The BBC:
Owning Boardwalk and Park Place

         A national church, driving on the left side, a tea break, royalty: all the things that I find strangely different from American culture, it is not one of them. But maybe the idea of a national church is similar. What I am talking about is a monopoly.

         The audacious idea of a monopoly in America is not only unheard up but shunned. It has happened, probably still does; however, the idea of it is a big no-no. However, it seems that England thrives on it. The natives have a national church, and of course there are other churches in England (fun fact I learned while I was over there, in 1980 on a census so many people put Jedi as their religion that it became a national religion), but the Church of England is required to be in every city. When watching TV in England over there, I found that it seems that there is BBC one through ten. It is the world’s largest broadcasting corporation in the world. That power also bleeds over into movies.

         Through all the conversations I had about film it did not seem that England made very many. Those it did made were in conjunction with the BBC. The way that the BBC is set up is that it is similar to our HBO, besides of course, the fact that it is like the only channel. Certain branches of the BBC are responsible for movies. Their slogan is, “This is what we do.” I think in the film area it is better as, “This is what we don’t do.” To me if there is one major studio making movies that causes a few problems.

         Competition is a very important factor. Paramount, Universal, Lionsgate, Disney, etc. etc. all compete against with each other; and, being so, they try to create better and better and bigger movies. If that were not the case, then there would be a stagnation. I think England in ways suffers from that.

         Not enough movies, especially those of quality are made. It is the same principle as in Communism. “If I can make the same amount of money as a sheep herder why do the work of a doctor?” So for the BBC if they can make a few movies a year and everyone goes and sees them, then why make more? In America there are TONS of competitions between movie goers. I feel at the same time that American movies coming to England give the BBC its only outside competition. That is what perplexes me the most. When I was over in England the only “British” movies I saw where two at the Institute of Contemporary Arts and the other two were Tom Vaughn’s 2006 Starter for 10 and Chris Noonan’s 2006 Miss Potter (which was a unique and cool movie). However, there was a flood of American movies. Why? I, as much as anyone, love American movies. At the same time I love British movies. I hope that in some way if England begins to start producing more movies, then maybe England and British movies would be in more competition, thus forcing both sides to produce better and better movies! But alas, with a stagnant movie production England seems to have that will never happen.

         On top of that English actors say to make movies they come to America. I do have to say that that is not a bad thing for Americans. Plenty of our beloved silver screen actors have come from England. Plus, we all love the accents. But as for Englanders, I do not know what that means.

         I had a long discussion with a student over there. The overall gist I got from him was that they had a large admiration for their stage actors. The West End is apparently huge over there, and subsequently other areas of England have prestigious theatre areas. Unlike America where few areas of our country have access to quality theatre, they have relatively easy access to tons of theatre. In fact most of the big movie actors have done stage shows in England. On top of that there are many movies that do not get any light in America, others (Woody Allen’s 2005 Matchpoint, Sharon Maguire’s 2001 Bridget Jones Diary, Guy Ritchie’s 2000 Snatch, Starter for Ten,) do get quite a bit of publicity and are known to American Audiences. I asked about independent movies and film makers. Apparently they are not very well known. As far as I can tell they have a few film festivals in England but nothing to America, and they probably do not rank up next to those in France or even Italy.

         This led me to inquire further about their movies. It seemed that most movies made over there are for one, made with the BBC and two, are often very patriotic in nature. They deal with England issues. “You have no idea how many movies are made about Queen Elizabeth I,” he said.

         I talked with his sister, and she gave similar responses. However (maybe she is just more “pop culture” than he is) she admired more English actors and stars. I found it funny she and most of her friends loved Johnny Depp. Maybe some things are universal. But many of her favorite movies are American made.

         I find this very strange. I take pride in knowing how well Americans make movies. However, I feel bad for British. Because of the actors they have and their reputations in America, there is no doubt that they have talent. Unfortunately they just do not make movies. I personally think this is a travesty. I do not understand. Because of the supreme power of the BBC, I cannot help but point the finger at them.

         Now, the BBC does a lot of good stuff. It employs 26,000 people in Radio, TV, and movies. From the broadcast I have seen and heard, I have enjoyed the BBC coverage. The BBC also does a ton of charities and other good deeds like this. Yet, the BBC, despite all its positive actions is a monopoly; and, because of the worked it has done (or lack of) I cannot help but think the BBC is stifling the possibilities of great movies in England.

A. J. Casey

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