The Not-so-Golden Age of Hollywood (Part I)

The line at the grocery store is long, and you find your feet tapping as you wait for the man in front of you to finish fumbling with his credit card. Your eyes stray to the magazines scattered along the sides. They state celebrity gossip in large, obnoxious letters, made colorful to draw attention. Even though you roll your eyes, you can’t help but focus on the image of the girl on the cover of Vogue, who has perfect alabaster skin and the longest, shiniest hair you have ever seen.

She looks perfect. The truth is that she’s probably not. Most likely, the editors of the magazines have edited the color of her skin, the proportions of her body, and the shininess of her hair in order to make her look this beautiful. Somewhere on that skin, there are as many freckles and bruises as you have. And it’s not like her hourglass waist is real- photoshoppers can edit that as well. The result, whether the images are real or not, is the same.

Girls and women look at these magazines and see beauty that they know they can never attain. Beauty that, as it turns out, is not even real.

This fallacy has resulted in a plethora of issues for women, such an anorexia, bulimia, and depression. Although most actors know that they are allowing a false image of perfection to be projected into the eyes of every little girl and boy, they do not understand the extent of what they are doing to people. Girls who are too heavy or too skinny are not considered to have beautiful bodies. Girls with freckles try to cover them up. Girls with hair that is frizzy or bushy or wavy try any method at all to make it curly or straight, sometimes waking up early in the morning in order to spend more time on their hair.

Appearance is not the only negative effect that Hollywood has had on social consciousness. It also does a number on personality. Most girls are attracted to the Hollywood stereotype of a leading man. They want Noah from The Notebook, or Jack Dawson from Titanic, or Flynn Rider from Tangled. However, not all guys fall into that category.

“Of course Hollywood portrays unrealistic standards of men,” says Timmy Boyd, a junior at Pentucket. “It does so as well with women and just about any other things you can think of because films aren’t real.” The media rarely presents the male lead as anything but strong and masculine. He has to be someone who is easy to fall in love with, which is almost never the genuine case in real life. Rarely do movies show a girl falling for a guy who is on the shorter side, or is nerdier than the average, or who is unattractive in the conventional way, and vice versa.

Celebrities don’t seem to realize that their industry and their actions encourage bad behavior. In the 80’s, all teen actors smoked in movies, so everybody in high school did as well.

“I used to think smoking was cool, and then my grandmother got lung cancer and ruined it,” laughs Sara Maloney, a senior at PentucketRegionalHigh School. It’s doubtful that celebrities will be as easy to photoshop onto magazine covers when they’re dying of lung cancer or bronchitis, but that’s an afterthought, and one that most people in society do not have until it is too late.

At the 2014 Oscars, no women were nominated in any of the technical categories, such as director, cinematography, visual effects. As a matter of fact, only four women have ever been nominated for best director, and only one of them has ever won: Kathryn Bigelow for her work on the 2009 drama The Hurt Locker. This shows that the Academy is sexist, causing this thought to seep into the minds of American people. Little girls dreaming of growing up and being proficient in technical categories have very few women to look up to, as Hollywood does not accept women in authoritative positions such as director or producer, generally.

Hollywood also has a record for slut-shaming female celebrities. When Taylor Swift writes songs about her ex-boyfriends, she is called horrible names and is judged profoundly but people don’t realize that entire albums are about the same man, or that some songs are just made up. When the Rihanna and Chris Brown debacle occurred a few years ago, people judged her for getting back together with him and did not actually talk as much about Chris’ violence and why children should learn that this isn’t acceptable behavior.

The biggest case in modern society is that of Miley Cyrus, who is slut-shamed for everything that she does. In an interview with Barbara Walters, Cyrus said, “I don’t always want to be naked. Once I came out on stage, and I came out in a full Marc Jacobs dress, completely covered, and they wrote Miley is boring. No matter what I do, I’m either boring or a slut.”

Recently, it has become difficult to name celebrities without any scandals, especially those of the Disney Channel variety. Justin Bieber went to jail, Miley Cyrus’ integrity fell to the wrecking ball, and both Dylan Sprouse and Jennette McCurdy, staples from Disney Channel and Nickelodeon, respectively, have had compromising photos of themselves released after they were sent to an untrustworthy person. Not to mention the countless reality shows on television that display irresponsible use of wealth and immaturity from people that have an exorbitant amount of money that they could be using for good, showing the younger (and older) generations complete irresponsibility when it comes to spending.

Hollywood, however, is not all bad. Celebrities, writers, and directors are starting to realize that they have the power to change the way society thinks. With that in mind, pros are beginning to come to light regarding the influence of society. Coming soon, part II of this article will explore the positive nature of Hollywood and how it can affect society.