L’imperialismo culturale di Hollywood

Molti lo temono, molti lo auspicano, tutti lo constatano: è l’imperialismo di Hollywood nel mondo del cinema.

Chi studia la globalizzazione delle culture fa giocoforza del cinema un caso privilegiato, i costi dell’opera e le poderose economie di scala mettono la settima arte sempre a rischio di monopolio…

… In no other cultural area is America’s export prowess so strong. Movies are very expensive to make, and in a given year there are far fewer films released than books, CDs, or paintings. These conditions appear to favor dominant producers at the expense of niche markets…

Ma anche a rischio “concentrazione”…

… Moviemaking also is prone to geographic clustering. Many cultural innovations and breakthroughs are spatially concentrated. If a good Italian Renaissance painter was not born in Florence, Venice, or Rome, he usually found it worthwhile to move to one of those locales…

Ecco allora che si crea un epicentro da cui si detta legge al mondo (del cinema): Hollywood. Un caso di “imperialismo culturale” che vede gli americani nelle vesti dei padroni e i poveri europei in quella degli sfruttati…

… European movies, in particular, have failed to penetrate global markets and also have lost ground at home…

Vediamo meglio quali sono stati i mali che hanno ucciso – o azzoppato – il cinema europeo. Bè, sono tanti…

… television, excess subsidies, demographics, language, the size of the American market, and Hollywood’s more entrepreneurial environment….

Gli USA, poi, hanno un vantaggio evidente: il vasto mercato interno

… The United States has at least one natural advantage in movie-making—it has the largest single home-market for cinema in dollar terms (although total attendance is higher in India)….

Ma non si tratta di un vantaggio decisivo, in fondo l’hanno sempre avuto, mentre le fette di mercato europee sono crollate solo in epoca relativamente recente…

… The United States, for instance, has been a large country for a long time, but only recently have European movies held such a low share of their home markets. In the mid-1960s, American films accounted for 35 percent of box office revenues in continental Europe; today the figure ranges between 80 to 90 percent…

Poi, a Hollywood ci si occupa solo di un certo tipo di cinema, non puo’ essere la causa di tutti i mali…

… Furthermore, only certain kinds of cinema cluster in Hollywood. In a typical year the Western European nations make more movies than America does. In numeric terms most of the world’s movies come from Asia, not from the United States… The Hollywood advantage is concentrated in one very particular kind of moviemaking: films that are entertaining, highly visible, and have broad global appeal…

Gli europei investono poco nei loro film poiché esportano poco. Ma perché, al contrario, Hollywood esporta tanto, al punto che la Francia ha deciso politiche protezionistiche?…

… As recently as 1985, French movies outgrossed the Hollywood product in their home market. Since that time, Hollywood’s ability to capture so much of French film revenue (often up to 80 percent) has come largely because French revenues have declined, not because Hollywood revenues have risen so much…

Gli anni ‘70 hanno segnato un punto di svolta…

… The turning point in this dynamic appears to have started in the 1970s. Before the 1970s, most national European cinemas still experienced a significant degree of export success, whatever problems the industry as a whole had…

Probabilmente, nella crisi del cinema europeo, la televisione ha giocato un ruolo preminente rispetto alla produzione a stelle e strisce. La cosa sè avvalorata dal timing…

… In Germany, 800 million movie tickets were bought in 1956, but only 180 million were bought in 1962. At the same time, the number of television sets rose from 700,000 to 7.2 million. In the U.K., cinematic attendance fell from 292 million in 1967 to 73 million in 1986. In France, movie attendance dropped from 450 million in 1956 to 122 million in 1988…

La crisi “da televisione” avrebbe fatto il vuoto e Hollywood ci si sarebbe infilata.

Hollywood sarebbe diventata più forte proprio quando l’Europa era più vulnerabile.

