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“”In this age of terror and soaring budget deficits, when our President has proposed cuts in veterans' benefits and funds for children, I got a tax cut of over $100,000! Support the Hollywood Elite. Please re-elect George Bush.
Value is at least as much an economic as a cultural concept. So any proper definition of Hollywood values ought to begin with the astonishing costs of producing major films and the "blink to make sure it's real" real estate market. The production "values" of movies made in Hollywood, California, run easily to eight or even nine figures (in USD), and the "value" of real estate in Hollywood shocks the little people who can only imagine having the income to buy a little wedge of it.
Using the alternate definition of the word, as in "family values," "Hollywood values" are — wait — does Hollywood even have a uniform belief system? Even metaphorical wars need real enemies, or at least imagined enemies with empirical referents. The culture war needs enemies. Who better than those objects of envy in Tinseltown?
Hollywood, by its very nature, attracted a certain class of people. Much of the American film industry was established by first- and second-generation Jewish, Eastern European, and Irish Americans who found themselves locked out of much of the WASP-dominated social and cultural life of the early 20th century, as well as, for some reason, an enormous number of Canadians. Film, as well as similar industries like vaudeville and musical theater, was considered to be "vulgar" entertainment suited only for the lowest common denominator, and thus, was scorned by the era's cultural elites, who instead had a fondness for literature and more "respectable" forms of theater. Yet there was a demand for such entertainment, and since nature abhors a vacuum, the immigrants rushed in to take the jobs that the Real Americans™ turned their noses towards because it was beneath them.
So now you've got a new and rapidly growing (in both wealth and cultural power) field of entertainment that was established by, and is thoroughly dominated by, immigrants, a good number of whom are Jews, and most of whom don't fit in the culture of early 20th century America. In addition, a large number of WASPs who also find themselves alienated from "traditional" cultural life, including some who may have a few skeletons in the closet, are themselves migrating to Hollywood because it's the only table in the cafeteria where outcasts like them are welcome. Jews, immigrants, homosexuals, money, and new media, all in one place... you can see where this is going.
It wasn't even a decade after the first Hollywood studios had established themselves when the first great moral panic arose from Real America™ regarding the "immorality" of Hollywood. The Fatty Arbuckle[wp] scandal in 1921-22 and other incidents like it led to calls for government censorship of film, which didn't happen only because Hollywood, seeing what it was facing, pre-empted such efforts with censorship of their own. The Motion Picture Production Code[wp] (also known as the Hays Code) bound Hollywood's films to a strict set of guidelines for decency and morality from the early 1930s until the mid-'60s.
While this placated America's self-appointed moral guardians for a time, after World War II it would prove to be insufficient, as there was now a new threat to America's bodily fluids: Communism! The 1950s were the age of Joe McCarthy and the second Red Scare, and Americans were concerned that all those Eastern Europeans in Hollywood were a fifth column that would turn American media into a "Red propaganda machine." Hundreds of writers, actors, and directors lost their careers in the Hollywood blacklist of the '50s. Simultaneously, the notorious tabloid Confidential combined the sleaze of the News of the World with the reactionary politics of Fox News, going into overdrive reporting on all the misdoings of Hollywood's stars — which, at the time, included such things as homosexuality and even blacks dating whites — and delivering an irreparable blow to the idea that the Hays Code had cleaned up Hollywood in any meaningful way. This being the age of Leave It to Beaver and Father Knows Best, the usual suspects reacted like they usually did.
But then something different happened. The Supreme Court had ruled in 1952 that film was protected speech under the First Amendment, and with the '60s rolling in, nobody cared about indecency anymore. Besides, Hollywood in the '60s had much bigger problems than their public image — namely, competition from television and foreign (especially British) cinema, the latter of which was not bound by the Hays Code and which, thanks to the Miracle Decision, could not be legally censored. Films like James Bond and Hammer's blood-soaked, sexualized remakes of classic horror films drew in hordes of viewers sick of Hollywood formula, and the Hays Code meant that they never had to worry about American competition. Under increasing pressure from British and other foreign film studios and looking for an angle from which to compete with television, Hollywood chucked the Hays Code straight out the window in the mid-'60s and replaced it with the MPAA's film rating system, allowing for far greater leeway in content.
The result? Ask any film student or critic what the greatest decade for American cinema was. The answer you will get is probably "the 1970s," aka. the decade after the Hays Code was buried. Filmmakers like Martin Scorsese, Sidney Lumet, Roman Polanski, William Friedkin, Francis Ford Coppola, and others broke down the barriers of "old Hollywood" and brought about a revolution in American cinema that helped to turn back the tide of irrelevance. Despite notorious missteps like One From the Heart and Heaven's Gate that forced the studios to rein in filmmakers' creative freedom, by the '80s Hollywood was back on the path to financial sustainability thanks to the likes of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg applying the "New Hollywood" style to bigger, family-oriented blockbusters.
