Hollywood, Corporations, and the Entertainment Industry

As a product of the Ronald Reagan era, I grew up with all sorts of entertainment. Whether it be the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Major League Baseball, Comic Books, Transformers, or even Bravestar (do you remember that?), I always found some type of hobby or interest along those lines. The Masters of the Universe movie with Dolph Lundgren absolutely fascinated me (that may seem silly to you, but that was a breakout role for Courteney Cox!).

Now, all these things from my childhood are being re-marketed to the same target audience. Superhero movies are extremely popular and they will only increase from here. Cartoons like Transformers are being re-invisioned with live action films. And quite frankly, I love it. Excuse the cliche’, but it makes me feel like a kid again.

But with this new wave of old entertainment, corporations are finding out that there’s more money to be made.

As a typical Republican pro-economy conservative, that really shouldn’t bother me, right? After all, I feel that companies have the right to make money by any ethical means possible. However, in some ways, I think that big business has gone too far.

For instance, if you’ve seen the new Fantastic Four movie (which I loved), you’ll notice that their cruiser had a Dodge symbol on it. Mr. Fantastic even talks about it having a Hemi engine. I’m sure that Dodge/Chrysler paid a pretty penny for that little tidbit one way or another, but at the same time, I felt like it slightly cheapened the movie.

Also, if you’ve seen the Transformers movie, you’ll notice that virtually all the vehicles are made by General Motors. Luckily they don’t talk about it, at least from what I remember. But there are definitely scenes in the movie that look like there should be a narrator saying “the all new line of Chevy, coming in 2008.”

Unfortunately, it doesn’t end with movies. Corporations have a stranglehold on the sports industry too. Everything is sponsored by somebody. I wonder what baseball legends like Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, or even Ty Cobb would have thought of that kind of advertising. “Babe’s looking a little tired on the mound, maybe he should just stick to batting, uh oh, here comes the Hershey’s call to bullpen.”

At what point will it end? “Here we go, it’s the bottom of the ninth and it looks like Alex Rodriguez is going to make the Viagra trip to the urinal.” I’m also wondering how far into the future it will be before the 7th inning stretch of every World Series game has a live concert in it. Sponsored by someone, of course.

Obviously, there’s money to be made no matter which part of the entertainment industry you choose. And there really isn’t anything inherently wrong with that. But how far will it go? Where does the sponsoring and shameless plugging end?

It’s not like companies such as Pepsi, GMC, Chrysler, or Shell aren’t already household names. Of course, I understand that getting your name out there, even if you’re wildly popular, still helps in ingraining your company in the mind of your audience. But what happened to legitimately attemping to persuade the consumer into believing that you have a superior product? Instead, these corporations have traded the offer of a premium product for the mindless name recognition associated with a “call to the bullpen,” or a passing comment in a popular movie.

It’s not that I oppose a corporation’s right to market their product or service in every way possible. I just wish they would seek a better route than thoroughly infiltrating the movies and pastimes we love. But that’s just my take on the matter.

6 Responses to Hollywood, Corporations, and the Entertainment Industry

  1. rooktopia says:

    The only scene in the Transformers that struck me as overt GM promotion was when Bumblebee turnied into a 2009 Camaro. Other then that, I don’t think there was too much of a tie-in; I’m guessing most people still don’t know Hummer is a GM vehicle. (The hero, Optimus, isn’t a GM vehicle. If you think that, yes, that was inevitable, given that the original was a big-rig, there have been toy versions of Optimus that transformed into a Dodge Ram. I think, if GM wanted to take it really far, it would have been Optimus that transformed into a GMC Topkick.) Frankly, out of alll the auto companies, I thought GM was the ideal sponsor since they have the largest product line.

  2. I hate to disagree with you Braden (no I don’t), but in a world where alll the entertainment executives(butt monkeys) are doing is rehashing old ideas(friggin reruns at the theatre) I find it refreshing(aren’t you glad you used Sure) that at least the built in commercials(built ford tough) are at least apparent and above board.

    parenteses denote subliminal messaging

  3. jens says:

    I think you are finally beginning to see the limits of capitalism, grasshopper…

    At least unfettered capitalism with a populace that is, by and large, dumb as posts and more than willing to gobble up this refried intertainment, commercials and all. What happened to creative storytelling? I haven’t seen a truely new plot since they realized that they could rehash every movie in history just prior to the threatened actors strike back in the 90’s.

    Do you think that there is a moral line that companies should not cross in advertizing? Should advertizing be simply an argument for buying a product or simply a time to blast our brains with images and slogans with the dual hope of making us vapid couch potatoes and rabid consumers? I rarely see, at least for non-soap products, any argument for the superiority of the product in advertizements. It’s all just brazenly hoping for name recognition. Uck!

    There is a reason I don’t own a TV. I’d sit and watch it constantly and end up a slathering moron. I have been known to be rendered immobile and uncommunicative when exposed to the orgy of television known as the modern sports bar/grill. I’m afraid I am the exact target market the advertizers are looking for. I’m fighting for all I’m worth. (Mostly because I don’t make enough to buy what I would buy if they were able to get in my head)

  4. Braden says:

    Well I don’t see a profound moral dilemma in capitalism. At least not in this particular area. Of course, I think there is a moral line that can be crossed in the offensiveness of commercials, but that’s not necessarily a capitalism issue.

    The post was a social commentary more than it was a definitive argument against corporate advertising in the entertainment industry. It’s not that I don’t think that these corporations don’t have the right to do what they’re doing or even that I have a moral problem with it. But I do think it’s silly, tasteless, annoying and lame.

    If I were an advertising executive for any of these corporations, I’d find an alternative
    to this kind of thing. Even if the movies team up with corporations to promote their individual causes, they don’t have to sacrifice the quality of the movie in order to do so. That’s the only issue I see.

  5. jens says:

    I don’t see a problem with capitalism either, until it goes to it’s natural extreme. Advertizing has been there for a while I think. There really isn’t anything to be done about it. Capitalism is the best we have. But I think it illustrates the point that capitalism doesn’t have a conscience.

    Capitalism is about money and amassing as much of it as possible. Because of that it always moves to the common denominator. In the case of a population that by and large isn’t willing to question much and is willing to be spoonfed you get vapid movies and TV programs with eggregious product tie-ins. It’s the cheapest solution that fits the broadest demographic.

    I hear people say that capitalism will help people, but it isn’t capitalism that does it. Capitalism means going were the money is or where the raw materials and labor are cheap. It means some people get left out or left at the bottom, no matter how much wealth is generated. It’s people who question, people with some compassion, and some ammount of creativity, that help to level the playing field and distribute some of that wealth. Unfotunately Hollywood is not currently awash in people like that, they are more interested in money right now.

  6. Acting Tips says:

    Acting Tips

    Interesting article, Thanks for sharing.

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