Home Culture Hollywood recent What the Death of Hollywood Means for America
Home Culture Hollywood recent What the Death of Hollywood Means for America

What the Death of Hollywood Means for America

Peak TV, a stunning era during which Big Tech and traditional studios entered into a furious competition to make a bewildering amount of content, is dead. The 559 scripted shows from last year represent a historic hubris that everyone, especially investors, is recovering from.

That was the year that Netflix announced that it was spending $18 billion on content.

In the aftermath, Netflix lost subscribers for the first time and expects to lose millions more as its stock fell 35%. The dot com giant lost, but so did its rivals. Disney+ lost billions, HBO Max is cutting back programming, and so are most others, including the ‘N’ in the FAANG oligarchy.

Netflix has been humbled, and is shedding woke programming and exploring an ad-supported tier, but the push by Hollywood studios to build rival streaming platforms to those of Netflix and Amazon by investing heavily in original content gated by subscriptions has set a lot of money on fire without achieving platform independence. Everyone lost, but Big Tech still runs the show.

Streaming subscriptions are replacing movie theaters and television networks. And that also means that Silicon Valley is replacing Hollywood. Netflix, Amazon, and Apple demonstrated that they had the capital to dominate the entertainment industry. This isn’t good news for the culture.

While old Hollywood had a reputation for being liberal, many studio bosses and producers were actually fairly conservative and movies were the products of a tug-of-war with more liberal writers, actors and directors. Movies had to be able to play in theaters across the country and serve as broad an audience as possible. Movies of that era might be homogenized, but they were less likely to openly offend or antagonize audiences. Movie stars were expected to at least pretend to lead moral lives and keep industry decadence locked away behind closed doors.

The partnership between Eastern European Jewish immigrant studio bosses who had started out, like Samuel Goldwyn, as a glove salesman, William Fox, a garment industry foreman, the Warner brothers, the children of a shoe repairman, and the much more urbane British and American talent turned the film industry into a cultural touchstone and made its products part of our national identity. Critics rightly pointed to the cultural impoverishment of making movie theaters into the hub of our culture, but they could not have imagined what was to come.

The fall of the studio system overturned the industry’s innate conservatism and while it ended many abuses and unleashed the talent, the end result was that movies became increasingly at odds with the values and morals of the American public. The decline of the networks likewise unleashed cable and then streaming programming that was oriented culturally leftward..

Rather than open up a range of programming targeting untapped segments of the public, Peak TV aimed for the same upscale urban multicultural audiences that the entire industry is aimed at. If the ideal wisdom of the marketplace existed, a world in which untold billions were spent to produce 559 scripted shows, should have produced a wave of conservative programming.

It did not.

The entertainment industry’s programming has been most conservative when control was consolidated by studios and networks. It is least conservative when it is driven by “talent”. Consolidated entertainment has at least tried to make programming for a broader country while industry disintegration has made programming more woke, more radical, and more hateful.

The Netflix revolution, in which endless amounts of investor cash were burned to lure talent, made for some of the some ‘woke’ programming imaginable. At the peak of Peak TV, Netflix had not only successfully mainstreamed radical sexual and gender identity, but was actively pushing sexual content involving children from Cuties to Big Mouth. Freed from a business model other than the dream of endless growth, Netflix burned billions of dollars and our culture.

Wokeness precedes broke-ness. But the story of Peak TV is also one of cultural brokenness.

Netflix pursued original programming by trying to make it as edgy as possible. In response, Hollywood studios revived old intellectual properties and tried to make them edgier with racial recasting, gender-swapping, sexual politics, and general social justice themes. The giant dumpster fire of Netflix was met with a social justice Star Wars, Star Trek, Marvel, and DC. Anything with a known brand or IP was brushed off and given a social justice makeover.

Ghostbusters was rebooted as all-female, Doogie Howser, M.D. was reborn as an Asian girl, The Wonder Years was reimagined with a black family, Magnum P.I. with a Latino star, Party of Five with illegal aliens, and these and countless other examples showed that underneath all the fake wokeness, the industry had run out of original ideas. All Hollywood could do was try to make the old tired ones seem fresh and new with identity politics remakes.

And as Hollywood’s popular culture has become American culture, and for some the quasi-faith of fandom, the decay of the entertainment industry into wokeness has devastated society.

Hollywood has come to consist of the culture championed and consumed by boomers. Succeeding generations have reworked those “intellectual properties” to make them edgier and more political, but have produced few of their own franchises. Of the top ten media franchises dominant in America, only one, Harry Potter, was created by anyone born after 1964. And J.K. Rowling is not American and was predictably canceled for insufficient wokeness.

Hollywood is Joe Biden making TikTok videos. It’s an industry that was once creatively revolutionary, but now only puts on an appearance of aspiring to a political revolution. As long as the revolution doesn’t interfere with its tax credits and Chinese box office. Behind the wokeness is a brutal war between agents, producers, writers, directors, and the new dot com masters of the universe, over fortunes that are both astronomical and on the verge of vanishing.

