On films I think that 2 factors make them less fractal than other cultural mediums. The first is the cost. Anyone with a mic can produce an album and a TV show has less costs than movies. Because of the cost going in to it studios will hype up their film through advertising which leads to a lot of people seeing the same movies. (Minions, Barbie, Oppenheimer) The second is the fact that people still go to movie theaters for their movies. When a film is released before it hits streaming a movie theater has to choose to display it. There is more money to be gained by releasing it in theaters fully then putting it online after. There are a limited number of theaters and screenings available. It doesn’t matter how many films are released it each year rather it matters which films are big enough to be released in theaters. Very interesting post overall thanks for the read!!

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About going to theaters, I'm not sure that there's _always_ more money to be gained by releasing a movie in theaters before putting it online. I've been hearing more often these last years about movies going straight to streaming without bothering with a theater release and I think part of the reason might be that producers now have a better idea of when a finished (or almost finished) movie is going to be a flop.

If you're almost certain that you have a flop in your hands you can either:

A.- Spend even more money making reshoots, without any certainty that it'll fix the movie.

B.- Save a large part of your promotion budget (which can be a huge fraction of budget) by skipping theaters.

C.- Just release it.

If studios are really getting better at predicting their movie's performance then option B should become more and more common over time. And option B also has the added benefit of avoiding all the bad publicity that you'll get once movie goers realize that your movie is bad. That should make it easier to sell to a streaming service, which conveniently will do the necessary promotion for you.

Also, the number of screens is diminishing, so theaters should be less inclined to allow you to play your very likely flop in their screens:



Caveat: I don't work in the industry. These are just my speculative rumblings.

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To the broader point, a movie in theaters is still going to catch a lot more eyeballs than an equally-good direct-to-video movie. Both because of theatrical viewings themselves, and the fact that a successful theatrical run generates buzz. It's taken by consumers as a signal of quality, and it also increases awareness, and for that matter FOMO if you don't want to be left out of certain conversations.

The streaming business model is currently broken right now though, and something is going to have to change there. Only NFLX makes money off of it, everyone else is still between a rock and a hard place, burning cash on streaming while traditional linear TV remains profitable but its decay is accelerating.

A lot of movies (and shows) have been produced for streaming services with a negative ROI. What's probably going to happen for Hollywood to survive in a recognizable form is some combination of BIG price increases, reduced content production, and consolidation into 2-3 real streaming offerings (or at least, 2-3 bundles).

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IMO you hit the issue only in passing. Humans are tribal and have been for all but a couple of centuries of the millions years we have been around. America is too big and too heterogeneous to be tribal successfully, really, but that doesn't alter human nature, so we tribe.

The Crows warred against the Sioux, the Shia against the Sunni, the Catholics against the Protestants, the Hutu against the Tutsis, the Athenians against the Perisans, etc. We're tribal. Deciding we don't want to be is nice, but it sure doesn't seem realistic. In reality we can no more change human nature - the product of millions of years of evolution - than we can gender roles based on that million years of brain evolution. Just because we want to isn't going to change brain evolution and the civilizations, cultures and societies in which our various cultures developed - and our brains evolved - for millennia.

The fact of the matter is that we may be demanding of ourselves and a hetero society something that can not work: peaceful inter-tribal co-existence. Sounds nice in theory, and it worked (better) when we were (much) smaller as a pop with far fewer interactions between tribes due to various policies: immigration pauses, secured borders, segregation, etc.. But look around: It's not working now. Nor did it work in other modern nations: Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and is under stress in Scotland vs UK, Catalonia vs Spain, Quebec vs Anglo Canada... and Red vs Blue here.

Geosorting is the most obvious and peaceful example of tribes separating; brawls in shopping malls, airport lounges, fast-food establishments and the childish BLM riots the most obvious. But we have too many people of diverse tribes forced into too many interactions each oppose for reasons of behavioral standards, intelligence, education... all of which are cultural differences between tribes.

Those of us who understand that the trans fad is both a faddish sexual mutilation of children for coastal wine women liberals (AWFLs) and fundamentally evil, have no interest in living next door, or next-State to the mutilators. Those of us who treasure our kids and want a free and prosperous future for them and their kids have no interest in being under the same government as those who have destroyed education, peaceful streets, the economy, families, etc.

Secession is really the only peaceful answer - geosorting at a governmental level. It's worked where it's been tried (Yougoslavia, etc), and it can work here. What can NOT work here is more of what we've been forced to do to the detriment of ourselves and our posterity for the past half-century or more.

