The dark side of Hollywood is destigmatized

April 1, 2023

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Ella Goodstadt

The “dark side” of Hollywood has been exposed over time through celebrity accounts, movies, documentaries, and more.

Live from the Beverly Hills Hotel was the commencement of the 2020 Golden Globes. Ricky Gervais gave a wonderfully heartfelt speech in which he snubbed the Hollywood Foreign Press as illiterate and racist, poked fun at Netflix, and dubbed recent cinema as an absolute joke. 2020 was a big year for movies made by pedophiles, about pedophiles. The Marvel franchise reminds director Martin Scorsese of a “theme park” in which the actors know nothing more than wearing skinny tights and taking steroids. Gervais took a shot at everyone in Hollywood that has ever been involved with Jeffrey Epstein. If Hollywood producers can build sweat shops in China, then he does not but it past them to call their agents if “ISIS created a streaming service.” All this chaos in one speech had the celebrities’ jaws wide open as they acted as baffled as they are guilty.

Let’s just say Gervais was not invited to host again, but that opened the media to talking about the extremely dark side of Hollywood. This side is hidden by flashing lights, glowing movie premieres, and paparazzi crowding limousines as the celebrities file out to accept their little awards and lecture the public about topics they are in no position to give opinions about.

Watching Hollywood movies shapes the perception of reality. The glamour, the fame, and the money influences the beliefs and values of many viewers worldwide. However, there is a seedy underside to the Hollywood dream that is sold to viewers through movies, books, and TV shows. This side is overtly destigmatized and full of greed, sex, and drugs. It was not until 1998 that a documentary called The Dark Side of Hollywood looked behind the scenes of what it takes to make a low-budget Hollywood movie. It exposes how fame is fragile and what actors and actresses must go through to keep their titles. This documentary alone exposes the harsh reality of actors, Sylvestor Stallone and Jack Nicholson’s, rise to fame. It explores the drug addictions and failed marriages very early on in an actor’s career. They become addicted to the highs of fame and spend minimal quality time with the people they love. The starry-eyed newcomers are too busy looking for spots in the best movies and TV shows in order to get their name out there.

Is this really the cost of stardom? Do celebrities really get lost in Hollywood? It is important to take a look at the 1950’s film, Sunset Boulevard, that has become famous for providing an accurate representation of the classic Hollywood lifestyle on Sunset Strip. Aging actress, Norma Desmond, refuses to come to terms with the end of her stardom so she hires a deceptive young screenwriter that causes a dangerous relationship to emerge. Let’s just say the ending revolves around death and violence, no spoilers here. But this early representation of Hollywood was still rather destigmatized and kept in silent. The issue was very clear: fame ruins people because the higher-ups take advantage of young actors. Everyone wants to get a leg up from another and it leads to a vicious cycle.

Fast forward almost a century later to Drew Barrymore’s documentary in 2022 called Dark Hollywood. Drew Barrymore has been on screen since she was five years old. Her mother was unable to care for her, so Hollywood took advantage of the child, and she was exposed to drugs and sex at such an early age. She was slammed into the media and talk shows at the age of seven while having extremely abusive parents at home. She was blacklisted for her cocaine use at the age of just 12 and became an alcoholic that had to be admitted to rehab during her teen years. The documentary follows how this was because of being placed in the limelight at such a young age and that the warning signs were utterly dismissed. Barrymore still struggles from the trauma that she endured in this time of her life. She was a child star glamorized in the media and glorified on talk shows.

Another striking documentary is Pamela Anderson’s Pamela, a Love Story. It follows the gross sexism and misogyny of the producers of Hollywood at the time of her career as well as her relationship with her abusive estranged husband, Tommy Lee. Their relationship was put on blast and was always praised in the media. What was hidden until now was the violent physical and emotional abuse Pamela endured in her lifetime. Hollywood made her a sex icon, and her opinions and feelings were dismissed in the media. It wasn’t until her personal archives were used to make this documentary that the real monsters who took her pain and created a new narrative for her in the media were exposed.

Sexual exploitation in tabloids, self-delusions, and young actors taking a rough start to stardom is all a part of the Hollywood dream. This dream consists of being famous, yet no one really knows the real people behind the flashing camera lights. Movies like Once Upon a Time In Hollywood and Babylon are exposing the ridiculousness and danger in Hollywood and how it can affect stars in the long run. As destigmatized as it may seem, the dark side of Hollywood is finally being recognized.

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