Conservatives often whine about the left’s stranglehold on the entertainment industry, and rightly so—political control of entertainment is a bad thing, period. The left should feel that way and the right should feel that way—it should be one of those obvious things which both sides can agree upon. Art necessitates freedom, and any middle man between freedom and art—any gatekeeping, any committee—gives us worse art, or worse, gives us propaganda. Left wing propaganda and right wing propaganda are both bad, because the goal of propaganda is not knowledge, or compassion, but conformity and demonization. It makes you stupider—stupider in a way desirable to some entity who does not have your best interest at heart. If it did, it wouldn’t be averse to the idea of you getting smarter, or loving more.
Unfortunately, too many conservatives believe that, if they were simply in control of Hollywood, all would be right in the world, or at least America. They don’t realize that ‘control’ is in fact the real underlying problem—it’s not about who wields the ring of power, it’s that the ring of power shouldn’t even exist.
The bureaucracy itself, the industry itself, is what should be rallied against. Fill those positions with ‘your guys’ and the system still operates in a way that benefits only the system, treating art, artists, and audiences like dirt. Hollywood loves the idea that conservatives want to be in control of Hollywood, as that means the perpetuation of Hollywood. Hollywood hates the idea of enough people realizing that Hollywood should not even exist.
The only times Hollywood has ever been good, at least in the sense of good works coming out of there ever, has been due to artists getting one over on the system. This happens sporadically on an individual level, some maverick artist lucking into being allowed to make a good movie, but more memorably it happens with waves of filmmakers. Some elite group of talented people all creating around the same time, making works that are so good, so undeniable, that all of reality seems to bend to them, even the Hollywood machine. A gaggle of golden geese laying gold after gold. All bureaucratic traffic stops dead as they pass. And then, that era ends, and it’s chaos again for a while.
Often these greats have no shining characteristics in the way of business or schmoozing—their only superpower is compelling art. The art speaks for itself, and speaks for them. The art opens doors, as art should, and as doors should—their sheer talent forces the industry to briefly operate as it lyingly purports to. In these moments, these eras, meritocracy seems real, almost undeniably so.
What I’ve noticed about the right is that they have not realized this whatsoever—and as such, have put no focus into finding and assembling any sort of elite group of artists—maybe 8-10 people who are the best at what they do. 8-10 filmmakers, let’s say, who set the bar, and which hundreds of other filmmakers can only imitate. Aside from the right occasionally creaming its pants over S. Craig Zahler, I do not see them exhibiting any sort of interest in pinpointing who the great filmmakers of this time period even are. And when they do look, as evidenced by their Zahler love, they are looking specifically within the Hollywood machine—their ideal usurpers, revolutionaries, must be company men in some fashion, willing to work with corrupt unions and within the system. They are drawn to people a machine seeking only its perpetuation would want them to be drawn to.
I am not a jealous person, just an observant one. As a true artist—and a truly independent filmmaker—I am happy to make films for $0, and to no recognition, if it means freedom. I am happy to die penniless in the gutter if it means living freely every day of my life. While I consider myself one of the best filmmakers working today, I do not need to be told that I am, and I do not need the world to be made in my image—which, ironically, is probably why it should. The meek ‘inheriting the earth’ and whatnot.
The purpose of this piece is not to put myself over, but to point out what a side says it wants and yet is blatantly not doing. I know for a fact that powerful people on the left make lists—people to groom for a manufactured elite status within the industry, regardless of talent. Powerful people on the right should at the very least be trying to come up with a list of the most talented, non-Hollywood filmmakers around. They should be trying to establish their own elite which they can support and ensure can create to their fullest extent. That they are not speaks volumes.
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Spot on, Cody, "‘control’ is in fact the real underlying problem—it’s not about who wields the ring of power, it’s that the ring of power shouldn’t even exist."