Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Hollywood ready to collapse?

The late Alexander Cockburn wrote a long article on Counterpunch.com on US cultural hegemony.

In the '50s, the US dominated British youth culture. British teens were dressing in blue jeans, hanging around milk bars, listening to rock and roll. Which was probably a good thing, really.

The last thing the US demanded from the French before they could receive money under the Marshall Plan was that they end the limit on how many foreign films could be shown in their country. If they wanted to rebuild their country, they were going to have to let their move industry drown in a flood of Hollywood movies.

But, Cockburn noted, the ultimate result of US domination of British youth culture was The British Invasion and the humiliation of American musicians. In France, admirers of American movies launched the French New Wave which knocked Hollywood on its ear.

But today, Hollywood's world domination is like US military domination. It's based on the absurd amount of money they're willing to spend producing crap. I don't see how anyone's going to compete. What country is stupid enough to squander a quarter of a billion dollars on something like The Lone Ranger? How would those French guys have competed with that?

But now Steven Spielberg and George Lucas have argued that Hollywood is ready to collapse under its own monstrous weight. Three or six big budget failures in a row could do the trick. There's too much competition, too many big budget movies plus TV and computers and video games and whatever else people do. Like reading.

But their main concern seemed to be getting into theaters. Spielberg had trouble getting his movie Lincoln into cinemas---it came "that close" to ending up on HBO---and Lucas barely managed to get his movie Red Tails into theaters.

They predicted that Hollywood might start charging different ticket prices for $250 million block busters and smaller amounts for more modest productions. Or lower budget movies would go straight to TV while the absurdly expensive ones would be shown in theaters for a couple of years. Spielberg noted that E.T. was in theaters for a year and a half.

The American people are getting dumber and dumber. They're too slow to read subtitles but they're confused by dubbing. Now foreign filmmakers are making their movies in English. The first Bean movie with Rowan Atkinson had him travel to America because it was the only way to get an American audience and there are those English-language Lars Von Trier movies.

It may be too late for us. We may be doomed. Disney may be all there is for us.

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