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"I'm in a funny business, Ray. Everybody talks like hippies and acts like they're in the Sicilian mob."
—Lisa Lundquist, Law and Order
When you think of Hollywood and other places within the entertainment industry, as well as the stars that inhabit them, you think of glamorous men and women who create the magic you see in movies and television, right?
WRONG! In Horrible Hollywood, the actors and actresses are brain-dead, spoiled, have a tendency towards fighting the law, like to engage in occasional sexual deviancy, and are addicted to various illegal substances and / or sex workers. Everyone fears growing old and losing their fame, so plastic surgery and desperate attempts to seem young abound. The directors are egomaniac control freaks who wear funny pants. The assistants are overworked, underpaid, and might be snarky towards the talent, but this won't stop them from ruthlessly trying to climb the ladder — and in this depraved environment, climbing to the top tends to be a horizontal sort of activity. The fans are insane and you might gain some stalkers. The executives are fond of excessive meddling and/or just plain corrupt. The Writers are Cloudcuckoolander Butt Monkeys. Absolutely everyone — even people who are not actually in the entertainment industry — is a Stepford Smiler Phony who may be all smiles and charm and obsequiousness to your face, but only because they secretly hate you and can't wait for you to turn your back so they can stick a knife into it. Everywhere you look, crippling insecurities and neuroses are constantly being masked with bombastic, preening arrogance and ego.
Despite what the title may imply, this isn't just for movies, this can go for things like television or actual live theater as well.
See also Celebrity Is Overrated, which tends to go in line with this. See also: every trope on this wiki containing the word Hollywood.
SIDENOTE: This trope only applies to Hollywood, California, not any of the other Hollywoods.
Anime & Manga
- In the world of Nana, assorted record companies are evil and probably Yakuza, all performers have issues ranging from Parental Abandonment to being in teenage prostitution rings to drug addiction, and they are surrounded by stalkers.
- David Mamet's film State And Main.
- Film Quarterly, describing Lynch's vision of Hollywood in Mulholland Drive: "Human putrefaction ... in a city of lethal illusions."
- The rather infamous An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn.
- Barton Fink
- Sunset Boulevard, though its attitude toward the studio system was neutral enough that Paramount allowed the use of its own name and several names associated with it.
- The Bad and The Beautiful
- Robert Altman's The Player, Up to Eleven
- The Party has this as one of its themes, but is (mostly) light-hearted about it.
- Scream 3.
- Swimming with Sharks
- Living In Oblivion is the independent film version of this trope.
- The Real Blonde does this with the New York fashion and cinema scene.
- Taken together both Wayne's World films show the television and music industries to be this. Except for Alice Cooper.
- Bowfinger takes this as its premise and plays it for comedy more than satire.
- Get Shorty conflates this trope with organized crime.
- While focusing solely on a small group Boogie Nights is actually an inversion of this trope... in the porn industry, typically portrayed as being even more corrupt and exploitative than the mainstream film industry. However, while it's implied that this is the case in a larger context (several of the producers are hinted to have mob ties at the very least), the film focusses on the main characters bonding together as a loving family unit.
- Tropic Thunder
- There is elements of this in Sunset. Tom Mix himself is a decent fellow, but there is plenty of corruption and decadence.
- S.O.B.: The title is an abbreveation the term one character uses to describe how Hollywood operates: Standard Operational Bullshit.
- Americas Sweethearts: Mostly focused on the tropes surrounding celebrity romances and an agent exploiting it for movie promotion.
- The Cats Meow
- Kiss Kiss Bang Bang portrays Hollywood as a weirdly glamourous and seriously fucked up place which attracts the damaged and disturbed.
Harry: It's abandonment, it's abuse, it's, "My uncle put his ping-ping in my papa!"... and then they all come out here! I swear to God, it's like somebody took America by the East Coast, and shook it, and all the normal girls managed to hang on.
- Discussed at length in Hollywood Paparazzo. It is explained that the rise of tabloid journalism and the paparazzi has led to celebrities becoming insular, screwed-up and totally alienated from the rest of society, who often go down a self-destructive path. In turn, the paparazzi are self-obsessed people who run and hide from anyone they don't know to conceal their identities, people in a position of power are vain and power-hungry, and the fans are crazed lunatics who will stop at nothing to harass celebrities. The film highlights the absurdity of this culture with a well-adjusted young boy who acts just as cutthroat as the paparazzi when it comes to getting celebrity photos.
- The Lonely Lady. The poor put-upon heroine just wants to sell her script. She does, and wins an award for it, but not before she's sexually exploited by everyone and their dog.
- Money: A Suicide Note is a Martin Amis book about a really unpleasant advertising man writing a movie script and getting it published. He is a truly horrible character, and so are most of the other people he meets.
- Nathanael West's novel Day Of The Locust
- L.A. Confidential.
