Hollywood is rethinking going woke, and the New York Times is crying about it.
Neither of these developments is a shock. Hollywood cares about morality as much as a Canadian euthanasia doctor, and the New York Times cares about pleasing the plebs as much as Stalin did about his slaves in the Gulag.
Hollywood has been a moral cesspool for decades–at least. Most actors are morally depraved perverts; executives are worse. The casting couch existed long before Harvey Weinstein, and child actors are at the mercy of pedophiles. It’s hard to find a child actor who didn’t come out of the business a mental wreck. People are as disposable as used tissues.
Weinstein was only taken out because female actresses have gained power and prestige, not because the average Hollywood miscreant suddenly became woke. Woke was the public marketing campaign, not some moral awakening. The Red Carpet crowd does not nor ever did care about morality, whatever they say. They just made the mistake of believing that the public would admire them for their moral preening, but now that it is costing real money they are going to toss the woke BS like a doggie doo bag after picking up turds.
…Hollywood’s business culture has started to regress in subtle ways.
New problems — widespread cost-cutting as the box office continues to struggle, coming union contract negotiations that producers worry will result in a filming shutdown — have become a higher priority. Fearing blowback, media companies that were vocal about #MeToo and Black Lives Matter have been quieter on more recent political debates over cultural issues.
Businesses worried about the collapsing bottom line? I am shocked to hear it. Who could have guessed that when something is killing a business, the powers-that-be decide to jettison it?
Diversity, equity and inclusion executives say they are exhausted by an old-boy network that is continuously trying to reconstitute itself: Women who were hired for big jobs and held up as triumphant examples of a new era have been pushed aside, while some of the men who were sidelined by misconduct accusations are working again.
If asked to speak on the record about their continued dedication to change, Hollywood executives refuse or scramble in terror toward the “we remain staunchly committed” talking points written by publicists. But what they say privately is a different story. Some revert to sexist and racist language. Certainly, much of the fervor is gone.
You mean the people running Hollywood–those people who briefly became paragons of moral virtue, still turn out to be the evil jerks they were 10 minutes before Weinstein went from hero to zero? OMG, the shock of discovering this! The problem isn’t women gaining power in Hollywood; it is that untalented screeching harpies have seized power, and that sucks.
“For three years, we hired nothing but women and people of color,” said a senior film executive, who like many leaders in the industry is a white male. He added that he did not think some of them were able to do the jobs they got.
In hushed conversations over lunch at Toscana Brentwood and cocktails at the San Vicente Bungalows, some powerful producers and agents have started to question the commercial viability of inclusion-minded films and shows.
They point to terrible ticket sales for films like “Bros,” the first gay rom-com from a major studio, and “Easter Sunday,” a comedy positioned as a watershed moment for Filipino representation. “Ms. Marvel,” a critically adored Disney+ series about a teenage Muslim superhero, was lightly viewed, according to Nielsen’s measurements.
There is a reason for those terrible ticket sales and non-existent view on streaming channels: they were total dreck. Unwatchable.
It’s not that movies with messages have to suck–there are plenty that have been both critical and commercial successes. But these movies with these messages did suck, and deserved the fate that befell them. This requires two brain cells to understand, but neurons are in short supply at the NYT.
Hollywood has always leaned Left, and most of the “message” movies didn’t appeal to me. “Silkwood” was ridiculous, but it pleased audiences because it told a compelling story. “Philadelphia” touched a lot of people. “Forrest Gump” was a blowout that defended ordinary folks from moralistic jerks and promoted kindness over smarts. I still love it. A movie can have a message without preaching to you, or worse insulting you.
But the current crop of movies are all about how awful most people are, especially the all-purpose baddies White Men™ who are too stupid, cruel, and evil to exist. Women are heroes for being women; minorities because they are minorities, and white men are evil because they are white and outies instead of innies.
Even the people who are supposedly celebrated don’t like or buy the propaganda. Nobody likes a crappy story.
So Hollywood is waking up to the bad marketing strategy they chose to adopt. It is that simple.
Is this a pendulum swing back to the bad old days?
“Amazing progress has been made that is not going away, and that should not be discounted or overlooked,” said Amy Baer, a producer, former studio executive and the board president of Women in Film, an advocacy organization. “But there is fatigue. It is hard to maintain momentum.”
Entertainment companies are not backing off the tough sexual harassment policies that have been introduced in recent years, in part because board members are worried they will face shareholder lawsuits. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recently recommitted to its diversification campaign. Despite years of aggressive efforts to invite women and people of color to become members, the academy is currently 66 percent male and 81 percent white.
Studios remain focused on inclusive casting, most notably Disney, which has a live-action “Little Mermaid” movie on the way with a Black actress playing the title role, and a “Snow White” movie in production with a Latina lead.
Woke isn’t going away because the woke have invaded every major corporation in America. But economic realities are reasserting themselves, at least to an extent. The tentpole franchises that keep studios afloat–the Marvel movies and the similar types–will move away from woke messaging because it doesn’t sell, and the studios can’t spend hundreds of millions to please corporate whiners who demand to control the message.
Warner Brothers even canceled “Batgirl”–a finished movie that they spent also $100 million on, because it was “irredeemable.” Test audiences hated it. (VERY NSFW)
It’s please the audience or go bankrupt, and nobody wants to lose their cushy jobs.
Critical Drinker has made a successful career out of ridiculing the woke trend in Hollywood, and hopefully will have to find a new topic to mock. I highly recommend his (NSFW) videos because he almost always hits the nail on the head.
Post-woke Hollywood will be the same moral cesspool it has always been, just with less moral preening. The actors will keep spouting off, but the movies themselves will slowly revert to form because…well…survival.
It will be fascinating to watch how the rest of the woke universe reacts to the transformation. No NYT reporter cares about the bottom line because they simply haven’t had to. As with professors, college students, teachers, and corporate DEI executives they get to play around with others’ lives while making bank. And it’s hard to see how that is going to change, so woke will carry on.
But in places where pleasing the masses still matters–like Hollywood–expect to see a major toning down of the woke hysteria. I, for one, am relieved. The moral monsters of Hollywood will never actually change, and I will continue to despise them.
But at least I might get to watch another John Wick movie without worrying about a “strong female character” kicking his butt in a fight scene just to prove a woman can be as successfully violent as a man.