Presentation on theme: "Summer 2010 With Cultural Historian Amy Henderson."— Presentation transcript:
Summer 2010 With Cultural Historian Amy Henderson
How does the construction of the studio system in the golden age of Hollywood relate to the idea of the American Dream? Research an aspect of this topic using primary sources found in historic newspapers, magazines, and materials found at the Library of Congress First Step: Become familiar with the Hollywood Studio Era from the 1920s through the 1940s…
In the mid-1920s the movie industry became streamlined Hollywood developed a “Glamour Factory” manufacturing stars and turning beauty into business
Celebrity status no longer rested on politics or military triumphs, but rather the creation of a successful image Fans craved for more information about their favorite stars—the film industry switched from character to personality-based celebrities Fan magazines like Motion Picture Magazine and Photoplay emerged to fulfill the interests of filmgoers
In an era before take-home videos, the job of keeping the stars’ images in the public consciousness fell to still photographers “The Hero was distinguished by his achievement; the celebrity by his image or trademark.” –Daniel Boorstin (12, Starstruck ) Portraits then, helped shape a star’s career…
These portraits created an illusion of glamour readily accepted as a goal of the American Dream What kind of message did these photos communicate about American ideals?
The Glamorous Thirties? Motion pictures with glamorous art deco sets and costumes and fun musicals with Fred and Ginger raged in popularity during the Depression The glamour image created by Hollywood was presented, not as a tease, but as a reachable goal…
the idea that all Americans have the opportunity to look this good… These images were never modest about the art of illusion they utilized, many additional texts in Photoplay point out the falsity— March, 1921 Photoplay — “Gilding the Lily” the camera lies—how makeup changes our stars very forward and open about the transformation process and its illusion
Stars become friends Visual intimacy—stars are now present in peoples homes to be put on the walls and into “family” photo albums like this one advertised in Photoplay, March 1917: All photoplay enthusiasts will welcome this opportunity to have such a wonderful collection of their screen friends in permanent form. The first book of this kind ever issued.”
This closeness to the stars was exploited by advertising companies… Advertisements spoke through movie stars as the audience’s friends..convincing them to buy their products Stars sold women’s products Hollywood gendered its audience as female…
Conventional wisdom was that the average filmgoer was female…but why? Film research from the time shows movie audiences as equal parts male and female In 1915 Motion Picture Story Magazine changed its name to Motion Picture magazine and starting to include more features aimed at women’s interests such as gossip, romance, etiquette and beauty… With the creation of Photoplay, this magazine took advantage of the burgeoning market of women’s magazines, creating a Hollywood sphere exclusively geared toward women –this is obvious with the inclusion of advertisements for panty hose, facial creams, women’s clothing, and the like
Male interests assumed to lie in technology and physical activity As Hollywood moved toward the personality-based star system, gossip columns in film magazines and the passive spectatorship of the movies was considered unmanly This image changed somewhat when looking at “Flim Flam the Film Fan” from a March 1916 issue of Motion Picture Magazine -this poses the male movie fan as an object of ridicule, seen as naïve and foolish, this caricature represents a growing unease and confusion over men’s roles as movie fans
In the 30s and 40s images of women began to adopt the harder edged and angular lighting traditionally reserved for male sitters…this switch seems to illustrate the powerful roles actresses held in Hollywood, strong roles which women like Joan Crawford and Bette Davis exemplified Women dominated over men in this visual world
Museums serve as a vital place of teaching the American public about its own past as well as visual culture Visual literacy becomes increasingly important in a modern world overloaded with media-generated images Hollywood mainstream film should be taken more seriously and more thoughtfully researched—it holds many insights into the construction of the American Dream
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