In defence of Hollywood [rant]

An iconic film - Citizen Kane. In the middle of politics, media and Hollywood

There’s a lot of different types of people out there. Even within film journalism, there’s the kind of people that love the next Hollywood blockbuster and then there’s the people that complain how “there’s too many sequels” or “it’s mindless rubbish”. I’m the former.

The one thing about Hollywood is that it is an industry. People there are in it to make money. While I’m not a capitalist, I do understand that an industry in a capitalist world has to make money to stay afloat. If we lived in Star Trek where money wasn’t an issue, there would still be filmmakers. But the money allows people within Hollywood to make movies as their career – not just as a hobby.

I completely understand that the attention that Hollywood draws outshines most independent films. I get that. I really do. But then if you wanted to watch just independent films and nothing Hollywood, here’s an idea: Don’t go and watch it. What’s that? You didn’t? Then why complain that some people do?

Elitism. Not for everyone...

A lot of people out there perceive Hollywood as this right-wing, status quo enforcing, brainwashing evil corporation. The fact that so many creative people go there surely means that not all of them think the same things. Surely, isn’t that a reasonable assumption? And if the creators don’t think the same things, then surely that should be true of the studio bosses too. In fact, the only things they do want is to make money to support their industry – whether left wing, right wing or west wing! There wouldn’t be many films out there if there weren’t an industry to support them, even if Hollywood is simply the biggest (in certain respects, I know Bollywood is massive as well). Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins aren’t the only liberals in Hollywood.

Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, two of Hollywood's liberal side, and there are many sides at that

Don’t just assume that the next blockbuster is going to be mindless garbage – it may surprise you. Enter the cinema with an open mind. Allow yourself not just to marvel in the graphics of the film, but also what makes each film different – it’s technologies, it’s attitudes, it’s failures and it’s successes. Yes a lot of people are going to see the next Harry Potter film coming out. Why is that? Because they liked the previous ones. And why did they like the previous ones? Because it was actually good, it was entertaining, it pulled an audience in and allowed them to feel that the characters were important. If you don’t understand that, then you don’t understand the audience, and you will make films that can only be underground. Obviously, that’s not to say that all Hollywood produces is good. Transformers 2 was just pants.

Sometimes changing a person’s opinions about something isn’t the only reason to make a film. Look at Shane Meadow’s This is England. I’m sure it has it’s left wing fans as well as right wing ones, each taking the film to mean something different. And why can it have multiple interpretations? Because film is art – any film is art. A director has worked on it for a long time (especially feature films), along with his team. It’s unique – even sequels, reboots, re-imaginings, adaptions and star vehicles are different from each other. Do you consider it otherwise, simply because it has been designed to also make money? Does an artist or a writer not want the same goal?

Fact of the matter is that Hollywood has made mistakes. Vertical integration allowed Hollywood to monopolise the filmmaking industry. Block booking made sure that even Hollywood’s stinkers would get sold. But contemporary Hollywood is different. Yes, it throws a lot of money around for marketing (which I can understand within reason – as Hollywood is nothing without films, and films are art, ergo Hollywood is nothing without art and the balance between the marketing and manufacture of art from a financial aspect should be in balance), but the amount of non-Americans in Hollywood is startling.

Fact of the matter is that Hollywood isn’t “evil” as some like to make out. It’s got a lot of talented, dedicated people and has earned a lot of it’s success. Don’t like it? Too bad. I like a lot of world cinema, a lot of independent cinema, a lot of underground stuff, but I won’t disregard Hollywood simply because it’s successful.


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