Does Hollywood Really Know What’s Best For Us?

We’ve all heard the phrase before, the idea that Hollywood films do well because at the end of the day, they do their market research and they learn what audiences want. But do they really have it down? Can all audiences ever be truly happy with mainstream media?

There is a growing trend of Hollywood films no longer being based upon original screenplays or even original ideas. Let’s take a look at three current popular films; Rogue One, Assassin’s Creed and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Of these, the first is sequel (or a prequel… what do you call a film that is both a sequel and a prequel to existing films?!), the second is a film based on a video game, and the third is a spinoff of a multi-billion dollar franchise that encompasses pretty much every kind of media you can imagine. Why is that? Well, long story short, it’s because they’ve already proven to be successful and, most importantly, profitable.

The only popular film out at the minute that is an original idea is Passengers and it stars two of the biggest names in film right now; Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt. No doubt, most of the buzz around this film is going to come from their combined built-in audience. So, what does Hollywood have against original films? Some bring in a lot of revenue, but Hollywood hardly ever takes chances. But what we really want to know is, does Hollywood do this because they truly know what we, the audience is going to want?

Let’s look at the example of the Star Wars films. An original concept, Star Wars is universally loved. Well, episodes 4-6 definitely are, less can be said for the prequels (let’s just put the Disney ones aside for a moment). There is quite a disconnect between the two trilogies, to put it mildly, and there is a reason for this. The first Star Wars films, although pioneered by George Lucas, had the most Hollywood influence. Before A New Hope, Lucas was unheard of, the studio wasn’t going to allow him his full creative license. But after the success of Star Wars, when the prequels were being planned, Lucas was allowed to exercise more of his right as a director. Of course, he’s nowhere near being a bad director, but let’s just say that Jar Jar Binks was cut from the first three episodes…

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Source: dorksideoftheforce.com

As we all know, Jar Jar is not the most acclaimed character. It was the studio’s decision to have him cut the first time around, so do they really know what we like to see on screen? The most recent Star Wars films, The Force Awakens and Rogue One, have done even better, Rogue One being one of the most commercially successful films of 2016, despite only being out for 16 days of the year.  Star Wars is now owned by Disney, a company that knows how to make money, they do what they do very well.

Another example of this is Inception. This film was very experimental, and would, arguably, have not been taken up by the studio if it wasn’t for the fact that Christopher Nolan had already established himself as an acclaimed Hollywood director. But many would argue that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Just because something is popular doesn’t mean that it takes away any of the cultural value, pop culture is of course, still a culture. Sure, it’s unlikely that Hollywood can keep everyone happy, but the numbers speak for themselves.

The problem here, is more about consumerism itself and the grip it has over modern arts and entertainment. Maybe there is issue with Hollywood being the main source of film, overshadowing independent productions and buying out competitions, but the rise of the internet and consumer-made media is helping to combat this. It’s clear however, that whatever is happening, as long as there are people who enjoy it, there will always be a place for it.

RIP, Carrie Fisher, thank you for being such an inspiration to many people, you will be truly missed. May the force be with you.

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The Facts In Our Stars

Box office hit “The Fault in Our Stars” based on the New York Times bestseller novel by John Green, fuelled by internet community: Nerdfighteria.

Many of you will have heard of, if not seen, the tragic love story of two teens suffering from cancer, Hazel and Gus. “The Fault in Our Stars” has gained $237 million in less than two months which would seem surprising as, at a glance, it seems to be more suited to a niche audience. However, this niche has been propelled to extraordinary heights by the vast internet community called Nerdfighteria.

This community was founded upon a YouTube channel run by John Green and his brother, Hank, the Vlogbrothers. This started out as the two brothers sending each other videos via YouTube in a fun attempt to keep visual contact instead of written. Little did they know that their mixture of humour and breaching topics that are normally never explained in day-to-day life would bring in such a huge and varied audience. Soon after realising this, the Green brothers began to tailor their topics to include subjects such as explaining politics and overseas situations in a simplified manner in order to educate as well as entertain. Now the channel has over two million subscribers and counting.

Some people may be turned off by the fact that Nerdfighteria sounds like a cult following, but John and Hank’s aims have been purely good. Nerdfighters work to decrease “worldsuck” or bad things that happen in the world and their slogan is “Don’t Forget To Be Awesome!” (DFTBA) which portrays just how tight and loving this community really is.

Nerdfighter Motto

This group of fans have helped to spread John’s literature and now the film; it can only be compared to a self-made viral campaign. Many fans of “The Fault in Our Stars” were apprehensive about the film, as with such a delicate storyline, readers were afraid it may become too commercialised and lose it’s essence as a book. On the contrary, the film has been dubbed “the most faithful book-to-film adaptation”, proving that director, Josh Boone, stayed true to John’s vision as a writer.

So while it seems that pop culture has a seemingly large negative influence on young people, it’s nice to know that communities like Nerdfighteria still exist and play a large part in our society and surely will for ages to come.

Watch an introductory Vlogbrothers video right here: