Aristotle’s definition of community originates from his explanation of the city-state. He claims that the city-state consists in different kinds of community such as households, economic classes, or political divisions. He then continues to explain that a community is ‘a collection of parts having some functions and interests in common.’
What constitutes a community?
According to Yack, ‘Wherever individuals hold something in common (koinon), whether it be a home, a contract or a goal, Aristotle sees community.’
- This seems to be true of Hollywood e.g. goal of creating the film/series etc.,
- However it is also important to interrogate whether or not there are different motives behind these goals. Why has x director chosen x female actress over another? And why has x female actress agreed to do y? Is it because she has been coerced into doing so? Or blackmailed?
- Further, ‘Man… uses his community for both common and individual ends.’ This supports my above claim by demonstrating that the goals in a community, and in this case, in the Hollywood community, vary for different people.
Justice and Hierarchy in Hollywood
‘Every form of community… has a form of justice and friendship appropriate to it.’
- Good place to begin the argument: there is a form of justice that is appropriate to Hollywood, but this form of justice doesn’t always seem to apply to or exist in Hollywood.
- This is demonstrated by the constant injustices against females in the hierarchy of Hollywood. For instance, justices that exist in the form of implicit bias: behaviours and attitudes which alter how the quality of a woman’s work / ability of a woman is perceived. This leads to an unjustified and unjust negative evaluation of that work / woman.
- However, with regards to friendship, it’s important to consider the relationships and solidarity that arises/is reinforced as a result of the injustices. For example, whisper networks – conversations and discussions among women about the threatening/dangerous men who have been known to conduct sexual harassment/assault etc. These are a way for women to look out for each other.
‘All communities need to establish hierarchies, implicit or explicit, among various claims to make final decisions for the communities – age, physical prowess, talent, wealth, freedom, virtue, good birth, divine [favour], and so on.’
- This argument would suggest that Hollywood is a community, since these hierarchies do very clearly exist.
- When these hierarchies are implemented, they can be conducive to stereotype threat. This is where females ‘are unconsciously preoccupied by fears of confirming the stereotypes about their group.’ Thus, if a female is already trapped within the framework of a hierarchy, they become a victim of stereotype threat in that it becomes even more difficult for them to break out of this structure.
- Moreover, it seems as though sometimes these hierarchies are not only implicit, but also hidden. There is a desire to conceal them yet still implement them, and this is where the problems arise. For example:
‘In a political community [these hierarchies] become the [centre] of argument. In a household, we tend to accept the hierarchy of age because of the combination of natural inequalities and affection.’
- This presses us to question which hierarchies we tend/ought to accept within Hollywood.
- Of course, we do need hierarchies, it seems as though it is a fact of life that we cannot progress or make decisions without them. However, in order to be a community, these hierarchies must line up with the other parts of Aristotle’s definition of community. That is, they must have a ‘form of justice’ to them. Currently, not all of them do. e.g. hierarchies of male pay vs. female pay. male representation vs. female representation are unjust hierarchies.
- Do we need to begin by breaking down these hierarchies in order to then break down some of the tropes that we see existing both on and off screen? Would this be one of the first steps on the way to making Hollywood an equal and just community for all?
Yack argues that ‘in the end, distinctive and ugly forms of distrust are part of the price one pays for community.’
- This seems to be true, there is a lack of trust of men from females – and this is the sacrifice that women make in this industry in order to succeed and progress.
- However, they should not need to accept this distrust and injustice in order to progress.
‘In a community of free individuals, coming together from different clans, implicit claims to rule will tend to be challenged.’
- This seems to be what is happening now. We are finally on the cusp of challenging these rulers and overturning their claims and domination.
Therefore, in coherence with Aristotle’s views, it seems as though Hollywood does fit into the definition of a community. But does it function as one? What kind of community is it? And at what cost? Is it worth being part of a community which is based on such drastic inequalities and injustices?
 Fred Miller, “Aristotle’s Political Theory”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2017 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.) <https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2017/entries/aristotle-politics/>
 Bernard Yack, “Community and Conflict in Aristotle’s Political Philosophy,” The Review of Politics, 47.1 (1985), p.93.
 Yack, “Community,” p.95.
 Ibid., p.104.
 Jennifer Saul, “Implicit Bias, Stereotype Threat, and Women in Philosophy.” In Women in Philosophy: What Needs to Change?, by Hutchison, Katrina, and Fiona Jenkins, edited by Katrina Hutchison, and Fiona Jenkins, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), pp.2-3.
 Yack, “Community,” p.101.
 Saul, “Implicit Bias,” p.5.
 Yack, “Community,” p.101.
 Ibid., p.104.
 Ibid., p.92.
 Ibid., p.101.