Hollywood: The Dream Factory Essay
She sits, wide-eyed, staring at a tall, impossibly masculine yet manicured man. Not a hair out of place and as their lips meet after a severe and traumatic car-crash…Yes, a dream indeed. Hollywood, has, over time created for the entire world, a dream that above all things, is unattainable. This is, of course, part of the allure: why strive for something that is easily available? In the movies, it appears to be acceptable to convey to the world a climate that cannot exist. In the movies, more often than not, the hero always gets the girl, crime is always solved and to be blunt – sex is always good.
It has successfully romanticized aspects of society that are less than glamorous, such as humanitarian activism, crime and worse than ever…war. Part of the reason why it has such a large effect on the public is due to the fact that reality does NOT always offer perfect solutions and viewers enjoy pretending that in a perfect world it is possible. The truth is, Paris Hilton’s life is NOT normal, adopting foreign children from war-torn countries is NOT glamorous and examining blood-soaked crime scenes is not always heroic.
In this way, Hollywood has extended its altruistic and unrealistic expertise beyond the silver-screen and tainted the real world with Disney like efficacy. We see a culture gulping in huge quantities of Britney Speares’ misfortune, Lindsey Lohan’s latest battle with alcohol and drugs and an overall obsession with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s altruistic exploits. Yet this is not reality. It is a dream concocted by the intelligent directors and screen-writers who know how to hold an audience.
Since 1918 Hollywood cinema has dominated the world, and even earlier, it has dominated the Australian marketplace. As a result of this hegemony, Australians, through cinematic exposure, have been raised with a U. S. belief system. ”(Hutcherson, 1996) The writer clearly draws a distinction between Australian culture and American pop-culture that essentially highlights the seepage of the American Dream into the entire world. As an ideal The Dream has spanned the earth regardless of want or need for it.
It can thus be said that those effortless ‘deities’ of the screen world are by no means a reflection of reality. But why? Taking a look at the British filmmaker, Alfred Hitchcock’s first major movie The Lodger, we can see a stark reality based upon the fears and interests of the public still reeling in the aftermath of the ignoble Jack – the – Ripper. It was a formula that worked. Sadly, it would seem that Hollywood today is the basis upon which we build our world, rather than the other way around.
More important, any Hollywood history illuminates the dichotomy between those movies that the system most highly prized and those we love now, raising some doubts about the much-vaunted “genius of the system. ””(Schwarz, 2007) There are still films that follow the sensational formulae of Hitchcock, such as the recently released I Am Legend. The film is a dead-ringer for the hugely popular British film 28 Days Later, which drew international acclaim. The formula relies on the fear aspect of humanity, forcing its viewers to look closely at the possibility that the end my well be nigh.
The psychology behind it is brilliant. People love to be afraid. And they also love to be heroes. The fact that the terrifying concept of death by savage viral outbreak has not occurred only leads us to think one thing: if the film makers can think up such an idea, what can the microbiologists and scientists think up? Worse still, they can’t be re-inventing the idea because they have run out of fresh ones, so perhaps there really is a fear of this happening. There is no end to the complex mental processes the visual media inspires in the human mind.
It is made all the more effective by the fact that visual effects and being able to view the outcome relates immediately to the human brain, via the optic nerve. A closer look at the film I Am Legend reveals to us a deep concentration on the fear of biological warfare that has lurked deep in the heart of the United States and in fact, the world, perhaps for the last 20 years. The dream aspect in the movie pivoted on the idea that he was the last man on earth and how it would feel. Indeed, and obviously environmentally pertinent, the film is as usual set in New York City.
There are no real surprises here. Tentatively it could be hypothesized that although attempting to be realistic, Hollywood falls very short of many real aspects of human nature. The film for instance Primal Fear takes an unusual but thrilling look at mental illness, but also presents many incorrect suppositions about people suffering from the said conditions. So while it is potentially enlightening and has the power to change peoples perceptions, also has the opposite effect in that it causes false ideas to be formulated about the issue itself.