- Evelyn Waugh's novel The Loved One, as well as The Film of the Book.
- Pretty much the point of Bright Shiny Morning.
- Clive Barker's Coldheart Canyon starts with this trope, and proceeds into more supernatural territory...
- All the characters of Imperial Bedrooms, the sequel to Bret Easton Ellis's Less Than Zero, are members of the Hollywood machine.
- Raymond Chandler's fifth novel, The Little Sister is all about this. Story features a producer named Oppenheimer, because Chandler's subtle like that.
Live Action TV
- The Supernatural episode "Hollywood Babylon".
- The Law and Order three-parter about a Hollywood producer who gets murdered, forcing the New York-based detectives and prosecutors to spend time in Los Angeles, takes this approach, with almost everyone involved in that world painted as grasping, backstabbing, narcissistic and neurotic. It's aptly summed up by a disillusioned junior executive (and one of the few 'Hollywood' characters who isn't an utterly horrible human being) who bitterly comments that everyone around her "talks like they're a hippy and acts like they're in the Sicilian Mafia."
- The 70s Ellery Queen episode "The Adventure of the Sinister Scenario" had the Queens, father and son, witness this for themselves when they go on the set of an adaptation of one of Ellery's books. This being an Ellery Queen mystery, this trope's horrible aspects culminate in murder.
- Di RT
- Made in Canada, except it's about the Canadian industry.
- And yet, universally believable enough to be exported south of the border (as The Industry).
- The depiction of the behind-the-scenes world of The Larry Sanders Show isn't exactly flattering.
- The West Wing, of all things, touches on this every so often. C.J Cregg's backstory involves her working as a publicist for a selection of spoilt and neurotic Hollywood types who throw tantrums if they get placed lower on a magazine's 'who's most influential in Hollywood' list; a job she hates and considers meaningless (and eventually gets fired from). Another episode has the President go to a fundraising event in Beverly Hills swarming with these types; he doesn't have fun. A few other episodes also have mentions of this kind of thing.
- Played with in the Castle episode "One Life To Lose"; the behind the scenes environment of the popular soap opera isn't exactly free of intrigue, bitchiness and people sleeping with and / or hating each other and playing their own agendas, but it's no worse than some of the other walks of life the characters have entered.
- Thirty Rock, while more sympathetic than the others, does portay the more shallowier / nastier / crazier elements of showbiz.
- In one episode of Boy Meets World, Eric goes to Hollywood be a cast member of the Self-Parody show Kid Gets Acquainted with the Universe, he finds out that the actors on the show are either jerkasses or highly neurotic, the so-called "best writers in town" are actually small children, and the scripts are recycled many times and full of Stylistic Suck.
- In Murder, She Wrote, Hollywood, Broadway and the TV industry are all full of people lying, cheating, sleeping around to get ahead, and above all, plotting to kill each other. Admittedly, this doesn't distinguish them from Murder, She Wrote's portrayal of newspapers, book publishing, computer firms, toy companies...
- The Decemberists' "Los Angeles, I'm Yours" is more about the city of Los Angeles, but elements of Horrible Hollywood creep into the lyrics.
- System of a Down's "Lost in Hollywood."
- Supertramp's "Gone Hollywood".
- Soul Coughing's "Screenwriter's Blues"
- Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Californication" includes some of this, as it celebrates the good and the bad.
- The protagonist of the musical City of Angels encounters elements of this kind of Hollywood when trying to adapt his crime novel into a movie.
- The LA Noire case "The Fallen Idol" shows this at its worst, with a sleazy pedophile movie producer who rapes pre-teen girls and films it. Interestingly averted in the rest of the game: Despite being assigned to the Hollywood division at one point, you rarely investigate anyone in the entertainment industry.
- The Onion ran an advice column called Ask A Faulknerian Idiot Manchild. In one, he recounts the night he spent with a bitter, drunken writer who had a case of this trope.
"He was talking how he never should have done gone to Hollywood to write for them picture-shows. He was saying how California was like a demon straight from hell, a burning flapping devil beast that ate up everything it saw, and that it even ate his soul. When he stopped talking I tried to shake him to wake him on up, but he weren't moving. He weren't waking on up at all."
- The Simpsons: Bart sees this in the episode "Bart Gets Famous", where he becomes the "I didn't do it kid" and is exposed to the full force of showbiz and a hideous bitch goddess. The trope is arguably inverted in "Radioactive Man", where Milhouse becomes Fallout Boy in the Radioactive Man film, and it's Springfield that's shown to be the ones gouging the simple yet not that unpleasant Hollywood folks out of their money.
Producer: Thank god we're back in Hollywood, where people treat each other right!
- The Critic frequently invokes this trope.
- Truth in...Hollywood? The inspiration has to come from somewhere.