The mainstream media is doomed. I understood that as soon as I understood the power the Internet gave to everyone
to gather, disseminate and analyze information. While there are a few remaining honest and talented MSMers doing the excellent work of informing the American people, there just aren’t enough to salvage what has become an institution as evil and corrupted as the mafia. Essentially, the MSM is doomed because the Internet tore away the curtain and exposed the self-important wizard as not needing special J-school sauce to do what he does. Brains, determination and a keyboard will do just fine thank you very much. The same, however, cannot be said for the making of movies and scripted television programs.
In all the years I’ve been writing about Hollywood, I have never written one of those Hollywood Is Doomed
pieces. For those of us legitimately frustrated with an industry driven less by profits and more by an insidious need to marginalize who we are and undermine our country, such a statement would be nothing more than wishful thinking. We may loathe Hollywood but the market will always be there because we will always love being told stories through the magic of the motion picture. Furthermore, the institution presently making movies is nowhere near as easy to replace as the mainstream news media.
Telling a compelling story through a medium that uses most every art form known to man – performance, music, design, writing, photography – requires an enormous amount of skill and training, not to mention that certain something -- like a Major Leaguer capable of hitting .275 -- very few people are born with.
So this is not a Hollywood Is Doomed
piece. But I have to say – and this is not altogether bad news -- that as things stands today, Hollywood has cornered itself into much more trouble than I ever expected them to. I’m no insider, number cruncher, or professional analyst, but from my perspective what I am seeing is an industry vulnerable to revolution – an industry as out of touch and unwilling to admit it as the studio system of the 1960s.
The Movie Star is Dead:
Sure, there’s Will Smith, Denzel, Sandra Bullock, and Adam Sandler, but there’s no getting around the fact that the era of a “name” putting butts in seats to the degree that they once did is over. The net effect of this has been to all but kill off most any movie that can’t be sold though a high concept or built-in brand. This is why everything seems to be a tired sequel, reboot, or franchise. The compelling low to no-concept stories that aren’t being told on screen for this reason must be legion. Once upon a time studios could count on the draw of the star to give something fresh and bold a chance at profitability. Without that insurance today, studios are much less likely to take the gamble and instead rely on familiar spectacle and temporary fixes like the gimmick that is 3D. As a result, movies are becoming heartless, meaningless videogames and I’m not sure that’s a sustainable business model.
And there really is no solution to the movie star problem. With the end of the studio system came the unattractive self-actualizing of the actor. It took a couple generations, but as of today too many actors have completely deconstructed themselves and as a whole we simply don’t like them anymore. That’s not going to change, either. It’s only going to get worse. Besides, studios love not having to deal with stars and the back-end deals that frequently accompany them so they’re likely to ride the Sam Worthington
train for as far as it will go. If audiences ever tire of spectacle and yearn once again for great stories driven by familiar, likable personalities, this could be as short-sighted a decision as the industry has ever made. There's no one on-deck.
The Adult Drama is Dead:
Not only is the adult drama dead due to the lack of movie star goodwill necessary to sell enough tickets to give them a shot at profitability, but over the last five years the genre itself has become so off-putting as a whole that my Pavlovian response has been to grimace at the very thought of sitting through the latest
critical darling. With their repressed emotions, nihilistic worldview, ironic distance, left-wing politicizing, and clichéd “edginess,” Hollywood’s betrayed their own barren soullessness through these films but they’ve also driven away their customer-base – the everyday adults looking for something more mature than fighting robots. These folks used to help create a few sleepers a year but today they’ve grown tired of stories that relentlessly insult their values and in the end make them either feel nothing or suicidal.
The solution is obvious: uplifting films with faith in the human spirit. There’s a huge market there, but the problem is that a successful story filled with sentiment, meaning, and hope is much harder to make than one dwelling in irony, hipster edginess, and despair, and I’m not sure our current crop of filmmakers are even capable of something so foreign to who they are. Also, most filmmakers leaping into the adult-drama arena do so with Oscar on their mind. This means pleasing critics, most of whom love the bleak, nihilistic films that confirm their own godless worldview. Critics may not have any sway in what drives the public into theatres, but they have an enormous impact on the kinds of films that get made.
Basically, we need more conservative-minded critics immersed in the medium they’re covering and in love with its possibilities, and not just movies, but also television, music, novels, and art.
