Much like politics, film changes with the society in which it is produced. Over the years, elements such as theme, acting and cinematography have become variables in the world’s desperate need to promote change. These changes, while widespread, aren’t brought to public attention until Hollywood Awards Season, where films ranging from low-budget independents to foreign blockbusters are recognized over the course of several months. Broadcasted on an international stage, the increased desire for world peace and compromise in recent years has sparked controversy in cinema, leaving audiences with one central question—who started the fire?
According to data collected by the Pew Research Center, the answer may just be millennials. Often cited as one of the most influential generations, this doesn’t always mean the influence is positive. Millennials have caused an uproar due to what older generations consider an updated version of liberalism and general laziness in the workforce. Critics consider these flaws a translating factor into the cinema world, most prominently during the Hollywood Awards Season.
The Oscars and Golden Globes are arguably the two most-watched awards ceremonies in Hollywood. Each year, film distribution and production companies create their lists of movies that they believe should be “For Your Consideration,” or deserving of nomination consideration. These companies manipulate the boundaries and bribe voting committees to visit special viewings of their films, usually involving monetary means, as reported by The New York Times. With social issues in the United States coming to the forefront of cinematic discussion, politics have become a controlled variable due to these manipulations behind the scenes.
As seen in films such as “Spotlight” and “Moonlight,” both previously nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, millennials tend to be persistent about causes they deem passionable–in these two films, themes such as child abuse and acceptance of the LGBT+ community are present–and many of these themes translate into the film industry. With this change in generations comes a difference in opinion of what is considered socially acceptable for theaters and small screens.
Elements of film have to meet the generally-accepted standard of a blockbuster film before being picked up by major distribution companies—a stipulation that hasn’t always been the rule of cinematic law. According to the Theatre Arts Department Chair Richard Klautsch, this change was sparked by “Jaws”, a film now considered a household name.
“I saw the major change in Hollywood from studio-centric filmmaking to riskier, more youth-driven movies in the late 60s and early 70s, when the studios gave the car keys to a new generation of young filmmakers who were influenced by international filmmakers, Vietnam, Civil Rights and the coming of age of a young baby boomer population,” said Klautsch.“We went from Sound of Music to Bonnie and Clyde in three years and saw the rise of directors like Scorsese, Coppola and George Lucas; in 1975, Spielberg gave the keys back when he directed “Jaws” and created the summer blockbuster.”
The creation of the blockbuster created a standard in film that took movies from a personal level to an economic one; this isn’t to say that this is millennials’ fault. “Jaws” was released far before the collegiate generation had a choice in the matter. However, the stories told by millennials have the opportunity to be just as hard-hitting to critics as any franchise film–see “Lady Bird,” directed by Greta Gerwig–and film studies students at Boise State, or any university, could be just the push that the industry is looking for.
“The millennial generation certainly has an influence in the ever-changing film era. Look at Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Twilight, the eternal Star Wars franchise, and superhero movies. I’m a bit cynical, of course, but I am also quite optimistic that every generation will have its own particular filmmakers of talent and even greater voices, who want to consider and explore the human narrative in far more complex terms than these blockbusters allow,” Klautsch said.