THE MAKING OF MOVIES is even more strongly influenced by the power situation in Hollywood than by the Code of taboos. Power resides in the front office of each studio and the executive in charge of production wields it, which is similar to the situation in most large industries.
Among the crucial problems of modern society are those which center around power, as it functions in both economic and political areas of living. Its foundations are not necessarily the same. Power can spring from ability, as when a man wields authority over others and has the responsibility of making important decisions, because of his acknowledged competence, training, experience or talent. Or another person may have the same position, and power, not because he has any greater ability than the people under him but because through aggression, cleverness, or luck he fulfills a drive to dominate others. In each case the basis on which the power rests determines the type of relation between the headman and his followers. On "my" South Seas island, the chief in one village had been chosen by the people because of his courage and ability, and was respected by all. A few miles away, in a neighboring village, the chief had ingratiated himself, mainly through lies and flattery, with a representative of the white man's government who had then appointed him as chief. Since he had no special skills and was known to be a liar, the natives did not take him very seriously.
Naturally all those who wield any power, big or little, whether Stone Age savages, chairmen of college departments, or tycoons of industry, would like to believe and to have others believe that they achieved it through their special ability. But only the followers can speak with any objectivity on this.
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Publication information: Book title: Hollywood, the Dream Factory:An Anthropologist Looks at the Movie-Makers. Contributors: Hortense Powdermaker - Author. Publisher: Little, Brown. Place of publication: Boston. Publication year: 1950. Page number: 82.
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