What Happened to the Hollywood Magic We All Love?

“It’s all make believe…Isn’t it?” ~ Marilyn Monroe

Happy New Year.

As 2018 kicked off, having been a Los Angeles native now for quite some time I couldn’t help but take note of the tumultuous 2017 Hollywood had. The notion of all this chaos quickly put me in my philosophy mode. There seems to be this ongoing and recently accelerated view of the entertainment business as being an unfair business where people are treated unjustly. While to some degree this can be true, I think it’s important that we not disregard the fact that Hollywood is on the frontier of a new era and that there could be reason why thinks are particularly unsettled in the Hollywood Hills these days.

There’s this law in philosophy coined by the great new age author and thinker Deepak Chopra that says:

“Every great change is preceded by chaos.”

So rather than the collapse of Hollywood / Cinema as many pundits have claimed is happening, what if we are simply entering a new period of a Re-Imagined Hollywood? Could it be that the rough times in our current climate are the “chaos” Chopra speaks of?

Even the legendary Martin Scorsese referenced Cinema as being “gone” in a 2016 column:

“Cinema is gone…The cinema I grew up with and that I’m making, it’s gone.”

Acclaimed director of Alien, Blade Runner, and Gladiator Ridley Scott also chimed in with:

“Cinema mainly is pretty bad.”

But Scorsese was also on to something. He referenced in a letter to his daughter a bright future for cinema:

So why is the future so bright? Because for the very first time in the history of the art form, movies really can be made for very little money. This was unheard of when I was growing up, and extremely low budget movies have always been the exception rather than the rule. Now, it’s the reverse. You can get beautiful images with affordable cameras. You can record sound. You can edit and mix and color-correct at home. This has all come to pass.

Scorsese is forecasting a bright future. Can he see the future? Maybe. I wouldn’t put anything past him. He’s referencing the fact that movies and television can now be made for very little money and he’s absolutely correct about that…

Could there be even more to it though? Let’s take this a step further. All of this talk about the current status of Cinema caused me to ask myself what Cinema means to me. How do I value it? Last week I wrote a column about value and how we need to be more mindful of our definition of it. People seem to usually seek value in it’s most physical form. And that’s fine, even good. Eating healthy, managing productivity, travel tips to save money, and wisdom about who we are as a person are all important.

But we are losing something that is CRUCIAL in all of this. Something that we all originally loved the movies for (and for the most part still do). A huge source of value for our minds, spirits, goals, imaginations, values (ha!), and inner belief systems. Something that seems to be pushed to the background a bit recently but is vital for the human experience. Know what that is?


So this in turn got me thinking about Hollywood and Storytelling. For Decades and now centuries Storytelling has been an immense form of value. We connect to stories and relate to characters because it makes us feel a certain way about our own lives.

Remember the early days of Hollywood? Chances are most of us don’t. Know why they were excited? They made people FEEL something. They made people wonder. They made people excited to get up and catch a movie to show them a piece of humanity they hadn’t seen. Or to make them feel better about themselves because they connected to a character they were watching on screen. I can’t help but think much of that magic has been lost. Movie audiences are declining, ratings are falling, and the overall magical reputation the land of Oz in southern California had as recently as 20 years ago has taken a real hit. Why?

From a 2015 Variety article:

We’ve put the phrase “Broken Hollywood” on our cover to reflect the candor with which the 22 luminaries we interviewed spoke. They weren’t shy about addressing the industry’s most pressing problems, which run the gamut from a declining movie audience — particularly among the vital younger demographic — and falling ratings in broadcast and cable TV, to an unacceptable lack of diversity in the creative ranks and executive suites, and inadequate audience measurement across platforms.

To begin to understand one has to think much of this has do with the changing of the times. More simply put, this is evolution. In the early 20th century Cinema was magical and mysterious. Being able to see people alive on screen in character from what seemed like a far away world was inspiring and thought provoking. It made us go home and wonder at night about what could be? We couldn’t wait for them to tell us another story from a far away land.

It’s not so much that we’ve lost this sense of wonder now but rather that a different lens has been placed over the metaphorical camera. As humans we love to wonder about each other. We love to watch each other.

What’s happening?

The fact of the matter is we are doing a lot more watching of one another through Social Media these days than we are on screen.

While the actors and actresses are still beating out the social media stars by a very large margin. Yes, and I mean that it is NOT close. The skills needed as an actor or actress should not be taken lightly. I know, I am one. The actors and actresses are still getting all the roles in film, tv, and theater over any so-called “You Tube Star” and anyone who tells you otherwise misleading, misinformed, or flat out lying.

So what is it? What has changed?

It’s not that we’ve failed as humans. It’s not that we’ve stopped watching each other. It’s not that we’ve lost our humanity or ability to be inspired by each other. In fact, these things I believe are actually at an all-time high. So what is it?

1970 Hollywood:

Movies and Television helped us connect emotionally to one another. It felt magical to receive an autograph or shake hands with a star after being taken on a journey by them in character through the movie screen. We were inspired by the stories told on screen through a magical platform known as Cinema. Humanity and Storytelling were the inner core.

2020 Hollywood:

Following each other and becoming enamored by the “Story” told through a magical platform known as Social Media. Humanity and Storytelling are still the inner core.

This by no means is the death of the performer. It is not the death of Hollywood and not even the death of Cinema.

There is just a new platform on the horizon. A train in the distance that can be heard but has not materialized yet. What is driving the train?

2 things

  1. Humanity
  2. Storytelling

We need a good blend of what the new tech Stars in Silicon Valley (Mark Zuckerberg, Sam Altman, Evan Willams, Larry Page, Evan Spiegel, and Elon Musk.) and the Classic artists of our time (Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, Meryl Streep, Steven Soderbergh, Jennifer Lawrence, Martin Scorsese) down the freeway in LALA Land. Sidenote: Anyone seen Musk’s Neuralink? If you haven’t, please check it out.

Anyway, time and evolution are just working on linking Tech and Artistry. This is an ongoing process that has been developing for centuries it’s just over the course of time the “lens” has slowly but surely gotten less foggy.

Just because you update to the newest software doesn’t mean you’ve lost the magic of your iPhone. It’s just rebooting and updating the extraordinary. Hollywood needs to get it’s groove back. The mojo has been tempered. But it’s going to make a big comeback. And soon.

What happens when these two mix?

And where does Social Media fit into all of this?

Hollywood + Silicon Valley = A New Form of Story

Hollywood + {Social Media X New Form of Story} = X

Seem difficult to answer? It is.

I’ll give you a clue. YouTube is on the right track.

YouTube is to X


Theater was to Cinema.

What’s next?

The answer will make us feel magical again.

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

~ Roald Dahl

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