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Old Hollywood Versus Present Day Hollywood: Which is Better and Which Isn't?

Updated on November 26, 2019
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Heather has a Bachelor's Degree in English from Moravian College and has been freelance writing for more than 12 years.

What is Hollywood? What do you think of when you see that word? Cement ponds and movie stars just like in The Beverly Hillbillies. It is the mecca of glitz, glamour and trouble. With every rise, there was a great big fall.

When you picture Hollywood from the 40s and 50s, you think of glamorous movie stars in black and white flouncing around politely trying not to make too many waves. Actresses were either two types: sexy or demure. There was no in-between. If there was, those actresses were considered trouble when they made too many waves. There were multiple acting dynasties: Barrymore, Douglas, Huston and Fonda to name a few. Films from that time were a mixture of style, substance and top notch acting.

Flashforward to present day Hollywood, there are still members from each acting dynasty still working today in varying capacities. Franchise films made a lot of money and award shows fodder usually came out towards the end of the year. Hollywood has evolved in a lot of ways, sometimes for better and other times are worse. Is it better to live in the past glories of Hollywood yesteryear or push forward with the present movies flooding the box office?

Read on to determine for yourself, which is the case. There are seven situations that will help you determine for yourself if it was better to leave on Turner Classic Movies or watch a Marvel flick.

Drew Barrymore continued her family's acting legacy.
Drew Barrymore continued her family's acting legacy.
Fonda was still an active part in Hollywood.
Fonda was still an active part in Hollywood.

Being who you are easier now than it was in the past-

Old Hollywood was full of dignified stars and performers, but they had to hide a lot of themselves in order to have a career. Stars like Rock Hudson, Elton John and Tab Hunter had to pretend to be something they were not in order to become famous. The benefits of fame, fortune and a career outweighed the risks of sacrificing your true identity. Understandably, being in the closet was a byproduct of the times. Society wasn't being accepting, so they covered up their true selves in order to be an active part in it. Now, celebrities can love, marry or party with whoever they wanted to without too public scorn. Personalities like Caitlyn Jenner can relay their journey to discovering who they are with an audience who understood them better than they expected. Stars like Jane Fonda can celebrate causes they were passionate about and admit to past mistakes in documentaries. Nowadays, we become a nation of honesty, even though it was a double edged sword at time. When is being honest too much? Should there be some thing that a performer keeps to themselves and doesn't share with the world?

Living in a spoiler filled internet age-

In 1960, director Alfred Hitchcock worked extra hard when Psycho was released to make sure that the plot twist of his star Janet Leigh getting killed in the shower scene early in the film wouldn't be revealed. His efforts worked and fans were surprised to see Leigh dispatched 40 some minutes into the movie. Now, spoilers for your favorite films and television shows are just a mouse click away. Everyone is willing to expose big plot details before everyone has a chance to see them. Even movie trailers are in on it, by giving away critical plot points before the movie even premieres on the big screen. How do you cope with the deluge of information? By playing basically living in the dark ages, of course. Leave the room and ignore what the internet is talking about. If you want to be surprised, that's the way to go.

Special effects are better, but story quality has gone down some-

Thankfully, CGI has allowed some visual effects in movies and television shows to be of much stronger quality than they once were. Okay, there are times when the effects were a little over the top that it made it obvious, but overall it was still a vast improvement. Marvel movies can have their heroes flying convincingly and Superman can really be faster than a speeding bullet. It's a shame though that style has sometimes overtaken substance in movies. A lot of the comic book films that have come to theatres are rather generic and disposable. Those movies are like wipes. Use once and you're done. Movies needed to have both style and substance to get more audience members in theatre seats. If you had a lot of visuals with nothing to back it up, there wasn't really much of a movie to be had. Scripts needed to match the stunning visuals on the screen plain and simple.