The entertainment industry was slow to adapt to the internet because it is not inventive and is incapable of innovation. Even its response to Netflix consisted of old studios trying to build their own Netflix. Political radicalism makes dinosaurs seem like they are on the cutting edge. That’s why corporate broke-ness so often follows corporate wokeness. It’s not just that wokeness is bad for business, but it often disguises a much more broken business model underneath.

Hollywood is as tied down by guilds and painstaking rules as any medieval kingdom. All it really has anymore are the intellectual properties mined by greatest generation creators marketing to baby boomers (and in some cases, boomers reworking the pop culture of past generations) that have been passed down to newer generations and laboriously reworked to be more woke.

The internet killed Hollywood, as it did so many other industries, and streaming has become its slow death, accelerated by the boom and bust economics of an unstable country and world.

Cinema made a national propaganda machine possible. The Nazis and Communists both seized on it for that very reason and regime figures like Leni Riefenstahl and Sergei Eisenstein were brilliant, revolutionary, and quite evil. But it was American movies that conquered the world because they fused creative talent with American values. Hollywood is still the only national industry with the production capacity and know-how for a true worldwide reach, but its cultural impact is swiftly becoming negligible as it churns out reworked versions of the same thing.

As Hollywood dies, America and the world will be poorer for it, not for the billion-dollar woke digital cartoon factory that it has become, but for a time when a centralized entertainment industry did not have to be a mass propaganda machine feigning popular support for a regime.

That is exactly what it is now.

Hollywood’s biggest production of the pandemic year was the 2020 Democratic convention which abandoned working-class and riot-scarred Milwaukee for an entertainment industry stream. Stars in a streaming convention propping up a senile reactionary who had outsourced his future to radicals while sidelining the party’s old working-class constituency proved to be the perfect metaphor and epitaph for both the Democrats and for Hollywood.

Daniel Greenfield is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. This article previously appeared at the Center's Front Page Magazine.

Click here to subscribe to my articles. 

Thank you for reading.


  1. Anonymous25/7/22

    Biden is senile but hardly a reactionary. Biden's model of 'public service' is the same as Clinton, Warren and the rest of the Nazicrats. Leverage and abuse the advantages bestowed by public offices for personal gain behind a facade of spewing out the cliches and platitudes of concern for public welfare. The perfect setup for this is the green scam that will be the repository for $b's in public money into policy and delivery failures but will make its investors rich but will deliver nothing but debt.

    That was a World Bank model that served its executives well. Build massive useless infrastructure in the 3rd world, indebting the people, whilst serving a corporate interest that exploits some finite local natural resource. It is perhaps Karma to see former policies used to milk the 3rd world now being used on the 1st world to do the same to thing to itself. Globalism means there are no countries but just vested interests of the elites.

    Much like Gates that sold software that didn't work or was engineered to fail thus tying its users into endless upgrades.

    When Hollywood stopped being an entertainment industry and became a self-appointed organ of political policy was when it failed American culture. If you look at public policy like some sort of movie it is bound to fail and stunts the public mind into an intellectual stupor that can't debate out a policy decision using empirical data, a now lost art, used long before all this crap took hold.

    Jonty Dee

  2. Anonymous25/7/22

    As a non-American, with all due respect, Hollywood has ‘always’ been “a mass propaganda machine feigning popular support for a regime”.

    Hollywood, from its inception, has been the de facto propaganda arm of the US government and dominant cultural ‘elites’. Nothing more, nothing less. Consider any film it produced from the perspective of either a foreigner (of any other country), or someone who believed in basic truth, honesty and facts, and you will be forced to admit just how manipulative, biased and counter-factual it has always been. (Re-writing history is something of an American speciality as it sought to do to The British Empire what Rome did to Carthage).

    It was just that that regime was a more conservative one, and those elitists employed by/in it were (even whilst leftist in orientation were still) American-centric. They were happy to peddle false narratives, perspectives and blatant lies, but only those that still left America as top-dog (just with ‘their people’ in charge).

    Now the regime and cultural elitists are both extreme left, and Hollywood views themselves as aligned purely with ‘woke’ globalist ideals. They don’t, even vaguely, view themselves as American any more. So? Is it any surprise that they now present material that portrays America in the same way as it has the rest of the world for decades?

    Their core audiences are now fellow globalists, China and the (deviant) fellow-travellers they exclusively mix with in their gated enclaves. They don’t care what you say or think. (You see the same in the British BBC, where their only contact with any other white person, in predominantly foreign/non-white London, is with fellow elites. Which is why, by output, you’d expect England was 90% black/asian and 50% gay which is so far from the truth as to be laughable).

