Thursday, 22 July 2010

Added values

They may have finally created an industrial-strength tampon to plug the Gulf oil spill, but BP isn't out of the woods just yet. They're currently under investigation for their alleged involvement in lobbying the Scottish government to release Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi. It's speculated that BP got involved in order to help secure a lucrative oil deal with Libya.

This isn't another BP-bashing post, it's just the latest example of the power that major corporations have in the way the world operates. We no longer live in a world of superpowers with their fingers poised precariously over the big red button. The decisions that lead us into war are now made in the boardroom rather than the 'War Room'.

But not everybody sees it that way. US conservatives in particular are unhappy with the fact that Hollywood no longer makes movies depicting the 'Red Menace' as the big bad. They're upset that corporations are portrayed as the bad guys. To them, it's distinctly 'unAmerican'.

Incensed that liberal Hollywood is alienating American audiences, a new production company has been set up to reclaim the movie industry for 'real American values'. That means patriotic, pro-military, Christian values.

Declaration Entertainment is a new company founded on those traditional beliefs, and aims to provide America's silent majority with moral sustenance. They've studied the history of Hollywood and realised that the real problem lies with the industry's financial model. Since movies now generate much of their revenue overseas, they're no longer beholden to the attitudes that American conservatives hold so dear.

So here's their idea - citizen producers. Anyone willing to part with $10-$30 per month (depending on the package they're interested in) becomes a co-producer of the company's slate of would-be movies. As soon as enough investors have joined up, the movie is greenlit, produced and released. It sounds a lot like a pyramid scheme - except there's no financial reward. Any profits generated by the completed movies are used to finance future ventures.

So what's in it for investors? A heady mix of rewards await those willing to stump up the cash on a monthly basis - they can access all the content on the website (whoopee), read script excerpts, watch casting videos and even win trips to the film set or red-carpet premiere. But that's not all, as the site boasts: "you’ll be doing your part to turn the tide of anti-Americanism in the culture by portraying our shared values in a positive light – the way Hollywood used to."

Stilted dialogue, thinly-veiled propaganda, unrealistic representations of morality - what's not to love? There must be a market for films like this, since company founder Jeremy Boreing (as dull as he sounds) claims that 60% of American's "don't approve of Hollywood".

He doesn't actually explain what element of Hollywood that relates to, or the impact that this disapproval has on business. But he has definitely heard people saying that they plan to boycott Hollywood's output as a result. Pretty persuasive, I'm sure you'll agree.

If you have some cash to spare (and an empty shoebox where your brain should be) perhaps you'd like to invest in the studio's current slate of projects. There's Aurora, a science-fiction epic about a space vehicle designed to open up "the entire Solar System to colonization and free enterprise, beyond the reach of bureaucracy." Or maybe you'd be more interested in 'The Arroyo', the tale of an ex-special forces cattle rancher concerned about over-regulated Border Patrols.

It's just a shame that the people behind Declaration Entertainment don't understand that the real issue audiences have with modern film-making is quality, not values. And judging by their projected output, that's not likely to change anytime soon.

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