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Hollywood's Impact on American Society

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Graham Smith

on 24 May 2013

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Transcript of Hollywood's Impact on American Society

By: Graham Smith Hollywood's Impact
on American Society Early Film History The Integration of Colour Thesis Statement Talking Motion Picture • In 1894, two French brothers, Auguste and Louis Lumiere introduced the portable motion picture camera and projector as a solution to the smaller projection of Thomas Edison’s original invention the "kinetoscope". In April of 1896 the two men unveiled their “Vitascope” and presented the first motion pictures on a public screen in the United States. What started out as a novelty and a source of controversy, the film industry has had a significant impact on the political aspects of American society in the 20th century as well as providing interesting commentary on real life events. Until the late 1920's, motion pictures were silent except for the musical accompaniment provided by theater owners in the form of live orchestras.

All of this changed in 1926 when Warner Brothers, in conjunction with Western Electric, introduced a new sound-on-disc system. The premiere of "The Jazz Singer" in October of 1927 changed any opinions against this new technology, and in doing so, changed the history of motion pictures forever.

Several films in Hollywood have spoofed and exemplified this historic event in greater detail such as Singing in the Rain and more recently The Artist The movies attracted audiences of an unprecedented size, as a result of their low admission prices, convenient time schedules (films were shown again and again), and lack of spoken dialogue, which allowed non- English speaking immigrants to enjoy films. Hand-coloring was the earliest kind of film shading. Unbelievably, it was done precisely as the name implies. Painters colored each part of each frame of each copy of the reel by hand. Very high quality early films, like the fantasy productions of Georges Meélieès, might have this extra attention lavished on them.

Technicolor had been invented and reinvented since 1916, when Herbert Kalmus confounded the Technicolor Corporation.

Technicolor is the technology behind the classic color films like Gone With the Wind (1939), The Wizard of Oz (1939), and An American in Paris (1951). But though representing the spectrum, Technicolor was not often used to represent "natural" colors. It was a world of heightened colors: the fantasy world of Oz, the romance world of Gone With the Wind and the cartoon world of Disney. Hollywood's Political Significance The Silent Era Many early films in the silent era were laced with anti-authority themes, poking fun at bumbling cops, corrupt politicians, and intrusive upper-class reformers. Highly physical slapstick comedy offered a particularly potent vehicle of social criticism, spoofing the pretensions of the wealthy and presenting sympathetic portraits of the poor.

These included early silent film stars like the Keystone Cops, the Three Stooges and Charlie Chaplin. World War Two •Beginning in September 1941 during the second World War, Hollywood feared offending foreign audiences. Due to the success of the 1927 silent war film Wings, Hollywood decided to continue producing films at the beginning of the second world war for Propaganda. Indeed, at the Nazi's request, Hollywood actually fired "non-Aryan" employees in its German business offices. Although the industry did release a number of preparedness films (like Sergeant York) and anti-fascist movies (such as The Great Dictator)

