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Seeing Stars by Janet Staiger - Essay Example

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Stars can be considered as a commodity tool as they represent an extremely successful form of investment. They can also be perceived according to the literal meaning of the word "star"; the character played by a given star forms with the real character of the same star a surreal versus real paradox leading inevitably to an association between the in-text and the in-real-life images of the same star. The third main approach of stardom holds a psychological dimension as it regards the spectatorship, the reasons why stars are often objects of desire have been subject to many analysis, some attribute it to charisma, some to "heavenly bodies", .. etc.
For a fuller vision of the evolution of the conception of stars, a flashback on the history of cinema has to be done. Various developments in Europe and the United states led to the invention of moving image technology forming the origin of the movie creation. However, it was only in the 1890's that films were used as an entertainment medium, it was then when this technologic invention transformed into a business. In the nineteenth century, many political and social elements influenced the evolution of film industry. The art of Cinema tended to transform into a capitalist enterprise indeed. In fact, Janet Staiger, in her definition of the system of movie production, supports a Marxist point of view. She tends to consider the latter system as a sub-system initially controlled by patterns of organization of labor, such as script writers, camera men and women, prop makers in combination with two major factors, technology and capital. In the first decade of the twentieth century, American movie companies withheld the name of film performers fearing that the public recognition would lead these "stars" to ask for higher salaries. In this dissertation, studying the Motion Picture Patents Company is to be used as a proof of the prominence of the role of stars in the evolution of the movie industry.
The Motion Picture Patents Company
In 1908, two companies, Edison and Biograph, attempted to monopolize the film industry through the key patents they held in camera and projection technology by forming the Motion Picture Patents Company (MPPC). The company played the role of a "patent tool" that issued licenses for fee to firms. However, the biggest income source for the MPC didn't have licensing as its main source, it was priory based on the Nickelodeon, their most important exhibition outlet. Technically, what marked the MPPC movies most was the notion of voyeurism, "the look of the peeping tom, able to see without being seen. Early Cinema very frequently represents the female, dissected by the close up into a fetishised object of the male look" (Nelmes, 2003 : 99).
The capital event that marked the end of this era is the start of the "star system" (1920), one of Hollywood's established features. As Janet Staiger clarifies in "Seeing stars", the origin of its creation remains a subject of discussion. Some say that it started in 1910 when Carl Laemmle, the owner of the Independent Motion Picture (IMP) production company, promoted the arrival of a female star, Lawrence, to his company by publicly exposing her name in a newspaper. That came as an opposed reaction to the MMPC which refused to publish stars' number fearing that their public recognitio ...Show more
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Putting a definition for the word "star" has often been the subject of debates in the last few decades. Many questions come to nourish that debate such as what are the difference between a normal actor and a star What are the common characteristics between all stars Why is such huge, sometimes exaggerated, attention given to stars That dilemma can be justified by the multiplicity of possible interpretation to the conception of stardom…
Seeing Stars by Janet Staiger
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