Tuesday Tropes: Hollywood as a Den of Iniquity

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a work of fiction that portrays Hollywood as anything but a place where vacuous, good-looking, amoral people go to make a lot of money. Everybody is a fake, a backstabber, an asshole, and probably on drugs. I realize that it might be hard to accept this isn’t true after the VMAs last week, but I promise: it’s not as bad as you think.

I promise not all of Hollywood is like this.

I promise not all of Hollywood is like this.

Why this is bad: You’re devaluing an entire society and culture to a base stereotype. Yes, Hollywood is its own culture. When you decide to fall into the hundreds of tropes that encompass Hollywood as Sin City, you’re being incredibly lazy. The place is just as diverse as any other city. Does it attract a certain type of person? Yes, but that doesn’t make them everyone a carbon-copy of each other. The only trait that everyone might share is ambition. Think of it like your high school. Were there egomaniacs? Assholes? Drug addicts? Of course. But there were also people who were genuinely good, people who were generous, people who just loved what they did and didn’t care about fame or popularity, even if they had it. It’s just the crazies that make the news. Each person has a complex history and personality and to reduce them to some single stereotype is not only disrespectful, it’s also wrong.

Tom Hiddleston is proof that you can be famous and the nicest person on Earth (though, admittedly, he's not in Hollywood).

Tom Hiddleston is proof that you can be famous and the nicest person on Earth (though, admittedly, he’s not in Hollywood).

How you can fix it: Just treat it like any other city. If your story takes place in Hollywood, then make sure all your characters are well-rounded. Of course, this is something you should do anyway, but don’t let your story get sucked into the Hollywood Hell Hole trope. Hollywood is certainly different than “Real Life,” but the people are still as diverse as anywhere else. Just remember that each of your characters is representative of a real person, and real people are not flat, nor do they perfectly fit stereotypes.

Bottom Line: People, even those in Hollywood, are just that – people. So don’t diminish them to flatness just because that’s how you’ve seen them represented in other media. Every character should be complex, even if it’s not shown in the course of your story. Treat your characters like people and keep them rooted in reality, and you won’t have to worry about any of this.

Give me your thoughts.

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