Thursday, April 20, 2006

Why hasn't capitalism worked in Hollywood?

In recent years, Hollywood has ignored the Bible hip and thigh. It took an independent, to make a Bible story, Passion, and it made more money than all the rest.

Hollywood has ignored September 11. The most infamous moment in the lives of at least three generations.

Now Universal attempts to break the Hollywood silent treatment of 911 by making United 93. We will go see it, eventhough I know that leftist political opinions will be everywhere.

But why no movie about the incredible adventure of the special forces soliders in Afghanistan? How they joined up with the warlords in the mountains... how they learned to ride horses... fought battles with wild men and wilder horses. How they WON... how they succeeded.

Because, I think, they won in Afghanistan.

In United 93, Hollywood is making a movie about a successful effort, but not a successful military one. That they can't bring themselves to make.

And I am simply wondering how, how does Hollywood continue to ignore the interests of at least half its audience? Hollywood has left a gaping hole in the market. Why hasn't an independent arisen to unseat the movie moguls who hate their audience?

4 Comments:

Blogger Kevin S. Willis said...

There are several reasons. The primary reason that capitalism hasn't worked in Hollywood, or doesn't anymore, is the same reason capitalism doesn't "work" in healthcare and why capitalism often doesn't seem to be working in many big companies--the decisions are made too far away from the customer or with active disdain for the customer. There are too many barriers between the companies and their customers, and it makes the folks in Hollywood unresponsive to middle-America.

Reason 2: It's an insular, incestuous environment that is very monolithic in it's point of view, from the money men to the creative folks, and so more creative guys think of depressing liberal movies and more money guys fund them because those seem like the movies they would want to see. There is no question that both creative talent and the money men didn't see the potential in the Passion of the Christ.

And even if the money men said, "Hey, look at that Passion thing, we need some of that," the amount of conservative and Christian creative talent is very low in Hollywood. They don't support it and nurture it, and if you are a conservative Christian in Hollywood, you are going to be lonely, probably in the closet, and isolated professionally. Thus, those folks usually find other avenues to express their talent, leaving the creative pool in Hollywood almost entirely liberal. And they aren't going to have a lot of great Christian or family movie scripts sitting on their Powerbooks for the next time some big money guy wants to fund some conservative movie.

And the insularity prevents them from seeing the nature of certain successess. The Lord of the Rings trilogy was hugely successful, even though it's very conservative in it's viewpoint, it's attitude towards war, and it's believe in evil and the importance of moral battles. It was also written by a avowed Catholic. Yet they are more that capable of convincing themselves that Tolkien's regard for farm life and rural sensibilities was . . . radical environmentalism! That the great lidless eye of Mordor was, in fact, a lot like . . . George W. Bush and the Patriot Act!

Thus, they misinterpret many of the successes they do have. The attribute much of the success to special effects or marketing, not the undergirding principles on display.

Reason 3: They are rich and spoiled. Thus, they can afford to not make movies that might appeal to the unwashed masses because they are too good to do that sort of trash. They can be proud of being out of touch! And, the fact is, they make enough money to stay in business. And most of the liberal tripe Hollywood produces is done on a budget, so, once box-office, DVD sales, rentals, and so on are totalled up, they can turn a profit on a left-leaning propaganda piece.

But they aren't completely unaware. There is a reason that big budget movies, like "Revenge of the Sith" and "War of the Worlds" and "Lord of the Rings", where people associated with the movie see, or even write in references to, their own very liberal sensibilities and agendas, do so on the sly and under the radar. There's a reason the average viewer of "War of the Worlds" didn't immediately associate the murder-everybody-and-make-them-blood-fertilizer alien tripods with the American military, even though they guy who wrote the script did. He didn't spell it out in the movie, he didn't talk about it until after the movie had done most of it's box office, and then he limited the audience he was discussing it with.

And there certainly can be a market for conservative-trashing movies. Let's see how "American Dreamz", which is a thinly disguised bash on Bush in particular and American in general, goes over.

11:55 AM  
Blogger Walker said...

But Kevin... your three reasons are exactly why capitalism SHOULD work in Hollywood.

There's an obvious unserved market. That means money. Seems to me there's room for a new studio to arise to soak up profits available from disenfranchised customers.

It happened in television. Maybe its just to expensive to do it in movies... or maybe there is some kind of market fixing going on.

10:36 AM  
Blogger Patty said...

It does work in a weird way. They were not all rich before they were discovered. Its just on the other side right side they prefer not to provide for the desires of that side.
Kevin has many logical points. I will not deny any of them.
When you live in an alternate reality and have money to keep you there it's all good.

12:04 AM  
Blogger kevinwillis.net said...

Walker,

Underserved markets exist because nobody has served them. And people find them all the time. Any new product that sells, especially without a massive advertising campaign, is serving an underserved market by definition. Yet those markets often remain underserved for decades.

And while nothing may succeed like success, nothing fails like it, either. Hollywood is successful enough, and remains so, that it doesn't have to serve every potential market. And certainly you've known, or heard of, executives that want to blame business problems on everything by their management style. I know I have.

Well, Hollywood is full of that. They want to attribute the success of Passion of the Christ to Mel Gibson's church marketing campaign, not the content of the movie. They want to assume the bad box office is because there aren't any new Robert Redford level stars any more, or because there are too many distractions for the movie going public, or . . .

Even the people who are involved in and actually produce family-friendly fair, ala Sister Act, don't get why a low-budget movie like Sister Act did such good business. Yet, I can guarantee you, if Whoopie Goldberg had done her big rant on Republicans in the middle of Sister Act, it would have tanked at the box office.

And, frankly, these are liberal elites. While they'll do almost anything for money, pandering to conservatives is, to them, the most low, immoral thing they can do. It would be like suggesting to a pretty young church receptionist that she could make a lot more money as a prostitute.

While that leaves the market open to conservatives, it is a very uneven playing field. The industry is loaded, at every level from the individual theater to the head of the studios, with liberals and "moderates" and even some conservatives who believe that traditional family and Christian fair is box office poison, or will incite violence, or will get them uninvited from all the hip cocktail parties. So conservative filmmakers have a very long row to hoe.

There is one production company focused on family fair. That is, Walden Media.

http://www.walden.com/web/teach/home

And even they don't seem to feel a conservative viewpoint is inclusive enough. "Hoot" may not be as liberal as the trailer makes it look, but right now it looks like a live-action version of Captain Planet. Hopefully it will at least avoid the pernicious Hollywood cynicism Walden claims to want to try and avoid.

Ah, well.

12:30 PM  

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