Glamorous people walking the red carpet.
Street sign announcing the Hollywood district in Los Angeles.
The Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard.
A clapperboard and a vintage style actor.
The Los Angeles skyline.
The iconic Hollywood Sign.
Hollywood has great power to spread political opinions through cultural messages in their films.
A crowd of fans taking photos at a film premiere.
The Hollywood Hills.
A person doing drugs, a phenomenon that is not unfamiliar in Hollywood.

Many of the largest American film studios are located in a Los Angeles neighborhood called Hollywood. For this reason, the name Hollywood has become synonymous with the entire cinema production for the United States. But not only movie sets earn the Los Angeles neighborhood fame. The Hollywood district is also home to the landmark Hollywood sign, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Sunset Strip and the luxurious celebrity houses of Hollywood Hills.

Blockbuster movies

Every year, Hollywood, with its hub in the L.A. celebrity quarters, turns out blockbuster movies that enjoy popularity worldwide. Thanks to this success, the film producers become known as creative geniuses and the starring actors become acclaimed celebrities with masses of devoted fans. The same successes, furthermore, inspire hopefuls from all over the world to come to Los Angeles for their chance at fame, fortune and a thriving career. However, only a small percentage of the aspiring actors are cast for any significant film roles. The rest, stereotypically, wait tables at local restaurants, anticipating a movie breakthrough that will never materialize.

Life in show business

To newcomers in show business — like the stereotypical waiters — as well as to established film stars, it is both a blessing and a curse that Hollywood is very money-driven. The upside is that with enough talent and effort, it is possible to fulfill your dreams, since what matters is how your acting contributes to movie successes and film studio revenues. The downside, quite dangerously, is that the pressure to look attractive and deliver top-level performances — basically requirements to be relevant in film — sometimes lead to a self-destructive dependency on plastic surgery and drugs.

Cultural power and lost power

Though a serious health issue deserving of scrutiny, actors’ potential dependency on plastic surgery and drugs is often overshadowed by the overwhelming impact of the films that they are in. This is in line with the captivating effects of motion picture storytelling overall, which gives Hollywood major, though subtle, powers to influence people through cultural messages. Described briefly, these subtle powers to influence are at work if Hollywood, for example, via its movies, signals that life in American universities is cool, since more people then, quite likely, are going to apply to universities to try to have the same type of life that film characters have. Consequently, in effect, relatively anonymous American film directors wield trend-setting power comparable to that of famous pop singers and top influencers on social media.

Contrasting Hollywood’s strong cultural influence over the public, the large power it once had over individual actors is largely gone. This is due to actors having become free agents today, as opposed to being bound to the film studios by long contracts, which they were in the early to mid- 20th century. As a result, top actors can now pick and choose among different film roles and negotiate much higher salaries than before. On the other hand, there is no long-term job security anymore, and second-tier actors often have to accept long intervals between jobs and relatively low pay.