Hollywood and Cultural Imperialism

Hollywood and Cultural Imperialism

There is only one Hollywood in the world. Movies are made in London, Paris, Milan and Moscow, but the life of these cities is relatively uninfluenced by their production. Hollywood is a unique American phenomenon with a symbolism not limited to this country. It means many things to many people.

For the majority it is the home of favored, godlike creatures. For others, it is a “den of iniquity”; a center for creative genius, or a place where mediocrity flourishes and able men sell their creative souls for gold; an important industry with worldwide significance, or an environment of trivialities characterized by aimlessness; a mecca where everyone is happy, or a place where cynical disillusionment prevails.

Rarely is it just a community where movies are made. For most movie-goers, particularly in this country, the symbolism seems to be that of a never-never world inhabited by glamorous creatures, living hedonistically and enjoying their private swimming pools and big estates, attending magnificent parties, or being entertained in famous night clubs. The other symbols belong to relatively small groups of people.

The United States has remained the dominant influence on world culture throughout the century, and this position has hardly been challenged. It has been by far the largest exporter of eultural commodities – larger than the rest of the world combined.

Hollywood and Cultural Imperialism
Hollywood Early Years, 1903

In addition to being a social phenomenon, which reflects a particular ideology, the Hollywood star system is a business strategy designed to generate large audiences and differentiate entertainment programs and products, and has been used for over seventy years to provide increasing returns on production investments.

As a marketing technique and business strategy, the system was first used in the theater industry. Between 1910 and 1948 Hollywood borrowed and expanded the star system and stock company approaches from the stage; and through the simultaneous exhibition of films throughout the world, the industry eventually established movie studio stables of stars and earned profits well in excess of those of the largest theatrical companies.

Significant historical changes in the status of movie stars have paralleled decisive technological, economic, and social changes that have affected the American film industry as a whole, such as the coming of sound, the Great Depression, and the rise and fall of movie attendance. The contractual terms and salaries for movie stars have also been affected by the same factors.

In the highly competitive and expanding market that existed between 1910 and 1920, the most popular silent-movie stars eventually obtained contractual terms that equalled and possibly exceeded their individual contributions to box-office success, and some of them also became involved in film production themselves, although the development of sound and its demand for experienced stage and radio performers ended the careers of many silent film stars. Those working during the early 1930s, when movie attendance declined and industry power was concentrated in the hands of a few studios, were placed in a poor bargaining position, and studios began exercising near autocratic control over the star system.

Hollywood and Cultural Imperialism

The Paramount antitrust decrees in the late 1940s resulted in a shift from a mature oligopoly/ monopoly, or semicompulsory cartel, involving the Big Five studios ( Warner Bros, Loew’s/ MGM, Paramount, RKO, and Twentieth Century-Fox) and the Little Three ( Universal, Columbia, and United Artists), to a bilateral oligopoly with six major distributor/ producers and a dozen nationwide theater circuits today. This shift created a slightly more competitive market that benefited the most popular movie stars.

Unfortunately, the decline in movie attendance and the rise in production costs, which also occurred during this period, left many less popular contract players unemployed, as stock companies disbanded. In the 1950s and 1960s, although many of the more popular stars remained under studio contract, they also obtained more liberal terms than existed during the studio period, sometimes receiving a percentage of the profits or becoming directly involved financially in film production for both tax advantages and artistic control.

During the 1960s and 1970s the absence of studio control forced Hollywood increasingly to rely upon other media, such as television and popular music, to cultivate stars who could then be exploited by the film industry. Eventually some scholars and executives began to question the validity of the star system, embracing instead the “auteur” approach, which suggested that the previous success of a director ensured box-office success better than did the supposed popularity of movie stars.

But, as the American film industry has argued almost from its infancy, cultural products play a crucial role in opening export markets for other goods and the way of life they promote. On the other hand the very existence of American dominated popular culture has been responsible for the development of national styles in fashion or media, as govemments try to resist the encroachment of a homogenized “world” culture, whether it emanates from New York, Hollywood, Paris or Tokyo.

