Alena Smith, the showrunner for Apple TV+’s Dickinson series, admitted earlier this month that so-called entertainment that Hollywood churns out “continues to decline in cultural relevance.”

Wiz Khalifa and Hailee Steinfeld in season three of “Dickinson,” now streaming on Apple TV+.

In an op-ed on The Ankler, Smith bemoaned the current state of Hollywood pointing to the ongoing writers and actors strikes, and shared her opinion that many of the Hollywood Studios including, one would assume, Amazon and Apple only have the primary goal to obtain monopoly power in order to “lower costs and hedge risk for Wall Street investors.”

However, as she was pointing to the problems she sees with current Hollywood, she did hit on one point that Hollywood might not be ready to hear, “the entertainment they sell continues to decline in cultural relevance.”

Wiz Khalifa and Hailee Steinfeld in season three of “Dickinson,” now streaming on Apple TV+.

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Smith is not the only one to note how what Hollywood is churning out is losing relevance. Chuck and Shazam! Fury of the Gods actor Zachary Levi recently described what Hollywood was creating as “garbage” during an appearance at Fan Expo Chicago.

As reported by Entertainment Weekly, Levi stated, “I personally feel like the amount of content that comes out of Hollywood that is garbage — they don’t care enough to actually make it great for you guys. They don’t.”

He added, “How many times do you watch a trailer and go, ‘Oh my god, this looks so cool!’ Then you go to the movie and it’s like, ‘This was what I get?’ They know that once you’ve already bought the ticket and you’re in the seat, they’ve got your money.”

Zachary Levi speaking at the 2019 WonderCon, for “Shazam!”, at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California. Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

As for how to change this, Levi posited, “And the only way for us to change any of it is to not go to the garbage.”

He then asserted, “We have to actively not choose the garbage. It’ll help. It’ll help a lot.”

Shazam (Zachary Levi) prepares for a lunch meeting in Shazam! Fury of the Gods (2023), Warner Bros. Pictures

Shazam (Zachary Levi) prepares for a lunch meeting in Shazam! Fury of the Gods (2023), Warner Bros. Pictures

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Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind writer Charlie Kaufman also recently described what Hollywood was producing as “garbage.”

As reported by Deadline, Kaufman made an apeparance at the Sarajevo Film Festival where he stated, “At this point, the only thing that makes money is garbage. It’s just fascinating. It makes a fortune, and that’s the bottom line.”

He added, “It’s very seductive to the studios but also to the people who engage and become the makers of that garbage, especially if they’re lauded for the garbage because they don’t have to look inward or think long about what they’re doing.”

Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson accepting the Grand Jury Award for Anomalisa in 2015. Photo Credit: Bruno Chatelin, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Kaufman made it abundantly clear it’s not just the studios churning this out, the “writers have been trained to eat and make the garbage too,” he said.

“As long as they are in that arena making that shit, then you might as well have AI do it,” he continued.

Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany) confronts the series' writers room in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law Season 1 Episode 9 "Whose Show Is This?" (2022), Marvel Entertainment

Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany) confronts the series’ writers room in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law Season 1 Episode 9 “Whose Show Is This?” (2022), Marvel Entertainment

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The writer also criticized audiences, “They don’t seem to see past the cynical sales pitch. Even though the sales pitch is presented in a way that suggests they are being fed something of value, they’re not.”

“The diet is so corrupted and has been for so long. It’s like if you eat shit all your life, you want shit. If you eat processed food, you crave it. And you wouldn’t if you hadn’t been fed it all your life. That’s what the movie machine does and I find it really offensive. It makes me angry,” Kaufman stated.

Charlie Kaufman participates in a Q&A at Fantastic Fest 2015. Photo Credit: anna Hanks from Austin, Texas, USA, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

YouTuber Gary Buechler of Nerdrotic also commented on Smith’s comments stating, “Again, Alena is not wrong and this decline is going to continue. And I would go so far as to say Hollywood is in a doom loop.”

He continued, “Once again, though, I think it would be prudent to point out that this is a doom loop created by the producers and writes of Hollywood. I didn’t hear any writers complaining back in 2018 and 2019 when producers were passing out those first look deals like coke at an Oscar’s after party.”

