In this era of American Hegemony, it’s hard to see a relevant nook or corner where American influence is not felt. With the dawn of the 21st century the United States of America has made considerable inroads into various avenues, but there are undeniably even in the eyes of the most patriotic Americans a certain degree of degradation in the American Dream. After all President Trump won the election with an effective campaign with the mobs chanting ‘Make America Great Again’.
In this piece we are going to discuss the Top Problems with America, to do so we would dwell on various topics ranging from creativity, freedom, equality and the American dream. To do so we would take the most recognisable American brand Hollywood to explain it
1. Originality ‘Not Welcome’
Of all the American industries whose soft power dominated the Global Landscape is undeniably Hollywood. It gave us fictional characters like James Bond, Darth Vader and Indiana Jones who entered into our hearts and household diction. They were a beacon of originality and countless were they as a source inspirations, imitations and total rip offs to other vernacular production houses.
A quick Fast Forward to the 21st century and Originality was no longer a factor. The industry now thrives purely on reboots, sequels or remakes. If not they attempt to make large screen adaptations of comic books, video games or TV series to parasite out box office receipts.
To elucidate the following take a look at the box office receipts of the Top grossing films of 2017.
|1||Beauty and the Beast||$1,263,521,126||Live Action Remake|
|2||The Fate of the Furious||$1,239,078,381||Eighth installment in Fast and Furious franchise|
|3||Despicable Me 3||$1,030,475,635||Third installment in Despicable Me franchise|
|4||Spider-Man: Homecoming||$879,934,802||Second reboot 16th installment in Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise|
|5||Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2||$863,416,141||Second installment is series 15th installment in Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise|
|6||Wonder Woman||$821,749,588||First installment in series 3rd installment in DC universe|
|7||Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales||$794,762,434||Fifth installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise|
|9||Logan||$616,792,957||Third installment in series 10th installment in X men franchise|
|10||Transformers: The Last Knight||$605,425,157||Fifth installment in Transformers franchise|
This mentality of backing the few fancy ponies is found in all facets of American life today. It must be noted that American exceptionalism was forged in the crucible of the free market capitalism. In the late 20th century there were 20+ companies in the telecom industry, 10+ companies in the airline industry etc. Most of them today have consolidated through takeovers and mergers to less than 4 or less majors players today in each sector. In fact the term Big Four or Big Three have entered into corporate lingo to signify the same.
Additionally they have cartelised themselves with under the table agreements to raise prices ,levy additional fees, lobby the government for legislation favourable to them, etc. These practices have broken every tenet of american capitalism which seeded the growth of many global economic powerhouses like Japan, West germany, South Korea,etc.
It is time America went back to its fundamentals and embraced competition and originality.
Racism and prejudice in America has been highlighted on many fronts. Be it Trump scathing remarks on mexicans and muslims. Or disproportionate cases of Police brutality on the black community.
Even Liberal hollywood has been criticised for whitewashing prominent roles. The Academy Awards were recently boycotted by stalwarts in the Black community for lack of recognition.
But lets look at it with an alternative perspective everybody has heard the the common rants of chinese, indians and mexicans stealing jobs of hardworking americans across various sectors. Infact american companies have been blamed for moving these jobs out of america or hiring lower paid immigrants.
One has accept to logically that there is a racist sentiment in these accusations because the same accusations are not levied on Hollywood when they release their blockbusters let me elucidate it better.
Know what’s interesting about these performances
None of them are American actors. It is not just American superheroes casting jobs that has been lost to foreigners other iconic performances in Hollywood productions. Like the ones below.
The sentiment is clear here if you are stealing jobs unless you are white. There is no audible protest or boycott of Hollywood films for casting non american whites for american roles. But if your tech support is routed to India that’s American jobs lost.
Nothing summarises it better than this
If you have a Kenyan black father?
Prove you are an American. Produce a Birth Certificate.
If you have a Scottish white mother? Well his other parent is American. Thats Cool
This one is really simple Hollywood’s gender pay gap is enormous
Gal Gadot who played the titular character in Wonder Woman earned $300,000 USD for her role in the Big Budget Flick (Reference).
Robert Downey Jr who played Iron Man in Avengers: Age of Ultron earned $50 million USD and is reported to make $200 million USD in the upcoming sequel (Reference).
Well you draw your conclusions.
The Gender opportunity or pay gap in the American society is not very different.
4. Creative Accounting
Guess what these Blockbusters share in common.
They all were all Box Office Failures. Most of them paid no tax, in fact they raked in a lot of Tax Credit. In fact there is street term for Cooking the Books in Hollywood, known as Hollywood accounting.
Surprisingly the victims in these cases are not just the Tax collectors, but often of the cast and crew involved in the filming. In many of the examples mentioned above various Hollywood studio’s nefarious accounting practices came to light when they faced various lawsuits from the film’s various stakeholders who were promised payouts based on the films profitability.
- Producers Michael Uslan and Benjamin Melniker filed a Lawsuit against Warner Bros as 1989 film Batman and its sequels. The highest grossing franchise of the 90s ( with revenues exceeding $ 2 Billion USD). Did not turn a profit. The case was closed with an out of court settlement. (Reference)
- Winston Groom also filed a lawsuit against Paramount Pictures for his 3% profit from sales for the onscreen adaptation of his novel Forrest Gump. Paramount claimed the movie was a loss of $62 million in spite of raking in $660 million in Ticket sales.(Reference)
- Stan Lee the co-creator of Spider Man filed a lawsuit against Marvel comics for his 10% profit from sales for Spiderman (2002). Which the movie allegedly didn’t generate in spite of earning $800 million in revenue. (Reference)
- Peter Jackson, 15 actors and the Tolkien estate bought a lawsuit against New line Cinema. Which claimed the Lord of the Rings Trilogy was a horrendous loss despite the gross receipts earning $6 Billion USD. (Reference)
Similarly dubious accounting practices by major American corporations has placed a major strain on the American Economy which has National Debt of $ 20.46 trillion.
5. Backstory Obsession
Breeding in familiarity seems to be Hollywood’s new mantra. It was noted earlier in the article about Hollywood’s obsession with sequels and remakes. The following details about a bigger problem than just lacking originality. It also the audience or more specifically the fanboy culture which demands a complex backstory understanding as a fee of admission to view most films.
Even TV shows has similar characteristics example the most popular show in the 90s was Friends. Even though there was a story followed through the seasons. It wasn’t a necessity to follow it faithfully, i.e If you were familiar with the theme you could watch any episode in random and still enjoy it.
Conversely consider the presently popular TV shows like Game of Thrones, Narcos or House of Cards. You need to definitively follow the story line to get entertained.
This phenomena can be looked at a broader outlook of the american society who have developed narrow interests, which have led to narrower viewpoints, inability to determine credibility of information due to lack of exposure. This has even affected the political process.
Spread of fake news on sources like FB, twitter and blogs has affected the american public’s decision making.
Consider this news like this is easily believed by the present american public and it affected the 2016 Presidential election outcome.
People blame the advent of modern technology like the social media and blogging, but truth be told Fakenews always existed it just wasn’t believed by the general public.
Example is a newspaper carrying fake news about the clintons into the 90’s. But it did not sway voters back then.
You can pull out many conspiracy theories like this which were usually discussed by tin foil hats have now moved to the general public. Various surveys find a considerable portion of the general public believe the moon landings were faked, Obama is a muslim Kenyan or Global warming is fake. These affect the general perception and vote to power irresponsible administrations that can take dangerous decisions.