie houses in 2008 or now because Hollywood convinced them to do so. Rather it is just the opposite. Negative mood set in after March 2000. The causation is a stock market which gyrates up and down ratehr than moving in a long upward pattern as it did from 1984-2000. it made the Twilight and Sookie Stackhouse authors multi -millionaires, both are a series about vampires. The last of the Dark Knight trilogy continues the Dark Theme. The Sopranos, the Godfather comes to New Jersey, preceded True Blood based on the Stackhouse series. As the mood grew lighter, concern over Rap Lyrics mentioned by Tipper faded. Her concern was a bit late for the cycle.
Ms. Noonan promotes the idea that violent and negative themed movies make people negative. But there was only one violent person in the theater.
On the other hand, people with negative moods seek out movies that reflect that mood. And note this happened at the same stock market moment, near new highs, as in 2008.
Consider the cover of last Thursday's Weekend pullout in the San Antonio Express News, the Hearst owned paper here.
The photo on the cover of the Weekend pullout was even worse but you get the idea, not exactly who you might have in mind to date your daughter eh? the ad says Five Finger Death Punch (what does the band name suggest to you) emphasizes variety and volume, yes no doubt. The Dave Clark Five they aren't.
And that is just the point. A positive era supported Bill Cosby in 1966. The ensuing negative era brought fame and fortune to Cosby's polar opposite, Richard Pryor.
Ms. Noonan complains that 'the film industry isn't going to change.' No it is not, it will continue to resonate with the mood. The same industry that gave us the laughable Joker in 1989 is the one she condemns in 2012, don't shoot the messenger Peggy. The Industry gave us Singing in the Rain when in fact the public wanted to Singing in the Rain in 1952 as America emerged from WWI and the Depression as the mood changed in 1948.
Really the two images on this post say it all about the change in mood and just how different the two eras can be.
No doubt Ms. Noonan will decide The Industry has improved by about 2020 when I suspect musicals will return.