What do we fight for if there is no-one to fight against?
Art is dead.
That statement may be a little bit exaggerated, but art is certainly not what it was. But what is different? What is the difference between Kim Kardashian’s Selfish (2014) and Pablo Picasso’s Guernica (1937)? What is the difference between John Kahrs’ Paperman (2012) and Jan Švankmajer’s Leonardův deník (Leonardo’s Diary, 1972)? Between Lars von Trier’s Melancholia (2011) and Idioterne (Idiots, 1998)?
You may say I am exaggerating again (and I am), but there is a difference. Art used to be a rebellion. Art used to shock, to confront, to provoke, to fight. I am not saying that there are no artists out there today, because there are, but the public does not care (about their messages).
Will Hollywood eventually follow Rome’s downfall?
The parallels between the Roman and the Hollywood Empire are, once you look for them, very obvious. When the American film started in the early 20th century, traveling tents showing a limited range of movies were rapidly replaced by dedicated movie houses with an ever changing portfolio. The human capitalist realized there was big money hidden that just needed to be harvested. While across the pond, the European lacerated each other during World War 1 (and not short thereafter: World War 2), business flourished in California. It took a mere three centuries until in 1950 Hollywood was split into the big Populus and the small, ruling Senat (nowadays known as the Majors): 70% of all box office was owned by the Big Five; another 25% by the Little Three. In 1938, 19 of the 25 highest salaries in America were paid in the film industry.
There was a lot of money and it got used to produce even more (e.g. Ben-Hur, Quo Vadis or Gone with the Wind).