La crisi da TV aveva colto gli USA nel decennio precedente, ma Hollywood reagì alla grande rintuzzando l’attacco. Come?…

… Hollywood responded actively to this challenge. Starting as early as the 1950s, American moviemakers responded to television by making high-stakes, risky investments in marketing, glamour, and special effects. In the 1960s American directors found greater latitude to experiment with sex and violence; this trend was formalized with the abandonment of the Hays Code in 1966. By the 1970s, Hollywood movies had become significantly more exciting to mass audiences than they had been a decade before. Jaws and Star Wars were emblematic of this new era…

Anche la demografia contribuì ad affossare l’Europa. I vecchi non amano uscire la sera, nemmeno per andare al cine…

… In most countries, individuals older than thirty-five no longer go to movies in significant numbers, preferring instead to watch television. Moviegoing is the province of the young. Most European countries suffer twice here. First, they have older populations than does the United States. Second, the traditional “art house” styles of European film are better suited to old audiences than to young ones…

D’altronde, il modello di business era diverso: gli USA puntarono sul noleggio delle cassette, l’Europa sui diritti TV.  Ora, fare film per la TV rende il prodotto meno esportabile. La qualità degli effetti, per esempio, è scarsa visto che la TV non li valorizza…

… Glitzy special effects are rare. We find these same features in made-for-TV films in the United States. A few of these films are excellent (such as Steven Spielberg’s early Duel), but most are undistinguished and boring, despite the immense talent in Hollywood… The home video market, more prominent in the United States, is more competitive and demanding than television, and imposes greater discipline on the moviemaker…

Collegato al ruolo della TV è quello dei sussidi.

Le TV stesse, a cui spesso i cineasti vendono i loro film, sono possedute da governi, ovvero da soggetti poco inclini alle leggi del mercato. Clienti del genere sono più interessati a vincoli sui contenuti che a catturare pubblico…

… Typically the stations face domestic-content restrictions, must spend a certain percentage of revenue on domestic films, must operate a film production subsidiary, or they willfully overpay for films for political reasons. The end result is overpayment for broadcast rights—the most important subsidy that many European moviemakers receive. Audience levels are typically no more than one or two million at the television level, even in the larger countries such as France—too small to justify the sums paid to moviemakers for television rights on economic grounds….

Ma ci sono molte altre forme di sussidio, tutte parimenti perniciose…

… European films receive many other forms of subsidy. In France, for instance, direct subsidies are available from the national government, regional governments, European subsidy bodies (such as Eur-images) and coproduction subsidies through other national governments. Often French producers need only put up 15 percent of the budget of their films to receive subsidies. French producers also receive “Sofica” tax shelters (estimated worth of more than 5 percent of total budgets), automatic box office aid from the government (estimated at 7.7 percent of total budget), a discretionary subsidy called avance sur recettes, which takes the form of an interest-free loan (estimated at over 5 percent of total budget), and subsidies for the promotion of French films abroad…

Possiamo concludere che in Europa il 70% dei costi di un film viene sussidiato. Come si puo’ pretendere che un settore del genere esporti? Molti film vengono fatti per un pubblico ristretto, a volte ristretto ai colleghi del cineasta…

… Subsidies encourage producers to serve domestic demand and the wishes of politicians and cinematic bureaucrats, rather than produce movies for international export. Many films will be made, even when they have little chance of turning a profit in stand-alone terms…

La stessa formazione degli attori rispecchia questo stato di cose…

… The training of cinematic talent in the United States and Europe reflects these differences. American film schools are like business schools in many regards. European film schools have become more like humanities programs, emphasizing semiotics, critical theory, and contemporary left-wing philosophies…

Per far carriera in Europa le connessioni politiche contano almeno quanto il talento…

… The European directors that survive tend to be established and to have longstanding political connections…

Non è così ovunque: il cinema di Hong Kong è gestito su basi commerciali, ha avuto molto successo e oggi puo’ permettersi anche produzioni con un contenuto artistico elevato…

