DISCLAIMER: This is an article written for POI UK. Due to it’s relevance to American politics, it was re-uploaded to POI US. Therefore, the perspectives are British and from British parties, not American like other POI US articles.
Disney’s growing monopoly could kill Hollywood – Liberal Article
In 1948, the Supreme court ruled that Paramount studios, along with seven other major Hollywood studios, had broken antitrust laws. Hollywood was turning into a monopoly, and the government rightly intervened.
The Supreme Court decision’s ramifications echo through time to today. Although it is complex and debated about its effectiveness, is it time for Disney to once again face the Supreme Court?
‘Disney [have] acquired Lucasfilm, Marvel, Pixar, BAMTech, and 21st Century Fox’ in the 21st century alone. Some of the biggest studios in the world are being brought under one banner, which will slowly kill any competition in Hollywood. It has rightly received the nickname ‘Imperial Disney’.
With the release of Disney+, we are seeing, almost like Netflix, everything from creation to distribution just like in 1948. We will see Disney (and Netflix for TV streaming) pick and choose what is watched, what is enjoyed, and what they want to make.
This lack of competition will lead to a lack of creativity. Don’t believe me? Look at the number of reboots and remakes mainly from Disney. They have simply remade their old movies, most of which have been very successful purely due to this exact problem.
I think even gender-swapping (remaking films with women in the lead) is a problem. Having diversity in films retrospective ‘universe’ is fantastic, but it doesn’t create a platform for new, inspirational female-led films. It’s not that having James Bond as a woman is bad, but I feel it would mean so much more to have new films such as Atomic Blonde (another fantastic indie film) lead the way for diversity!
Wonder Women, Lady Bird, Moonlight are fantastic films led with diversity, but we need more, something Disney’s dominance simply will not do.
However, there is hope. A24 has really carried the indie Hollywood during the 2010s. The production company was behind Moonlight, Lady Bird, Hereditary, Spring Breakers (the list is truly endless). However, it is arguably one company leading this. Even DC’s small attempt to bring diversity is being undermined by recent revelations about director Joss Wheden. I can even give Netflix some credit for being a big sponsor of A24.
Sadly, it seems to be one company that is carrying Indie Hollywood. How long until this changes? The best indie films no longer come from Hollywood. South Korea is a growing hotbed for quality films at the moment, with French films not far behind. Hollywood could soon see it’s top stop beaten by foreign production companies and disappear like Italian cinema.
So what solution is needed? Break up Disney or simply stop the continuing monopoly. Not only to help increase creativity but also to help diversity in Hollywood grow.
Written by Liberal Writer, Max Anderson
Point of Information
Hollywood is the problem, Disney is just a symptom – A Conservative Response
I agree with the main point of the article. Disney’s growing portfolio is a point of concern, not to mention the various theme parks and merchandise it has. However, aspects of the industry are criticised that have little to do with monopoly, and it ignores that most films are unoriginal. To me, the article is more concerned about Hollywood as a whole and would have been better served if it had focused on that.
The point about gender-swapping is confusing. While a good point is made about how simply gender or ethnicity swapping a lead shouldn’t be the way forward to increasing diversity, the example cited is James Bond. But Disney does not own Bond. Lack of original diversity is not a Disney specific problem, nor a problem caused by having a monopoly. It is a problem rooted in the fact that big names such as Bond sell, and that Hollywood likes to take as little risk as possible. Which, given that films cost millions of dollars to make, is understandable to an extent.
That leads me to the point of creativity. It is not Disney specific problem but the industry as a whole. To go back to the example of James Bond, No Time To Die will be the 25th Bond film. Warner Bros revived the Harry Potter series with the new Fantastic Beasts spin-off and Sony revived Ghostbusters with an all-female cast (linking with the point about diversity), and is planning with a 2021 film as a direct sequel to the originals. And not to mention the number of films that are based on existing media, be it a book, comic, videogame, etc. Having a monopoly does decrease creativity but in an industry rife with reboots, remakes, sequels, prequels, and spin-offs this is a small issue.
A point is made about whether Disney+ and other streaming services are similar to the situation in the 1940s. I would argue that it is not. Streaming services and theatres are not the same because of a different distribution model.
Theatres are limited to how long a film can be shown for, and how many people can see it. Streaming does not have these concerns. If you separate them from the production of the film, many streaming sites will fail. This will lead to some films or TV shows not being made at all. Older TV shows and films will be lost. Streaming services are more similar to TV channels making their own programming, and few people have a problem with that.
Targeting Disney for distributing their content on Disney+ will target every streaming service doing the same thing, such as Crunchyroll. Streaming is fundamentally different from theatres.
Written by Conservative Writer, Kieran Burt
Actually, unregulated capitalism is the problem, Disney is just a symptom – A Labour Response
I do mainly agree with the article. I think gender-swapping is one of the few things universally hated. It’s just lazy writing and ultimately ends up being performative activism; giving the appearance of progress whilst not having to change anything within the industry. All it actually achieves is pissing off fans and misogynists alike.
I would question Max’s insinuation that breaking up Disney would allow for an automatic increase in diversity and representation. These issues are indicative of Hollywood. What is to stop some other film production company simply taking its place as conglomerate once Disney is gone? This surely proves that Hollywood has a monopoly on the film industry, as alluded to by Max’s admittance that even popular indie companies such as A24 originate in Hollywood.
Fundamentally, The Walt Disney Company is a capitalist’s wet dream. From its films to its streaming platform, its merchandise and commercial parks, it has moulded itself into a brand outside the film industry. It is simply an extremely successful business doing what it wants; a direct product of unregulated capitalism. Having a free market means accepting the inevitability of such monopolies.
Therefore, calling for greater government intervention is also a recognition of the flaws of unregulated capitalism. Consequently, I would push further by asking why stop at Disney, or even Hollywood? Shouldn’t we be interrogating all monopolies throughout every industry?
Antitrust cases, requiring government intervention, are few and far between and successful ones are rarely effective. It was only after the Cambridge Analytica scandal and a US Congress investigation that Facebook was forced to pay a record penalty of $5 billion for the mishandling of user data. Yet, in spite of all this, Facebook reigns as the market leader, raking in 56% of all social media site visits in February 2020 alone. As such, government intervention is too little, too late; it enables and perpetuates a climate ripe for monopolies.
Consequently, one cannot separate monopolies from unregulated capitalism. Stifled creativity and innovation in all industries, homogeneous thinking, threats to privacy and the mishandling of data are all unfortunate consequences of this.
Therefore, to complain about Disney’s monopoly is to complain about capitalism. No more to it.
Written by Labour Writer, Abi Smuts