Hollywood Capitalists Profit by Bashing Capitalism

By Julia Seymour Published on February 24, 2015

Young people no longer watch TV the same way as their parents, but they still fall victim to the same messages movies and TV bombard them with.

The spring TV season is a key part of that cycle and it’s a place where the worldviews of Hollywood are on public display. When Hollywood brought its stars out to shine this past fall, several top performing shows renewed attacks on capitalism, CEOs and businesses. Ironic, isn’t it.

How to Get Away with Murder, Scandal, The Blacklist, and Scorpion, all did well with the key 18-49 demographic, and each incorporated attacks on business. Hollywood Reporter noted that Scorpion “boasts a big, young audience.”

Shonda Rimes’ How to Get Away with Murder, which is set on a college campus “easily ranks as the No. 1 new show of the season,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. In one episode, an eccentric millionaire murdered his first wife. In another, a CEO discovers her assistant tried to set her up for a crime. She berates the young man with such venom that he commits suicide in front of her.

But the standout anti-capitalist TV show is NBC’s The Blacklist, in which “Red” Reddington, a former Naval Academy graduate morphs into an international crime lord. Reddington’s business dealings range from buying illegal weapons to amassing contacts with dangerous criminals around the globe. He’s a cold-blooded murderer and one of America’s Most Wanted.

Naturally, he’s also one of TV’s most vocal proponents of capitalism.

Reddington, played by James Spader, is the well-dressed anti-hero of The Blacklist, which returned for the rest of its second season on Feb. 1. His admission “I happen to believe in capitalism. I like money,” defined both the character and how Hollywood views success.

Hollywood millionaires are teaching business as if Occupy Wall Street is writing many of the scripts. Entertainment often encourages young people to hate success and to believe business people are evil or crooked.

TV show characters knock “obscene profits,” while others arrest executive suite “scumbags” for a variety of crimes including murder. One episode of the popular drama Scorpion portrayed a musician so “disillusioned” with the music industry that he gave up his dream. And the comedy 2 Broke Girls, showcased terrible work ethics along with constant raunchy jokes.

Fake news shows like Jon Stewart’s Daily Show are even worse, putting their own anti-business spin on the events of the day. News Corp. honcho Rupert Murdoch is just one of Stewart’s favorite punching bags. And polls show comedians like Stewart are gaining influence among young audiences who have turned away from traditional TV news so much that Meet The Press considered letting Stewart bring his propaganda to the Sunday show.

Negative portrayals of business owners, executives and capitalists aren’t just showing up on broadcast and cable TV. They cover the silver screen too from the secondary villain in the hit children’s movie Frozen, to flicks like the murderous revenge fantasy Assault on Wall Street.

Everywhere you look, entertainment executives use their multi-billion industry to undermine the very capitalist system that gives them the freedom to create.

Hollywood executives are always quick to take credit for influencing the public on social issues, so much so that smoking is all-but banned on screen, diversity is mandated and environmental propaganda flicks are shown without question.

But attacks on business people and capitalism are also influential, and America’s youth are most likely to be convinced by Hollywood’s slanted storylines. Health and Human Services estimates that each month, teens and young adults (18-24) spend more than 100 hours watching video content – mostly from TV, but movies as well. Much of that time, they are bombarded by views that have more in common with Das Kapital than capitalism.

All this from a city whose very foundations are built on the American Dream.

Hurray for Hollywood.


Julia A. Seymour is the Assistant Managing Editor for MRC Business.

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