Reports of Hollywood’s Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Reports of Hollywood’s Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated
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Hollywood, the city that launched the golden age of the motion picture industry, has long epitomized both the realization and the death of dreams. Literature and popular culture have reflected Tinseltown’s cruel paradox that every success story is matched by a thousand stories of disappointment and dissipation, collectively contributing to the broader decline of civilization. In his 1939 novel The Day of the Locust, Nathanael West tells the story of a Yale-educated artist who was commissioned to create a painting of Los Angeles on fire: “He wanted the city to have a gala air as it burned…. The Angelenos would be first, but their comrades all over the country would follow. There would be civil war.” West’s depiction of the elites’ inciting a violent uprising seems eerily relevant to today’s culture wars. More recently, even La La Land, the 2016 film that played homage to Hollywood’s classic musicals, echoed this dark perspective with Sebastian, the character played by Ryan Gosling, commenting, “That’s LA. They just worship everything and value nothing.” 

Yet, despite LA’s reputation for Machiavellian ambition, progressive ideology, superficiality, and cultural depravity, it remains a major attraction for tourist and business travel, having had 51 million visitors in 2019 before the COVID-19 lockdowns. Thanks to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s COVID-inspired California Small Business Relief program, which included a $95 million investment in tourism marketing, LA is projected to close the 2022 calendar year with 46.6 million visitors.

After most of LA’s COVID-related restrictions were lifted, my husband and I scheduled a visit for the last week of August. Given that I had not been to the area in 15 years, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Having heard the “rules for thee but not for me” stories of Newsom and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s making COVID policy exceptions for themselves while shutting down California businesses, we were psychologically prepared for virtue-signaling, gratuitous rule-mongering, and aloofness.

Our LA story was none of the above. During our stay, which included visits to Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Laurel Canyon, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, and Marina Del Rey, we experienced a welcoming community. Everyone in the hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions, and neighborhood hangouts seemed genuinely happy to see us. There was a sense of accommodation among not just the service providers but also our fellow travelers and residents. The proof-of-vaccination requirement was all but abolished, with the curious exceptions of the Griffith Observatory and the studio tours for Paramount Studio and Sony Pictures. Mask requirements were also far more limited than we anticipated, with the Getty Center tram’s being the only tourist site we visited where the wearing of masks was strictly enforced. This was just for the tram, not the museum itself. Social distancing had also been abandoned.

Moreover, we saw little evidence of the wokism that has overtaken America. We did not see any signs for Black Lives Matter or critical race theory, nor did we see a single gender-fluid bathroom. And the program tours for venues including the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Dolby Theatre, and Warner Bros. Studio were also unblemished by a transparent liberal agenda. (READ MORE: Why Hollywood Should Make More Patriotic Films)

I found myself wondering why our Hollywood experience was so positive. Conceivably, it had something to do with delivering a positive tourist experience. After all, LA’s visitors, especially the international ones, pay good money to experience the magic of moviemaking. Could it be that Newsom is concerned about his reelection campaign or that the rumors of a 2024 presidential bid are true? Or, maybe, the population of closet conservatives is on the rise? Regardless of the reason, we had an excellent vacation and returned home feeling a tad more optimistic than when we departed. Perhaps the City of Angels still has a prayer.

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