Summary: As I wrote seven years ago, America has become a nation lit only by propaganda. Our films show how the media industries are building a new America on the ruins of the America-that-once-was. It has been done before in other nations before, and seldom ends well.
Maximilian Fonte, professor of anthropology, has a typically brilliant post at Zero Anthropology: “From Hollywood to Hitler: Rethinking the Cultural Politics of Propaganda.” Reading it, I wondered what future anthropologists will say about Hollywood’s products in our time. Are they more or less propagandistic than those of 1930s Germany?
One hint comes from Tyler Cowen in “Women Dominated the Decade” at Bloomberg – “The 2010s were pretty thrilling if you liked music, books, TV or movies by or about women.” The evidence is overwhelming, both looking at the product of our leftist-dominate media industry and what its executives say (they like to see themselves as provident teachable moments to the ignorant masses). Another indication: critics increasingly focusing their reviews discussing their degree of films’ conformity with leftist ideology (especially feminism).
This will become increasingly so in 2020. The upcoming films are mostly about women and minorities, with a few examples (e.g., Dolittle starring Robert Downey Jr.) – and legions of evil white male villains.
The price for producing socialist-realist products is high. The masses do not like it. Film tickets sold in the US peaking in 2003 at 1,524,299,815. They were down 19% by 2019. Sales have been maintained by boosting prices and adding new tech (e.g., 3-D) – but raising prices is a self-limiting tactic.
Two tactics have keep Hollywood flying. First, “tentpole” franchises – action films and superheroes. That is a tiny foundation for the industry. In the immediate future, they are rebooting their key franchises. The Star Wars films begin a new era (continuing their “the future is female” theme). Marvel replaces their A-tier actors with a more gender-diverse cast (e.g., Natalie Portman as Thor). Bond retires, with the new 007 a Black woman. Time will tell if they will succeed. If some key franchises flame out, Hollywood’s prosperity might crash.
The other fountain of money comes from international sales. That is a temporary windfall, as regional Hollywood’s grow. India and China are well underway; others will follow. Nigerian films are popular in Trinidad and other Caribbean islands (e.g., Emmanuel and Aunty Success comedies). Korean dramas are popular around the world (available on Viki). Eventually, foreign films will take a large share of the US media markets, perhaps as Japanese autos did.
How is this propaganda shaping us?
The media are powerful tools to shape a society, especially when working in concert. But will the effects be as expected? Consider fourth-wave feminism – the quest for superiority (not equality) over men. An extreme example is Hollywood’s treatment of the relations between men and women. Traditional romance is bad: men chasing women is a degradation of the feminist mystique (see yesterday’s post). Films and TV increasingly show men as inferior to women and romance as bad for them (details here). How do men and women change from these lessons?
An extreme example is Hollywood’s approval of women hitting men as righteous grrl-power. Men can just bow and take it. See these examples, with a few more below.
Women and men in the workplace.
Deeks and Kensie are the romantic leads in “NCIS: Los Angeles.”
Deeks just takes it, the properly subservient role for modern men. This scene is briefly discussed at TVline by Matt Webb Mitovich and Daniela Ruah (who plays Kensi).
Ruah: “Kensi kind of punches him all the time. Not that it makes it right, but that’s who they are.”
Mitovish: “One common refrain is that if the roles were reversed, such a scene wouldn’t be tolerated.”
Ruah: “That also makes sense, but I think if a guy did that to Kensi, she’d probably kill him.”
It is fine for a woman to punch her co-worker (her boyfriend-coworker). But if a guy punches her, she can kill him. Pure fourth-wave feminism: the rights of men and women are asymmetric, with women on top.
Here is another scene in their romance. See Kensie smile with pleasure as she abuses Deeks.
Another top-rated, award-winning TV show romance was “Castle” (2009-2016). Like Deeks, Castle was a bold alpha broken by his girlfriend into a pitiful beta. My post about the season six cliff-hanger finale is the most popular post ever on the FM website (spoiler: he faked his death to flee Beckett and re-start his life as a real man). Castle brought fun and career success to Beckett. She treated him like dirt, mocking and abusing him. It’s modern romance!
Our commercial media provide a broadly consistent world view to their audiences, one founded on leftist ideology. It is saturation bombing of ideological training via books, TV, and big-screen theaters. Most adults probably have sufficiently fixed beliefs to be resistant to this propaganda. I suspect that many of the young who grow up immersed in this are strongly affected. This is one of the largest experiments in social engineering, ever. Only time will tell if our media institutions are building a new America – and if so, what it looks like.