Hollywood's greatest contribution to the war effort was morale. Many of the movies produced during the war were patriotic rallying cries that affirmed a sense of national purpose. Combat films of the war years emphasized patriotism, group effort, and the value of individual sacrifices for a larger cause. They portrayed World War II as a peoples' war, typically featuring a group of men from diverse ethnic backgrounds who are thrown together, tested on the battlefield, and molded into a dedicated fighting unit. The Post-War Era • During the 1940s (in the post war era) , a new film genre--known as film noir-- arose, which gave tangible expression to the psychic confusion of a nation that had won the largest war in history but faced even greater uncertainties in peacetime, such as the Cold War and the changing role of women. At the same time that it turned out serious social problem films about drugs and family life, Hollywood produced movies that explored disturbing changes in the lives of American youth. Films such as The Wild One (1954), Blackboard Jungle (1955), and Rebel without a Cause (1955) portrayed adolescents as budding criminals, emerging homosexuals, potential fascists, and pathological misfits--everything but perfectly normal kids. New Hollywood A number of most influential films of the late '60s and early '70s sought to revise older film genres--like the war film, the crime film, and the western--and rewrite Hollywood's earlier versions of American history from a more critical perspective Bonnie and Clyde, the story of two depression era bank robbers, was advertised with the slogan: "They're young, they're in love, they kill people." The film aroused intense controversy for romanticizing gangsters and transforming them into social rebels. The same case goes for the 1975 film Dog Day Afternoon which retold the true events of a bank heist which turned the mastermind thief Sonny (played brilliantly by Al Pacino) into a media phenomenon The paranoia of the Cold War and Cuban Missile Crisis was satirized and exploited to perfection in Stanley Kubrick's 1964 masterpiece Dr. Strangelove. The Vietnam war was also used as a way to explain the actions of violent people in Martin Scorsese's terrific character study Taxi Driver and Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Down. New Hollywood Continued The films of the late 60's and early 70's were released to not only near-universal critical acclaim, but also massive ticket sales, earning their studios boatloads of cash in the process. In the 1960s, Italian filmmaker, producer and screenwriter Sergio Leone introduced a stylistic subgenre of the modern western known as the Spaghetti Western. Leone achieved this better than one could imagine in 1966 with a violent and extravagant throwback to the westerns of the 1930's known as The Good the Bad and the Ugly Once again the significant cinematic voice of director Stanley Kubrick returned in 1971 with his controversial dark comedy A Clockwork Orange. Based on Anthony Burgess dystopian novella, A Clockwork Orange provided a surprising moral commentary on the changing behavior of everyday youth and the nature of a very violent society. By far one of the most celebrated films of the 1970's was Milos Forman's outstanding dramedy One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. The on-screen battle between free spirited mental ward inmate Randall McMurphy and the soft spoken monstrous Nurse Ratched served as a social metaphor of the harsh actions taken by authority figures as well as the portrayal of mental patients and Native Americans in the 1960's. The Roaring 20's By the early 1920s, Hollywood had become the world's film capital. It produced virtually all films show in the United States and received 80 percent of the revenue from films shown abroad. Unfortunately Hollywood had also come to symbolize "the new morality" of the 1920s--a mixture of extravagance, glamor, and fun which would lead to economic trouble years later. Thank You Austin During the Great Depression, Hollywood played a valuable psychological and ideological role, providing reassurance and hope to a demoralized nation. Even at the Depression's depths 60 to 80 million Americans attended the movies each week, and, in the face of doubt and despair, films helped sustain national morale. The Films of the 1990's The 1990's was notable for the successful array of large Hollywood Blockbusters such as Jurassic Park and Titanic as well as the increased amount of family entertainment offered including feature-length cartoons like Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast. At the same time Hollywood had also increase the amount of sex, violence, and profanity on the screen with movies like Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas, P.T.A's Boogie Nights and the works of Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction). Amongst the many films produced in Hollywood that year created for entertainment value, there were many political undertones in 1990's cinema.

Steven Spielberg Oscar winner Schindler's list gained universal acclaim for it's stunning account of one of the darkest chapters in human history The both funny and dramatic film The Truman Show was director Peter Weir's clever satire of celebrity culture and the unusual nature of the modern media Easily one of the most shocking movies of the 1990's (as well as my favorite of all time) was director Danny Boyle's debut feature Trainspotting, which was a humorous, tragic and terrifyingly realistic reminder of the dangers of drug abuse. The Documentary Age • Today, a once misunderstood film genre; the Documentary has become increasingly successful in theatrical release in the 2000’s. With films such as Bowling for Columbine, Super Size Me, Fahrenheit 9/11, and March of the Penguins for their use of film as a vehicle to point out problems or controversial topics in the U.S through a public audience. Negative impact of Hollywood on America Although Hollywood has tried to push good morals and positive messages into American films as a way of promoting better behavior in American society, there is no denying that Hollywood is a flawed business. Hollywood has been known for completely desecrating certain cultures and races with its portrayal of Native Americans as Savages, African Americans as violent gang members and even sometimes Canadians as a helpless and flawed nation. The negative impact is that the viewing public is often deceived into thinking this is real life and it is acceptable for others to behave in this manner. Sometimes truth, morals and logic is even distorted for the purpose of entertaining which deeply affects the ideas of the public view. There has often been so much violence, sex, drugs and alcohol in certain Hollywood pictures that People become immune to and desensitized by the glorification of such graphic content. Although Hollywood has become a very reliable source of positive political and social commentary throughout the U.S, there is no question that American cinema has had its fair share of misguided views when approaching the modern target audience. Concluding Statement Over the last century, Hollywood has proved itself as not only the definite art form of American society but also as one of the worlds most important and effective forms of political media influencing America today. Thank You
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