Is Nepotism a Problem in Hollywood?

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Nepotism is often looked at with disdain; the idea that someone has gained success without necessarily putting in as much work is a sore subject, and goes against the rules of capitalism and hustle culture we are engineered to pursue. Hollywood was a complete epicentre of people whose father is (insert some casting director here) and mother is (insert some old Hollywood starlet here). But how much has Hollywood changed?

This discussion crops up often, however gained resurgence recently in light of the casting of Ben Platt in the film adaption of Dear Evan Hansen. Playing the 17 year old titular character, 27 year old Platt was criticised for being too old, and noticeably so amongst even castmates that were not high school age but could believably play that. Despite having played and originated this character on Broadway, this casting decision became more understandable, and more frustrating, when it was revealed that his father, Marc Platt, was the film’s producer.

This makes Platt’s comment that this film ‘probably wouldn’t get made’ without him seem much more entitled. The fact that he has simply outgrown the role and therefore a ‘nobody’ that would be better suited, or even a current Broadway performer could have not only benefited but exceled in his stead, creates an interesting discussion about how nepotism in Hollywood displaces those without these advantages or names. In fact, it can keep you from even stepping through the door. Sometimes actors tackle this by being upfront with where they come from: Emily Olsen has described her ways of tackling nepotism comments by being proud of what her family has achieved, and working hard to become a talent of her own. However, it only takes a couple of clicks to find out that your favourite actor has parents in blue font on Wikipedia, and we all know the implications behind keeping this quiet. Surely then, there is an understanding that nepotism is negative?

What complicates matters is that despite being privileged, these people cannot change their circumstance. If we had a famous director for a parent, would you really miss out on the opportunity of entering a line of work that would already welcome you, a line of work that you have grown up seeing? However, Platt’s case serves as an overt issue of nepotism in Hollywood; everything about Dear Evan Hansen was to give him a breakthrough role, and he needed his father to achieve this. Many advantaged actors benefit from their name and skill, however, poor casting and performance exposes the bare bones of Hollywood many try and keep under wraps in order to preserve the ideal of working your way up to be star: that it is dominantly run by generations and legacies of known talent.

Of course there are people in Hollywood that have made a name for themselves, however there is much more work to be done. While those that benefit from nepotism may also be talented, it is understandable that they would be given their experience and knowledge many trying to make a breakthrough will not have. This is why Hollywood needs to catch up, and consciously give more spaces to the best people for the job.

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2nd year English and Film minor student and Film Sub-Editor 2020/21. Loves the cinema, hates the people.

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