Entertainment economy: Are YOU the new Hollywood?

The 79th Annual Academy Awards Hollywood self-promotional love fest broadcasts to the world tonight.  Does it matter?
Written by Donna Bogatin, Contributor
The 79th Annual Academy Awards Hollywood self-promotional love fest broadcasts to the world tonight. 

Does it matter? 

Neal Gabler follows in the Times Magazine 2006 “YOU” are the “Person of the Year” tradition to proclaim YOU are the future of movies.

Gabler puts forth movie industry statistics to conclude the industry is in a “downwards spiral,” while underscoring the power to revitalize movies lies with US, not with the movie business: 

How the movies cope with these threats will go some way toward determining whether they remain vital or will be usurped. But the problem for the industry, even on its biggest night, is that the answer is likely to lie less in the executives' hands than in our heads. 

So, what is in OUR heads? According to Gabler, the personal lives of movie stars.

Gabler argues that Hollywood doesn’t matter much anymore. “The movie magic is gone,” he says. 

How so? The communal appeal of movies is being supplanted by narcissism:

People don't talk about movies the way they once did… 

An ever-growing culture of knowingness, especially among young people, in which being regarded as part of an informational elite — an elite that knows which celebrities were dating each other, which had had plastic surgery, who was in rehab, etc. — is more gratifying than the conventional pleasures of moviegoing. 

In other words, movies don’t matter, but movie stars do!

How can Hollywood movies be deemed to not matter anymore, however, if the entertainment economy is dependent upon the actors that "make" the movies?  

Gabler: The promise of an alternative life — the vicarious thrill of escape — has always been one of the movies' greatest blandishments. In the theater we could all imagine ourselves to be Cary Grant or Bette Davis. Now with avatars — essentially masks that one can use to represent oneself on the Internet — anyone can be Cary Grant or Bette Davis without having to imagine it. In effect, we have become our own movies.

We can only become stars in our own movies, though, if Hollywood movies and their stars continue to provide the fodder for emulation. 

Gabler: Traditional movies have a very difficult time competing against real-life (Hollywood movie star) stories, whether it is the shenanigans of TomKat or Brangelina, Anna Nicole Smith's death or Britney Spears' latest breakdown. These are the features that now dominate water-cooler chat. There may have been a time when these stories generated publicity for the movies. Now, however, the movies are more likely to generate publicity for the stories, which have a life, and an entertainment value, of their own. 

Perhaps, but only because the stories are about MOVIE stars. If TomKat or Brangelina were not celebrities due to their movie star status, there would be no “entertainment value” in the stories.

Just as Web 2.0 social media aggregators need professionally produced “old media” content to aggregate, as I discussed earlier this morning in “Web 2.0: Does ‘old media’ get it?  ,” our own “star-like” lives need Hollywood magic to dream about.

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