… The Hong Kong film industry has experienced export success from the 1970s onward, mostly throughout Southeast Asia. At its peak it released more films per year than any Western country, and as an exporter it was second only to the United States. Furthermore, Hong Kong cinema arose in a market that was dominated by Hollywood up through the late 1960s… At first Hong Kong movies focused on the martial arts, but they subsequently branched out to include police movies, romance, comedy, horror, and ghost stories, among other genres. The best of these movies, such as John Woo’s The Killer, or Hardboiled, are acclaimed as high art… David Bordwell, in his recent Planet Hong Kong, claimed, “Since the 1970s it has been arguably the world’s most energetic, imaginative popular cinema.” Hong Kong movies are made on a commercial basis and have received no government assistance…

Anche quello indiano

… By numerous measures, such as attendance or number of films released, the Indian movie industry is the largest and the most successful in the world. Indian movies are frequently criticized for their generic nature or sappy plots, but in terms of music, cinematography, and use of color, they are often quite beautiful and even pathbreaking compared to Western productions…

Difficile perorare la tesi dell’ “imperialismo culturale americano” quando solo l’ Europa vive un periodo di stanca…

… But by most common critical standards, cinematic creativity has risen in Taiwan, China, Iran, South Korea, the Philippines, Latin America, and many parts of Africa, among other locales. Even within Europe, the creative decline is restricted to a few of the larger nations, such as France and Italy. Danish cinema is more influential and more successful today than in times past, and arguably the same is true for Spanish cinema as well. Mexican and Argentinean film-makers are enjoying a resurgence…

***

Facciamo un po’ di storia e vediamo come il passaggio dal muto al sonoro cambiò le carte in tavola.

I costi fissi aumentarono e a soffrirne furono soprattutto le piccole produzioni

… At the time of the transition, equipping the theaters with sound and making movies with sound were costly. To recoup these costs, theaters sought out high-quality, high-expenditure productions for large audiences. The small, cheap, quick film became less profitable, given the suddenly higher fixed costs of production and presentation… More generally, the higher the fixed costs of production, the greater the importance of drawing a large audience and the greater the importance of demand forecasting and marketing. Today costly special effects and expensive celebrity stars drive the push for blockbusters in similar fashion, and favor Hollywood production as well…

Inoltre, l’inglese si impose come lingua franca, il che rendeva necessarie traduzioni, doppiaggi e sottotitoli. Il dominio europeo all’epoca del muto cominciò a sfumare, e così le sue esportazioni…

… The talkies, by introducing issues of translation, boosted the dominant world language of English and thus benefited Hollywood… During the silent era, in contrast, European films enjoyed an even footing in the export market, as language was not an issue… Dubbed or subtitled movies have a difficult time in the United States to this day, whereas most other audiences accept them with few complaints. In Germany, the individuals who dub the German-language voices of prominent American actors and actresses can become celebrities in their own right, if their manner of speech is sufficiently memorable…

Non a caso in questo periodo fiorì il cinema inglese

… The move to sound, and the rise of English as an export standard, provided a strong boost to the movie exports of Great Britain. While the U.K… James Bond movies… David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia or Bridge over River Kwai…

L’omogeneizzazione del linguaggio non è una caratteristica occidentale. Anche il mondo arabo ha mille dialetti, ma ad imporsi fu l’egiziano. Non parliamo poi della miriade di linguaggi parlati in India, si impose l’ hindi di Bombay…

… In essence, talkies made it easier for non-Hollywood producers to capture part of their home markets, but made it harder for them to export abroad…

Sta di fatto che l’esaltazione del linguaggio portò ad una certa localizzazione del prodotto: certe sfumature della lingua sono percepibili solo ai locali. In questa fase l’Europa non esporta ma consuma molti suoi prodotti.

Prendiamo il caso della Francia

… French film production doubled between 1928 to 1938, and French movies commanded over half of their domestic market throughout the 1930s… In comparison, in 1925, at the height of the silent era, American exports accounted for 70 percent of the French market…

Un’ altra novità del sonoro fu l’introduzione della colonna sonora.

Anche qui: il pubblico ama la musica della sua terra. Per esempio, all’epoca del muto gli USA andavano forte in India, poi il prodotto locale si impose.

