The Progressive Post

European Culture: The Controlling Hand of Big Business

13/06/2015

It may be hard to define, but the idea that Europeans share common cultural traditions – from art to literature and cinema – is certainly a widely accepted one.

The problem with defining European culture is that it inevitably involves long-winded, verbose statements – to which someone will always finds an exception. What are more easily discussed are the different traditions within that shared culture, such as the Italian Renaissance or French Impressionism. European cinema also has its traditions –Spanish surrealism, Italian neo-realism, the French New Wave or the Czech, Polish or Scandinavians cinemas – and all have a European element in them. They are all different from the American tradition of melodrama, sentimental music and overstated emotions. Cinematic influences aside, filmmakers in Europe also feed off a European heritage in terms of literature, painting and fine art – which are always present in our creative imagination. So whether it’s theatre, the visual arts, photography or writing prose, the main cultural traditions and influences are clearly European ones.

Film makers may promote this sense of a common Europe culture. However, that should not be to the exclusion of cinema from Latin America, Asia or other parts of the world. Cinema should be international. We should have open minds to films wherever they are from – all should be welcomed.

Cinema: a source of political conflict

More importantly, the question of European cinema leads to a key point about a political conflict within Europe between the interests of big business and the people. In the UK at least, the ownership and programming of cinemas is dominated by big corporations, who show commodities that are designed to maximise profits. They favour films that reflect their own prejudices. Most film directors and writers, and probably many producers, would think of themselves as being progressive, of the Left – but that voice doesn’t simply come through to audiences because the films are not available to the average cinema-goer.

The same is also true for television, which is by and large controlled by government appointees. Trade unions used to have a policy back in the 1970s for nationalisation of the film industry, including cinemas and studios. It’s long forgotten now, but the idea then – and I think it’s a good one – is that cinemas should be treated like theatres: largely owned by the municipalities and programmed by people who care about films. Then you would build an audience, and a cinema would be like an art gallery – rather than being like an airport bookstore. In a free-market organisation dominated by large corporations you can’t get that. And that’s why I believe there needs to be a change.

Find all related publications
Publications
20/06/2024

Responsibility-sharing or shifting?

New Pact Implementation series
17/06/2024

Separation or divorce? The popular class and social democracy in Poland

13/06/2024

The Crisis and Force Majeure Regulation: Towards future-proof crisis management and responses?

New Pact Implementation series
11/06/2024

Computer in command

Digital Programme: Algorithms at the workplace
Find all related news
News
20/06/2024

FEPS celebrates its annual General Assembly and welcomes new members

05/06/2024

FEPS represented at T20 Brasil International Advisory Council

16/05/2024

FEPS at UN Civil Society Conference in Kenya

15/05/2024

Notice of vacancy – Policy analyst on international relations

Find all related in the media
In the media

Falsely historic European elections bring little change, says FEPS

by Agence Europe 18/06/2024
Agence Europe's article features an analysis of the EU election results by Ania Skrzypek, FEPS Director for Research and Training, published in The Progressive Post.

Die EU-Osterweiterung nach 20 Jahren: Kann die Konvergenz sozial und wirtschaftlich nachhaltig gestaltet werden?

by Wirtschaftsdienst 13/06/2024
'EU Eastward Enlargement After 20 Years: Socially and Economically Sustainable Convergence?' FEPS Secretary General László Andor co-authored this article of the German journal Wirtschaftsdienst

Flere har en computer som chef: »Det dræber al gejst og motivation«

by Finans 12/06/2024
'Several people have a computer as their boss: "It kills all spirit and motivation" Finans article features FEPS latest policy study and survey 'Computer in command'

Un comisario de democracia para Europa

by Confidencial 11/06/2024
"A Democracy Commissioner for Europe". FEPS President Maria João Rodrigues co-authors this article, advocating for the establishment of a Democracy Commissioner.