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Chapter Week 23

American Studies 2200E Chapter Week 23: American Studies Week 23 Readings

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American Studies
American Studies 2200E
Anna Zuschlag

American Studies Week 23 Readings Neal Gabler, excerpts from Life: The Movie-How Entertainment Conquered Reality Introduction - Life is a Movie: The idea of entertainmentizaition (Entertainment has been injected into every element of life) - Used to go to the movies to escape then go back to real life - Now life cannot be escaped (We never leave the theatre) - Problem: Entertainment being pushed into high culture and history (The expansion of entertainment has made life seem less complicated) - How could fiction possibly compete with the stories authored by real life? - The fabricated, inauthentic and the theatrical were driving out the natural, the genuine and the spontaneous from life until reality itself had been converted into stagecraft - The most important cultural transformation in this country in the twentieth century: - Life itself was gradually becoming a medium all its own, like television, radio, print, and film, and that all of us were becoming at once performance artists in and audiences for a grand, ongoing show - A show that was far richer, more complex and more compelling than anything conceived for the more conventional media - Life has become art, so that the two are now indistinguishable from each other - The new has become a continuous stream of what one might call “lifies,” movies written in the medium of life, projected on the screen of life, and exhibited in the multiplexes of the traditional media which are increasingly dependent upon the life medium - These are the new blockbusters that preoccupy the traditional media and dominate the national conversation for weeks, sometimes months or even years at a time - Our films as a “rearrangement of our problems into shapes which tame them, which disperse them into the margins of our attention,” where we can forget about them - We can remain constantly distracted. Or, put another way, we have finally learned how to escape from life into life - Audiences need some point of identification if the show is really to engross them. For movies the solution was stars. For the life movie it is the celebrity - It says a great deal about modern America that no society have ever had as many celebrities as ours or has revered them as intensely - They have also embedded themselves so deeply in our consciousness that any individuals profess feeling closer to and more passionate about them than about their own primary relationships - Celebrity is the modern state of grace, the condition in the life movie to which nearly everyone aspires - While the general public is an audience for the life movie, it is also an active participant - An entertainment-driven, celebrity-oriented society is on
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