Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On #102: Playing the Player

Fame is an opiate for your neuroses.

Glamor is a spliff for your common sense.

Celebrity is an overdose of amphetamines for your ego.

And show-business is a combo liquor-store pharmacy where the management has also become a major customer.

The problem is that it's not just a show, it's also a business, when a person is hooked on their own product, be it narcotics, or hype, tends to forget that, and the business, the font of their good fortune, suffers.

Do you see what I'm getting at?

Hmmm... my metaphor may be a tad obscure, or my readers a tad obtuse, so I will have to explain further...

Hollywood, and the movie / entertainment business headquartered there, is based on image. The old logic was that if you present the image of success or stardom you will, eventually, become a successful star. At one time, this may have been true, but two things have eroded that logic down to a nub.

1. People, you know, audiences, have become extremely jaded to hype and cynical of the whole Hollywood/media machine.

2. The people who are supposed to be running the business of show business have started to believe it and taken it on for themselves.

#1 is bad enough, but inevitable when you flog a dead horse, but #2 is positively disastrous for the industry.

Here's why...

Hollywood's management structure has become more interested in presenting the image of success than in actually doing the hard work to do it. They seem more interested in getting their picture taken standing next to Brangelina at an apres-Oscar party or in having the biggest yacht at Cannes than in being a businessman.

Now this doesn't affect all executives, but who gets the contagion of celebrity is all a matter of motives.

There are two motives for becoming a studio executive, and while on the surface they may seem the same, they have subtle and important differences. They are: Ambition and Greed.

Now I know you're thinking: Ain't dem dere words the same thing?

No, not in my universe.

I believe that ambition is a desire to make a lot a money, achieve the heights of success, and to win the adulation of others, but to get to those ends, the ambitious executive builds something. The ambitious executive takes on a business, and makes it run better, creates new opportunities, partnerships, and most importantly, profits for everyone involved.

The ambitious executive wants to become a cinematic Ozymandias of Hollywood, declaring "look upon my studio ye mighty, and despair!" to the future generations of tourists doing the studio tour, staring in slack-jawed awe at all the buildings, streets, and back-lots that bear the name of the ambitious executive..

Which brings us to greed.

The greedy executive wants the money, the success, and the adulation, but the greedy executive isn't interested in doing the hard work of actually building anything. The greedy executive only wants to take everything around them, to hell with efficiency, opportunities, partnerships, and eventually profits. The greedy executive doesn't give a fiddler's f*ck about those tourists, or their awe, all the greedy executive cares about is feeding the greed, their baser appetites, and their ego in the short term.

The ambitious executive doesn't really worry about their image, because they have work to do, and things to build. While the greedy executive is all about image, they want to show themselves off as the biggest, richest, most glorious S.O.B. in Tinsel Town. Actually running the business comes in a distant third behind getting the biggest beach house in Malibu, and scoring a blow-job from nubile starlet fresh off the bus from Nebraska.

The ambitious executive doesn't believe the hype about them being a business genius, they're too busy making the next big deal. To the ambitious executive hype is merely a tool, a means to an end, and that end is a bigger and stronger business.

While the greedy executive believes every word they hear, as long as it's telling them what they want to hear, and think that this hype will make the next big deal for them. The greedy executive thinks the hype is the end, not just a means, completely forgetting that hype has the solidity of a fart.

Now who would you want to run your studio, or any business for that matter?

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