NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 22, 2004

Some 350,000 Americans make a living in the film industry, but many of these jobs are threatened -- not just by outsourcing to cheaper locales, but also by the vulgarity of American cultural exports, says Todd G. Buchholz, a former economic adviser in the elder Bush administration.

According to Buchholz:

  • Movies that rely less on sex and violence stand a better chance of success in the future in developing countries like China, India and Mexico.
  • With the rise of outsourcing, English is fast becoming the lingua franca of the developing world; as English expands its dominance, foreign audiences may find more American scripts understandable.
  • Developing countries generally have more traditional mores than the United States; in China, Confucian standards of modesty still hold sway, as do conservative Hindi sensibilities in India.

Finally, says Buchholz, there is the quaint but durable notion that, cultural differences notwithstanding, Saturday-night dates are the same world over: dinner and a movie. Fast food sales are a leading indicator for movie receipts, and almost 50 percent of Chinese city dwellers regularly visit a Western fast-food restaurant. In effect, McDonald's is leading the way for American movie stars.

Chinese moviegoers and television watchers are developing appetites for more than just the easily translated grunts and groans of movies that focus strictly on sex and violence. They want plot and character, too. Hollywood better learn to give it to them, says Buchholz.

Source: Todd G. Buchholz, "G-Rated Exports." New York Times, October 19, 2004.

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