Hollywood Hates Capitalism

According to complementary Reuters articles today, Hollywood appears to have a new foe: capitalism. One article is about Oliver Stone's new film, which portrays socialist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as a "champion of the poor" who is "unfairly demonized by the U.S. media." Another article reports on Michael Moore's latest "documentary," where he concludes that "Capitalism is an evil, and you cannot regulate evil." Both films premiered at the Venice film festival this weekend. Sadly, I was not there, so I have seen neither film. But Reuters provides some interesting information about their contents.

The first article focuses on Stone's complaint that U.S. distributors are showing little interest in his film "South Of The Border." That's probably not surprising, considering the U.S. is not on very good terms with Chavez. Stone says that one of the central investigations of his film involves South American nations attempting to keep the U.S. at arms length. Reuters quotes him as explaining:

"This is a bigger issue than Mr. Chavez and South America," said Stone. "Not only is there a revolution there, but there is this issue in America of constantly seeking out enemies, whether they be in Vietnam, whether they be in Iraq ... or whether they be in Iran.

"Venezuela was on the hit list, no question. Why do we make enemies? Is it to maintain our own military? Is it to justify the creation of the American superstate? Why?"

Reuters says that Stone delivers "a strong endorsement of Chavez's socialist agenda."

It seems that Michael Moore would agree. His film, "Capitalism: A Love Story," takes a different route in endorsing socialism -- by attempting to tear down U.S. capitalism. His film responds to the financial crisis by portraying Wall Street and banks as gamblers whose negligence almost destroyed the nation. He also criticizes Washington's closeness to big business.

Moore sees democracy as the solution. Reuters explains:

Amid the gloom, Moore detects the beginnings of a popular movement against unbridled capitalism, and believes President Barack Obama's rise to power may bolster it.

"Democracy is not a spectator sport, it's a participatory event," he told a news conference. "If we don't participate in it, it ceases to be a democracy. So Obama will rise or fall based not so much on what he does but on what we do to support him."

Because I can't stand it when people review movies they haven't seen, I don't intend to do so here -- even though I'm extremely tempted to do so.

Instead, I'll just say that I highly doubt that either movie will do particularly well at the box office, though Moore's film may spark some interest due to the economic events that it considers. I think much of the public's wary response to Washington's efforts at healthcare reform shows that Americans are still generally pretty nervous about the government being too involved in their lives. So the thought of trading in free-market capitalism for government-run socialism probably won't appeal to most Americans at this time.

I will also note that no one going to see these films should expect a thorough examination of the economic merits of capitalism versus socialism. Neither of these directors, to my knowledge, have much experience in economics or finance. As a result, I doubt either is a particularly rigorous film, but probably more based on opinion and anecdotal observation.

If I do happen to get a hold of a copy of either, however, I'll be sure to post my full thoughts. Until then, if anyone reading this was lucky enough to see either film at Venice, please let us know what you thought in the comments.