This is ultimately not an argument about esthetic quality, but a demonstratian of real cultural, social, and finaily economic power. Since the cultural elite in European societies has corresponded closely to the economic and political elite, it has been able to dictate the terrns of the debate. This has, for example, been a powerful influence on British broadeasting, whose patrons insist, against ail evidence except cultural prejudice, that it provides the “least worst televisian in the world”.

The adaptations and documentaries which give British television its envied reputation for “quality” reproduce the “worthiest” remnants of British culture. As in Gerrnany, television has absorbed writing and directorial talent which might have contributed to a cinematic renaissance. Innovation has been contained within the hierarchies of television. Elsewhere in Europe the forrnal experimentation of the avant-garde and international Art Cinema has been rendered harmless by being kept within a cultural ghetto of smail metropolitan theaters for a middle-class elite, where its power to disrupt or subvert has been reduced to an untroublesome minimum.

On accasion, as in the Cinema Nova mavement in the 1960s in Brazil, cultural resistance has been linked to opposition to the political and economic dominance of the United States as well as to its cultural influence. Cinema Nova used the history, mythology and imagery of traditional Brazilian culture as the basis on which to revive a national culture free of North American domination. Much Third-World cinema has derived its impetus from an opposition to the cultural colonialism of Westem countries, which has often dominated distribution and thus hindered or prevented the emergence of an indigenous film industry.

The most enduring forrns of cultural nationalism have been those able to integrate imitations of American media forrns with a culturally specific, preferably traditional content: the martial arts films of Hong Kong; Japanese “home dramas”; or, largest and perhaps most spectacularly successful of all, the Indian cinema.

Curiously, the American film industry is required to be most sensitiye to the demands of audiences outside its own cultural boundaries, since it is dependent on foreign sales for more than half its income. This heavy dependence on foreign markets is one explanation for the continuing ability of American popular cultural forms to absorb and assimilate almost anything.

Polish filmmaker Andrej Wajda caught the other basic ingredient of their success: “The paradox is that because the American cinema is so commercial, because the pressure of money is so strong, everything in a film has to be the very best. That means the most expensive, but it alsa means the most authentic, the most honest. No half measures, everything on the edge of excess…. The amount the Americans are prepared to spend on making their films is in a way a sign of resped for the audience.”

Essentially the argument has changed little in substance, only in scale, from the complaints against Hollywood’s influence in the 1920s. As the mass audience for the electromic media began to decline and fragment in the West, broadcasting became increasingly internationalized through coproduetion arrangements, seeking its audience in many countries simply to pay the bills.

The media have been important forces in maintaining Western influence and interests in Third World countries after independence from colonial rule: into the 1980s the majority of joumalistic and technical staff continued to be trained by American or European agencies, and, partly as a result, to adopt Western values in regard to media content Equipment and programs have enabled broadcasting services to be established, but have inhibited local production because of its high cost by comparision to American programýning of much more ostentatious production qualities.

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Angelina Jolie responds to war victims’ criticism

Angelina Jolie defends Bosnian directorial debut

Angelina Jolie says her debut film as a director wasn’t meant to stir controversy.

Hollywood star Angelina Jolie has hit back at criticism of her directorial debut, saying most people back her portrayal of a love story between a Serbian man and Bosnian woman on the eve of the 1992-95 Balkans conflict.

Speaking in Paris ahead of next week’s premiere of a very different film — romantic action comedy “The Tourist” in which she stars with Johnny Depp — Jolie said her intention had never been to stoke controversy with her movie set in wartime Bosnia.

Bosnian victims of sexual violence during the 1990s have written to the United Nations , for which the Oscar-winning actress is a goodwill ambassador, saying she didn’t deserve the position and did not know enough about the ethnic conflict.

“There’s one person who has a gripe,” Jolie said.

“The absolute majority of the people, population, the cast, prime minister, president have been extremely supportive,” she said, adding that 95 percent of the film’s cast had lived through the war.

Jolie has described her movie, which is still untitled, as a love story between a Serbian man and a Bosnian Muslim woman on the eve of the 1992-95 war in which 100,000 people died.

The production team has cut back on filming plans in Bosnia, however, moving some scenes from Sarajevo to be shot in Budapest, after a Bosnian minister canceled the filming permit in October, citing incomplete paperwork.

