Thursday, 28 April 2005

Hollywood is anti-capitalist shock

Hollywood has an anti-capitalist bias. No, really?

From Citizen Kane to Jaws to Wall Street to Erin Brockovich, business and businessmen are always the bad guy in Hollywod's blockbuster fairy tales.

Law professor Larry Ribstein asks why here (thanks to Stephen Hicks for the link):
But this general condemnation of business seems an unlikely explanation for films’ anti-business tone. Capitalism has brought vast wealth to a broad segment of U.S society, including most moviegoers and films’ writers, directors and stars. One would not be surprised to see occasional criticism of capitalism, or to see moviemakers use the drama inherent in the oppression and eventual triumph of economic underdogs.

But why should capital always be the heavy? Why should filmmakers so rarely exploit the dramatic potential of business triumph, or of underdog businesspeople struggling against government tyrany? More importantly, films are the product of large companies. Why would they attack themselves?

This article seeks to explain films’ bias against capital. In brief, it is not business itself that filmmakers do not like, but the capitalists who control it. But this is not the classic view of the struggle between capital and labor. Filmmakers display little concern with workers' problems and only rarely blame firms' social irresponsibility on the fact that capital rather than labor is in control. Filmmakers’ main problem with capital being in control seems to be that the filmmakers are not.
[Emphasis mine.] Seems to be the same problem that opposition politicians have with the Government, don't it?

He sees no consiracy amongst filmmakers to demonise capitalism, however Ribstein does point out that in many modern day anti-capitalist fairy tales the bad business-guy is never shown - what he calls the 'phenomenon of the missing bad guy' - these academics, eh! - and puts it down in part to the enthusiasm for a good conspiracy.

Enthusiasm for a good conspiracy has provided many people with a good living - take our own Ian Wishart for example (pleeeease take Ian Wishart!). But why are conspiracy theories so seductive? Robert Bidinotto tries an explanation here.


  1. Here's your answer. Why anti-capitalist movies? Because pro-capitalist movies would be boring as spit.

    You'd have to pay ME to watch a movie about the triumph of small business people over government. That would be insufferable.

    "Wow Harry, we sure leveraged that tax cut!"
    "We sure did Bob!"
    "And how!"

    What would the pro-capitalist Citizen Kane look like? A nice guy builds a newspaper empire, then retires a happy and wealthy man? Booooooooring.

    Capitalist, anti-capitalist, doesn't matter. The question is, is it good art? Once you try and make a pro-capitalist movie you've lost sight of the art and you're now making propaganda.

  2. >> Capitalist, anti-capitalist, doesn't matter. The question is, is it good art? Once you try and make a pro-capitalist movie you've lost sight of the art and you're now making propaganda.

    But surely the same is just as true of anti-capitalistic movies?!

  3. Whats wrong with a movie, that mildly, criticizes a system that is making the poor poorer, and the rich richer?

    Newsflash: No one cares!

    I'm sorry Mr. "Libertarian" McCarthy capitalist pig. Go re-read the sermon on the mount, some Noam Chomsky and learn what it really means to be libertarian.

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