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by John Robert Beardsley
Published in Universal Film Magazine

Today, perhaps more than any time in history, the controlling factor in the theatrical arts industry is the bottom line.  The unfortunate difference now is that at the major studios those with little and no artistic depth or experience and a predetermined agenda are making the decisions.

20After years as an actor and fight director, seeing audiences not know whether to clap or laugh or even when the show was over,  I made a decision to work at the university level to train students in the art of stage combat. My career blossomed  as an artist-in-residence (which was a pleasant upgrade from starving artist status). The artistic choices were exciting and I enjoyed a unique freedom for discovery in the academic setting. From there, Themed Action Entertainment was the next step.  It provided work with corporate as an independent contractor.

I quickly found respect for my original craft frustrated by artistic decisions made by “white shoe boys”, with their pricey MBA’s and no theatrical background, expertise or training.  As one corporate executive so brilliantly explained. “Don’t waste your time giving these people anything artistic. They won’t understand. The audience won’t appreciate anything with quality.  They put their brains in their glove boxes before they come thru the gates.”  (“Speak for yourself,” methought.)

This mentality has been running everything for longer than we wish to know.  We have been manipulated by “our betters” for11 way too long.  Rarely have I seen ethical or professional behavior among big entertainment providers.  They are bent on producing raunchy Hollywood  drivel for profits instead of inspiring, thought-provoking stories with characters striving for noble goals. Base emotions are played: facts, logic and character development through dealing with conflict are gone. Degradation of mankind, traditional morals and culture is ubiquitous.

Many actors aspire to have meaning in their work.  Unfortunately, many sell their souls for lucrative opportunities and once committed to that, rarely turn back. Work is for those who settle for low-end circus performing.  Don’t get me wrong: I have great respect for real circus performers. I am talking about poorly trained performers in Pavlovian themed productions.  They just run from stage left to right for a bone without credible interactions.

Watching quality steadily drop on what I hold dear to my heart is disturbing. The land of the brave, free, self-reliant individual where I was raised has transmogrified into the land of  corporate sock puppets programming the increasingly ignorant.   Edward Bernays’ propaganda techniques (which he called Public Relations) have been employed with devastating success on a naive, trusting public.

This has led me to focus on the contemporary art form, film, weaving together so many areas of expertise, and the underlying question of this essay:  artistic freedom and the quality of life.  The struggle I see is goodness, honor and intelligence being drained from our souls by design.  How long are people willing to ignore it and accept this diabolical degradation of humanity?

Recently I was asked by a friend to work on a live action pirate show in the Caribbean.  Flattered, I accepted the offer, somewhat against my better judgement. This was allegedly a respected production company. To say it had no production values would be accurate.

6What I learned is that everything has been sold out to offshore interests that do not share our American/Western cultural values. When I worked in Japan there was still quality and the opportunity to work with people of artistic and personal integrity.  In this new third-world, arrogantly anti-American control of artistic quality, story-line and values, I found a completely degenerate quality to the business of providing entertainment.  It was people pretending to imitate art but producing nothing but clips and soundbites of something they understand about as well as they understand quantum physics.

The world is numbed by these entertainment industry frauds who have no focus, training or discipline, much less professional standards. That Caribbean production outfit took pride in treating artists as slaves, stupider than themselves, aggravated by the fact that they had no idea of how to build a production or provide marketable entertainment.  Their egos were bigger than their brains and talent combined… on a good day.

The client had no clue; the unethical production company cared nothing about whether the show even opened but was content to milk it for what they could.  They boasted they would open with a viable product in four weeks. Five months later it had not opened. There was no preparation, communication or understanding of how to create a good product. I’ve seen this same behavior in India and China.  The only thing that matters is the bottom line for corporate pockets.

Work that is being offered by corporate to artists has destroyed true art and the quality of human life. It offers little more than a high-end slave market, just like everything else.

Cecil B. DeMille marked the end of the Golden Era in Hollywood.  He refused to accept the terms of the bean counters and was crushed in the process. Most great artists have all had to produce their art for the fickle, often perverted, elite.  Some have actually educated them and raised their standards.  In France, when the artists revolted, most all died poor but with their artistic integrity intact.

Predictive programming through movies and TV has been wildly successful.  However, general audiences may be beginning to make a statement at the box office:  witness the big bucks bombs in the summer of  2013.  Faith-based entertainment currently controls 64% of audiences. People need hope to inspire the future, not debauchery and trans-humanist monsters.

Is it time for an Artistic Revolution?  2An artistic renaissance must begin by weaning from corporate. We will have to work with less, but indies are already doing that by taking their artistic visions into their own hands, creating in a milieu of freedom and integrity.

The answer lies in the hands and hearts of real people with sound artistic decisions made by culturally/historically (as opposed to politically correct) educated Americans.  Artists must not be swayed by the erroneous assumptions of the propaganda machine about humanity.  Audiences will support good material, well-executed.

It is time to re-invent our industry:  creating with integrity, honor and joy for people hungry for the same?

J.R. Beardsley is a committee member and regular contributor to Universal Film magazine; Executive Director and President for Touché International Films, Inc.; an international Fight Director and can be found on LinkedIn.