Opinion | Hollywood is not actually liberal

By Joe Dillier, Columnist

In the so-called culture wars, conservatives often claim that liberals have a stranglehold on the entertainment industry. The left has an unfair advantage, they claim, because Hollywood elites hold a liberal agenda which they disseminate into the culture through their media. This, apparently, corrupts the culture — making it more liberal. 

This theory of Hollywood starts with the people involved — actors, directors and studio executives — and assumes they started out liberal and then infect Tinseltown with their ideology. However, this kind of thinking is an example of reverse causality. A much more convincing explanation for Hollywood’s views can be produced if you flip the cause and effect: Hollywood is inherently “liberal” and then attracts, or changes people, to fill that role. 

I will concede Hollywood’s movies generally do not promote conservative values. But that is not because of a cabal of elites trying to make the country liberal. Hollywood is simply motivated by cash. For this reason, they also produce a lot of movies that have nationalist military themes and movies that heroicize police work. It is why Ice-T can produce a song called “Cop Killer” but then play an officer in “Law & Order.” The industry is not loyal to liberalism — or any ideology, for that matter. It is loyal to creating popular stories that make money. These stories tend to be “liberal,” in the shallowest sense of the word, because sex, drugs and partying sell. It has much more to do with profiting from human nature rather than a scheme to change America. Additionally, even the movies that promote “liberal values,” construed to be unabashed drinking and sex, are shallow. They do not have real ideology; they are skin deep. 

Despite this, many point to the fact that the actors and directors of Hollywood generally promote liberal causes and endorse liberal candidates. While this is true, their commitment is also very shallow. The industry has been rocked by the #MeToo movement, which revealed that despite their grand notions of equality, the town is full of predators that espouse one thing but practice another. Similarly, this year’s college admission scandal showed that Hollywood holds the values it often tries to fight. Their liberalism is as shallow as their films. It’s not real liberalism. They like to use their wealth and power for self satisfaction and to perpetuate their elite status. These are not liberals; they are fakers. 

Conservatives uphold capitalism but tend to cry foul when it backfires. This is why the narrative of a Hollywood elite is so pervasive. Conservatives need a way to explain the industry’s views without blaming their own ideology, capitalism, so they backwards-manufacture this narrative that a hethenistic elite has unfairly taken control of the culture. In reality, capitalism produces a culture that gives into humanity’s base desires. Think about the classic motto: Sex sells. “Family values” or “Judeo-Christian values” are, frankly, boring to the masses. This is not due to some deep moral corruption, but because of human nature.  Hollywood, to generate profit, will produce saccharine and low-brow material.

Because Hollywood is mostly loyal to profit by creating what is already popular, it does not clearly help any side. Instead, it feeds into primal human desires and cheapens the culture on all fronts. It is loyal to no agenda.

Joe is a senior in LAS. 

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