Hollywood and Films
By Carlo Leon Sadang | 28 March 2022
Ah yes! Who doesn’t want to be a celebrity? At least at one point in our lives, we may have wanted to have our own glitter and glamour. Some are still trying to get into showbiz even in their forties. The lure of fame and fortune after all is one of man’s natural desires.
But Hollywood is the subject of this article. We may not know it but probably the biggest reason why the United States is so influential and popular around the whole world is because of – Hollywood. Hollywood is America’s greatest export. The US is still the biggest exporter of movies and media around the world. It even got bigger with online streaming platforms and of course social media companies from America.
The rest the world can do is come up with the occasional big hit. English being the language spoken is just one of the contributors to success but it lies much deeper than that. You see, the greatest reason why Hollywood dominated the world is because of free enterprise. I would like to cite an example. During the cold war, the Soviets also had their own film industry.
The problem with this film industry is that it was propaganda-driven instead of audience-driven and we all know what happens if you don’t let the audience decide what they want. You lose your business. This is of course just one of the reasons.
They say the golden age of Hollywood was immediately after WWII. To be fair, films were still mindful of moral undertones and substance. People back then really gave serious thought to what they were making.
When Hollywood gave into profits more than substance as the decades passed by, we eventually saw more sexual and violent content dominating the movies. Yes, you would get the occasional masterpiece that checked all the boxes for what would objectively be a good film: a brilliant story, all star power cast and a morally upright theme. Instead, you get to see kissing scenes, half-naked bodies, things getting blown up, unrealistic physics, gory fight scenes and of course vulgar language. Yes, there is a movie rating however ratings only classify films but never really regulate who gets to see it online. I would believe that the audience would mature however it seems the demand for these types of movies is as strong as ever. I’m actually waiting for the sentiment of the audience to change.
To understand how a film is made there is usually a scriptwriter or an author who gets the ball rolling. The Hollywood studios get to see these scripts or books being passed around and they decide if it is film worthy. Once the studio gives the go signal, budget and timeline the whole machine starts to operate.
Now let us focus on books. Since a considerable amount of books have been filming’s biggest content contributor and traditionally ranging from classic literary masterpieces to modern-day work I would like to point out that most of what is written in the book, does not go into the movie. This is because the filmmakers and producers have to consider a lot of things like budget, commercial appeal, perceived political correctness and even what the studios dictate. The end product is no longer the film faithful to the book. It is even said that historical accounts that are made into movies are toned down by omitting certain important events or exaggerated by adding scenes to make the movie sell.
The purpose of this article is to calibrate the audience’s method when choosing which movie to watch. Also, a moviegoer’s mindset must be calibrated to avoid being imprisoned into a movie’s hyperrealism. Movies shape the way we think in a very big way unconsciously.
Do some research first on the subject matter or story of the movie. This is especially important when a movie is about a historical event or social issue. It would be better to do it beforehand. Remember that the movie must represent the story and not the other way around. Try to get as historically accurate and as much reliable information as possible. For movies based on books simply read the book. The worst thing that can happen is when a botched movie becomes the narrative of the book. If you get surprised to find out that what is in the movies is entirely different from the reference material (historical account, or book) then wake up to the realization that reality may far off from what you think.
The greatest challenge to modern-day filmmakers and producers is this: With the age of digitalization in movies, never has it been easier to remain faithful to the true story or subject matter the movie must represent. Hollywood must indeed shift their method into making movies by simply being – less Hollywood. For movies with serious content like politics, historical events, social issues it must simply stick with the plan of keeping as close to the subject matter. Keep in mind that the customer will watch the movie because of the subject matter rather than who directed or will star in the film.
You don’t need to make Nelson Mandela kinder or Adolf Hitler eviler than they have already been. They have already been judged by history. You don’t need to make Aunt May, an elderly character in the Spiderman comic book a hotter and younger version of herself. James Bond has to be a British Caucasian. Alexander the Great is a straight man and should not have homosexual insinuations unless you have hard evidence to the contrary. Sacrificing truthfulness or fidelity to the subject matter even with minor details defeats the purpose of the movie – to portray the story.
If there is a need to extrapolate or to fill in the gaps in historical subject matter, try to use dialogue from the actors offering points of view rather than making actual scenes that make it factual to the movie. You may also transpose to the imaginations of the character. I would not be surprised how many scenes have been recklessly inserted under the pretense the movie is fictional anyway.
The thing that we forget is that movies slowly shape our perception of reality. Perception of people or the subject matter portrayed in a movie can be changed in just one movie. And it will then translate into the real-life characters who will suffer this bad perception. Royals, past leaders, famous celebrities, geniuses whose characters have been portrayed in movies will suffer indefinite stigma from any wrongful portrayal.
Make the script and casting the heart and soul of the movie a non-negotiable factor to budget and commercial requirements. Once a movie has been faithful to the subject matter the authenticity will manifest itself in the movie and since everyone in the movie industry is trying to outdo each other with superficial ingredients the movies faithful to their subject matters and historical accounts will stand out even with smaller production budgets. If you would produce a movie with an Asian setting, get Asian characters and partner with local film companies to do the nitty-gritty work.
For fantasy movies, the only guide is moral content. Make sure that the fantasy is tolerable. Since the movie has fewer limitations to reality try to do away with violence and sexual themes.
The reality is Hollywood should rethink the way they make movies. I would insist on the following rules:
- Stick to historical accuracy. If the movie is an alternate reality, everything must be as faithful to reality and history. A good example is Forrest Gump which is inserted inaccurate historical facts, unfortunately, it totally deviated from the book it was based on.
- Drop the unrealistic physics, sexual and violent content. A good example is The Hunt for Red October.
Below is the filmmaker and moviegoer’s guide to movies:
- Does the movie deviate from historical facts? Did the movie even attempt to be historically accurate?
- Is the out-of-this-world physics keeps on repeating itself in the movie?
- Is the movie plagued by violence, foul language and sexual content?
- Does the movie follow logical thinking?
There are more criteria, however, if the movie in question gets 3 no’s why would you even bother to watch it? There is no problem with being biased in movies. A film will tend to take aside. However, changing facts or exaggerating the real-life component included in the movies leads to a very dangerous outcome for years to come. Let reality and logic breathe in the movie.
In conclusion, don’t take movies seriously. Have a mindset that movies are there to entertain only and to make money. Never cite movies as part of your arguments in the real world unless you have checked them first with accurate, unbiased and original material or subject matter. Today’s movies only provide insight and perspective at best since they are very poor inaccuracy. Remember movies are interpretations of stories and subject matter that have to be spiced up to sell or comply with studio requirements.
Carlo Leon Sadang is a technical researcher and an engineer. He currently finishing his ebook about ethical and moral standards. He is still actively working as an engineer while writing ebooks on the side.