Various stigmas exist surrounding the nature or schizophrenia for example, and the misinformed may not know the difference between schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder, which in fact the subject in the movie was suffering from. Most schizophrenics are not violent and if they are the damage is to themselves and not others. The subject in Primal Fear was a danger to everyone. Hollywood is contrived in every aspect from their actors to their subject matters and this begun in the so-called Classical or Golden Age of cinema: “Too important a commodity to be left to chance, stars were made, not born.
They were subjected to studio-directed dentistry and surgery, and were taught how to walk, to speak, even to breathe. ”(Schwarz, 2007). Who is to say the subject matter itself is not subjected to contrived ideals? The battle for more viewers and a loyal audience was so great at the time that movies were created weekly and churned out to the formula with the need to appeal to a mass audience. In any event, this is not the only warped fascination we have hooked ourselves on by increasing Disney’s burgeoning wallet, we also have delusional perceptions of love.
Hollywood has successfully muddled love and lust and as mentioned in the introduction created an impossible ideal of sexuality. This is perhaps the greatest dream our movie-mad society has internalized and has lead, it can be certain to disappointment and disillusionment particularly among the youth whose idealistic view of love and sex may not be met. The production of the teen-scene sequels American Pie, took a fickle and unsavoury look at youth and coming of age in the modern America.
It could be said to create a false image of experimentation both in terms of sexuality and in alcohol/drug use. It is a dream that leads to a sad and unfortunate displacement of the importance of responsibility. The same could be said for the myriad of teen movies released such as Can’t Hardly Wait and Road Trip, whose subjects are also about experimentation and freedom. Infidelity is another subject related to that of love, which has had negative exposure in terms of the acceptability of the act itself.
Noticeable in films such as What Lies Beneath, the attention is subtly drawn away from the infidelity and focussed on the act of murder, downplaying the fact that the poor wife has been grievously and purposefully cheated. Yet the viewers remain enthralled by these subjects because there is and element of excitement that movie-producers recognise as being particularly captivating in its justification. It makes the ordinary seem extraordinary, coupled with beautiful, manicured subjects that are unruffled and exquisite even when they wake in the morning.
She sees, for example, that Hollywood represents an uneasy and unsuccessful compromise between business and art, she considers the Production Code to be more than a little ridiculous both in its inception and in its operation, and she believes that the movies are not nearly as good as they ought to be in view. ”(Bierstedt, 1951) The Hitchcock film Psycho took a vivid and graphic look at the possible consequences of infidelity, where the subject Marion Crane is brutally murdered in her shower by a perverted and mentally ill neighbour.
The sense that the victim ‘had it coming’ is evident from the beginning when the view of Miss Crane hurriedly dressing in a hotel room after a passionate interlude with a married man. As a contracted definition of Hollywood ethic, this expansion of the human psyche makes it appear possible, but does not happen often. The Golden Age of Hollywood saw the invention of many tactics and strategies to make each production company the most popular. Communist cultural doctrine cast writers as “artists in uniform,” producing works whose function was to transmit political messages and raise the consciousness of their audiences. Otherwise, movies were mere bourgeois decadence, a tool of capitalist distraction, and therefore subjugation. ”(Reason Magazine, 2008) . The above quote explains the reasoning between the choices made in what to produce. No one wanted to face communism, so why make a movie about it? It was a carefully constructed perception that formed what is the idea of the essential formula.
Ray Davis takes a nostalgic look at what he termed ‘sissies’ in film production. The glamorous ladies indicative and in memoriam of the flapper age, have faded into obscurity and been replaced by slick, chic immaculate ladies of sleek and slender proportions and the painfully painted ‘sissies’ have become replaced by buff Vin Diesel copycats. “In the senile arts of lyric poetry and prose fiction, the sissy seems portentous, inflated; his voice dominates with a force we know to be false; he appeals only to those power-mad sissies who wish to emulate him.
