(Note: This article was originally publiched by Mick Cohen-Carroll on Medium in June 2020. For current information about the state of the racial justice movement in America, I recommend reading updates about Derek Chauvin's trial, this interview with Kentucky's Rep. Attica Scott about the ongoing imapct of Breonna Taylor's murder, this update about the shooting of Jacob Blake, and this analysis of the scope of Black Lives Matter protests.)
Hollywood loves to jump on current events, especially those with big socio-political ramifications. There have been timely movies about pretty much every news-worthy incident since WWI. However, stories about race or racial injustice are often eclipsed or buried under other tragic events. So, through the films they produce and finance, how will Hollywood react to the current status quo? It’d be interesting to discover their approach in the wake of the George Floyd protests (which are largely peaceful) and the call to action for anti-racism. There are two things to consider. The first is that Hollywood, after all, is a business and the second is that Hollywood might not be as socially liberal as the right-wing claims.
Though there is room for art, and you must be creative to make a film, the movie industry is, after all, just that: an industry. And in an industry, the primary goal is to make money. If it’s art, great, but that is not the end goal. Artistry is the byproduct. That is why people like Martin Scorsese call the Marvel movies “theme parks” and not cinema. He makes the distinction that cinema is (by his definition) more daring, unexpected, honest and artistic.
So while “cinema” (used in the Scorsesian sense) does exist, the rise in blockbuster movies with high budgets and explosively high box office returns shows that Hollywood is primarily interested in making money. That is why it attracts people to become top execs and producers, like Steve Mnuchin, the current Secretary of the Treasury. Hard to believe that the ex-Goldman Sachs investment banker was in it for the art or the love of cinema.