“I love Hollywood. … Everybody's plastic, but I love plastic.” Andy Warhol
When speaking of the United States’ influence on global culture, we cannot but mention Hollywood. It may even be one of America’s best instruments. In the past, children in different countries watched quite different cartoons and movies. Over the last decades, new generations worldwide have watched almost the same - no matter where they were born.
As any other business, film studios seek to earn more money. So, all they need is big box office returns. In Russia, a poet is more than a poet. In America, an actor is more than an actor. For example, if Ben Affleck happens to engage in a dispute with a theology professor on religion or with a businessman on business, for most of the Americans his view will be important. Emma Watson would hardly be able to speak about feminism at the UN were it not for her role in Harry Potter.
This is why the “P.C. police” keep an eye on celebrities’ tweeters and see to it that ethnic and sexual minorities be appropriately represented in movies. But many screenwriters, directors and actors do not need this as they do what they do not so much for money as for the love of the audience. This is why in 1978 Marlon Brando rejected Oscar and let Sacheen Littlefeather come out on stage to speak about repressions against American Indians in the United States. Today such speeches have become usual and nobody has to reject his Oscar any longer to make them happen.
In 2014, two members of the Oscar Academy Jury confessed that they voted for 12 Years a Slave without watching the movie just because it was socially significant. Quentin Tarantino’s movie is a western about slaves revenging on their white owners. And they say he is going to make one more such movie.
Those watching American movies may develop an idea that black Americans account for 1/3 of the U.S. population and for almost a half of all U.S. policemen and judges. But in reality Afro-Americans are just 12% of all Americans. It is worthy to note that Obama’s rule has given rise to a new wave of racial contradictions even though Obama’s election as president was expected to put an end to any racism in America.
And this is not Obama’s only achievement. One of his successes is higher awareness of sexual orientation and identity.
A recent Gallup poll has shown that most of the Americans believe that gays account for 23% of all people in America, with only 3.4% of them identifying themselves as such. Among youths this percentage is higher – 6.9%. Quite recently 54-year-old Jodie Foster found out that she was a lesbian. As a result, she divorced her husband and joined her girlfriend. The Wachowski brothers have gone even further – now they are brother and sister Wachowski. Lately, Hollywood has screened a number of movies and TV series about transgender people and same-sex relationships. Caitlyn Jenner (formerly Bruce Jenner) has become a national hero and even Glamour’s “Woman of the Year.”
But not everything is as fluent as this in Hollywood. Recently one of the most conservative film-makers in the United States, Clint Eastwood dared to make a film about snipers and faced a storm of protest on the part of his liberal colleagues. Seth Rogen compared Eastwood’s American Sniper with the sniper from Inglourious Basterds, while Michael Moore called snipers “cowards.” This is just part of the campaign launched against Eastwood’s movie. Such campaigns will certainly force other actors to think twice before starring in such films.
One more such campaign was launched against Avengers: Age of Ultron, Part 2, where there are three female characters: a pregnant housewife with two kids, a unhappy woman who cannot have children and a woman that causes men to see gloomy dreams. To the U.S. feminists - who have turned “childfree” into a kind of a religion - this is unacceptable.
The “P.C. police” are not the only ones caring for gender equality. Quite recently, the U.S. Department of Labor inspected film studios and saw that very few of box-office hits are made by women. Equality has become a fixed idea for the Americans and what they want is no longer just equality of rights and opportunities but equality of results. This means turning people into interchangeable clones – so, any difference here is interpreted as discrimination.
For most people Hollywood is not just entertainment but also a source of information about the world, history, science, special services and even behavior rules. In Jurassic World, two kids discuss the divorce of their parents and the older of them says that all parents do it nowadays. In The Judge an eight-year-old girl says that mums are often left alone, with dads finding new younger mums. It seems that family is no longer a priority in the United States.
We in Russia are often displeased with how they in America show us in their movies. But here there is no malice here but rather mere historical and culturological incompetence.
For example, political thriller, Argo, shows events that happened during the Iranian Revolution of 1980. Several employees of the U.S. embassy were forced to hide from the new authorities, and the Americans developed a skilful plan to rescue them. The movie has caused protests in the UK and Canada! First, it says that the British embassy refused to give those people shelter (this is not true: in reality, the British did give them shelter). And, second, according to the movie, the Canadians were going to boot them out of their consulate (this is not true either). And, finally, the film alleges that it was the CIA’s operation, while, in reality, the initiator was the Canadian consul.
Even more interesting are the historical inconsistencies detected in The Imitation Game, a story about mathematical genius Alan Turing. Here we have found lots of clichés and we are giving just some of them below:
Turing is pictured as an out-of-reality crank, who cannot communicate with people. In reality, Turing was a humorist. The cliché is “crazy researcher.”
In the movie the supervisor of the project, Admiral Denniston does not know anything about science and tries to force Turing out of the project. All he knows is military discipline. In reality, Denniston was one of the devotees of the project and was deeply versed in science. The cliché is “stupid drillmaster.”
In the movie it is Turing who figures out and makes the decoding machine. In reality, Turing just improved the Enigma machine invented by Polish mathematician Marian Rejewski. The cliché is “loner genius.”
In real life Turing did not make secret about his being gay (though he did not parade that either). But in Hollywood you need to show this as some horrible past overcome due to efforts by progressive fighters for the rights of minorities. The leader female character solves a task that even Turing is unable to solve. This is done to please the feminists. And the two married not because the girl’s conservative parents were worried that their daughter was not married but simply because they liked each other. And the key cliché of the movie is Turing’s suicide following the court’s verdict to cure him from being gay. In reality, Turing died many years later and many believe that it was just mishandling of cyanide rather than a suicide.
No matter how many people verify the facts after watching a movie. The problem is that sometimes even the authors are not aware of such “details.” It is very human to rewrite the past according to own vision of it. In House of Cards TV series a fighter for the rights of sexual minorities kills himself in Russian prison inspired by the example of his colleague. And those watching the series will never know that in Russia being gay is not a crime.
But this injustice is not aimed against other nations. For example, in Dances with Wolves (which has almost the same plot as Avatar) an American soldier falls in love with an American Indian, whose tribe lives in harmony with nature. Here the U.S. army is shown in a very bad light. The audience was indignant, but the Academy was enthralled. As a result, people in America are beginning to see people like Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning and Edward Snowden as national heroes though their deeds would hardly be welcomed anywhere in the past. And they in the U.S. must be all but pleased with such an attitude.
In any case, we should not overestimate Hollywood’s role in the decay of morals. After all, the mission of the dream factory is to entertain the audience. On the other hand, mass content is quite a strong lever for those controlling social reality -provided that they can balance well between financial solvency and political adequacy.