Book Reviews -- Risky Business: The Political Economy of Hollywood by David F. Prindle

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Risky Business: The Political Economy of Hollywood. David F. Prindle. Westview Press, 1993. 180 pp. Index. $39.95.

The image of "liberal Hollywood" as a bastion of trendy ideas, libertine values, and radical chic has become a commonplace in political rhetoric on the Right in the United States. But is this "accusation" (as if liberalism is a disease) true, or is this the stuff of conservative fantasy and not a little bit of envy? Professor Prindle offers us some intriguing answers from the point of view of a social scientist: Hollywood is the product of peculiar economic, sociological and political circumstances and practices and should not be dismissed as merely a lotus land of pseudo-liberal phonies. Drawing the still surprisingly sparse serious literature on Hollywood, the author puts together perhaps the most cogent explanation of political Hollywood to date.

Prindle's success in so doing stems from his sociological sensibility. He approaches Hollywood as a social system, not a land of gods and moguls and pleasure-domes. Rather, the author systematically examines the historical and systemic reasons for the political perspective and activities that dominate. What is fascinating about this is that on the one hand the people who make movies are part of the "media elite," the small coterie of powerful folks who control the structure and content of mass communications; but on the other, this elite position does not drive them into the conservatism born of wealth and position. …