Terrorism Dims Hollywood's Appeal

Hollywood's suffering from an identity crisis.

In a changed world — since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 — the public doesn't care about the Emmys or what actors are wearing, violent films are being uncharacteristically pulled or edited and even Hollywood players have become disillusioned with their own work.

And while fans appreciate entertainment's escapism, skepticism of the glitz's importance both inside and outside the industry, is prevalent.

Recently Drew Barrymore, who has spent virtually her whole life in front of a camera, had trouble going through the rigors of a press junket for her new flick Riding in Cars With Boys.

"Press junkets are something that come to me so naturally," she told TV Guide Online. "I've done so many of them and I really enjoy them. This is not that time. I've never done this. I've never worked in a time of war. I'm not experienced in this. It's very unsafe when you don't know how to function."

Even Bruce Willis, an actor who's shed his fair share of fake blood in his career, claims to be calling it quits as a tough guy.

"I'm not an action hero anymore and I think it would be inappropriate for me to compare anything that happens in Hollywood and the entertainment industry to the tragic loss of life on Sept. 11," he told TV Guide Online.

Does that mean shoot 'em up movies will be replaced with feel-good family fare? Perhaps Arnold Schwarzenegger's postponed film Collateral Damage will be replaced with Kindergarten Cop II?

Not necessarily. "Of course they had to shelve that Schwarzenegger movie. That was a no-brainer," said Robert Thompson, a pop culture professor at Syracuse University. "But the action/adventure isn't going away."

He added that if audiences can't find clear examples of American success in the war on terror in real life, they will go to the movies to see the good guys win. "People will look for that narrative closure in entertainment. Use of terrorists as bad guys in movies and in action/adventure is going to have a renaissance."

Instead of making films as the country heads into war, some Hollywood types are taking this opportunity to air their political views.

At a panel discussion titled "Making Movies That Matter: The Role of Cinema in the National Debate" in New York City this month, director Oliver Stone provoked boos from the audience when he suggested that media moguls had incited the revolt of Sept. 11.

"The Arabs have a point whether they did it right or not," Stone said. "And they're going to be joined by the people from Seattle and by the 10 percent who disagree with everything."

These sort of pontifications by celebs turn the stomachs of many non-limo-riding types.

Garrett Perkins, a former writer for The Tonight Show and a stand-up comedian, is fed up with the stars and their egos.

"I think Hollywood places too much emphasis on celebrities — a lot of people are overpaid, their lives are overemphasized," he said in an e-mail interview. "Having lived in L.A., I'm still involved in [the] industry to a point, but I don't take it as seriously as others. A lot of these folks think they are the center of the universe."

But rest assured, some stars are willing to forgo their celebrity lifestyle and make even bigger sacrifices than just dressing down for the Emmys.

'N Sync member Lance Bass told Entertainment Tonight he'd be willing to say "bye, bye, bye" to the U.S. and help the fight abroad. "I'll be the first one to go...I would definitely serve my country."