Hollywood is dying and that is a good thing, writer and producer Rob Long said in a lecture Tuesday.
Whether Americans were seeking art, entertainment or simply an escape, they have been flocking to theatres for nearly a century, Hollywood has long profited from people’s innate desire to go to the movies, Long said.
“Everyone went,” he said. “It didn’t really matter who you were, you had these movies in common. And that was a fantastic business.”
However, he said all that is changing now. Social media and modern technology have altered our day-to-day interactions as well as dramatically revolutionized storytelling, according to Long.
“Hollywood moved from a place to a screen, and that’s what killed it,” Long said. “And that is both scary and also gratifying if you believe in freedom, if you believe in diversity of voices.”
Due to our newfound ability to control what we watch and how we watch it, we are now liberated from Hollywood executives who control television programs and movie screenings, Long said.
He called Hollywood no longer a place but a “state of mind.”
“This is a TV screen, and it’s a movie screen, and it’s a way to get the news,” he said, holding up a smartphone for the audience to see. “This thing is also a TV studio and a movie studio and a way to create content.”
Long explained that Hollywood originally began as a housing development known as “Hollywood Land” and said the infamous Hollywood sign is actually a “ruin,” which can be viewed as a metaphor for Hollywood itself.
After losing its stamina in the aftermath of World War II, Hollywood bounced back from its post-suburbanization drought by moving movie theatres into the suburbs, according to Long.
“The moral of the story — which Hollywood kind of got and kind of didn’t — was that if you move the screen closer to the audience, the audience will watch the screen,” he said. “What nobody expected was that the screen would end up in your pocket.”
Long emphasized the continued importance of storytelling, saying that all people are all capable of being storytellers in the wake of Hollywood’s demise.
“Stories are the most important thing ever, and the storytellers now are not in Hollywood,” he said. “You’ve got all the tools. You have no excuse — you’re doing it anyway. What story are you going to tell?”