Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hollywood and Corporate Influence

1. Each of the dominant Hollywood studios (“the majors”) is now a subsidiary of a much larger corporation, and therefore is not so much a separate or independent business, but rather just one of a great many sources of revenue in its parent company’s wider financial empire.

2. The majors and their parents are: Twentieth Century Fox (News Corp), Paramount Pictures (Viacom), Universal (General Electric/Vivendi), Disney (The Walt Disney Company), Columbia TriStar (Sony), and Warner Brothers (Time Warner).

3. These parent companies are amongst the largest and most powerful in the world, typically run by lawyers and investment bankers.

4. Whilst certain movies like Australia and Pearl Harbor receive preferential treatment, challenging and incendiary films are frequently cast into the cinematic memory hole.

5. Oliver Stone’s Salvador (1986) was a graphic expose of the Salvadorian civil war; its narrative was broadly sympathetic towards the left wing peasant revolutionaries and explicitly critical of U.S. foreign policy, condemning the United States’ support of Salvador’s right wing military and infamous death squads. Stone’s film was turned down by every major Hollywood studio – with one describing it as a “hateful piece of work” – though it received excellent reviews from many critics. The film was eventually financed by British and Mexican investors and achieved limited distribution.

6. More recently controversial documentaries such as Loose Change (2006/2007), which argued that 9/11 was an "inside job," and Zeitgeist (2007), which presents a frightening picture of global economics, have been viewed by millions through the Internet when corporate media wouldn't touch them.

7. General Electric, is a giant company whose most lucrative interests relate to weapons manufacturing and producing crucial components for high-tech war planes, advanced surveillance technology, and essential hardware for the global oil and gas industries, notably in post Saddam Iraq. GE’s board of directors has strong ties to large liberal organizations such as the Rockefeller Foundation.

8. Universal Studio's parent company is General Electric.

9. Israel is one of GE’s most loyal customers, buying Hellfire II laser missiles as well as propulsion systems for the F-16 Falcon fighter, the F-4 Phantom fighter, the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter, and the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter.

10. (My comment) Is it no wonder that any films produced under G.E./ Universal will not 'hurt' its loyal customer, Israel.

11. It hardly needs re-stating that Hollywood is driven by the desire for dollars rather than artistic integrity.

12. We hope to see critical attention shifted onto the ultimate producers of these films to help explain their deradicalised content, and ultimately to assist audiences in making informed decisions about what they consume. As we peer up from our popcorn it is as well to remember that behind the magic of the movies are the wizards of corporate PR.

Matthew Alford is author of the forthcoming book “Projecting Power: American Foreign Policy and the Hollywood Propaganda System.” Robbie Graham is Associate Lecturer in Film at Stafford College.

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