Facciamo l’esempio del cinema argentino

… Music provided a similar protective role in Argentina, where hundreds of musical comedies were made in the early years of sound. The Argentinean Carlos Gardel, more of a tango singer than an actor, became the hottest Latin cinematic star of this era…

Ma perché gran parte del cinema si concentrò successivamente su Hollywood?

Facciamo un’analogia che fa comprendere meglio il fenomeno…

… There is more trade and mobility across the United States of America than across the disparate countries of Western Europe. This trade causes the economic profiles of the American states to diverge. In economic terms, the countries of Western Europe are more likely to resemble each other than are the American states. Most of the American states have no steel industry, no automobile industry, and no wheat industry…

Laddove la mobilità e il commercio sono facili, le concentrazioni si intensificano. In era di globalizzazione è normale che emergano centri come Hollywood.

Così come la concentrazione di noccioline si concentra in Georgia, la produzione di film si concentra ad Hollywood. Anche la Silicon Valley rappresenta un fenomeno simile.

… clustering eases the finding, lining up, and evaluating of the movie’s critical assets, such as stars, directors, and screenplays. These tasks are still done in Hollywood rather than in Vancouver or Sydney, regardless of where the movie is filmed…

Si noti che la realizzazione fisica dei film resta decentrata. Ad Hollywood si concentrano altre funzioni, soprattutto la valutazione sulla commerciabilità di un progetto…

… In Hollywood, studios scrutinize projects intensely and refuse to finance projects that do not have a good chance of commercial success… Hollywood is a cluster, in part, for the same reasons that New York and London are clustered banking centers. In both cases talents for large-scale project evaluation gravitate towards a single geographic area….When European directors want to make popular movies, they now go to Hollywood, as we have seen with Ridley Scott, Paul Verhoeven, Bernardo Bertolucci, and Jean-Jacques Annaud, among many others…

Eventi esterni possono far slittare la concentrazione da un luogo all’altro. Nel caso del cinema fu la I guerra mondiale a traslare il fulcro da Parigi a Hollywood.

Ma concentrazione non significa monopolio. I distributori, per esempio, non vedono una prevalenza di americani…

… Yet all the primary distributors in Europe are owned by European media groups and regulated by European governments. When the Cineplex Odeon movie theater chain in the United States was Canadian-owned, and for a while jointly Canadian- and British-owned, it made little difference on the screen…

Altri accusano Hollywood di dumping: si guadagna sul mercato locale per invadere poi le altre nazioni con il proprio prodotto sotto-costo.

L’accusa non sta in piedi poiché una politica del genere potrebbe giustificare i bassi prezzi del noleggio, ma il fatto che laddove si proiettano film americani i cinema siano pieni, significa che piacciono… Qui non ci sono politiche di prezzo: chi va a vedere un film hollywoodiano non paga meno, anzi…

… If the critics are correct that Hollywood’s fundamental advantage is on the cost side for film rentals, we should observe relatively empty theaters for American films in Europe…

Insomma, c’è una reale rispondenza al gusto dei consumatori, non una diffusione basata su trucchi commerciali.

Lo stesso, poi, dovrebbe valere per altri media, come mai non è così?…

… Similar points apply to many media industries, such as when Canadians claim that America dump television shows or magazines at very low cost, since the producers are already making a profit in the U.S. market. But again, we typically do not observe American products preferred for their cheapness, we observe them preferred for their superiority in entertaining the audience…

Se a volte i prezzi fatti all’Europa sono bassi questo è perché molte TV europee sono concentrate nelle mani dei governi che, in condizioni di monopsonio, strappano prezzi bassi. E’ il monopsonio dei governi, non il monopolio di H. ad abbassare certe tariffe…

… Hollywood TV programs or movie rights have been sold cheaply in Europe, it is because European TV stations have held a strong bargaining position (a “monopsony,” in economic language)…. Without monopsony, the price of movie rights would be bid up to reflect the potential popularity of the movie…

Da notare che gli USA hanno molti più problemi ad esportare la loro televisione, nonostante che la produzione televisiva sia ingente…

… Note that America has had much less success in exporting its television programs than its movies, despite having the largest domestic television market in the world… Dallas was a failure in Brazil and Japan….

