The Contribution of Hollywood to the Soft Power of America

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Last updated: May 8, 2019

The Contribution of Hollywood to the Soft Power of America BY Jrnag0017 Does Hollywood contribute to the Soft Power of the U. S.? Soft power has been a term widely used in world politics ever since its coinage in the 90s by Joseph Nye of Harvard University. It is essentially an aspect of the general idea of power as opposed to the conventional or rather the first form of power that comes to mind ,with regards to state power mainly, that has to do with coercive approaches to international relations and military power, known as hard power.Hollywood can and is considered a notable feature in the cultural realm of soft power.

The question is whether or not Hollywood makes any contributions towards the United States’ employment of soft power. In Joseph Nye’s book “Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power”, where the term soft power finds its source, the author presents the idea of cooperation and attraction rather than the aforementioned coercion associated with hard power. Influencing, attracting and persuading the masses are all goals of the use of soft power.Nye outlines that culture, political values and foreign policies are he three main means of soft power.

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It arises through contact, and translates into influence, and is all about making people notice and listen, respect and admire then gradually develop agreeable terms with a particular state or institution. It is to be noted that soft power is by no means, and very much not government controlled, and represents the more delicate side of power that takes longer to attain. One of the aspects that Monocle Magazine included when attempting to measure soft power in 2012 was cultural output.It is a recognized fact that reputation of a state on an nternational scale is key, which is why culture is given a fair amount of attention. This is how the Hollywood factor comes into play with regards to U.

S. soft power, it is a tool for the United States to disseminate Western culture. “Crucial to understanding Nye’s concept of soft power is the importance of U.

S. popular culture” writes Tysha Bohorquez for UCLA. For many years the United States has been very much influential on a global scale.Its share of world product has been consistently high, the idea of interdependency and limitations to military power has been understood ince the days of Henry Kissinger, and its popular culture has long been circulated along with values of freedom, human rights and openness to various ethnicities for instance. In the 90s Joseph Nye reported the U. S. having seven times as many TV shows as Great Britain, and American films, although adding up to 6-7% of all films made, occupied about 50% of world screen time.

Young Japanese wore Jackets with American college names on them, Soviets wore blue Jeans and Nicaraguan TV broadcast U. S. shows even during the war period, while the Chinese went so far as to se a replica of the Statue of Liberty during the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. All these cases lead to the question of Hollywood’s role in achieving said results. By Hollywood one understands the American based productions in industries, primarily film, music, television, sports and the fgures or individuals that make them happen.

Hollywood has been the larger exporter of films in the world for decades social issues and way of life. It can be argued that Hollywood has the potential to contribute to the soft power of the United States as it promotes a particular model of U. S.

society abroad and also aids economically; being the second largest U. S. economy export.

The idea of potential soft power lying in Hollywood is certainly not a new notion, for many years there has been an attachment of particular communities and or causes to particular figures.Cases include boxer Joe Louis in the 1930s used in war campaigns by the state itself given his association with both the African- American community and the generally American too. There was also Jazz diplomacy in later times when Jazz musicians like Louis Armstrong and Dave Brubeck were sent verseas to disseminate a positive image for the U.

S. Nowadays this element has by no means faded, but rather has taken on a new framework. Since soft power is all about attraction and persuasion, Hollywood has a great deal of tools in this field.If the film industry is considered, as Dean Garfield representing the MPAA (Motion Pictures Association of America) points out in a conference at The Centre of Public Diplomacy in 2008, the state oftentimes works alongside film producers, not so much regarding film content nowadays, but more regarding market access. This has been he case with China in recent years, as U.

S. government brought a WTO case against Chinese government because of lack of market access.However it is to be noted that the film industry can also contribute to soft power without state interference. In the past film making was much more central to global issues most significantly in post- war periods when even animated movies advocated for democracy and the struggle for independence as seen with Walt Disney’s “Education for Death” series for instance. Nowadays although film industry has become broader, content and films’ uccession in breaking into international markets has also been contributory to U.

S. soft power.The 2003 movie “The Last Samurai” starring Tom Cruise is an example whereby Americans are depicted as the villains attempting to modernise the country yet having Tom Cruise; an American actor himself representing the hero. Also the distribution of foreign films is another means of production of a positive image for the U.

S. Apart from the film and music industries there is also soft power potential in celebrity diplomacy. There is a sense of blending proximity between celebrity and olitical fgures with personas advocating for global causes.

Examples of said kind of celebrities include people like Leonardo Di Caprio work with the green movement, Bono’s philanthropic work and Angelina Jolie’s work with refugees and talks in Baghdad. Nowadays it is more of a hybrid form of diplomacy whereby celebrities pursue different things at different times, unlike earlier in history when people like Audrey Hepburn for instance took on UNICEF work after her career had ended. Celebrities visiting third world countries and dining with diplomats overseas are the ays in which they contribute to soft power as individuals.

The mixing of politicians and celebrities is ever-present, from Richard Nixon’s dinner parties with John Wayne to Obama’s appearance on “The View’. Therefore it can be concluded that Hollywood impact U. S. soft power and has been for a number of decades.

It should be noted that even though this statement is Justified, Hollywood is by no means a strict tool for soft power and neither does it always prove beneficial; movies may get bad reception as seen with the movie “ARGO” in Iran and its banning. The idea of urposes (as seen with people like Hitler).Nonetheless Hollywood continues to contribute to soft power largely independently of state control.

Bibliography Tysha Bohorquez’s review of” Soft Power- The Means to Success in World Politics” by Joseph Nye http://www. international. ucla. edu/article. asp? parentid=34734 “Exporting the American Dream” article on BBC website http://news. bbc.

co. uk/2/hi/americas/3512897. stm “Can Obama use Hollywood’s Soft Power” by Timothy Stanley for CNN http:// edition. cnn.

com/2012/05/17/opinion/stanley-obama-hollywood/index. html “Film- AStrong Tool in American Soft Power” by Katarzyna Gluszak for the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy http://www. culturaldiplomacy. org/culturaldiplomacynews/ index.

php? film-a-strong-tool-in-american-soft-power “Soft Power and Us Foreign Policy: Theoretical, Historical and Contemporary Perspectives ” Edited by InterJeet Parmar and Michael Cox “Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power” by Joseph Nye Recorded conferences and workshops held by The Center on Public Diplomacy at the USC Annenberg School for Communication found on the USCAnnenberg channel on www. youtube. com

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