Introduction

  • Samantha Barbas

Abstract

Between the First and Second World Wars, the American cinema flourished. With opulent theaters, lavish screen productions, and beautifully gowned film goddesses, the movies were more than just entertainment. For millions of Americans, Hollywood was a dream factory, turning out elaborate fantasies of glamour, success, and romance.

Keywords

Washout Heroine Metaphor Zine 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Nathanael West, The Day of the Locust (New York: Bantam, 1959), 131.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    For recent scholarship on fandom, see Henry Jenkins, Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture (New York: Routledge, 1992)Google Scholar
  3. John Fiske, Understanding Popular Culture (New York: Routledge, 1995)Google Scholar
  4. Jackie Stacey, Star Gazing (New York: Routledge, 1994)Google Scholar
  5. Janice Radway Reading the Romance (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1991)Google Scholar
  6. Joshua Gam-son, Claims to Fame: Celebrity in Contemporary America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994)Google Scholar
  7. Georganne Scheiner, “The Deanna Durbin Devotees,” in Generations of Youth, ed. Joe Austin and Michael Nevin Willard (New York: New York University Press, 1998)Google Scholar
  8. Lisa Lewis, ed. The Adoring Audience: Fan Culture and Popular Media (New York: Routledge, 1993)Google Scholar
  9. Cheryl Harris and Alison Alexander, eds., Theorizing Fandom: Fans, Subculture, Identity (Creekskill, N.J.: Hampton Press, 1998).Google Scholar
  10. 4.
    According to historian Daniel Boorstin, we demand the mass media’s simulated realities because they fulfill our insatiable desire for glamour and excitement. To cultural commentator Richard Schickel, they create an “illusion of intimacy,” a sense of security and connection in a society of strangers. Ian Mitroff and Warren Bennis have gone as far as to claim that Americans are living in a self-induced state of unreality. “We are now so close to creating electronic images of any existing or imaginary person, place, or thing … so that a viewer cannot tell whether … the images are real or not,” they wrote in 1989. At the root of this passion for images, they claim, is a desire for stability and control: “If men cannot control the realities with which they are faced, then they will invent unrealities over which they can maintain control.” In other words, according to these authors, we seek and create aural and visual illusions—television, movies, recorded music, computers—because they compensate for the inadequacies of contemporary society. If we scratch the surface of this “culture of unreality,” however, we will see an audience that is not desperate, passive, and gullible, but concerned, active, and skeptical. See Daniel Boorstin, The Image: A Guide to Pseudo—Events in America (New York: Atheneum, 1975), 3, 240Google Scholar
  11. Richard Schickel, Intimate Strangers: The Culture of Celebrity (New York: Doubleday, 1986)Google Scholar
  12. Ian Mitroff and Warren Bennis, The Unreality Industry (New York: Carol Publishing, 1989), 6, 9.Google Scholar

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© Samantha Barbas 2001

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  • Samantha Barbas

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