Come mai con la TV il dumping dovrebbe miracolosamente sparire? Forse non è il fattore essenziale per spiegare certi fenomeni.

C’è chi accusa Hollywood di esportare la cultura americana, e c’è poi chi l’accusa di creare una cultura artificiale e omologata. Due accuse in contraddizione tra loro…

… Some are unhappy with the global spread of the American ethos of commercialism and individualism. Other complaints focus on the strong global-market position of a relatively universal cultural product, rather than local products based on national or particularist inspirations…

Il fatto è che H. è cosmopolita, non sembra molto interessata alla cultura americana…

… Many of the leading Hollywood directors are non-Americans by birth, including Ridley Scott (British) and James Cameron (Canadian), who were among the hottest Hollywood directors circa 2001. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Charlie Chaplin, and Jim Carrey have been among the leading non-American U.S. stars. Most of the major studios are now foreign owned. A typical production will have Sony, a Japanese company…

I film di grande successo sono anche generici. Sono film di azione, evitano i dialoghi sottili. Si ricercano delle formule universali in grado di penetrare tutte le culture. Anche i film non americani di grande successo ci appaiono così…

… Non-American movies, when they pursue foreign markets, must strive for universality as well. The Jackie Chan Hong Kong movie Rumble in the Bronx was marketed in the United States with success… The most successful Canadian cultural export is the Harlequin romance novel… The Harlequin romance does not reflect a specifically Canadian perspective, whatever that designation might mean, but rather targets a broad circle of female readers…

I cosiddetti valori americani sono l’eroismo, l’individualismo e la romantica realizzazione di sé. Non sono poi così “americani” come si pensa. Il loro adattamento è abbastanza facile.

Un parallelo potrebbe essere fatto con il cibo che gli americani esportano (es. McDonald)

… Consider food markets. Many Third World citizens like to eat at McDonald’s, not just because the food tastes good to them, but also because McDonald’s is a visible symbol of the West and the United States. When they walk through the doors of a McDonald’s, they are entering a different world. The McDonald’s corporation, knowing this, designs its Third World interiors to reflect the glamour of Western commerce, much as a shopping mall would. McDonald’s shapes its product to meet global demands, but builds on the American roots of the core concept…

Il prodotto finale è qualcosa di sintetico, non “americano doc”…

… American cinema, like American cuisine, has been a synthetic, polyglot product from the beginning. Hollywood was developed largely by foreigners—Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe—and was geared towards entertaining American urban audiences, which were drawn from around the world… Hollywood’s global-market position is a Faustian bargain. Achieving global dominance requires a sacrifice of a culture’s initial perspective to the demands of world consumers. American culture is being exported, but for the most part it is not Amish quilts and Herman Melville…

Quando i riferimenti alla cultura americana sono più espliciti, il mercato internazionale risponde meno…

Jurassic Park, a movie about dinosaurs, was a huge hit abroad, but Forrest Gump, which makes constant reference to American history and national culture, made most of its money at home…

***

Il commercio non spinge solo all’omologazione ma anche alla diversità, vuole prodotti sempre differenti in grado di saturare le nicchie.

Prendiamo i film a micro-budget di cui l’Europa va fiera: ebbene, gli Stati Uniti ne producono di più…

… “Microbudget” films are far more common in the United States than in Europe. A microbudget film is one made by a previously amateur director on a minuscule budget, typically less than $100,000. Among the best-known microfilms are Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It, the Coen brothers’ Blood Simple, and The Blair Witch Project…

Un ruolo lo giocano anche le infrastrutture…

… A healthy commercial base is needed to support an infrastructure of theaters, production companies, film schools, and marketing institutions. Independent or innovative filmmakers benefit from this infrastructure just as the major studios do…

Cio’ che vende sostiene  indirettamente anche cio’ che vende meno.

