The world’s problems cannot be simplified to the terms of showbiz, but now and then its insights may help:Take the war that we’ve been engaged in for the past year; it has a serious third-act problem. There is no terrorist nation that will simply surrender. There will be no tickertape parades down Fifth Avenue. In all likelihood, this will be a struggle without end. There will nonetheless be a heavy toll. Deficits will soar. There will be incursions on civil liberties. Further acts of terror will be endured. What will this mean in terms of the entertainment community? Pop culture is still our nation’s leading export. It is incumbent on its decision makers to convey not just the turmoil of our nation, but also its ideals. Our movies and TV shows cannot be tailored to propaganda needs, but they can nonetheless be balanced to reflect the positive qualities of our people. It’s been widely noted that our pop culture has not really changed since 9/11. That is both good and bad. But there has been a growing tension between the creative community and the corporate hierarchs. Many writers and filmmakers are pushing harder for the chance to create more substantive projects, along with standard commerce. Their voices must be heard. Over the past year the studios have grown fond of talking about their franchises, but let’s consider the biggest franchise: Freedom. Somewhere in the mix of product placement, there must be a place for the ultimate product — democracy. If our message to the world can be enhanced, that would in itself provide the missing third act.
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