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It's oddly refreshing to see people on the side opposite to yours to present such an outlandish take as "[separating] Yugoslavia worked". Aside from perhaps Slovenia, Yugoslavia is a place of unresolved, constantly brewing conflicts between, to the first approximation, Serbs and everyone else (Serbs vs. Albanians in Kosovo, Serbs vs. Bosnians in Respublika Serbska in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbs vs. Croats in some other places).

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> The fact of the matter is that we may be demanding of ourselves and a hetero society something that can not work: peaceful inter-tribal co-existence.

Peaceful coexistence has been accomplished regularly. It relies heavily on segregation, very strong segregation, the kind where different groups are subject to different legal systems.

It's not helping the USA that segregation is conceived of as a mortal sin on its own merits.

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Yeah. I think I made that point, didn’t I? Agree completely.

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This was done without requiring (or allowing) secession. Secession is an example, but it's not the only way.

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No, there's a very easy fix: go to war...at least a cold one. We unify or split based on who our enemies are and fit past few decades we've been low on external threats.

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Secession doesn’t require a war. It probably will cuz the left isn’t interested in anyone not being under their control - but it isn’t required. It just needs sufficient public support. Geosorting is showing increasing support for separation.

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Sep 5, 2023Liked by Richard Hanania

Sports also serve the same function as politics as a last vestige of mono culture. Probably why you see it as the media property with rising rights fees.

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What's changed is that leftism -- the force for chaos in any society -- has had an outsized influence on the culture for the past half century thanks to the fact that > 50% of the population since the 1970s is now indoctrinated in Universities, which have come to serve as the seminaries for the left. Thus, college faculty, who make up a tiny fraction of the population, have the ability to effectively shape society with their wacky ivory tower leftist ideology.

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>Some people might therefore feel a sense of alienation, but we should try to alleviate their suffering by encouraging them to find ways to cope rather than creating unrealistic hopes that we’ll ever return to a pre-internet world<

The left is the primary roadblock here. Since they rule the government and its associated prestige institutions, they would stand to lose much status, influence and power if a renewed standard of federalism were to be implemented allowing the red half of the country to disassociate from all of these centralized powers. They are desperate to avoid this and seek to force themselves upon the red states by any means possible. There is a reason why talk of secession is mostly a right-wing phenomenon.

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"It’s the end result of increasing freedom, wealth, and technological progress."

This drastically sells short the roles of both immigration and the social-deconstructionist Left. The latter, of course, being big advocates for the former. Europeans have access to streaming too but there has been no similar collapse of shared culture there, at least among the natives.

There is also the isolation of American life. When you live in suburban/exurban sprawl and WFH, your "community" is going to be found through an electronic device rather than in-person group activities or chance encounters in the town plaza. Ethnic diversity makes this worse, as shown by Putnam.

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A few observations from someone who's spent plenty of time studying American history (as well as political philosophy), the "homogenous" nature of the United States is a product of the 20th century, especially the post-war years. 19th century America was praised for its diversity, even if most of that diversity meant Italian immigrants coexisting with Irish and Germans and the Anglo-Saxons, and the major anti-immigration tension was really over Catholics. But in the 1850s John Stuart Mill admired the diversity of the US for leading to great creativity in opinion and thought and people today, even many historians, forget how many little crackpot societies and utopian settlements existed in the United States, especially prior to the Civil War.

I'm inclined to agree with your conclusion that to return to less divisive United States means returning to a more decentralized government approach, which would accommodate our diversity of people and thought and even sexuality much more effectively and in the spirit of the original concepts of liberalism that had been the genius of the United States for most of its history. But therein lies the problem. The modern world does not lend itself to decentralization. It's similar to how capitalism gravitates towards monopolies, if left unchecked, and the same now happening with Big Tech, it also happened with culture. And it definitely happened with the government. And those various monopolies show no signs of being willing to let the population retreat to a decentralized world where everything from economic behaviors to lifestyle choices and pop culture decisions is decentralized because it means giving up power. And power is a very hard thing to give up.

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Completely shocked that you somehow managed to end the piece arguing for more libertarianism.

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This might be OK until we have to fight a war or face a real downturn in the economy. Fragmented culture to some people means more diversity, diversity in pop, culture, politics, food, and fashion. I mean, what’s wrong with that? However, I don’t think this diverse culture is going to seriously sacrifice for each other. If we face a real national crisis, and the level of social trust is as low as it is now, we might truly fragment as a nation.