Ma la fucina dei “ribelli” fa gola anche ai “venditori”…

… The major studios typically seek to buy out and “corrupt” the independent filmmakers, and in this sense the two cinematic worlds are always at war with each other. But in a larger sense they are complements… In addition to the Coen brothers and Spike Lee, Francis Coppola, Peter Bogdanovich, Martin Scorsese, Jonathan Demme, David Lynch, Sam Raimi, John Sayles, and Jim Jarmusch all first made their names with micro-budget films. The directors of The Blair Witch Project were courted for a Hollywood sequel, which earned them millions, despite its low quality…

Anche tra H. e la qualità europea c’è una reciproca attrazione…

… Notable European directors such as Godard, Bertolucci, Truffaut, Besson, and Pasolini found their start with microbudget films, but the overall commercial weakness of European cinema is making those kinds of opportunities harder to find and exploit… European movie-makers pursue different markets and produce different kinds of creativity…

E quando un film europeo ha molto successo, guarda caso, assomiglia al tipico film di H., evidentemente certe formule, molto semplicemente, piacciono…

… The non-Hollywood productions that have success abroad, such as Four Weddings and a Funeral or Like Water for Chocolate, often have many of the flaws that plague mainstream Hollywood releases: saccharine, cliched characters or an unrealistically happy ending. European pictures from the silent era, which had a greater chance of export success, were more like the American movies… The Hong Kong movie Dr. Lamb was a success in the Hong Kong market of the 1990s. The movie was explicitly patterned after Silence of the Lambs, a U.S. and global hit in 1992…

***

E nel futuro, cosa ci aspetta?

Oggi il cinema europeo sembra aver capito la lezione: meno sussidi e maggiore apertura al pubblico. I segni sono incoraggianti…

… In the short run, laissez-faire would likely lead to a greater Hollywood presence in European cinema. But in the long run, European moviemakers would be induced to make a more commercially appealing product, and not necessarily at the expense of artistic quality…

Competere con H è possibile visti anche i compensi stratosferici che H paga alle sue star, in questo senso è svantaggiata…

… Hollywood holds a potentially vulnerable market position, given how much it spends on celebrity salaries and marketing…

L’esempio italiano del dopo guerra spiega bene come produzioni relativamente piccole possano avere un successo internazionale…

… In 1973, Hollywood held only 23 percent of the Italian market, and large numbers of high-quality Italian movies were commercially viable. Hollywood had dominated the Italian market after the Second World War, but Italian movie-makers fought back, in part using the techniques they learned from studying Hollywood releases… These years show that the strong presence of Hollywood in world markets does not mean an end to European moviemaking…

La qualità non è inarrivabile in assenza di sussidi, anzi…

… Truffaut, Fellini, Visconti, Bergman, and others were fundamentally money-making endeavors, aimed at the competitive marketplace, despite the involvement of government at various levels…

L’epoca d’oro del cinema francese si realizzò in assenza di sussidi…

… Going back earlier, the 1930s in particular were a “golden age” for French cinema; the best-known French films of this era include L’Atalante (Jean Vigo), Le Jour se lève (Marcel Carné), La Chienne, The Grand Illusion, and The Rules of the Game (all by Jean Renoir)….

Ironia della sorte, in quel periodo gli americani accusavano i francesi di “imperialismo culturale” 🙂 …

… American filmmakers charged the French with cultural imperialism and asked Washington for trade protection. It was commonly charged that European movies encouraged lax morals and corrupted American culture. The French responded by noting the openness of their cinematic markets and asking America to compete on equal terms…

Ma il cinema contemporaneo oggi fiorisce soprattutto in Asia: si affida al mercato internazionale e mescola molto bene creatività e commercialità. Sempre la stessa ricetta.

jIlLkCOh

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Rispondi

Inserisci i tuoi dati qui sotto o clicca su un'icona per effettuare l'accesso:

Logo WordPress.com

Stai commentando usando il tuo account WordPress.com. Chiudi sessione / Modifica )

Foto Twitter

Stai commentando usando il tuo account Twitter. Chiudi sessione / Modifica )

Foto di Facebook

Stai commentando usando il tuo account Facebook. Chiudi sessione / Modifica )

Google+ photo

Stai commentando usando il tuo account Google+. Chiudi sessione / Modifica )

Connessione a %s...