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Aside from these testimonies that Hollywood’s cultural relevance is in decline, one can also look at the domestic box office grosses. In 2019, the total domestic box office was $11.2 billion and they sold over 1.2 billion tickets.

In 2022, the total box office gross was only $7.4 billion and they only sold 708.9 million tickets. So far in 2023, the total domestic box office sits at $6.2 billion with only 598.6 million tickets sold.

Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man and Jonathan Majors as Kang the Conqueror in Marvel Studios' ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA. Photo by Jay Maidment. © 2022 MARVEL.

Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man and Jonathan Majors as Kang the Conqueror in Marvel Studios’ ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA. Photo by Jay Maidment. © 2022 MARVEL.

The biggest piece of evidence here is that people are not buying as many movie tickets as they had in the past. For a number of years before 2019, total tickets sold fluctuated between 1.2 billion and 1.3 billion.

  • 2018: 1,310,743,155
  • 2017: 1,225,554,386
  • 2016: 1,302,214,022
  • 2015: 1,323,104,760
  • 2014: 1,257,256,418
  • 2013: 1,339,157,833
  • 2012: 1,382,819,090
  • 2011: 1,282,921,357
  • 2010: 1,328,740,720
  • 2009: 1,418,567,388
  • 2008: 1,358,049,103

For the past two years, Hollywood can’t even sell 1 billion tickets.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange, Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez, and Rachel McAdams as Dr. Christine Palmer in Marvel Studios’ DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved.

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As for television, TechCrunch reported just a few days ago that “TV viewing, cable and broadcast usage fell below 50% in terms of total share among U.S. Viewers, according to Nielsen’s July 2023 report. Cable viewing dropped below 30% for the first time at 29.6%, down 12.5% year-over-year. Broadcast usage decreased to 20%, down 5.4% YoY.”

However, they did note that streaming set a record high, “Streaming services, on the other hand, accounted for 38.7% of total U.S. TV usage — a new record high for the category. Streaming usage has sky-rocketed 25.3% in the past year.”

Obviously, this points to the idea that if people aren’t watching your shows then it clearly shows a decline in cultural relevance.

An image from Squid Game Season 1 (2021), Netflix

However, people are still watching television, they just might not be watching Hollywood-produced series and films to the extent they once were. The biggest example of this is Netflix’s Squid Game, a South Korean produced drama. The series is the most watched show on Netflix with over 265.2 million views and 2.2 billion hours viewed.

In fact, a number of other non-Hollywood produced shows top Hollywood-produced ones on Netflix’s Top all time charts. Here’s the Top 10 English chart:

Netflix’s Top 10 Most Popular English TV Series

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And here’s the Non-English chart:

Netflix’s Top 10 Most Popular Non-English TV Series

As you can see, Money Heist: Part 4, Lupin: Part 1, and Money Heist: Part 5 best everything but the top five English series in terms of views. That means of the top 10 most viewed seasons on Netflix, four of them are not Hollywood productions. That would simply be unheard of just five years ago.

Smith is right Hollywood’s content continues to decline in cultural relevance and they have no one to blame but themselves.

Ghostbusters: Answer The Call (2016), Sony Pictures

This is not something to be mourned, but to be celebrated as much of what Hollywood is producing is aggressive propaganda meant to destroy people’s lives not only spiritually and emotionally, but in many cases physically as well.

It also means there is a big opportunity for up and coming creators to fill the gaps as Hollywood recedes.

Wraith of God Cover A by Aaron Lopresti (2023), Empire Comics

What do you make of Smith’s admittance that Hollywood produced content is declining in cultural relevacne?

NEXT: Marvel Star Chris Hemsworth Admits ‘Thor: Love And Thunder’ Missed The Mark: “It Just Became Too Silly”

  • About The Author

    John F. Trent
    Founder and Editor-in-Chief

    John is the Editor-in-Chief here at Bounding Into Comics. He is a massive Washington Capitals fan, lover of history, and likes to dabble in economics and philosophy.