In other words, Hollywood didn't suddenly become "immoral" because the liberals running the show wanted to foist decadent values onto American society, they became "immoral" because it was the only way that they could hope to stay in business against foreign competitors. In other words, it was pure capitalism. And don't conservatives always tell us to "Buy American" and not support those evil foreigners, and that capitalism is the greatest economic system the world has ever seen?
The perception that Hollywood is a subversive force in American culture, spreading liberalism and secularism and undermining Real American Values™, is still widespread within a certain section of the populace. Andrew Breitbart, for example, built a cottage industry promoting the idea that conservative actors and filmmakers are actively persecuted by Hollywood's "liberal elite" and prevented from getting work in the film industry.
Let us ignore the fact that the "liberal" Hollywood machine cranked out three gung-ho Transformers movies that got progressively more militaristic as the franchise went on, as well as the two-hour Marine recruitment ad known as Battle: Los Angeles and the pro-PATRIOT Act, pro-War on Terror blockbuster The Dark Knight. Or the fact that they have shown themselves, over and over again, to be decades behind the times when it comes to what's acceptable regarding race, gender, and indeed just about any cultural issue. Or the fact that Adam Sandler, a registered Republican who recently made a hit comedy built almost entirely around a homophobic premise, is still one of the biggest comedic stars in Hollywood despite the fact that
everyone many people feel that he stopped being funny years ago. Or that it's nearly impossible for a mainstream Hollywood movie to portray an atheist character who isn't a jerk, doesn't have loose morals, didn't get dealt a bad hand by life (thus explaining why they don't believe in God), and/or doesn't convert to Christianity by the end of the movie.
So yes. Hollywood is clearly a very liberal place. Just keep saying it.
 A reality check
The bottom line is that Hollywood is run by major corporations. Whatever the personal convictions of individual movie stars may be, the real movers and shakers in Hollywood are the CEOs, chairpersons and executives of the studios. They make movies with liberal messages because they will make money in the blue states, just as they make movies with conservative messages (such as the aforementioned Transformers movies, The Dark Knight, the Iron Man films, etc.) because those will make money in the red states. The only part of the American film industry that can truly be said to have a left-wing slant is the indie/arthouse/film festival scene (Tribeca, Sundance, and so on), which, while it does employ Hollywood talent on numerous occasions, is by definition not part of the mainstream Hollywood system; in fact, many liberal actors and filmmakers turn to indie filmmaking because they think Hollywood is too stifling.
Just look at one of Hollywood's biggest cash cows in the last decade, the superhero movie. It can (and has) been argued that the entire concept of the "traditional" superhero, à la Batman or Superman, is fundamentally conservative. There's one man (and it's often a man) who possesses some form of moral, physical and/or biological superiority over the rest of his fellow men (so much for the equality of all men), has been "chosen" by
God a higher force, or is just filthy rich and highly dedicated (see, the 1% does care about us!), acting outside legal channels to protect them (just like what the CIA is doing) because it is right and proper and in line with "truth, justice and the American Way," often to a total lack of appreciation by those who they're trying to protect (just like those ACLU radicals who should just shut up about what the CIA is doing). The villains are often unambiguously evil — morality is a matter of black and white (just like it should be).
There exist entire fields and subgenres of superhero comics, most famously Alan Moore's Watchmen but going back as far as Spider-Man to some extent, devoted to picking apart and dismantling these tropes and what they represent. Yet "liberal" Hollywood keeps cranking out superhero flicks, resting their hopes every summer on their broad shoulders and lantern jaws of justice, not unlike Westerns in the mid-20th century — another genre that exemplifies traditional American values of rugged individualism (with extra emphasis on the "rugged") and manifest destiny. Indeed, some consider the superhero movie to be the modern-day incarnation of the Western in terms of it being Hollywood's go-to genre for escapist action entertainment, and that the reason why they've been so popular in the last decade is because their values speak so well to Middle America.
 The international box office
Furthermore, in the last decade the American market has ceased to be the be-all, end-all decider of success or failure for Hollywood. As the rest of the world (particularly the developing world) has grown in economic stature, Hollywood has become increasingly dependent on international box office in order to sustain its ever-expanding budgets — and foreign films are entering the US market, once seen as a 100% buy domestic affair (barring the brief interlude of the '60s), in growing number.