DVD Sales Have Plummeted:
No doubt some smart human calculator could explain away why we’re not buying as many DVDs as we once did
, but speaking only for myself, I’m not buying as many because there just aren’t that many movies out there I want to sit though again. Am I alone? Is that merely anecdotal? Hollywood can shorten release windows, create new formats like Blu-ray and add all the special features they want. The bottom line for me is whether or not I want to re-enter that world again and again, and lately the answer has been “no.” I’ll watch my ten year-old “Matrix” DVD for the 24th time long before I ever sit through a second helping of “Clash of the Titans” or the latest from the emotionally sterile indie world.
Things aren’t looking much better in the rental world, either. Thanks to Redbox and NetFlix, people (like me) are no longer willing to pay $3.50 to rent a movie and those who charge that much, like Blockbuster Video, are going out of business. This kind of price-pointing has all but destroyed the music industry. (And you wonder why Hollywood hates capitalism.)
There’s a lot wrong with today’s reality television, especially celebrity reality shows on a mission to convince your children that narcissism is one of the four major food groups. But there’s also a lot of positive programming out there that’s been successful and profitable all without expensive stars and soundstages. On top of that, these shows can be a wonderful alternative to a lot of the hyper-sexualized, male-bashing we’re seeing on network television. For instance, hits such as “Dirty Jobs” and “Deadliest Catch” are wonderful portrayals of working class men that offer real human drama and even a lot of heart.
Tired of scripted police procedurals like “Law and Order” infusing political correctness and left-wing sucker punches into every episode, years ago I turned to the true crime documentaries that seem to be everywhere these days. The fact that truth is always stranger than fiction makes for excellent storytelling and most times the good guys win, justice is served, and political correctness is nowhere to be found. In other words, NBC can kiss my ass
reality television is no longer the red-headed stepchild it once was.
It’s been a painfully slow march but we are finally starting to see the left-wing monolith that is the dominant entertainment industry face a very real insurgent campaign from the political right. Conservatives have started a small but profound migration into the entertainment world and those who were already there – like Kelsey Grammer – are no longer in hiding and, using both their financial resources and enormous talents, are becoming every bit as activist as their left-wing counterparts
. This was always going to be the first step and now that it’s starting to happen we also see the Christian community getting their act together when it comes to the serious and hard work of learning their trade
Obviously the Internet and inexpensive digital technology have gone a long way toward making this possible, but the best news is that the last remaining wall between a creative right-of-center revolution and the American people is starting to crumble...
For decades, entertainment industry leftists have been able to keep ideas and values they disagree with off of our television sets and movie screens though a choke-hold on the various distribution pipelines. No matter how good your product, if you didn’t own a television network or a chain of movie theatres you had no way to get it out to the public. Self-distribution, the renting of movie theatres, is prohibitively expensive, and even if you spent the money necessary to put your product on DVD or CD you still had to convince merchants to give up valuable self space.
This is changing faster than even I imagined it would.
Today, people are perfectly comfortable watching new movies on their own home theatre systems and because what you watch at home will all soon stream from the Internet, a creator of entertainment content no longer needs an ABC or Sony Pictures to give America access to it. Pretty soon, when we’re all getting our programming from the Web, all you’ll have to do is upload your film or television show to the Internet and whatever you created will be as easy for everyone to access as anything produced by the big boys. In many ways, this is already a reality.
Just as it is with music and the self-published novel, amazingly, distribution is about to become the least expensive part of producing content for television, including films.
Obviously I’m presenting an over-simplified view that doesn’t address complex issues such as monetizing your product or advertising. But in the past those problems used to be called “luxury problems,” because first you had to get through the Old Guard leftists who stood between you and your audience and who are so politically corrupted they wouldn’t distribute “The Passion of the Christ” and still refuse to release
“The Path to 9/11” on DVD.
Hollywood will always be with us. It’s not going to go the way of the MSM or even the decimated music industry. But the dwindling advantage of their increasingly irrelevant spokespeople (the stars), inability and unwillingness to tell great stories, and the inevitable loss of their vertical distribution monopoly is a near-perfect storm for those who have done the hard work to be prepared for this moment.
Again, I don’t want to puff myself up as some kind of expert. This is just how one guy sees the lay of the land, and right now I'd rather be us than them.