My morning news perusals brought me a nifty little snippet from the increasingly moribund Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), an organization seemingly unable to balance its reliance on the masses to which it provides entertainment against the giant egos and infinite narcissism of its stars and moguls.

Starting in 2024, any film that’s to be considered for a Best Picture nomination must meet some diversity quotas.

Per the AMPAS (I refuse to grace it with the “Academy” moniker that lends a wholly undeserved gravitas) President:

The aperture must widen to reflect our diverse global population in both the creation of motion pictures and in the audiences who connect with them.

High and noble language, for sure, but it ignores a simple reality: Hollywood is about making money, and money drives content. Viewing a movie is a purely voluntary activity, and if you aren’t interested in a movie, you’re not going to fork over time and cash to watch it. We have a nice phrase for that: “market forces.” Indeed, it’s market forces that drive content. It’s people trying to guess what audiences want to watch, and that includes both niche art pieces of “importance” where a $10M box office take is a “win” and mass-market fun-pap where anything short of a billion dollars is a failure.

Market forces change over time, and “adapt or perish” is and forever will be true. Hollywood has been under tremendous pressure from premium cable channels for decades, beginning with HBO making original movies in the early 80s. Now, everyone’s creating content. The list of streaming services with original programming keeps getting longer and longer, and that’s before we look at Youtube, where anyone willing to buy a digital camera can release a film to the world.

“The world.” That’s the other angle in this tale. Films no longer “make-or-break” in the domestic market. In fact, many make their real money in the other hemisphere, and that brings us to the second eyebrow raiser in today’s news: Hollywood is being influenced by cultural preferences in China in its casting activities. Apparently, the Chinese prefer light skinned actors on screen, and with China about to surpass the US as the world’s biggest movie market, the Hollywood suits have ‘adapted.’

This should surprise no one. China has four times more people than the United States does, and with her populace rising out of poverty in the past four decades, a whole new market for entertainment content has emerged. That money drives decisions is not something to be applauded or condemned – it’s merely a fact, a reality that will never change, no matter how much impact a passel of one-percenter scolds and the hordes on Twitter that echo their narcissism think they have.

The Oscars have been steadily losing viewership, out of a combination of milquetoastery and the aforementioned narcissism that prompts many winners to use their “thank you” time for making “important” political statements and emoting their supposedly sincere outrage while wearing five- and six-figure wardrobes and millions in jewelry, and this latest bit of affirmative action isn’t likely to endear viewers (who already and often scratch their heads over who won).

The hypocrisy is the real story (although hypocrisy never stops anyone, and hypocrisy on one’s own side is usually ignored). Just as the NBA’s pretend-woke broke against the rocks of China’s aggression and suppression in Hong Kong, Hollywood’s not going to gain any traction in this latest bit of wokery, other than among its own. So, the cable channels, Netflix, HBO, Prime, Disney, Apple, Hulu, and a bottomless well of Youtube content creators will continue to draw away eyeballs from Hollywood’s former monopoly on visual entertainment, the millionaire dilettantes will play to an ever-smaller audience of glamour-lovers, and the suits will continue to figure out ways to milksop the social justice scolds while responding to the market forces that decide where the money goes.

Is there a market for “diverse” movies? Of course, and all it takes is one mega-hit like Black Panther to spawn a zillion imitators. That’s how the market works, and if the market doesn’t want something, no quota system can ever force it to. One might even argue that this affirmative action bit is itself an attempt at playing to market forces, at grabbing a potentially under-exploited market segment. Given what we know about Hollywood, though, do you really think that this is what’s motivating that crowd? I sure don’t.

A footnote: A good friend pointed out Hollywood’s rampant racism, despite it being awash in liberals, leftists, progressives, and the infinitely woke. On first blush, this move to diversity quotas could be seen as an acknowledgment and remediation, but let’s be real. It’s just another giant virtue signal from the virtue signalers par-excellence, one hollowed out by what they actually do.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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