In the WSJ online I cover Hollywood and capitalism including Star Wars, Star Trek, Avatar, The Wire and much else. Here are two bits:
Although Hollywood does sometimes produce leftist films like "Reds," it has no deep love for socialism…
But Hollywood does share Marx's concept of alienation, the idea that under capitalism workers are separated from the product of their work and made to feel like cogs in a machine rather than independent creators. The lowly screenwriter is a perfect illustration of what Marx had in mind–a screenwriter can pour heart and soul into a screenplay only to see it rewritten, optioned, revised, reworked, rewritten again and hacked, hacked and hacked by a succession of directors, producers and, worst of all, studio executives. A screenwriter can have a nominally successfully career in Hollywood without ever seeing one of his works brought to the screen. Thus, the antipathy of filmmakers to capitalism is less ideological than it is experiential. Screenwriters and directors find themselves in a daily battle between art and commerce, and they come to see their battle against "the suits" as emblematic of a larger war between creative labor and capital.
On The Wire:
…although it uses character, "The Wire" is ultimately about how character is dominated by larger economic forces: drug dealers come and go, but the drug market is forever. "Capitalism is the ultimate god in The Wire. Capitalism is Zeus," says David Simon, the show's creator.
Over its five seasons, "The Wire" shows how money and markets connect and intertwine white and black, rich and poor, criminal and police in a grand web that none of them truly comprehends–a product of human action but not of human design. It's the invisible hand that's calling the shots, as Mr. Simon subtly reminds us in the conclusion to the third season, when Detective McNulty wondrously pulls a book from the shelf of murdered drug dealer Stringer Bell, and the camera focuses in on the title: "The Wealth of Nations" by Adam Smith.
Smith's metaphor of the invisible hand, like Mr. Simon's invocation of Zeus, tells us that to understand the world we need to look beyond the actions of individuals to see the larger forces at work. But Zeus is an arbitrary and capricious god whose lightning bolts fall out of the sky without reason or direction. Smith's "invisible hand," however, is that of a kinder god, a god that cares not one whit for individuals but nevertheless guides self-interest toward the social good, progress, and economic growth. So Mr. Simon understands that the Baltimore dockworkers lost their jobs because of the relentless change that capitalism brings and not through any fault of their own. But Adam Smith sees what Mr. Simon does not, namely that it was capitalism that brought the Baltimore stevedores their high wages in the first place and it is the relentless change of capitalism that slowly raises wages throughout the world.