Hollywood is more than a district within the city of Los Angeles, California. Hollywood encompasses the larger and more popular part of the American film, music, and entertainment industry along with the celebrities, businesses, and ideologies it supports, propagates, and cultivates throughout the United States of America and the world. Being one of the biggest and most influential enterprises in the world, the Hollywood industry is visible across the globe. Anyone who has access to technology knows what is new in Hollywood: which movie is opening and who stars in it, which songs are popular in America and who sings it, which Hollywood celebrity is having a major breakdown and what caused it. Hollywood is consumable to every American and to everyone outside the country with a Wi-Fi signal.
Hollywood as an American Brand
Hollywood, as an American brand, has always “drawn upon the national ethos of America for inspiration” (Cowen, 2001). In essence, Hollywood presents the world with the American culture – its language, societies, ideologies, traditions, principles, and prejudices – through its widely-consumed films, music, and entertainment. As quoted from Ibbi (2013), “Hollywood film is the American ideological medium of mass communication.” Hollywood has flourished in selling America’s image to the world. Walt (2006) explained that the leaders of America wanted to persuade other countries to embrace and accept their vision of a “liberal-capitalist world order”. In order to achieve this vision, Bi (2012) pointed out that one of the cornerstones to achieve this endeavor is by producing and showing of movies made by Hollywood. Hollywood can be an epitome of the American dream by serving its purpose of extolling the American way of life. Through Hollywood, America can promote their major industrial products as well as build a positive national image. Bi (2012) continued by stating that “Hollywood movies seek to build a national image characterized by freedom, equality, prosperity, and other positive aspects. Concepts such as “freedom” and “equality” are reinforced through storylines.” Its uniqueness is arguably because of its popularity and because of its dedication in portraying American culture. No other entertainment industry has taken over the world quite like Hollywood has and still is.
Because of the economic and technological superiority of America, Hollywood – as an American cultural artifact, has dominated the world. This phenomenon can be identified as cultural imperialism. The nature of cultural imperialism lies in the nature of culture itself. Taylor (2004) explains that “culture is learned, acquired, experienced, and transformed from one place to another through various ways.” The ways in which Hollywood communicates itself to the world play an important role in the transitions of culture. Cultural imperialism works through the conquest and control of one country by a more powerful one. Through this, the culture of the more powerful country is assimilated by the country it dominates.
Through the wide popularity of Hollywood, countries which buy into its ideals learn to integrate the American culture in their own. For example, advertising has made American businesses, like Mcdonald’s and Coca-Cola, popular to the rest of the world because of its relations with Hollywood. American fashion and lifestyle is also purchased and imitated by the entire world. Hollywood also sells the “American dream” to the world through its films about family life in America, the booming economic status of America, and the values of Americans, which in turn led to the massive immigration of different people coming from different nations.
Hollywood also has influences with the film industries of other countries. Hollywood directly influences the name of India’s film industry “Bollywood” which hails from the city of Bombay as well as Nigeria’s “Nollywood”. Both film industries share the same characteristic of Hollywood with its eagerness to represent each of their culture. Although both countries have strong ties with their culture, Bollywood and Nollywood both try to include Western ideas in their films such as love scenes and sex scenes which is a deviation to Indian and Nigerian culture (Maisuwong, 2012).
Social Learning Theory
American lifestyle and language is also acquired by people who subscribe to Hollywood via the social-learning theory. The social-learning theory points out that individual can learn behavior through imitating and modeling the behavior of television characters which they have observed (Bandura and Walters, 1980). The more relatable the character is and the more realistic the context is, the more the observer will likely follow the behavior they see. Popular slangs, new diet trends, or social media websites like Twitter, Instagram, and Tinder are used by more and more people across the globe because Hollywood celebrities and television shows talk about them and use them. Hollywood movies are also being translated and adapted to different language to make it easier for the people around the world to understand the films.
There is no limit to the extent of influence America has on the world politically, economically, and socially. Hollywood is one of America’s greatest tools in selling itself to other countries. The question is not how America conquers the world via Hollywood but what this conquest does to Americans and to the world it influences.
Bandura A. and Walters J. (1980). Adolescent and aggressive behavior. New York: Webber and Row
Bi, Y (2012) “For Hollywood, The Medium is the Message.” China Daily, February 28.www.china.org.cn
Cowen, T (2008) “Why Hollywood Rules The World and Whether We Should Care.” In Minerva’s Owl Sources of Creative Global Culture. www.culturalpolicy.uchicago.edu/papers/workingpapers/cowen.html
Ibbi, A.A. (2013) “Hollywood, The American Image and The Global Film Industry”. Cinej Cinema Journal. 3 (1), 94-106
Maisuwong, W. (2012) “Promotion of American Culture Through Hollywood Movies To The World.” International Journal of Engineering Research and Technology. Vol11 Issue 4
Walt, S.M. (2006) Taming American Power. New York: W W Norton