This article was written by Brandon Smith
I don’t write much about the entertainment industry because, frankly, I see it as mostly irrelevant to the bigger picture. Geopolitics and economics are the great driving force in our society, and the elitist groups that influence these elements should be our primary focus. That said, I have to admit that pop culture is a pervasive element of American public psychology, or at least it was until recently, and for decades the masters of pop culture all resided in Hollywood.
I have been a film buff for at least 20 years and I understand the business; I was even a screenwriter at one point and obtained an agent, but after dealing with the slimy behavior of some of the Hollywood ilk I was immediately disenchanted and decided to walk away. What I realized at the time was that the entertainment world is designed for a very specific purpose: To steal the energies of talented people and exploit those energies to achieve the most meaningless or manipulative endeavors.
The people that manage and own production and distribution companies are for the most part talent-less; like most narcopaths they have no capacity to be creative. So, they must feed on the intelligence and imagination of normal people in order to fuel their business. If it stopped there, then maybe the system would actually work and there could be some symbiosis. Many artistic people don’t handle business very well, so someone has to.
But, production creatures want more than money, they also want to micromanage the message of every film, TV show, video game and product that is released. They want to inject their own ideologies into every property. They do this because, as narcopaths, they desperately want to feel creative power even if it means hijacking the projects of others. They also do it because they have an agenda to influence society to accept or reject certain ideas; they want to mold the politics and values of the public.
Hollywood is ultimately about narrative control, not free expression. If you have a unique message or an interesting story to tell, they are going to twist it into something else, something that feels a lot like every other story that gets produced. Writers and directors with vision are either filtered out of the system or they are forced to conform to the propaganda model in order to get work. In the end, the people who get the most work and make it to the top are the people with no principles or morals; the people that will do anything to succeed.
Success and artistry are not necessarily mutually exclusive concepts. On the other hand, free expression and artistry are mutually inclusive – You cannot have one without the other.
If you have been noticing a severe decline in the quality of American entertainment over the course of the past decade, you are not the only one. 70% of Americans say they would rather stay home and watch movies instead of paying to go to theaters, even if theaters reopen. Industry spin doctors will claim that the drop in interest is due solely to the coronavirus, but this is a lie. Domestic movie attendance hit a 25 year low in 2017, and this is part of a long term slide which was building for years beforehand.
It’s important to note that when I talk about “Hollywood” I’m including the internet streaming services, which are completely intertwined with the Hollywood machine. While streaming services have been growing (to a point) because of the pandemic lockdowns, the subscription jump is an anomaly compared to the past few years. Netflix in particular was on a severe slide in subscriptions before the pandemic hit, and with the “Cuties” child pornography debacle it will be interesting to see how many subscribers jumped ship in the final quarter of 2020.
Another interesting development among streaming services is that the most popular content is in most cases OLD content. Shows and movies from 10 to 20 years ago draw the most views by far. New content consistently fails, and this is happening among all demographics from Gen Z to Baby Boomers. This says a lot about modern Hollywood’s decline.
The point is, Hollywood was crashing well before the pandemic and the reason is clearly related to the change in priorities from making money and making consumers happy to making value statements regardless of logic or practicality. There is a massive evolution going on, and the public is growing tired of the controlled pop culture paradigm as well as the intrusive zealotry of new hyper-political messaging.
Most people are not stupid; maybe slow to catch on to certain things, but not stupid. They recognize when they are being bombarded with propaganda, and they don’t like it when the balance of storytelling and entertainment shifts too far in either direction, left or right.
Imagine if all movies, television, music, comics, etc. went full-bore evangelical Christian or Sharia Muslim and nothing else was allowed to be made? Well, that is what is happening with the leftist cult religion of social justice right now; they have attempted to suffocate all other points of view and it is alienating millions of people that prefer to see multiple points of view represented, as well as people that just want to be entertained rather than preached to.
Telling a story is actually easy as long as you follow certain rules.
Rule #1: Don’t talk down to your audience.
Rule #2: Don’t tell your audience how they should think or feel.
Rule #3: Tap into archetypes that people relate to.
Rule #4: Write characters that audiences can feel sympathy for.
Rule # 5: Audiences will not feel sympathy for narcopathic characters.
Rule #6: Your characters MUST have a story arc, even if they end up right back where they started.
Rule #7: Most stories have a message, but not all messages matter to most audiences.
Rule #8: People do not need to see themselves in a story in order to relate to a story.