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''I suspect that politics is filling the void left by the fragmentation of popular entertainment''. Not only filling the void left by popular entertainment but also religion.. It's so easy for people to substitute the culture war for meaning in their life and make it into something all-encompassing and imperative,the culture war is like religion. The human need for meaning and to be a part of something greater than just one's self is inherent to the human experience and with god being dead, corporations are all too eager to capitalize on that demand.

We're trying to revive god in the image of the products we consume. Explained in this video very nicely https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b26rK_NCvO4&t=426s

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The problem with your argument about immigration is that the progressives have always used the most recent immigrant groups (+blacks) as a major voting block. FDR had the Irish and the Italians even back in the 30's. Law and culture then move left, so those former immigrant groups then become more "conservative" by even though their worldview didn't really change that much. So, you are correct over the short term that restricting immigration won't magically bring us back together. But, continued immigration allows for increased progressive power, which sets the future up for even more divisiveness.

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To the extent that millions of people dislike alien phenotypes, elites have certainly contributed to “alienation”--this is just one more thing that upsets people. In addition, some aspects of cultural fragmentation have also been pushed by elites in terms of their relentless attack on traditional values, which has long been pushed in pop culture and recently accelerated by more extreme Wokeism. The fact that we don’t watch three networks anymore is a smaller factor than the above. There is still a great deal of cultural homogeneity regardless of what tv shows we individually watch. The idea that our national fate is sealed around a low IQ multicultural nation is only the result of capitulation to a “centrist” version of a quasi-Marxist teleology of inevitable social forces. Caplan urges everyone to “build their own bubble” but people still go outside and a decline in conscientiousness due to importing millions of lower conscientious people will make the outside uglier. For example, a swimming hole in a state park where I used to walk began to attract Hispanics, so naturally the trash and broken bottles began to accumulate on the trails near where they swam. So much for the “bubble” for thousands of conscientious people who use the park. (Yes, there are solutions to these problems but they are hindered by the wonderful new coalition of white wokels and POC).

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> Restrictionists talk about how they want to stop immigration to preserve cultural unity, but are unable to see the irony in the fact that whenever they advocate for their issue they only make half of their fellow citizens hate them more and further inflame societal divisions.

Well... I tend to take the position that the norm of self-hatred in American discourse reflects something deeply unhealthy, much worse than what you might view as the "normal" assumption that whatever "we" do is ipso facto great, and that it is bad and should stop.

It has not escaped my notice that this position is an example of exactly the behavior that it condemns. But I don't really see what the alternative is. I could continue to believe that this norm is disastrous without ever mentioning the fact. Would that be more constructive? Just because holding this belief catches me in a logical trap isn't going to persuade me that the belief is wrong. I like to think I could hold the same belief if my own culture didn't have the pathology and some other foreign culture did.

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It's definitely not just a matter of consumer choice. For example, there was CBS's "Rural purge" of the 1970s, in which a new cosmopolitan executive class decided to cancel a number of popular folksy/Americana television shows in favor of "urban" ones, despite many of the former still being successes. While the free market ultimately won out when The Waltons was a hit against expectations for its timeslot, and ultimately rural-oriented programming would die out alongside the rural demographic, the decision was more a matter of pushing a culture rather than following one.

Another case would be the executives who vetoed the publication of Marty Robbins' Ain't I Right in 1966, an explicitly anti-communist right wing country anthem from a highly successful country artist. He was forced to have a friend record and publish it on an independent country label, though Columbia Records had no problems publishing various leftist songs from Bob Dylan or Simon & Garfunkel around the same time, to say nothing of the explosion of left-wing popular music at the start of the 70s.

Your original thesis that liberals (I'd say left-liberals specifically) simply care more about culture and controlling it is overall true, and certainly anyone promoting the likes of Oliver Anthony or the Bud Light boycott as ground zero for a new dominant right wing cultural resurgence is deluded. However, that also means that left-liberal executives in safe positions of financial dominance will happily disobey popular market demand if it means holding down the (much less steady) culture war.

EDIT: Though in the context of ever hoping to have a monoculture at all, I just remembered that the NYT did an analysis on this a few years ago, pretty relevant:


Spongebob Squarepants is basically the closest thing to an American monoculture. I think it's worth noting that different shows and geographies aren't necessarily different cultures though. The rise of trashy semi-reality shows about divorce and whatever all appeal to a similar trashy demographic, even though a show about the Kardashians is more popular in the Southwest, while a show about teen moms or the black equivalent of Jerry Springer appeal to those in the South. Like, if you had elves and orcs in America, the elves would prefer elf porn and the orcs would prefer orc porn, but they're still fundamentally united in their consumption of porn.

