Another Fleecing of America

by John W. Cones

Recent studies of so-called Hollywood movies demonstrate they have long contained blatant patterns of bias, in that they consistently portray whole populations of our diverse society in a negative or stereotypical manner. These studies also show that Hollywood movies present biased biopics, historical revisionism and favoritism in movie portrayals displayed toward a single, narrowly- defined interest group from which the Hollywood control group primarily draws its members. As the U.S. Supreme Court declared in its 1952 Burstyn v. Wilson decision, the motion picture is a "significant medium for the communication of ideas". We all recognize that throughout the history of civilization, ideas have always and will always be an important source of motivation for human conduct. Thus, it can be proven by pure logic alone, that movies influence human conduct. After all, movies communicate ideas, ideas motivate human behavior, therefore movies must motivate some human behavior. During a significant segment of many individual lives (particularly those who are relatively young, uneducated or unsophisticated), repeatedly watching hundreds of powerful motion picture images that consistently portray whole populations of our diverse society in a negative or stereotypical manner can contribute to prejudicial thinking, which in turn, is often the basis of real-life discriminatory behavior. Thus, at minimum we must concede, movies that consistently portray certain people in a negative or stereotypical manner are clearly not helping us solve our society's problems of misunderstanding and mistrust, but more likely, making them worse.

Now, why is this occurring? Well, it seems that it's because, movies to a large extent, tend to mirror the values, interests, cultural perspectives and prejudices of their makers. The people in Hollywood who have the power to decide which movies are produced and released, to determine who gets to work in the key positions on such movies and to approve of the screenplays serving as the basis for these movies are the three top studio executives at the so-called major studio/distributors. The Hollywood-based motion picture industry is dominated by this small group of major studios. These vertically-integrated, distributor- dominated entities release the movies seen by more than 92% of the domestic moviegoing audience. A clear majority of these studio executives (the Hollywood insiders) throughout the term of existence of these studios share a common background and routinely engage in something called reciprocal preferences, which means they help each other compete against Hollywood outsiders. This narrow control of the major studios has led to the arbitrary exclusion of large segments of our multi-cultural society from high-level employment in the movie business. Through various approval rights over financing and creative decisions, the major studios and their relatively homogenous group of top executives are also able to determine to a great extent which movies are produced and to some extent the contents of those movies. The result is that a powerful communications medium that should play an important role in our supposed free marketplace of ideas is being used by a narrowly-defined interest group to tell the stories they want to tell, promote the ideas they want to promote and influence the thinking and behavior of millions of people with respect to many important issues that confront our nation.

To make matters worse, this Hollywood control group gained and has maintained its power through the use of several hundred specifically identifiable unfair, unethical, unconscionable, anti-competitive, predatory and illegal business practices, including massive employment discrimination and antitrust law violations. But the Hollywood control group gets away with its "proclivity for wrongful conduct" by routing huge political contributions to presidential candidates and key members of Congress through excessively overpaid studio executives, their spouses and multiple political action committees. And, those political contributions seem to discourage vigorous enforcement of the employment discrimination, antitrust and other laws in the Hollywood-based U.S. film industry. Thus, federal government policy, specifically, the federal government's views on anti-trust law enforcement currently contributes to the ability of the major studios to control and dominate the marketplace. In a democracy, no important communications medium, including film, should be controlled or dominated by any single, narrowly-defined interest group, our diverse society should not be deceived into paying for a single group's propaganda disguised as entertainment and our government should not permit one group to gain or maintain an advantage in this important communications medium over all others.


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Copyright 1998 John Cones All rights Reserved