Mega Trump vs Giant Film Industry

Following President Trump’s election, and the uproar at various awards shows, Elizabeth Steele examines the effect he will have on Hollywood in the long term.

13th February 2017

It is safe to say that the latter half of 2016 really was a whirlwind. Particularly, the victory of Donald Trump in the Presidential Election was a shock felt around the world, and his first weeks in office have barely given us time to catch our breath between outrageous executive orders.

With protests and demonstrations against Trump being held across the United States and the world, one of the most outspoken groups has been the celebrities of Hollywood. Countless celebrities, male and female, participated in the Women’s March. Stars have been ripping into him and his policies on red carpets across Los Angeles. Most memorable of all was Meryl Streep’s scathing condemnation of Trump, his bullying and his ableism, at the Golden Globe awards. Her impassioned speech went viral and sparked both praise and backlash.

“The bias of the powerful and rich mean any film criticising the Trump administration could be dead in the water”

By what measure can actors judge the President, many ask. But why shouldn’t they judge him? No man is above criticism, especially the President. It wasn’t so long ago that Trump was a celebrity and cog in the entertainment industry himself. Prior to his presidential campaign, many knew him as the host of The Apprentice, and in 2006, he himself was up on stage performing at the Emmy awards.

It’s easy to forget that Donald Trump and his cultivated celebrity status is a product of Hollywood, and perhaps that is why celebrities are so loudly condemning him.

It would be interesting to see Hollywood put its money where its mouth is over the next four years. We could be seeing a slew of protest cinema: radical political films criticizing Trump’s actions and dystopian films depicting what the future would be like with Trump wielding nuclear codes. There could be historical films, reminding the public of similar circumstances in the past that have ended catastrophically. Some projects in the pipeline could be the beginning of a wave: Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is released this year, and will surely raise hypothetical questions given the current political climate. We also have two new Star Wars films to anticipate under President Trump, the newest in an entire series about fighting for what is right against diabolical leaders.

However, I fear Hollywood will not deliver. The film industry is as political as any election. While actors, writers and directors rail against the new President, the companies who crucially fund their projects do not want to alienate voters in middle-America who elected Trump. Broadcasters might not want to air or distribute such films for the same reason. Many film company executives support Trump, such as the CEO of Disney, who was named to Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum. The bias of the powerful and rich mean any film criticising the Trump administration could be dead in the water. They might encourage projects depicting America in a golden, ideal light instead. These films might not get any star power; however, if protest films aren’t funded, even actors with the staunchest of ideals might have to buckle, or be struggling to find work.

Hollywood stands at a crossroads at the beginning of 2017, divided between executives and creators. I would sincerely like to see the film industry hold Trump to account however it can; however, I also backed Hillary to win, and we all saw how that went.

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