The Hollywood Cinema: Cultural Transformation and the Climate of Fear

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Ever more extravagant technological means make the cinematic experience as vivid as possible, a sensual experience within our conscious life that transposes the entire world and everything in it. As Susan Sontag wrote, “the vast maw of modernity has chewed up reality and spat the whole mess out in images.” Films themselves have become something of a Wagnerian ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’, “the fusion of all arts in one work,” and yet, as observed by Adorno and Horkheimer in their 1944 The Dialectics of Enlightenment, “for a few coins one can see the film which cost millions.” Ultimately, what is the significance of the Hollywood popular culture? Does Hollywood relieve our fears and concerns, or only exploit and exacerbate them? Are those fears and concerns legitimate or are they largely fabricated by our popular culture? And, by extension, does the proliferation of violence in film reflect and intensify those fears and concerns, or is cinematic violence simply (and sinisterly) Hollywood’s manipulation and exploitation of its audience? Certain historical precedents in the development of the Hollywood popular culture (the narrative and the spectacle) since the seminal films of the 1960s suggest how the market place necessarily defines the nature of Hollywood's influence within the larger social and political structure, and its transformation (hybridization) from 'cultural imperialism' to 'cultural planetarization'.


Keywords: Hollywood Culture, Cultural Hybridization, Hollywood Violence
Stream: Arts Theory and Criticism
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Prof. Michael Thoma

Professor, Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts
School of Motion Picture Arts, Capilano University

North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Michael Thoma is a writer who has worked in a number of genres – novels, film, television, children’s television, theatre, primarily in Vancouver and Los Angeles – and is presently a teacher of screenwriting and cinema history at Capilano University.

Ref: A09P0136