Over the summer, Barry Diller warned that the double strike by Hollywood actors and writers could “potentially produce an absolute collapse of an entire industry.”
Diller, who once headed Paramount and 20th Century FOX, may know what he’s talking about.
Hollywood, trying to compete with the vast resources of dot coms like Netflix and Amazon, has been spending untold billions of dollars to convince everyone to buy subscriptions to their streaming services. Netflix will spend $17 billion, Amazon spent $16.6 billion while Disney blew through $32 billion. Disney is trying to recoup some of the billions it lost on Disney+ by cutting costs and going into the lucrative but shady business of sports betting through ESPN.
Once upon a time, Disney might have worried about the damage to its ‘family friendly image’ but once it started peddling sexual materials to kids, gambling is actually a major step up.
The entertainment industry’s big companies have blown through over $100 billion to secure streaming subscribers. The longer the strike lasts, industry figures like Diller fear that the pipeline of new shows and movies will fade and the subscribers will go away. After spending a fortune they don’t have to lock in subscribers, Hollywood may be left with nothing.
But if Hollywood were to die, would anyone really miss it very much?
From the popularization of the cowboy to space exploration and the action hero, Hollywood once made up a vital part of the American mythos. Where the industry once sold the American Dream around the world, it has traded that in for a new woke identity that disdains the country.
New Hollywood is no more integral to the American story than the video game industry or Silicon Valley. It’s an addiction mechanism that no longer adds the faintest iota of anything to the culture. It can no longer pretend to be a dream factory, it’s where the dream goes to die to be reborn as intellectual properties with scripts written by woke AI that will soon star AI actors.
Hollywood is still big business and the strikes are estimated to cost the economy $5 billion, but there are industries that add far more, with less negative side effects, that are under siege.
Occasionally conservative movies, like ‘Voice of Freedom’, emerge as a reminder that the country can have a film industry that speaks to us without Hollywood. And that such an industry would be much more likely to emerge if Hollywood were to destroy itself or be destroyed.
Disney has been battered by its wasteful streaming spending, but also by its battle with Gov. DeSantis in Florida. The biggest old school studio in Hollywood took such a severe beating because the industry is far more vulnerable than most conservatives realized it was.
Hollywood has dozens of vulnerabilities from a dependence on tax credits and foreign investors to its infamously illegal accounting practices and countless legal exemptions. Until recently, Hollywood studios threw around their weight in red states, announcing boycotts over religious freedom issues and demanding (and getting) millions in tax credits from Republican governors.
There’s no real sign that’s changing outside of Florida.
Georgia has allocated a whopping $1.3 billion in Hollywood tax credits. That’s more than New York and California combined. A proposal to cap the credit at under $1 billion, and save $1.7 billion, was shot down by House Speaker David Ralston (now retired), who argued, “I’m not prepared to run that industry out of Georgia.” Capping Hollywood tax credits at a gargantuan $900 million somehow amounted to running the entire film industry out of Georgia.
Hollywood was more than ready to run Republicans out of Georgia by backing Stacey Abrams.
From Alabama to Mississippi, even the most conservative southern states have lined up to court Hollywood even when they lose money doing it. For example, Mississippi gets 49 cents to the dollar it spends on incentives, while other states are doing even worse.
Rather than fighting Hollywood, conservative states are actually backing it with tax dollars, pleading with it to come to their neck of the woods and film movies and shows which depict Americans as backward racists. Most Republican states have actually created, added or expanded their film tax credits in the last few years in a desperate bid to bring in more jobs.
And in the process they’ve ignored the cultural damage that Hollywood is doing to us.
There are exceptions to the rule. There was outrage when Netflix released ‘Cuties’ depicting the sexualization of young girls. DA Lucas Babin in Tyler County, TX,, who has his own history in the entertainment industry, got a grand jury to indict Netflix. While the streaming giant has far more money and resources, Babin has managed to tie it up in court.
While most people thought that the battle over ‘Cuties’ had ended back in 2020, it has kept on going into 2023. Babin has been badly outmatched and outspent, but he also showed that it’s possible to take on the biggest giant in the industry, which wields almost unlimited resources and whose wealth is utterly staggering, and still make it feel some pain.
Imagine if more conservatives were willing to take on Hollywood instead of pandering to it?
Conservatives complain about a culture war and too many would rather fight it with lame memes than with sharp legal elbows. Hollywood has never been this vulnerable and yet most conservatives do little more than complain about ‘wokeness, rather than expecting their elected officials to do to Hollywood what leftist politicians are trying to do to the oil and gas industry. Not to mention the automobile industry, gun manufacturers and countless others.
The Left has spent generations fighting corporations, sometimes to take them over, other times to outright wipe out an industry, while conservatives are still too timid to think big in this way.
The entertainment industry consists of a handful of incestuous giants that dominate video, music and book publishing with no legal pushback or serious challenge from conservatives. Its lobbyists know that all they need to do is spread some money around Capitol Hill, hire a few former Republican staffers to lobby for them and they can get whatever they want.
And that is how it will be until conservatives start expecting more from their politicians.
If the governor of a state that is heavily dependent on tourism can take on Disney and the DA of Tyler County can take on the most powerful entertainment industry corporation, there’s no excuse for House and Senate Republicans to keep doing favors for Hollywood, or for most red states to shove millions of dollars at productions wanting to show their people as inbred hicks.
Rep. Laurie Schlegel, a freshman state representative in Louisiana, recently brought down Pornhub, a massive industry giant, by passing bills mandating age verification. Those bills have been moving from state to state, threatening a pornography company with an estimated annual revenue of $97 billion. That’s what happens when politicians stop explaining why they can’t do things and actually do the simplest thing possible even when it supposedly ‘can’t be done.’
It doesn’t take much to be a giant slayer when the giants have glass jaws. What it does take is principles, a refusal to be bribed and a determination to take down cultural enemies who have countless regulatory weaknesses, but lots of money and a base of support from their users.
Hollywood can be killed and something better, more American, can rise from the ashes. The industry has never been this fragile and vulnerable. All it will take is the willpower to do it.
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