Popcorn is a novel by Ben Elton
which was later adapted as a successful West End
pay. The novel is a satirical novel
that takes a wry look at modern Hollywood
obsession, and the repercussions on society.
Popcorn's Amazon summary says, "It rings all the familiar changes on the theme of Hollywood vapidity, crassness, and decadence; however, Popcorn accomplishes this so deftly that you may not realize that you've heard it all before until you're finished with the book. Popcorn has little new to say about America and the culture for which it stands: talk-show hosts that are vacuous, movies that are violent, and audiences that are moronic ... That said, the book generates an undeniable tension. Popcorn is a pleasing (if not always pleasant) page-turner."
To be honest, I found it fairly dull and unfunny because the humour just fell flat on its face, and it's *subtle* message is not discussed in any depth.
The plot's like this: Wayne and Scout are two psychopaths in the 'Bonnnie and Clyde' mould.
"Bruce Delamitri makes movies about killers. Great movies, stylish movies. Bruce's movies are hip. Post-modern cinematic milestones, dripping with ironic juxtaposition. His killers are style icons. They walk cool; they talk cool. Getting shot by one of them would be a fashion statement." says the cover. Delamitri is a Tarantino-like figure who banks on sensationalism to get his movies to sell.
Wayne and Scout, to avoid the death penaly, break into his home on Oscars night and start a siege, which ends in a bloodbath. Only after do the media and society begin to ask questions.
Who is to blame? Ben Elton thinks he is being really cool and subtle by showing us the state of our media obsessed society, but in fact the question he's asking is "Does art mimic reality, or does reality mimic art?" No matter how much fans of violent films protest, the answer is the latter, because there are stupid, impressionable people out there
The fact is that the question isn't really new and contemporary - Plato thought of it ages ages ago when he 'banned' poets from 'The Republic.'
Plato opposed forms of idle imitation. He was against all arts which constructed false summations and divided the soul from itself. The Cambridge University philosopher Catherine Pickstock says, "And so he was suspicious of the dramatists, for example, because in the plays of Euripides and Sophocles, in Plato's view ... the audience's emotions were being falsely manipulated."
The argument is also topical: in Britain, a debate rages over whether out 'gun culture' is because of gangasta rap and the like? Or does gangsta rap merely imitate and talk about our 'gun culture'?
So, is art to blame or is reality? Both, but Ben Elton's message (that he shoves down our throats) is that people will always try to rid themselves of responsibility. And Plato would have hated gangsta rap.