by Nursyamimie Sofi
There has been a declining viewership of western films in recent years as majority of American film fanatics and international viewers have turned to alternative entertainment programmes that are not from Hollywood (Fu, 2013). The rise of the Asian film industry, such as K-drama or Hallyu, has driven Western viewers to move away from Hollywood films. Film genres have remained stagnant (Neale, 2005). But Hollywood today is reinstating its dominance in the world by trying to promote a genre that highlights the Western lifestyle and maybe slowly injecting its social living standards in non-Western countries. This is shown on both traditional and new streaming platforms, such as television or at the cinema, as well as Netflix, Hulu etc.
What is political correctness? Roberts (1997) described it as language, policies or measures that are intended to avoid offense or disadvantage to members of particular groups in society. The term refers to avoiding language or behaviour that can be seen as excluding, marginalising, or insulting groups of people considered disadvantaged or discriminated against, especially groups defined by sex or race. In public discourse and the media, it is generally used as a pejorative, implying that these policies are excessive or unwarranted. In laymen’s term, it is an act deemed by liberals in America as a righteous virtue in upholding the minority race and sexual preference (Spencer, 1994).
To understand the current political correctness of today, one must look back at the origin of the movement. The term was first coined in the late 19th and 20th century under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin in Soviet Russia. Its function was to implement a condition of a socially contrast way of thought in the nation in the form of being socially and theoretically correct to give little room to any opposition opinion with the rulers. The indoctrination is heavily injected into factors that weigh heavily in a society, such as culture, social norms and race.
By late 1980s, most Western media and reporters criticised the term as a “usage that was deemed by the left to place censorship in the language being used in the news”. They argue its existence and usage is to “protect” ethnic minority culture and sexual preference. This has led to the undermining of its credibility and reliability as it intends to appease the left wing of politics in the US and European countries. Certain phrases or words are deemed “racist” or “intolerant” to minorities and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) group (Raehn, 1997).
Hollywood is the latest to adopt the virtues of political correctness to appeal to the younger liberal masses. By the end of the millennium, Hollywood and entertainment industries in America face rigid competition from other entertainment businesses in producing music or films that cater to a wider audience outside America. Unlike the 1970s and1980s when Hollywood thrived globally, the viewers today are tuning less to Western production and are giving their support to local industries. Given also the fact that quarter of the US population is ethnically non-European ancestry, this demographic has demanded more representation of their own kind to be portrayed in TV shows and films.
As the US tries to uphold its “righteous” values and force them other nations, this too has been considered as another factor why the US entertainment industry is losing its fans. Viewers outside the US cannot comply to or accept the virtues displayed by Hollywood. Recent Hollywood films even displayed distorted historical facts. In late 2018, English director Christopher Nolan released his historical World War II film Dunkirk. The film was about the Britain army stranded at the shores of Dunkirk in France. They were trying to flee to England from the German army. Keep in mind this is a World War II film based on a true story. The distorted historical figures in the movie were the Britain army being portrayed. A few of the army men were actors of the African-American race. However, during the war, the Britain army did not consist of non-European ethnic fighting at the front line in Europe. This bad portrayal falsified history and gave a false view of the event to generations who watch the movie.
Another form of political correctness culture in the media is the diversity image Hollywood is trying to uphold in presenting a more diverse cast in today’s shows, compared with 20 years ago when most of the cast were Caucasian actors and actresses. The diversity that is being shown in TV shows and films from Hollywood often depicts an interracial cast instead of a cast that is fully non-whites or blacks. It is apparent that diversity reflected in Hollywood today only highlights multiracial cast when the make-up of the world population consists of different races with its own unique cultures, traditions, ways of living and behaviours.
But what has taken Hollywood by storm is a movement that is tied closely to politics in the US. The recent Oscars was one of the platforms used for such a political movement. One of the prominent women figures, Oprah Winfrey, used her airtime to preach women empowerment to the masses as opposed to receiving the award. What’s intriguing in this isn’t just how politics suddenly and explosively intersected with an awards-season release, it’s how the studio failed to punch back. Universal execs could have argued that the film is a celebration of an American hero; they could even offer to screen the movie at the White House. They did neither, partly because filmmakers refused to compromise their principles, and partly because they knew that placating conservatives would backfire at the Oscars.
What is obvious from the observation of political correctness is that Hollywood has a lot to study on the matter before adopting it senselessly onto its production and causing an uproar among the majority of audiences that can’t relate to the virtues of political correctness. Also, the adaptation should be freed of any political agenda to gain favours in the political American spectrum.
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