The move came after the minister met with female victims of the Bosnian war who said they objected to details of the plot.

Jolie, who also wrote the screenplay, said she had initially set out to just write to express her frustrations over how long the international community took to intervene in conflicts.

“It kept leaning toward Yugoslavia at the time, I wanted to learn more about it and the people, the more I read and learnt I was drawn to that part of the world,” she said.

“I met artists from that part of the world and found they were extraordinary for what they’d gone through, so I wanted to give them a platform.”

The ” Tomb Raider ” star has asked women war victims in a letter to hold judgment until they have seen the film in which she said “there are many twists in the plot that address the sensitive nature of the relationship between the main characters.”

Related Link

Angelina Jolie Planet

Miley Cyrus throws 18th-birthday bash

Miley Cyrus throws 18th-birthday bash

Two nights before her actual birthday, the singer parties at a Hollywood nightclub.

Most girls celebrating their 18th birthday would probably throw a fit if their mom decided to crash their party. But when the girl is Miley Cyrus, mom isn’t just welcome, she’s part of the main event.

Walking the red carpet at last night’s American Music Awards, Cyrus told “Access Hollywood” that her plans for later in the evening — a birthday party at Hollywood club Trousdale — centered on her and mom Tish.

“I’m going out dancing later — we rented out a space so all my friends can come,” she said. “Me and my mom actually have choreography for the night later — everyone loves when we dance in unison… so it’s going to be good.”

No word on what song this “choreography” was for, but, considering recent events, we’re going to guess “Single Ladies.”

And Tish wasn’t the only adult who celebrated with Miley. Demi Moore showed up (with daughter Rumer) to strike some poses with her co-star. As for Cyrus’ birthday party attire, well… let’s just say it was more revealing than the floor-length frock she sported during her AMA performance earlier in the evening. Oh, Miley. She can’t be tamed… she’s just being Miley… it’s her party in the USA… so many Cyrus-isms could work here.

Top Gun sequel coming after 24 years

Top Gun sequel coming after 24 years

The original director has signed on for ‘Top Gun 2’, but will Tom Cruise return as iconic fly-boy Maverick?

Are you feeling the need for more speed? Amid rumours earlier this month that Paramount made offers to producer Jerry Bruckheimer, director Tony Scott and actor Tom Cruise to revive ‘Top Gun’ over 20 years after the original, Tony Scott has confirmed he’s on board. But what of Maverick?

Speaking to entertainment website Hitfix while promoting his new thriller ‘Unstoppable’, starring Denzel Washington, Scott hinted the second ‘Top Gun’ movie would concentrate on the modern day Air Force, saying, “This world fascinated me, because it’s so different from what it was originally.

“But I don’t want to do a remake. I don’t want to do a reinvention. I want to do a new movie.” He added, “I’m not waiting for a script. I’m going to do my homework.”

As to whether Tom Cruise will reprise his Maverick role, Scott wouldn’t be drawn on confirmation, but other sources from around the Web state Cruise’s character plays a small part in the new film, and suggest that the Hollywood star who made his name in the cult classic would be happy to reappear as long as the role wasn’t an obvious way to include him for the sake of it.

Top Gun sequel coming after 24 years

Of course things have changed in the world of aviation recruits since the film’s release in 1986, and the Cold War is long over, but gossip site Digital Spy states that Scott has found that some pilots from the ‘80s still fly test aircraft, indicating there would be legitimate grounds for Cruise’s return. Another rumour suggests Scott would follow the same pilots on their journey in the two decades since the film first launched. Either way, there’s more than enough grounds to bring back ‘Top Gun’ with the first film making over £220m in box office revenue worldwide – a huge amount for the 1980s (roughly £444m in today’s money).

While Cruise is keeping busy at the moment working on ‘Mission Impossible 4’, Scott has confirmed we won’t see ‘Top Gun 2’ for at least a couple more years since it won’t be the next project on his to-do list either, confirming to Hitfix that he has at least one more film to complete first. So could this mean their schedules perfectly co-ordinate?

