As Americans watch the misguided Occupy Wall Street protesters continue to press their disjointed, anti-capitalist, anti-American message, it seems that it might be time for a counter effort aimed at Hollywood. After all, the movie and entertainment industry has, for the most part, echoed themes similar to the Occupy Wall Street crowd.
The demand for Robin-Hood-like schemes, of take from those who work to hand over to those who don’t or won’t, is standard Hollywood fare. Businesses, entrepreneurs and job creators are almost always depicted as thieving.
Long before President Obama began fomenting unrest through his anti-business policies and class warfare tactics, Hollywood had led the charge with its consistent depiction of business owners as greedy and grasping manipulators.
For years, whether on television or on the big screen, Hollywood has chosen to demagogue business owners, entrepreneurs and almost anyone who dares to endorse a capitalist enthusiasm for self-advancement and upward mobility.
Whether it is spoofing idiot managers for the past six years in The Office, or punishing greedy businessmen, willing to risk their lives to corner a market in Inception, Hollywood has had nothing good to say about the kinds of people who make the money, who pay the taxes and who create the jobs that have made the United States the greatest nation on earth.
Occupy Hollywood could be a movement that would give form and voice to Hollywood’s biased and consistently unfair depiction of business owners. Think about it—when was the last time that Hollywood had a lead character who was a businessman who was a positive role model? What about the 2011 production of Atlas Shrugged? The limited-run movie about the importance of individual liberty and limited government interference in business? Oh, right—that was produced without the blessing of mainstream Hollywood, and supported and promoted in part by FreedomWorks, the Tea Party and Andrew Breitbart.
Another positive business role model was Anthony Hopkins in the 1998 remake of Meet Joe Black—oh no! that’s right -- in the movie, Hollywood sends Death to kill Hopkins who plays a businessman whom Death says had led an admirable life. “Death and Taxes” as the movie says.
Arguably, the last positive depiction of a business owner in a movie where the entrepreneur was the lead character (and lived) was the 1996 movie Jerry Maguire.
The eponymous Jerry Maguire was a character who would be familiar to almost any American who started a business with big dreams and little capital, to anyone who used his savings, who scrimped and worked slavish hours to get his business off the ground--not asking for handouts or government. Jerry Maguire was the kind of guy who could have been found starting a business in any city in any town in the U.S.
Jerry Maguire summed up best what it means to start a business: ” I am out here for you. You don't know what it's like to be ME out here for YOU. It is an up-at-dawn, pride-swallowing siege that I will never fully tell you about, ok?”
Jerry Maguire, a entrepreneur who had a dream of creating a different kind of business, using a different kind of business model, who was willing to risk all he had and put everything on the line in the hope of success—and who, in the process transformed an industry, represents the type of risk-taker that this country needs desperately.
Our country needs more Jerry Maguires, but we also need more politicians who recognize that without these kinds of self-starters, no “Jobs Act” can ever be successful. And Hollywood could help. Americans need movies that deal in truth and show the struggles and burdens of business owners—burdens that many Americans are unwilling to shoulder. After all, small businesses create 3 out of every 4 jobs in this country. So, if we want to get out of the economic hole we are in, we need to create jobs that grow the economy, and we need to stop abusing and misrepresenting the efforts of those who are creating those jobs.
Unfortunately, that is NOT what we see happening with the Occupy Wall Street crowd. They don’t seem to want to create anything—or they’d be in their home towns, in their basements creating it. They don’t seem to want to take any risks—so far all Americans have heard is the Occupy Wall Street cry of “gimme”, “gimme more”. Worse still, Occupy Wall Street seems to lack vision—there is no dream. Protesters during the 60s attacked BIG issues. Their protests had only the most ideological and highest goals and motives such as civil rights and world peace. Those leading Occupy Wall Street seem disorganized, inarticulate and have now become pawns of union aggression and prurient greed.
The Occupy Wall Street crowd seems easily influenced, a product of the “greedy, mindless businessman” stereotypes advanced in virtually all Hollywood movies that feature a business person, in scripts that demagogue the honest, hard-working efforts of millions of businesspeople across this country, in much the same way that Democrats in Congress and in the White House demagogue business leaders, entrepreneurs and job creators.
The Occupy Hollywood movement would have another great advantage—it would give the pie-in-the-sky idealists in L.A. an opportunity to be on the receiving end of the criticism and show Americans the stereotypical Hollywood business movie for what it really is—an attack on capitalism.
After all, isn’t a picture is worth a thousand words?