    As an outsider, it’s interesting to note that the “reworking” is merely the latest of many – first was to make all heroes American, then came women, then black, then homosexual and now … they’ve run out of ‘victim’ groups so they now aim to demonise anyone not one of such.

    It’s also ‘amusing’ to watch the outrage of normal Americans who suddenly realise … the “bad guys” aren’t Russians, or even English, any more they’re … us.

    So? No, the world (and I’d suggest America too) will ‘not’ even vaguely “be poorer” for Hollywood’s well deserved, and cannot happen soon enough, demise.

    Much as so many of the recent revelations have shown "journalism" to not only be currently biased, fraudulent, ideologically driven liars, but, it can be seen, that ... they were always so, Hollywood's reality has similarly been revealed.

  3. Final exam question for an American History class in 2522:
    How was the leftward shift of Hollywood responsible for the decline of the petrodollar as a major world currency? Describe in less than 100 words employing at least two examples.

    1. Anonymous26/7/22

      There won't be an America is 2522

  4. Anonymous25/7/22

    Most streaming "services" only produce marginally entertaining shows with little or no direction in the story except the eventual fizzle out and death. All now have the usual suspects ,.. lgbt, trannies, interracial sex, drug addiction, etc., and, if not shown outright, implied. They've also become the bait and switch con artists of this era by allowing you to watch part of a movie or season "for free" then attempting to charge you for the remaining half of the movie or season. Plus, most shows are simply tiresome. Maybe one episode or part of an episode will be good, then it falls apart. Sometimes a movie or series will be propped up by one or two very good actors, but many of these simply cease to exist midstream. It is truly sad.

  5. Anonymous25/7/22

    EXCELLENT article, as always!

  6. Anonymous25/7/22

    "bewildering amount of content"
    Quantity over quality.


  7. Anonymous25/7/22

    American movies, scorned by Europeans, used to
    make you "feel good". One found true love, the
    crime was solved, our team won, virtue was
    rewarded. Because we agreed on the meanings of
    virtue, justice, true love, the stories and
    characters could find a way to the good feeling.
    You bought the ticket, watched, and felt good.

    But the Europeans knew better: infidelity,
    cruelty, injustice, meaningless suicide: as
    the constant, inescapable nature of life.
    They prided themselves on being able to quaff
    this bitter elixir of Truth. (Ergo: being
    better than the Yanks.)

    Our coastal elites have become the Euros they
    have long admired. And Hollywood is Yucky.


    1. Anonymous26/7/22


      I hate to disillusion you but … the only people "scorning" those movies were/are elitists (in NY and Washington as much, or more so than, Paris, etc.).

      The era (the 50’s) when movies still portrayed virtues was a time when even Americans running the show (who had been born and brought up in the 20’s-30’s) were still operating under the ideological and moral/ethical ‘influence’ of the previous hegemony (The Empire). The American hegemony became reality immediately post WW2, and became utterly dominant globally by the sixties.

      Now look at how successive, increasingly exclusively American generations have ‘progressed’ – from one corruption and degeneracy to the next, ever deeper, sleazier and more depraved.

      You blame “The Europeans” yet every perversion and depravity destroying civilisation across the world can ultimately be traced back to … America. Feminism, racial, identity, gay , and now trans politics have all been American ‘babies’ (even the “Eugenics” programs so ‘promoted’ by the Germans in WW2 was yours. Adolf really loved those California ideals).

      Yes, some of those bad ideas have roots elsewhere, but it is only when accepted wholeheartedly by (east/west coast) America, promoted, promulgated, and even enforced by you, that they cause the destruction we see now.

      You need to accept facts. The American hegemony has done much good throughout the word, but you can’t claim credit whilst denying any responsibility for the utter destruction ‘you’ have spread too.

      The leftists of east and west coasts don’t even vaguely reflect the reality of the values of real Americans, but you need to understand the truth that neither do the elitists in Rome, Paris, Berlin or London reflect those of Europeans. You blame Europe, whilst forgetting the elitists everywhere have more in common with each other, than they do with their supposed ‘own people’ (similarly, you could take a rural living man/woman from Italy, France, Germany or England and dump them in ‘flyover country’ and other than the dress-sense they’d bend in seamlessly).

      Enough of the us/them idiocy, there is an us and them but it has almost nothing to do with nationality.

    2. Anonymous26/7/22

      Dear Anon; Good point. There is a difference
      between European elite and commoners. Perhaps
      more than here, due to European history of the
      "Royal" class. Tocqueville was impressed by
      Yank disdain for such.

      Still, the Frankfurt School brought some elite
      thought to the American elite. American elite
      preferred the "historic glow" of Europe to the
      future oriented optimism of the Yank unwashed.

      I agree with your main point; most of the bad
      ideas come from the "Elites", regardless of
      continent. Thanks for your insight. --Thomas


Post a Comment

You May Also Like