Would you prefer to see ‘Top Gun 2’ following the older fighter pilots from the original, or a whole new story with a younger cast? Who would make the perfect Maverick for this generation? Shia LaBeouf, anyone?

John Mayer deletes his Twitter account

John Mayer deletes his Twitter account

The rocker — who is one of the most active celebrity tweeters — cuts off 3.7 million followers.

Fans who want to keep up with John Mayer will no longer be able to do so via Twitter. The singer-songwriter deleted his account, leaving behind 3.7 million followers.

According to the Associated Press, a spokesperson for Mayer said the timing was synched with the end of his Battle Studies Tour that wrapped Saturday in West Palm Beach, Florida.

In April, Mayer hinted that he was considering abandoning Twitter. “I just think Twitter as a form of communication, I think it’s over to be honest with you,” he said at ASCAP’s 2010 “I Create Music” EXPO in Hollywood.

According to OK!, Mayer also cited being frustrated by negative replies from users: “I might as well spend that time making a sandwich or building a model ship or something.”

Mayer’s presence will be missed on Twitter. He was one of the more active celebrities on the site and actually responded to fans. He gave away tickets to free concerts via Twitter. He debated with Perez Hilton after the media personality used the platform to claim being attacked by will.i.am.

Mayer also used Twitter to defend his reputation after his interview in Playboy magazine stirred controversy for his indecent comments about Jessica Simpson and black women.

“Re: using the ‘N word’ in an interview: I am sorry that I used the word,” he wrote, ABC News reported. “And it’s such a shame that I did because the point I was trying to make was in the exact opposite spirit of the word itself. It was arrogant of me to think I could intellectualize using it because I realize that there’s no intellectualizing a word that is so emotionally charged.”

Expect Mayer to be spending more time on Tumblr. “I had 3.3 million Twitter followers back in April when I announced that I’d be predominantly posting on Tumblr, a site that takes all of 25 seconds to sing up for,” Mayer wrote on his Tumblr page last week. “Five months later I have just passed 500,00 followers, a fraction of my Twitter base … I will leave the opining up to you, but I think I made the right move.”

Hilary Duff is officially a married woman!

Hilary Duff is officially a married woman!

The 22-year-old actress Hilary Duff wed her hockey player beau, Mike Comrie, in an intimate sunset ceremony at a $29 million estate near the San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito, Calif. on Saturday.

Approximately 100 of the couple’s closest family members and friends enjoyed poolside cocktails before the ceremony began at sundown. Clad in a strapless Vera Wang gown with her hair in a bun, Duff made her way down the aisle — lined with candles and rose petals — with her mother, Susan, by her side. Duff’s older sister, Haylie, served as maid of honor.

“It was one of the most beautiful weddings I’ve ever seen,” a witness told Us of the pair’s 20-minute ceremony. “Absolutely stunning. They thought of every last detail and it was an incredible sight.”

Together for more than two years, Duff and Comrie, 29, got engaged during a Hawaiian vacation in February.

After Comrie got down on one knee and presented his girlfriend with a 14-carat, radiant-cut sparkler in Maui, Duff told Us she went full tilt into wedding planning mode.

“[I] came home to a big stack of magazines from my family,” said Duff, who had “tear sheets all over my house” in her quest to find the perfect gown. “It’s very exciting!”

Though the pair often endure a long-distance relationship, Duff says she and her new husband have a surprisingly “natural” relationship.

“We both have busy jobs, and we’re both very focused people, so that helps,” the actress tells Us. “Since we are apart so much, it’s not like one person is at home waiting for the other.”

What makes Comrie her perfect match? “He’s a great guy,” Duff gushes. “I’ve never met anyone who could say a bad word about him. He’s generous, caring, funny. We just laugh our heads off, which I need in my life … He’s unique. I wouldn’t want to be with someone who wasn’t unique.”

Nolan’s Big Movie, DiCaprio’s Insane Shoot

Nolan's Big Movie, DiCaprio's Insane Shoot

Leonardo DiCaprio calls filming a scene for the thriller in the middle of a blizzard “insane.”

