Newly released FBI records about Hollywood’s most famous leading lady, Marilyn Monroe, revealed close ties to so-called Communist sympathizers. The records, obtained by the Associated Press, were apparently heavily redacted but indicate that the FBI seriously investigated her in relation to relationships with members of the Communist Party in the years before her death.
Hollywood, once the heart of the world’s entertainment industry, has always had a strong relationship with the left, having been borne of a strong labor union tradition, and been targeted by the McCarthy red-scare of the 1950s. But today, Hollywood has seen its film industry decimated with fewer and fewer productions filming in Los Angeles. Although the industry is one of the largest employers in the local Southern California economy generating more than $6 billion in state and local taxes, more than 16,000 jobs have been lost to other states and countries in the past 7 years. Twenty one of the 23 new television dramas shot in 2012, as well as blockbuster films like The Hobbit, were all shot outside California because of producers chasing tax subsidies offered outside the State.
Now, a new book called, ‘Shoot It!, Hollywood Inc. and The Rising of Independent Film’ by David Spaner traces how a profit driven corporate agenda has shaped films from the industry’s inception. The book offers a critical political perspective on Hollywood history from the early days of union organizing to the 1950s McCarthy era blacklists and the 1960s counterculture movement. In the first part of the book titled, ‘Why Are the Movies So Bad These Days?’ Spaner looks at how portrayals of local culture have been sacrificed to fulfill global marketing interests which pander to mainstream audiences.
In the second half of the book Spaner examines how independent filmmakers have fought back against homogenized stories which are more product placement vehicles than films. Shoot It! explores the flourishing independent film industries in France, England, South Korea, Mexico, Romania, Canada and the United States and includes interviews with award winning independent filmmakers like Mike Leigh, Ken Loach, John Sayles, Sally Potter and many others.
GUEST: David Spaner author of Shoot It! Hollywood Inc. and the Rising of Independent Film; he has worked as a movie critic, feature writer, reporter and editor for numerous newspapers and magazines. His other book is entitled Dreaming in the Rain: How Vancouver Became Hollywood North by Northwest