Rocketman Poster
Rocketman Poster
Avengers Endgame Poster
Avengers Endgame Poster

Tabloid journalism is getting sleazier with each publication-

Sure, tabloid magazines have been spreading salacious gossip since their innovation. That will never change. They also seemed to be ready, willing and able to expose everyone's dirty laundry without even vetting the material beforehand. In the present day, Miley Cyrus' personal revolving door of relationships didn't seem all that shocking anymore. It's just another celebrity being a celebrity in their 20s going through growing pains. Sadly, it also didn't help that with the age of social message that everything was out in the open for the world to see with just a single mouse click. Privacy comes at a premium, but the press back in the days of the studio system knew when to keep a secret. Katharine Hepburn's off-screen affair with the married Spencer Tracy didn't come out until after his death in 1967. In the studio system days, gossip columnists sometimes worked with celebrities in order to get exclusives. Okay, that's probably still done today to an extent, but the nature of tabloid media has changed a lot in recent years. Look at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle going to war with the British press after continuous harassment since they got married in 2018. Another casualty would be Harry's late mother Princess Diana who was literally catnip to the paparazzi as they hounded her wherever she went.

The arrival of cable television and streaming gives viewers more options-

Since 1999, cable television has become a more dominant figure for viewers to watch high quality television shows and movies. From The Sopranos all the way to Game of Thrones, HBO has led the way in riskier storytelling that everyone else has worked overtime to catch up with. In recent years, streaming services have led the way to giving viewers numerous original programming at the their fingertips. With the increasing popularity of Netflix and Hulu, other streaming services are being created to meet with the demand. What happens if you're not technologically inclined or don't have the services? Learn how to use your remote or computer; and purchase the service that seems right for you or your budget.


Meghan Markle poses for the cameras.
Meghan Markle poses for the cameras.
Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones

Flashy politics doesn't make up for objective journalism-

Nowadays, politics and entertainment seemed to be going hand-in-hand. The days of objective journalism seemed to have gone by the wayside. Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, and Dan Rather are no longer on the news anchor desks looking at viewers through their television screens. Most daytime shows, or political shows, focus on extremely argumentative behavior to get their point across or attacking figures who don't agree with the network's message. Fox News tended to focus on right wing fare, which usually left the left side offended. ABC's The View had both sides arguing viciously with each other, and that just on the show's regular panel alone. There came a time when the news simply told the facts without spinning any opinions. Wish we could go back to those days sometimes.

Being famous for just being famous-

Usually, most people become famous based on their occupation: singer, actor, inventor, director, etc. What happens if you're famous simply for having no talent? Well, then you'd be a reality television show star usually. Kim Kardashian and her family became famous for their reality show Keeping Up with the Kardashians originally, but they managed to parlay their success into different businesses. Those businesses led to Kim and her sister Kylie Jenner to being obscenely rich and on the Forbes' list of richest business people. It doesn't seem fair that some people get to cut in line for success, while others are stuck waiting for things to happen.

This issue would definitely be considered a con of modern day Hollywood. People getting to be famous simply because they were on television. It didn't seem fair that some people worked hard to break into movies, television or music with little to no luck, while others fell into a massive amount of fame seamlessly. Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie became famous for being clueless socialites on their reality show The Simple Life. That type of fame can be intoxicating, but you have nothing to fall back on when it goes away. It can lead to some disastrous choices to stay relevant.

Jon and Kate Gosselin were famous for having a large family on their show Jon & Kate Plus 8, but their marriage ended up imploding due to the massive amount of exposure they received from the show. Reality stars needed to have a back-up plan, because once the show was cancelled you need to go to that plan in order to make some money. Fame is fleeting, even more so if you don't have the talent to back it up with.

What is your assessment of which is better? Living in the past of classic movies or focusing on the present crop. To be honest, it's better to live in the best of both film eras. Both old Hollywood and present day Hollywood had their benefits and their downsides. Currently, the choices are endless and easily found with the touch of your remote. Sure, there's a negative side to having too many options. While you sit there with your spouse deciding what to watch, the program ended up finishing. There was also the added pressure of listening to workplace watercooler talk and trying to fit in with the in crowd.

Supermarkets are filled with tabloids playing up a celebrity's supposed downfall or phony affair to sell magazines. When that story is next to one about an alien baby, it was hard to take anything on the magazine's cover seriously. Trends come and go in Hollywood, as often as stars rise and fall. That will never change. Hopefully, the only thing that truly won't change is that there are movies to watch to allow their viewers an opportunity to escape into a different world for at least two hours. It was a fair trade for spending now $10 for a ticket.

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