A perfect example would be 2011's The Adventures of Tintin, a $135 million budgeted CG-animated epic by Steven Spielberg based on the Belgian comic Tintin, which has no mass appeal in the US but is on a par with The Simpsons or Marvel Comics in much of Europe. Its US release was an afterthought, making only about $77 million, but overseas it made nearly $300 million, a certified blockbuster. Likewise, the $180 million adaptation of The Golden Compass, the first book in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, made over $300 million overseas and just $70 million in the US; it would've made a great year for its production company, New Line Cinema, had they not foolishly sold off the international distribution rights to other companies.
In this environment, especially coinciding with a time when the US' international reputation has taken a nosedive, Hollywood has to be very careful with its appeals to patriotism — whatever American viewers it might gain would be more than balanced out by disgusted European, Asian and Latin American viewers deciding to stay home. And now you know why the live-action G.I. Joe movie turned the all-American Joes into an international team, why the Red Dawn remake retooled the villains from the Chinese to the North Koreans at the last minute, and why superhero movies have a reputation of not doing so well overseas.
 Other things to think about
Some of the strongest political voices against Hollywood Values are currently pandering to the film, television and music industries with their support of the Stop Online Piracy Act and the PROTECT IP Act (in the United States House and Senate, respectively) while the Writers Guild of America, West -- a group at the core of "big Hollywood" if ever there was one -- opposes the bills. Apparently, those godless, Jap-loving, Flying Spaghetti Monster-worshiping gamer nerds in Silicon Valley are officially a bigger threat than Hollywood now. On the other hand, Breitbart also opposed SOPA and PIPA. Hey, a stopped clock...
 See also
- ↑ Foster, Charles. Stardust and Shadows: Canadians in Early Hollywood.
- ↑ Cinema of the United States - Rise of Hollywood
- ↑ Some things never change.
- ↑ Indeed, before certain events made such views unacceptable in polite company, many early rantings against "liberal Hollywood" frequently mentioned "Jewish Hollywood" in the exact same breath. This is not a coincidence — to this day, anti-Semites still use the trope of "Hollywood values" to claim that the entertainment industry is being controlled by the Jews to subvert the white race.
- ↑ Say it in your best '50s instructional video voice. Feels good, right?
- ↑ Joseph Burstyn, Inc v. Wilson, also known as the "Miracle Decision" after the film involved.
- ↑ No relation to the cult.
- ↑ Actually, this may go a long way towards explaining why the original fascists were opposed to capitalism.
- ↑ About that...
- ↑ For the love of God, Michael Bay, people go to see Transformers movies to watch Autobots beating the snot out of Decepticons, not to see the US Army hog all the glory.
- ↑ Not that The Dark Knight is a bad film. Hell, even the most pacifistic bleeding-heart will tell you that it was awesome. It's just something to think about for anybody who claims that you can't get a big conservative film made in Hollywood.
- ↑ Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, the first Hollywood movie about an interracial couple that didn't demonize the idea, came out in 1967, by which time most of America outside the South was fine with the idea of interracial marriage.
- ↑ I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (2007)
- ↑ TV Tropes: Hollywood Atheist
- ↑ Palmer, Landon. "Iron Man 3" is the Most Political Superhero Film Ever Made." Film School Rejects, May 7, 2013.
- ↑ Palmer, Landon. "Culture Warrior: Occupy Hollywood." Film School Rejects, November 8, 2011.
- ↑ Burgas, Greg. "The political leanings of superhero comics… revealed!" Comic Book Resources, March 1, 2010.
- ↑ In some cases, not conservative enough.
- ↑ Funnily enough, during the 30s and 40s Superman was explicitly sticking up for such evil things like civil rights and trade unions. Apparently it offends audiences a lot less to talk about the American Dream than it is to actually do something about it.
- ↑ Yes, comic book geeks, we know about female superheroes like Wonder Woman, Catwoman and Elektra... many of whom have utterly bombed in the transition to the screen. While superhero comics are fairly diverse, superhero movies have been, with the exception of ensemble pieces like the X-Men movies, Fantastic Four and The Avengers, a sausage-fest. We implore you to prove otherwise.
- ↑ Nero. "What is the future of Comic Book Movies?" ComicBookMovie.com, September 19, 2010.
- ↑ Lynch, Paul. "Sounding Off: Superhero Movies — no longer films for our times." Film Ireland, March 15, 2012.
- ↑ Wray, Richard. "Jobs to go as New Line Cinema merged into Warner Bros." The Guardian, 29 Feb. 2008.
- ↑ Wall Street Journal -- "Brake the Internet Pirates"
- ↑ Rupert Murdoch supports SOPA
- ↑ On Capitol Hill
- ↑ His webshite