Hollywood is led by the benefactors and beneficiaries of nepotism. While it is undoubtedly charming to see the descendants of icons carrying on the family name, the practice inherently prohibited promising talents from other socioeconomic backgrounds to experience their “big break.” Indie productions certainly have their own following, but it doesn’t compare to the notoriety of Hollywood. When considering the diversity that is finally seen across the board across numerous industries worldwide, it is safe to say that it’s high time for Hollywood to also embrace diversity on all fronts—not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it is also what the modern audience desires.
While many may argue having a famous name isn’t enough to sustain a successful career, it is certainly more than enough to get one’s foot in the door. Over time, that ended up robbing creative unknowns that were brimming with talent the opportunity to shine, regardless of their capabilities. In the grand scheme of things, the nepotism may appear to be relatively harmless. After all, movies and television programs are still being produced. It is, however, merely the root of numerous issues plaguing the industry, such as its lack of representation, accurate portrayals, and original storylines unlike anything the industry has ever seen before.
There is much that production teams in Hollywood must internalize in order to spark positive change. Nepotism is one of the reasons why new releases follow along the lines of remakes, instead of fresh original content. It is one of the reasons for gender inequality, racial inequality, pay gaps, and more. And of course, it is one of the reasons for which many creative people with no connection to the sphere lose out on potentially successful ideas that span many genres. In the long term, no one wins—not even the production companies. The people who miss out most, without even realizing, are the fans.
A tale as old as time
Nepotism goes back several generations. In Hollywood history, it includes the likes of the Coppolas, the Barrymores, the Baldwins, and the Fondas. It can more recently be seen through the successes of actors such as Jaden Smith, Brody Jenner, and Daniel Radcliff, and actresses such as Kate Hudson, Rumer Willis, and Zoë Kravitz.
For the actors themselves, it both is and isn’t something to be proud about. “A lot of people in the industry are self-conscious about their way in,” writer Max Landis, son of filmmaker John Landis (Animal House), has said. “Everybody wants, ‘Started from the bottom, now we’re here,’ when in reality, you started from Pacific Palisades and now you’re in Los Feliz.”
Inclusivity will save Hollywood
Thousands of box office flops have resulted in millions of dollars wasted on flicks that could have been prevented if fans were more included in the process of the films, which could prevent many films with poor results from getting to the screen and running up large production bills. According to Priceonomics, as of 2019, an estimated 80 percent of films lose money, which is needless in actuality. The absence of inclusivity in Hollywood can very well be contributing to many box office failures by not allowing fans and outside creative people to be involved.
Times are changing. Audiences are changing. And we may collectively be inching our way towards progress.
The times are changing fast
Xennial, millennial, and Gen Z audiences are different from the predecessors. Thanks to ongoing activist efforts through digital media, they are vocal in their demand for ethical practices and inclusivity across the board. And if conglomerates don’t give into these demands, their audiences collectively withdraw their support — more popularly referred to as “cancel culture.” This includes the film and television industries.
It’s important to note that Xennial, millennial, and gen Z audiences are also consistently on the lookout for new and diverse talents to support, especially those from humble backgrounds. That explains the raging success of the Got Talent franchise, crowdfunding campaigns for artists, and performers that achieved star status through virality on YouTube. Audiences love playing a role in the success of those they feel deserve it, and are beginning to oppose the idea of supporting the ultra-privileged.
Power is now in the hands of the audience
Producers take note: the traditional top-down system in the entertainment industry has left fans out of the creative process at the launchpad of the production. They know what they want. They are not getting what they want. They refuse to support productions that don’t meet their demands.
The 2000s has seen an influx of disruption across numerous industries, in terms of content, quality, representation, subject matter, and so much more. It’s high time for a transformation to similarly take place within the film and television industries.
The modern fan base enthusiastically supports initiatives that make them feel as though they were involved in the process in one way or another. This can be seen through various forms of crowdfunding campaigns in support of independent talents, some of which even tap into the power and potential of blockchain technology. Audiences demand to be heard. As such, in order to ensure the success of their productions through the support from the target market, the film and television industries need to find innovative ways to become more democratized.
Producers need to pass the torch over to their audiences. They must let the audience validate what is worth producing, so they can collectively feel a genuine attachment to each project. The people have spoken, and at this point, this is a decision that the industry cannot afford to not make.