Nolte: Shuttered Studio Participant Discovers Social Justice Movies Don’t Sell

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 18: Former Vice President Al Gore joins New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
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After 20 years of producing movies pretty much no one wanted to see, film studio Participant is shutting down, which means the loss of 100 jobs.

Don’t feel bad. Those hundred people hate you. It’s fine…

Has anyone watched one of these titles more than once?

  • An Inconvenient Truth
  • Good Night, and Good Luck
  • Waiting for Superman
  • Spotlight
  • Roma
  • Food, Inc.
  • North Country
  • Syriana
  • American Gun
  • Fair Game
  • Judas and the Black Messiah
  • R.B.G.
  • Just Mercy
  • Cesar Chavez
  • Jimmy Carter: Man from Plains
  • The Informant!
  • The Cove
  • Stillwater
  • American Factory
  • When They See Us 

And those are just the more famous Participant titles. Over two decades, Participant produced more than 130 titles, including a biopic of Shirley Chisholm called Chisholm (I prefer the John Wayne version),  John Lewis: Good Trouble, Dark Waters, On the Basis of Sex… There’s even a sequel to Inconvenient Truth that flopped, probably because none of the catastrophes predicted in the first movie came true.

That’s not to say Participant didn’t deliver the occasional decent title: Bridge of Spies, Deepwater Horizon, Lincoln, Green Book, A Most Violent Year, Citizenfour, and Contagion are pretty good, and I’ll forever be grateful to Waiting for Superman for exposing the cruelty of Democrats blocking school choice. But most of what this company produced was vegetables, and no one goes to the movies to eat vegetables.

Your catalog is the key to survival in the Biden economy, where money is no longer free due to high interest rates, and the left-wing affirmative action of cable/satellite TV is drying up. Your catalog of films is there to create a constant revenue stream through home video sales, foreign sales, and television deals. The problem with Participant’s catalog is that, with those few exceptions, the company failed to produce movies people want to see again.

Most of their product is propaganda, which has no rewatchability value. No one wants to see propaganda again, even those who agree with it. There’s no reason to see it again because propaganda leaves nothing to discover or think about.

One of Participant’s biggest hits was An Inconvenient Truth, which is all well and good. But it was nothing more than Al Gore’s PowerPoint presentation of fear porn. How many people, even those who buy into this nonsense, watched it again? No one. There’s no reason to. Message received. Whereas well-made documentaries — Grizzly Man, Hearts and Minds, Harlan County U.S.A., American Movie, O.J.: Made in America, Salesman, Heart of Darkness, Hoop Dreams, Gimme Shelter, Into the Abyss, Capturing the Friedmans, The Devil and Daniel Johnston, The Thin Blue Line, Grey Gardens, etc. — demand repeat viewings because they make you think rather than tell you what to think. There’s a mystery there, something unknowable.

Woke has zero shelf life. It leaves you nothing to mull, nothing to answer or discover. Certainly nothing you wish to rediscover. And it’s not just Participant. All this woke garbage Hollywood’s been producing—billions and billions of dollars in lousy content, thousands of movies and TV shows, tens of thousands of TV episodes—is useless as a constant revenue stream through licensing deals. You might as well try to convince people to rewatch a deodorant commercial. No one wants to see that again, even if they use the deodorant.

John Nolte’s first and last novel, Borrowed Time, is winning five-star raves from everyday readers. You can read an excerpt here and an in-depth review here. Also available on Kindle and Audiobook


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