Friday, 21 March 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On #70: Leggo My Ego

A commenter at another blog, whose name I can't remember (sorry), condensed an idea that I've been squandering thousands of words on when it comes to describing how Hollywood does business.

There are two basic drives behind Hollywood: The Money Drive, and The Ego Drive.

Some may say that I've left out the artistic drive, but it takes ego to make art and consider it worthy of public consumption. Besides, this is Hollywood we're talking about, art has very little to do with it.

THE MONEY DRIVE: It's often condemned by artistes whose work is geared toward a select few, but it is the backbone of the entertainment industry. It is essentially the desire to make money by making things that will appeal to the widest possible audience.

A lot of time it creates crap, diving for the lowest common denominator, but since 90% of all human creative endeavour produces crap, it's well within norms.

Also, once in a while you get a synergy between the filmmakers and popular tastes and that creates an artistic and popular classic.

THE EGO DRIVE: This can also be called The Ego/Snob Drive. It's basically where a film's makers don't feed their ego from
the popular success of their productions but from their unpopular failure. This allows them to play the martyr, slaughtered unjustly by the Philistines of the general public, because they had the "courage" to "speak truth to power."

Usually such talk is code for making a film that people didn't find entertaining, or challenging, just dull. But if you spin your failure just right, you'll get invited to all the right parties, get unlimited critical praise (whether deserved or not), and use that status as a "courageous artiste" to get more deals to make more films that less and less people want to see.

Studio executives used to work with a mixture of the money drive and the ego drive, but sans the snob element. Their ego was based mostly on commercial success of their pictures.

However things have changed.

Hollywood has become more isolated from the average moviegoer than ever before, and that isolation has spread into the executive suite.

Glamour is blinding, and when the desire for acceptance by the glamorous replaces the desire for popular success, the industry is screwed.

Sure executives can be fired if they lose enough money. But the threat isn't as terrible as it once was since the average executive has a severance package that could feed Bangladesh for a year, and fired executives usually move on to similar or better positions at other companies, networks, or become movie/TV producers at the company that fired them.

So you get a widening divide between movie-makers and movie-goers, and it's starting to show in the revenue stream. Movie ticket sales are down, TV viewership is down, and people are turning away from mainstream entertainment, and going to the more niche-friendly lanes of the Internet.

What can Hollywood do to stop this death spiral?

First, an example needs to be made. And to start I suggest that Time Warner appoint:

Then, and only then, can the troubles destroying Hollywood be fixed. I don't really care what celebrities think about me, because I don't really think too highly of them.

1 comment:

  1. This has nothing to do with this post, but I wanted to a) thank you for the LAMB link and b) tell you that I love your blog's design. It's fantastic - really stands out from all the rest (mine included).