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Rather oddly, the podcast Radiolab did a several episode series about how Dolly Parton is the American monoculture: https://radiolab.org/podcast/radiolab-presents-dolly-partons-america

I'd say she's a better candidate than Spongebob.

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Regarding the fact that so many shows/ films are now from existing titles: that's just the power of nostalgia plus the fact that currently middle aged people had some decent content growing up. Boomers had just as much nostolgia they just had to watch Ken Burns films about nam or buy remastered Beatles CDs while we get star wars.

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"Nativists like to blame immigrants for this, and they’re really missing the point, as they often do on most things, since the division between the Red and Blue tribes is a much greater source of bitterness than newcomers are."

The main source of bitterness between reds (at least those nativist friendly ones) and blues is precisely over opposition to newcomers. There's a reason why McCain conservatives didn't exactly face as much cancel culture, while Trump cons sure as hell did (and would've wielded it if they could).

If you are a white man who values anything at all that isn't marvel tier slop, you'll almost always find that you have more in common with your blue tribe counterpart than any non-east Asian minority.

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If immigration stopped tomorrow all the bitterness would still be there regarding trans, abortion, blacks, crime, election fraud, etc and the country would be just as divided. Restrictionists are just fighting one more culture war battle and they somehow think their side represents unity.

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"blacks" - Well yes, and I suppose you have every right to have developed a hatred a civilization that starts talking about immigrants before It'll dare say a negative word about blacks. It's admittedly retarded that this has become necessary, but anti-immigrant sentiment is a gateway drug to the black question. Yes, Latinos in Los Angeles may have slightly improved your situation, but here in NY they've guaranteed that we'll never have another Bloomberg.

"crime" - But you repeat yourself Richard.

"election fraud" - Were Cons this conspiratorial before they were certain of their impending grand deplacement?

"abortion" - And how obsessed were Republicans really with abortion when they were willing to think about identity issues? Didn't evangelicals greet Roe v. Wade pretty lazily when they were still fighting integration?

"trans" - And how much of trans is driven by the need of white lib girls to feel special in a world that denies them any acceptable expression of patriotism or identarian sentiments?

I'm sure the correlation isn't complete or total here but I genuinely don't think Retardcons are an actual force outside of their role as a possible bulwark against demographic displacement and communism. These are the actual issues that motivate normie-cons, but which they are not allowed to express. Even in the Philippines traditional conservatives will stomach a guy who calls God himself an idiot as long as he deals with the crime issue.

In other words, if you want your smart-libtarian future, betting on identarianism is a far better way of getting there than this "open borders but blacks do suck" thing you've got going on.

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As someone who grew up among the (educated) religious right, you're simply factually wrong. Conservatives care about sexual propriety and Christian moral culture several orders of magnitude more than they care about race, immigration, or whatever post-Ron-Paul-loss "rationalist libertarians" think is important. They're not like you, they're not motivated by preserving the imagined distinction between themselves and the dumb kids they knew in public school.

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Also I suspect the "educated" part is far more important to the identity of the 'educated religious right', than the religious part. I'm still connected to the hardcore religious circles of my childhood (actual fundamentalists, not the mainline protestant shit), and I can think of basically no one I know among them who is not more likely to boycott an artist or comedian for saying "nigger" than for regularly mocking Christ.

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This may be true of conservatives, but it's clearly not true of Republicans generally. If it were Trump would have suffered some consequences for his several severe violations of all the moral orthodoxies like waving a pride flag, saying Mr. Jenner could use the female bathroom, hesitating on abortion, and the general vulgarity of his manners etc. Ann Coulter talks of giving all the standard stump speeches since 2008 and seeing the crowd go wild every-time she mentioned immigration. Then Trump picked up immigration and the crowd went wild for him, it's hardly rocket science.

"They're not like you, they're not motivated by preserving the imagined distinction between themselves and the dumb kids they knew in public school."

I didn't grow up among otherwise healthy libs with a few batty beliefs, but around the black underclass. No distinction is needed provided I don't wake up one day with an overwhelming desire to rob my neighbor, beat my girlfriend, leave my kids fatherless (or all of the above).

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Even issues that don't immediately appear to be identity issues are often revealed to be so. See school closures resulting from immigrants disagreeing with you on things like the basic freedom to have your face uncovered. educationrealist.wordpress.com/2022/04/04/the-real-reason-for-school-closures/

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