Hollywood loves nothing more than Hollywood. Like a doe-eyed child staring at itself in the mirror, Hollywood is obsessed with anything that glamorizes itself.
It’s a gross masturbation, a constant insider celebration of what the insiders do. This is never not more pronounced than awards season where lay people willingly stop what they are doing to hear people in such extreme circumstances of wealth and beauty prattle on about how important their work about themselves is. It’s madness that they’ve gotten so much power, respect, etc. for literally canonizing the act of canonizing themselves.
Granted, I used to fawn over the industry. It’s easy to fall under the spell. I used to lay lie awake at night hoping to be baptized into the culture, sucked into this bizarre, vain universe. However, after approaching the borders of Hollywood—and literally living in Hollywood for nearly a decade—you see that it’s all a locked gaze at itself. It’s self-pleasure. It’s that story about Marilyn Manson sucking himself off brought to life. It’s the most important thing in the world until you actually look around at the world itself.
This is all to say that the Hollywood—Movies, in particular.—is in love with work about Hollywood. This is nothing new nor is it surprising. As Oscar nominations close today and nearly a week after La La Land—A throwback golden age musical about making it in Hollywood today as a white person.—swept the Golden Globes, let’s examine all the times a Hollywood film about Hollywood, media, etc. won the top Oscar honors. Hollywood loves itself. Here’s proof.
In the past twenty years, half of the films that have won Best Picture were about Hollywood in some way. They were about performance, about the city of Los Angeles, or about media in general. Yes, there have always been self-glamorizing features like Hamlet in 1948, The Greatest Show On Earth in 1952, The Sound Of Music in 1965, Rocky in 1976, etc. but things have gotten more and more pronounced as Hollywood has been able to give unto itself via rewarding people born into and around the industry. While every entry may not seem directly about Hollywood on the surface, believe me: they are. Thus, gross yourself out with Hollywood self-pleasure by raking the fruits of self-congratulation.
A movie about Boston Globe writers uncovering a molestation cover-up. This is a more complicated entry as the film glorifies the work of media’s frontliners: journalists.
The most disgustingly masturbatory in recent years, this is a film about an actor finding himself back in acting. Are you fucking kidding me?
2011: The Artist
Get this twist: it’s a silent movie about…the golden age of Hollywood! Made in 2011! No one is talking about this movie five years later, proof of how much of a pat on the back it was. Jean Dujardin is nowhere to be found and Uggie is dead.
2010: The King’s Speech
Like The Artist, this was a movie set in media’s past about proto-Hollywood (Radio.) set in a far away land (London.). How inventive is this?
2008: Slumdog Millionaire
A boy wins a television show contest. Also in India. Proto-La La Land with a few twists (Bollywood).
A movie about cars, set in Hollywood, featuring characters based on Hollywood industry types. Literally so close to home, you might as well throw yourself on the 101 for the sequel.
2004: Million Dollar Baby
A rags-to-riches story about sports-as-entertainment success that climaxes with a dramatic Hollywood conclusion of fame and fortune (featuring a paraplegic Hillary Swank, a deliciously disgusting Margo Martindale, and—Ugh.—Clint Eastwood).
Hollywood…but in a Midwestern city. And about Jazz.
I’m hesitant to include this one but I am: a movie about a soldier seeking revenge by doing brutal fight performances for a crowd, thus heightening Hollywood’s ability to reframe itself via tangential presentations of performance, this time being a film about a man who must perform or die.