Rule #9: Stories made by committee will usually fail, or they are quickly forgotten.
Rule #10: A superior storyteller is able to meet audience expectations while at the same time surprising them. “Subverting expectations” is a method for weak minded and lazy storytellers.
The current crop of people in Hollywood and the entertainment industry in general are completely incapable of following any of the rules above. Why? Because they don’t care anymore about telling good stories that inspire or entertain the public. They don’t even really care about the public and their money. In fact, they often show disdain and hatred for the public. The only thing they care about is force feeding their ideology to the public whether the public likes it or not.
Hollywood is no longer a business. They are no longer concerned with making a profit. They do not care if the public is repelled by their content. Everything is changing. Hollywood is becoming what I suspect it was always meant to be: An Orwellian bullhorn blaring in the ears of the people 24/7.
When I look at Hollywood and the media today, I am consistently reminded of the loudspeakers in the cities and towns of communist North Korea, which fill the streets with propaganda songs and messages until it becomes an insidious background hum in the minds of every citizen. There are even some places in NK where propaganda radios are installed by the government in every home, and people cannot shut them off.
Some critics argue that Hollywood is attempting to influence the public to think just like they do (to join the social justice cult), and this is partially true, but the reality is that this is about narrative saturation rather than pure thought control. They know that many people will not be influenced by them, and they don’t care. They are removing all alternative viewpoints from people’s daily lives because they want to torture anyone who disagrees with them. They seem to take joy in this.
Many North Korean citizens HATE the street speakers and the constant propaganda, but the job of propaganda is not always to convince everyone or control their thoughts, it is sometimes meant to send a message: “You will get nothing else; we are here to make you miserable and there is nothing you can do about it. The only way to stop the misery is to give in and submit.”
To summarize, If they can’t brainwash you, they are perfectly content to remove all happiness from your life by ensuring you never see anything inspiring ever again. The message is absolute, and like a black hole it absorbs and destroys everything else around it. Think of it like the Spanish Inquisition of the Dark Ages, but with a technological edge.
Obviously, this is leading to people abandoning all new entertainment in droves. Propaganda films with blockbuster budgets are crashing and sales are dismal. Classic franchises like Star Wars, Star Trek, Ghostbusters, etc are being abandoned by audiences. Disney’s Mulan remake, filled with social justice and Chinese communist agitprop, was a complete and utter disaster. Numerous studios are now facing huge profit shortfalls and layoffs, and Covid is only partly to blame.
Netflix’s “Cuties”, a love letter to pedophilia posing as a “commentary” on the sexualization of children, is now under investigation and indictment and Netflix lost vast numbers of subscribers in protest. And for good reason, the film features 11 year old girls acting out overtly sexual scenes including nudity and feigned masturbation all with creepy hovering camerawork (Note to Netflix: Child porn is NOT a 1st Amendment right).
Basically every production that carries a hard leftist message is failing. The saying “Get Woke, Go Broke” is popular for a reason. The hills that Hollywood and their streaming partners are choosing to die on might seem bizarre to most people.
But again, the Hollywood elites don’t care anymore. You want to know why they are doubling and tripling down on a garbage fire like “Cuties”? As mentioned, it’s about saturating the environment until there is nothing else while also sending a message that “there’s nothing you can do about it”. I think this says something about our immediate future.
Why is Hollywood now scorning any profit incentive? Are the elites that run Hollywood privy to some kind of information that makes them confident in their decision to undermine and alienate the majority of their consumers? I mean, eventually these companies are going to go bankrupt if they continue on this path. Is it possible they understand that the system in general is on the verge of collapse anyway and they have decided to go out in a blaze of glory, like a suicide bomber?
It’s hard to say, but I question the state of storytelling in our culture for the foreseeable future. Alternative production and distribution is easily accomplished in the digital age. Hollywood is completely unnecessary and Americans are starting to realize this. However, I wonder if alternatives will be allowed to exist, or will they be attacked and shut down in the name of the “new normal”?
If we are following a traditional communist model, then the goal will be to continue to eradicate choice until the only options left are those that are granted to us by centralized committee. My suspicion is that economic crisis along with corporate monopoly will be used to this end. Our only option at that point will be to avoid consuming anything they are selling. But of course it’s also possible that one day you will have a TV installed in your home that you can never shut off, playing movies like Cuties nonstop until it becomes an ingrained background noise in your brain.
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