The phenomenal success of the new STAR WARS movie, THE FORCE AWAKENS, highlights an awakening force among the American people: a hunger for stirring stories of good vs. evil. Two Oscar front-runners advanced similar themes: THE REVENANT and SPOTLIGHT focus on good people defying the odds to fight corruption and betrayal. AMERICAN SNIPER, the top money-maker of 2014, also focused on a noble hero–real life sharpshooter Chris Kyle, who faced down terrorist enemies of his country and comrades.
Meanwhile, there’s scant market for muddled movies without admirable protagonists that show life as dark and pointless, like last year’s Oscar favorite BIRDMAN; it earned less money at the box office than any other Best Picture winner in history. Politicians should take note: Americans respond well to narratives with recognizable heroes and villains, engaged in righteous struggle, but we respond not at all to moral confusion and to bleak, hopeless views of humanity.