“You periodically felt like you were a part of something truly insane, but it was all in a day’s work,” Leonardo DiCaprio told me during a junket for the movie “Inception.” Even if that day’s work includes shooting on a mountain in the middle of a blizzard.

Based on an original script by director Christopher Nolan, “Inception” is a film that defies easy sound-bite descriptions. Its Russian nesting doll-like structure of a dream enclosed within a dream enclosed within another dream virtually demands multiple viewings. Think Philip K. Dick meets “The Italian Job.”

Nolan’s previous silver screen venture was a little movie called “The Dark Knight” — the highest grossing non-James Cameron movie in American history. So for this go-around, the director’s vast, ambitious vision seems to have been utterly unfettered by financial constraints. And it shows.

Nolan's Big Movie, DiCaprio's Insane Shoot

“Inception” was shot in Tokyo, Los Angeles, Morocco, London, Paris and the Canadian Rockies. It features shots of the French capital folding in on itself M.C. Escher-style, a zero-G fist fight, and a freight train blasting through the streets of downtown Los Angeles. And in one sequence, Leo and the gang stage a raid on a snow-bound Alpine fortress — the aforementioned shoot in the blizzard.

Leo describes an exchange he had with an assistant director during production. “When we started shooting one of the ADs said, ‘Before you get to lunch we want to do some of the avalanche shots.’ ‘OK, how is that going to happen?’ ‘We’re going to blow up a couple mountains and we’re going to start a couple of avalanches and you’re going to get in there and be a part of it and then we’ll take you to lunch.’ And this is kind of what you expect on a Chris Nolan set.”

Co-star Ellen Page agreed. “It was definitely the most extreme environment I’ve ever filmed in.”

And if you thought that cast worked hard, try the production crew. That fortress had to be constructed out of wood and plaster — carried straight up the mountain — without the use of normal construction equipment. It was so cold up there that paint froze on the brush.

For a summer movie season that has proved to be easily the lamest in recent memory, filled with tepid adaptations and tired ’80s retreads, Christopher Nolan’s brand of cinematic insanity might just be what the doctor ordered.

Critics say: “Iron Man 2” is not a big blow!

Critics say: "Iron Man 2" is not a big blow!

“Iron Man 2” that Hollywood hopes will start a lucrative summer movie on Friday, but many American critics feel the long-awaited sequel does not have the punch of its predecessor-super hero.

Actor Robert Downey Jr. dons the costume of high technology once again to fight against the nature of evil that has contributed to “Iron Man” to earn $ 585 million in worldwide box office in 2008. Most critics agreed that Downey Jr’s performance as a selfish billionaire Tony Stark has helped to overcome the shortcomings of bigger, more noisy film is pretty good but not better than the original.

“This is the jumble Downey talent that adds grace notes that do something Iron Man 2” remember, “said Peter Travers of Rolling Stone. The film, which opened a week ago outside a high of $ 100.2 million at the box office, obtained a rate of 64 per cent approval rating on rottentomatoes.com film aggregator.

Hollywood Reporter reviewer Kirk Honeycutt said the element of fun that made the 2008 original so terrible had gone into its second output. “In its place,” Iron Man 2 “has replaced the noise, confusion, many villains, stunts and stories unimportant wrong,” said Honeycutt.

Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan echoed a widespread view when he commented, “As suites go, it is acceptable, nothing more, nothing less.”

But Bill Goodykoontz Arizona Republic turned into a much more gentle, giving the film three and half stars out of 5 and to call it, “Bigger, more and more stupid than its predecessor,” Iron Man 2 “is still a lot of fun.”

While Tom Long to the Detroit News estimated there are too many new characters, crossing the lines of history, not romantic enough, he said, “Who cares?” Iron Man 2 ‘still rocks.”

Yet for many films promoted action primarily young, male audience, rarely mentioned, and the film is considered raking in the cash over the weekend to come.

“Iron Man 2” is expected to more than 120 million dollars during the opening in the U.S. and Canada this weekend. He launched four months of movies featuring some of the summer’s biggest stars of the industry that Hollywood studios hope to make $ 4 billion at the box office in North America.

Nelated Link: Iron Man 2 Movie Full Production Notes