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  • Writer's pictureJude

Bright – Netflix’s Plight

Netflix’s first film production Bright offers a compound of social realism and a sense of fantasy Society has grown to admire through its inspired productions. I say it is Netflix’s plight as despite the companies wonderful run in recent years Bright can smear a bad taste into anyones mouth. Noticeably raging critics who are champions of cinematography and industry descriptive summaries. The magical Worlds of stories, specifically franchise like Lord of The Rings, Harry Potter, Dungeons and Dragons if you will, instil a perception of an enchanted existence. It places the combative race relations of Orcs, Humans and Elves into the modern World, where discrimination is represented through a general disapproval of Orcs and Elves mark a Capitalistic lavishness. Humans remain somewhere in between and a theme behind the whole concept has Officer Ward (Will Smith) entertain a complex relationship with a light-hearted partner and Orc Officer Jakoby (Joel Edgerton). In brief the film witnesses the troubles of their relationship and how Society acts around its first Orc Officer whilst maintaining an attraction to a fairy-tale like devastation. A wand is at the centre of controversy when factions from all races are dragged into its allure. Hence as a story it revolves around notions of betrayal, trust, racism, violence as well as the irony of it all embedded within historic race relations. In an interview Will Smith describes the film as Training Day meets Lord Of The Rings, something I have never wanted to witness. The concept is not a far cry from creative shores, the Marvel and DC Universes have that range of diversity through storytelling. Nevertheless Bright is an interesting film for several reasons. Its loose plot can be captivating due to its effortlessness in watching like many films on Netflix, though with this being its first film production it offers an insight to the futures hold on Film and TV.

The acting in TV and Film is an important factor to draw me in. Original content not backed by corporations with angles of merchandising or adopting already tailored audiences tends to spark interest through this bidding public sphere. For instance, Get Out adhered to a social relevance which could not be addressed at a time without being produced in such a manner. To trivialise experiences is also to normalise them. The importance of such products serves as an undoing to the dangers of predetermined realities. Another factor that is important to consider is how we respond to content that points toward social realism. It is evident in the reviews. The fact critics have attempted to reduce the interactions identified in Get Out to a Comedy despite its Horror/Thriller like content. With Bright the reactions have been distatesful. The fact we exist in times of prickly racial incidents where we respond to them, through media and via the socials, yet present no solution. It has become a conversation opposed to a task to resolve. Bright adopts this conversation and somewhat makes a mockery of it. Having a Black Cop in Will Smith project the same discriminatory behaviour Black people have been facing in the eyes of the public in the last several years. Some may say that is what makes it interesting, I say it adopts the experiences of discriminated people’s and trivialises them for the point of storytelling. Like how Tarantino cannot finish a film without adding an N word or two.

Some Elven witch, forgot her name because she was crap

The other thing I would say about Bright itself is the vibe I get from the extension of a magical World. When we consider magic in the light that we do or through forms of folklore we often associate different modes of the idea with the spaces they come from. For example, Witches and Wizards that are tied to this European lineage. The wicked Witches and wonderful Wizards that wove spells and dabble in tricks. A Sabrina the Teenage Witch or Gandalf The Grey, these perceptions amount a picture of what we can expect from such. Bright highlights Orcs in a same fashion immigrants and Black people are pictured in America, which projects a similar stance in Westernised parts of the World. I feel as if fantasy itself can be tainted by a racialised view, though it would sicken people to read this angle as I highlight it. Why? We do not want to be forced to study the intricacies of racism within all forms of content – we want to enjoy. Yet I point this out to understand the angle the storytellers are coming from. The Director David Ayer wrote Training Day, Suicide Squad and a favourite of mine End Of Watch. Ayer is a director that repeats themes in his work and it is clearly evident what he gravitates towards. He likes to make light of authority, how it’s handled, the lines between authority and identity as well as screaming archangels like entities as an antagonist. For me, this is where you can get the divide or rather understand who is project their ideals onto the film.

The content of magic is a Western angle in Bright, I am not complaining so much but it’s interesting to witness. I recall Forbidden Kingdom starring Jet Li and Jackie Chan. I am sure there were advisors within the film but the Martial Art inspired understanding of Chinese people as if they sit there piling wisdom to channel through Karate or Jeet Kune Do is utter madness. In a sense, such films work out to be imperialistic by angle and plot, insofar as they project a Western understanding of concepts like magic and people’s like the Chinese. Though this only worries me due to the short-sightedness of the ideas. We can take instances of discrimination and host them on a platform for a cool story. Though if it does not actually address much the value of that content is cultural capital – reinforcing the status quo. That is the difference between directors like David Ayer and a Barry Jenkins, the Director of Moonlight. Having to address the livelihood and mental of a young Black gay boy growing into man the social weight of Moonlight is unlike any other film. Whereas with Ayer his film work seems to take social content and make an entertaining story from it. I can only applaud him for his chemistry with Will Smith, who seems to admire responsible roles through him. Though it irks me that Will seemingly steps into a role that undermines the Black experience. The fact Police brutality is cast on the Orcs as if it doesn’t occur in real life to me is baffling. That being said the experiences of Black people have gradually been included in such representations and the whole idea is being addressed within reason.

Incredibly cheesy screenshot of an Agent Elf doing his Googles

Lastly with Bright’s release Netflix are entering dangerous territory for Hollywood. With Disney taking over 52.4 billion dollars’ worth of Fox’s assets from film and TV distribution the streaming service is due to combat the giants who recognise this space of investment. The streaming services are starting to effect the state of Hollywood at the rate people watch films and also how they consume TV. Hence Disney are proposing to release their own streaming service in August this year. It also means Disney can capitalise on Marvel Characters under Fox’s release entitlement, a greater attraction and audience for their blockbuster series of films. Bright is the first of 80 original films in production for 2018 by Netflix. As a streaming service the way they propogate and promote their content revolves around the interaction within the social media sphere as well as their own endeavours. They reportedly spent $6 billion last year on original content with $8 billion estimated to be spent this year. In conclusion, Bright is only the start of something right for Netflix. Original content away from the intricacies of Hollywood might be ideal. Other reviews will deduct from the film too for the sake of the agenda, whilst it is not perfect it is certainly the mark of wonderful times within these industries. To be fair to Netflix too by way of products they do seem to understand inclusiveness as a way to invest. The story of Bright does owe itself to minority issues, though other productions such as Raising Dion (2017) and Dear White People (2017) series are based on identity and the need to engage with it. I am eager to see more Netflix productions and my faith is not disturbed by Bright’s lack of greatness. With the willingness to invest I hope Netflix can continue to stress Hollywood so we don’t have to witness another La La Land do numbers.

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