Popular Culture Icons in Contemporary American Drama

Popular Culture Icons in Contemporary American Drama

Popular Culture Icons in Contemporary American Drama

Popular Culture Icons in Contemporary American Drama

Synopsis

First documenting the rapport contemporary American playwrights have established with popular cultures for more than 35 years, Blatanis then shows how that rapport can foreground some of the most prominent qualities of contemporary American drama, and expose the idiosyncrasies of American popular culture. He indexes only names and titles. Distributed in the US by Associated University Presses. Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Excerpt

The status of the visual mark in postmodernity proves pivotal for contemporary playwrights and their ventures into popular culture on numerous different occasions. On the one hand, the artists in question address the issue of the visible sign being consumed in its own right and in a process that denies any other signification beyond itself. On the other hand, playwrights also appear particularly intrigued by the mythological dimension inherent in images and icons emanating from popular culture. Sam Sheparďs The Mad Dog Blues (1971) accurately and justifiably indicates and maps the Hollywood milieu and the rock scene as the mythic terrains par excellence for the collective American mind.

American popular culture is noted for its aptness at producing and consuming celluloid icons and rock idols that turn out to be intricate, flexible, polysemous and multireferential entities. Part of the mythic quality of these icons lies in the fact that they are extensively used in a variety of contexts without ending up as worn out and depleted cultural artifacts. the case of Marilyn Monroe as a celluloid icon and a cultural index serves as a fine example. Thus, in the Warholian Marilyn, according to Michel Foucaulťs terms, “we find the sudden illumination of multiplicity itself, … the eternal phantasm [which] informs that singular and depthless face.” and yet, important as Andy Warhol’s achievement is, it does not exhaust the possibilities of this particular icon. Neither have Madonna’s postmodern quotes from the Marilyn myth contributed to the “shrivelling of the aura” of the icon. It remains with the idiosyncrasy of each artist to make an innovative use—whether complex or flat—of a cultural index and entity such as the icon of Marilyn. the playwrights discussed here recognize and address the implications inherent in the consumption of icons as either mythic entities or “ultimate surfaces.”

The rapport that contemporary playwrights establish with popular . . .

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