Hollywood in Our Culture

Hollywood is all about producing entertainment. Americans are all about consuming entertainment. The entertainment industry is a multibillion dollar industry. Everything from music, movies, television shows, reality television, game shows, gossip, magazines, advertisements, and even sporting events are huge forms of entertainment. How do these forms of entertainment affect the everyday lives of Americans? Reality Television shows such as “Keeping up with the Kardashians” have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years. Game shows such as “Survivor” and “Deal or No Deal” are dominating the television as well. These shows will only air one new episode a week and people always manage to tune in a get the latest of what’s happening and who’s winning on these shows. Magazines and other forms of gossip are sure to let people in on the newest couples and biggest scandals going on in the celebrity world. Movies are produced and released into theaters quite often too. When going to or watching a sporting event you’re bound to see countless amounts of advertisements being thrown at you. Entertainment dominates every person’s day. We are constantly seeking out new forms of entertainment such as new music or new movies. The bulk of our lives will be spent being entertained. Americans run on entertainment.

Let’s start with the film industry. Movies are a huge part of Americas’ popular culture. It’s not uncommon for a typical date or night out to consist of going to dinner and a movie. Very rarely is there never a good new movie to go see. When a person goes to see a movie, before the movie even starts they will see previews for four or five now movies about to come out. It’s a never ending process with movies, and one that people willingly poor more and more money into. The average ticket price for 2010 was $8.01. That’s an increase over $7.50 in 2009. Over the past five years, ticket prices have consistently been up 4% to 5% year-over-year. Some of the increase may have to do with inflation, but it’s also a growing industry. The fact that people, including myself, pay that much to go see a movie is a little shocking considering that’s almost half the price of buying the movie when it comes out. People will do what it takes to be entertained. In today’s culture people are constantly surrounded by entertainment, so when in the rare instances there’s nothing entertaining going on, people will go to great lengths or high prices, such as a movie ticket, to be entertained again. What people see in these movies that they seek out will affect America’s culture. What about little kids and what they see in movies as they grow up? “I can logically deduce that humans create films to express feelings they have, feelings we all have. But have we gone too far? I’m not going as far as to call Film stupid, or not an art, but I think we have to make a clear distinction to what is fake and what is real, and to what is tolerable or bearable and what is simply going over the limit. By typing Violence in Films in Google I get 224,000,000 results. It is obviously a matter of great concern for the public. By the time the average U.S. child starts elementary school he or she will have seen 8,000 murders and 100,00 acts of violence on TV” (Lemiffe). Those were some pretty shocking stats to me. Growing up seeing that much violence would almost make it seem like a normal thing which it is not. This goes hand in hand with violent video games too. Sure games like Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 have ratings to try to prevent younger players from participating, but we all know they play these games. Movies and video games have sadly made violence a typical part of our societies culture.

Celebrity gossip is everywhere we look. In my opinion celebrities are a poison in our culture. Lots of people honor and frame their lives after these celebrities who in all actuality are not good role models. Take Briteny Spears for example. “Britney Spears embodies the disdain in which this culture holds its young women: the desire to sexualize and spoil them while young, and to degrade and punish them as they get older. Of course, she also represents a youthful feminine willingness – stupid or manipulated as it may be – to conform to the culture’s every humiliating expectation of her” (Traister). Young women and girls used to look up to her and want to be like her. She got married to Kevin Federline. Then her life came crashing down. “Britney Spears and Federline had two sons, Sean (b. 14 September 2005) and Jayden (b. 12 September 2006), but Spears filed for divorce in November of 2006 (their divorce became final on 30 July 2007). In 2007 Spears was in the gossip columns on a weekly basis and made headlines by shaving her head, entering rehab and, after repeated missteps with the courts, losing custody of her children to Federlin.” One of the most popular role models in America had her life come crashing down, all of it available for the public to see. The Media tore her apart and only set her up for more failure. The media and gossip magazines would do this for the sole purpose of entertainment. Another correlation I believe exists is the rise in divorce rates in America because of celebrity divorces. When two celebrities get married it is highly publicized and readily available to the public. Raul Felder says “Celebrity marriages are remarkable for their instability. The much-touted 50 percent failure rate for American marriages soars as one’s star rises. The divorce rate among celebrities may be as high as 80 percent.” Celebrity divorces are always huge forms of entertainment on gossip channels and articles. With so many people watching these divorces happen, it has to affect our cultures view on marriage and divorce.

Another huge influence on our culture is reality television. “Reality shows are an amazing phenomenon. Who knew you could take a bunch of talentless idiots with a desire to be on TV, put them together with a camera, and make TV magic?” (The Weakonomist). Really all they do is have cameras follow these celebrities around so you can see how their lives are. It’s also so you can be entertained by the drama that happens in their life, whether it’s real or not. These shows are quite profitable due to the lower cost of producing them. “Let’s analyze reality shows from the perspective of a business. I could make this television drama which employs hundreds of people and requires me to hire and pay actors. The cost to produce an episode could cost as much as $1 million. All that for $1.2 million in ad revenue or a profit of $200,000. Or I could pay a few people a few thousand bucks to over-dramatize their lives and then go to fancy restaurants to complain about their lives. By the way, we’ll put the name of the restaurant below when they show up and get some more ad revenue that way. The cost to produce the episode goes down to $400,000 but we still get the $1.2 million in ad revenue. That’s a net of $800,000. Easy win from a producer’s perspective. Reality shows are really cheap to produce compared to traditional TV” (The Weakonomist). Due to this very profitable way of producing this entertainment there are no shortages in reality TV shows. So what do people see in these shows that keep them coming back? “Let’s look at the typical viewer. The typical television viewer of reality shows wants drama, people they can relate to, and interesting situations. They have budgeted a certain amount of TV viewing daily and so they’ll pick the most entertaining shows on when they like to watch TV. It isn’t that people are really reality junkies, they just like drama, and the idea that these people are “real” makes it more interesting” (The Weakonomist). These reality shows twist our perception of what real life is. Due to these shows being a major source of our daily entertainment we may unknowingly mold our lives in a similar fashion to these reality stars.

All the forms of entertainment I have talked about have similar aspects to real life. But they are overdramatized or portrayed in such a way that it is an unobtainable lifestyle. Many people look up to these celebrities in Hollywood and will picture that as the perfect life; so they will strive to try to live a very similar lifestyle. Hollywood changes people’s perception about what perfect is. That’s what culture is all about; the lifestyle you are raised in and continue to live in and work towards. Hollywood is everywhere we look. The television, the news, sporting events, music, award shows, and advertisements. Hollywood may have more of an effect on some people than others, but Hollywood and the entertainment industry have an undeniable effect on the culture and life style of Americans.

Work Cited

“Britney Spears: Biography.” Answers.com: Wiki Q&A Combined with Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus, and Encyclopedias. Web. 01 Dec. 2011.

“How Reality Shows Make Money.” Weakonomics. Web. 01 Dec. 2011.

Ib Times Staff Reporter. “Celebrity Divorces on the Rise in 2010.” International Business News, Financial News, Market News, Politics, Forex, Commodities – International Business Times – IBTimes.com. Web. 01 Dec. 2011.

Lemiffe. “Films and Their Effect on Society.” LeMiffe | Life, Music, Places and More…

Traister, Rebecca. “Hit Her, Baby, One More Time.” Remix: Reading Composing Culture. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2006. Print.

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