In movies like The Lady Eve, however, he is flatteringly distanced from his audience, while, like them, a quick and unforgiving judge easily fooled by surfaces. Within the Dream Factory, he is the licensed territory of unfettered, albeit bruised, dreaminess. ”(Davis, 1998) The Dream Factory therefore offered and still offers protracted poetic licence of self-expression and liberally offers support to previously transgressive behaviours. The unacceptable becomes the acceptable and opens itself up to a broader audience who can relate to the specific issue expressed in the movie itself. After Paul Lynde retired to television, what was left of Hollywood? From 1970 on, American film has deafened us with the strident masculine whine, “I’m a selfish blind bullying creep, but I still haven’t gotten everything I want. “”(Ibid. ) Supposedly, this paradigm shift has moved with the times but doesn’t truly represent the broader public view of who and what a gay man is. Then if Hollywood is indicative of certain periods of time, what fundamentally changes are not so much subject matters but attitudes. As Byron Barlowe explains the connections between emotions and movies: “How does your favorite movie affect you?
What emotions does it stir inside? It might be rather difficult to describe the strong sentiments aroused by viewing your most cherished film. Indeed, movies are an integral part of our lives and culture. As we look back with nostalgia over previous decades, we cannot help but consider what was showing in the movie theatres in different periods. ” After World War I and II movies were focussed on morale boosting, drawing attention away from those previous world occurrences and giving the public something they want to see.
This is the essential definition of Hollywood’s success and of its indefatigable ability to reinvent itself. There is always perfect timing. Regurgitated versions of old themes need to be carefully re-worked pieces on old subjects. War always creates mass attention and mass hysteria and movies which take fresh looks at old subjects allow the audience to separate the reality and the actual while still absorbing the fascination with the human condition. Kaveh L Afrasiabi discusses nostalgia as a part of human mentality that seeks to answer questions but without true expressions of the reality of what happens. Like Go Tell the Spartans (1978), a movie about the Vietnam War, 300 has done much to popularise a buried history, triggering interest in a past event and reviving nostalgia for a vanished gallantry.
According to Jameson, “In nostalgia films, the image—the surface sheen of a period fashion reality—is consumed, having been transformed into a visual commodity. ” Many of the famous historical aphorisms arising from Thermopylae are inserted into the dialogue of 300, such as a Spartan’s response to the Persians’ threat that their arrows will darken the sky: “Then we’ll fight in the shade. ”(Afrasiabi, 9/17/2007). 300 was a movie that reworked the previous attempts at reconstructing a war that is perhaps merely a dream to modern civilization.
This was a time where men were truly men and comparative to previously mentioned ‘sissies’ and meterosexual modern masculinity leads us to hold on to an ideal that can never be realised. Afrasiabi continues to draw distinctions between moral high grounds created in terms of peace and enemies and the romantic view we like to take when considering these aspects of real life. Hayden White has observed that “historical facts are politically domesticated”. This raises important questions regarding “objectivity” and “neutrality” in the discipline of history, as well as in the much less disciplined genre of historical films. ”(Ibid. ) Afrasiabi insinuates the truth is manipulated to suit what the audience wants to see.
Again this is possible to understand why Hollywood has created the myths outlined in the introductory paragraphs: a world of free love and glamorous pursuits of peace and crime fighting. American Cinema connects subjects such as history, business, and English with other studies. In addition, it is a perfect vehicle for developing visual and media literacy skills and can be used as a springboard for creative-writing endeavors and media production. ”(Annenberg Media, 1997-2005) So there are many reasons why the visual aesthetics of cinema in Hollywood terms is indicative of a persistent tacit nature of Hollywood Dream vs Reality perceptions.
It displays a constant need to be on top of what people WANT and what they NEED in entertainment. The bottom line though is that essentially the definition of American Cinema is to create a dream of something fundamentally unattainable, giving the psychological reaction that people want more of it. They also strive for it – constantly. We all strive to be perfect, or at least to appear perfect, because once it ceases to be a dream, it no longer serves its purpose and we have nothing left to work towards.