Hollywood, the Dream Factory: An Anthropologist Looks at the Movie-Makers

By Hortense Powdermaker | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
Mass Production of Dreams

HOLLYWOOD IS ENGAGED in the mass production of prefabricated daydreams. It tries to adapt the American dream, that all men are created equal, to the view that all men's dreams should be made equal. Movies are the first popular art to become a big business with mass production and mass distribution. It is quite obvious that movies cannot be individually produced, and that some form of mass production is inevitable. But the assumption is that for any sort of mass production more than one kind of social system is possible. The question is therefore asked, Is the Hollywood system the most appropriate one for the making of movies -- one form of an ancient and popular art, storytelling, in which the storyteller's imagination and understanding of his fellow men have always been a necessary ingredient?

The invention of the movie camera and the use of celluloid film brings the art into direct contact with a modern technology and makes it dependent on mass rather than individual production. New technology always precipitates changes in the method and system of production, whether it is of storytelling or agriculture. But the essential old elements do not completely disappear. In a primitive society, when new agricultural techniques are introduced, the nature of the soil and climate and the customs of the people cannot be negated, if the new techniques are to be successfully used. New technology in any society must be adapted and integrated with former patterns and adapted to the basic nature of the product to be produced. But instead of integrating, the old and new are sometimes in conflict; or they may run in parallel lines without much effect on each other. Of the three possibilities, Hollywood production of movies represents conflict.

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Hollywood, the Dream Factory: An Anthropologist Looks at the Movie-Makers
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • Contents *
  • Introduction - Why an Anthropologist Studied Hollywood 3
  • Chapter I - Habitat and People, Mythical and Real 16
  • Chapter II - Mass Production of Dreams 39
  • Chapter III - Taboos 54
  • Chapter IV - Front Office 82
  • Chapter V - Men Who Play God 100
  • Chapter VI - Lesser Gods, but Colossal 111
  • Chapter VII - The Scribes 131
  • Chapter VIII - Assembling the Script 150
  • Chapter IX - The Answers 170
  • Chapter X - Directors 185
  • Chapter XI - Acting, in Hollywood 205
  • Chapter XII - Stars 228
  • Chapter XIII - Actors Are People 254
  • Chapter XIV - Emerging from Magic 281
  • Chapter XV - Hollywood and the U.S.A. 307
  • Index 333
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