The dubious reality of living in a time when there is no escape from the awful.

By Andrew J. Pridgen

There are no movies worth seeing. None.

None that stack up to real life anyway.

This past Memorial Day Weekend was the worst at the US box office since 1999 and that’s saying something—because that’s the weekend Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace came out and every Star Wars die-hard who got a big chunk of their 15 minutes lopped off by camping out in front of the Cinerama Dome for three weeks had to go home and rethink everything… or at least order up a giant Jar-Jar doll to hate fuck.

This year the reboot that flopped was Baywatch, the ultimate fun summer romp with plenty of coppertone flash and engineered grins, debuting at number three bringing in $23 million—barely enough to cover the The Rock’s sugar- and gluten- and funfetti-free catering.  .

Number one and two didn’t do so hot either.

The dubious honor of no. 1 goes to the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean installment, Dead Men Tell No Tales, which took in only $77 million domestically and even that seems a stretch. How did even one person feel motivated enough to peel themselves away from the Temperpedic and MSNBC long enough to go see CGI’d Geoffrey Rush run around and do nothing with Johnny Depp’s warmed over Keith Richards impression for another two-plus hours?

No. 2 was the held over Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which, if Facebook is to be believed, is the worst second installment of a franchise since Indiana Jones and Short Round met Kate Capshaw. Blech.

To put things in perspective, when adjusted for inflation, 2017’s is the worst Memorial Day at the movies since 1991, when Backdraft topped the box office with an adjusted $144 million.

Also, what does it say about me that the last two Memorial Day openings I saw in the theater were Backdraft and Phantom Menace …besides I have a thing for bumbling Gungans and lesser Baldwins?

In total, the domestic box office, which includes US and Canada, brought in $172 million over the four days ending with May 29.

At the halfway mark, 2017 is looking equally dismal for Hollywood domestically. Since Trump’s installment as supreme leader, Hollywood has relied on a handful of mangled-beyond-recognition franchises (The Fate of the Furious made just over $200 million domestically though took in over a billion dollars worldwide. The X-Men offshoot Logan crossed the $220 million threshold here and Disney’s live action version of their 1991 animated musical hit about beastiality is atop the idea-free heap with $500 million domestically keeping this year barely treading water.)

Overall, however, the box office here (about $4.5 billion) is trending to be off by about 10-20 percent from 2016’s high ($11.3 billion) and that’s if the second installment in the new Star Wars is a big performer at the end of December.

It’s easy to speculate why. One has to go all the way down to the no. 17 grosser (Jordan Peele’s surprise hit, the critically lauded horror flick Get Out at $175 million) to find something that’s not a sequel or a reboot and anything that is anywhere near the current zeitgeist of where we’re at racially, thematically or culturally in America.

Hollywood has yet to wake up to the notion that we are a country that has lost its way. There is no industry. There are no places where people make things on a scale big enough to sustain small towns. There is nothing in the realm of hope or salvation or government-sponsored programs to bring us new training in the age of automation. There is no pretense of wanting to clean and save the Earth that sustains us. There is no race to space —to be tops in science, research and innovation—with the Russians, only a three-legged race with them to the eve of destruction.

Instead, there are small offices with people in them barely hanging onto the illusion and everyone else who has a job works in the service industry or the gig economy. And they likely have no business spending $20 on a movie ticket in the first place.

We have more than 20 million Americans over the age of 12 who are addicts, more than two million of whom are hooked on opioids or prescription drugs.

One in three families is classified as working poor and nearly 2 million people are homeless, basically cast off to the streets and living in survival mode.

On top of that we have more than 60 million voters who cast a ballot for a racist, misogynist, white supremacist-endorsed con artist. Whether they installed this unqualified succubus because of those qualities or because he has mystical powers to leave egregious typos on Twitter for half the night and/or call up demon spirits from beyond in fewer than 140 characters…

…and then have his staff lie about it.

The bottom line is we are all in survival mode. Pretend comes to us in the form of real life. And we are also, summarily, fucked.

No current movie is going to allow us to forget …or escape that. Not even for a minute.

Pass the popcorn.

Andrew J. Pridgen helps run sister site Death of the Press Box and is the author of the novella “Burgundy Upholstery Sky”. His first full-length novel will be released in late-2017.