Perhaps what interested me the most in these two chapters were the themes of consumerism and marketing linked to the creation and evolution of the “movie fan”. It’s obvious that these two would be linked — movie fans are consumers of movies, after all, and movies are a business. But it was still thought-provoking to see how closely linked the two were, and how much fandom itself can even be determined by marketing, perhaps as much as the actual films.
I particularly noticed this in the first chapter, discussing “Motion Picture Story Magazine”. In showing the ways this publication was partially responsible of te construction of the movie fan, one can see a potential chicken-and-egg cycle start to arise — obviously the advertisements appearing in this magazine are determined by who the publishers think the magazine is catering to, but could it be possibly that the very readership is actually determined by the advertisements? Looking at ads is always the most efficient way to tell who a magazine (or a television show, or a website) is being catered to, but it never occured to me that perhaps those selecting the advertisements based on certain assumptions end up forming the demographic to fit those assumptions, whether they were correct in the first place notwithstanding. This is especially important when said publication is essential in determining the very meaning and identity of something as broad as a “movie fan”.
It seems that James Quirk, who came on board as editor of “Photoplay” magazine, had a deep understanding of the way demographics and identities can be shaped, bought and sold. He catered to an audience of moviegoers who considered themselves sophisticated and appreciative of “good” qualities in movies (innovative plots, snappy dialogue, strong acting), but he turned around and “sold” these fans to marketers as a mass of “perfect consumers” who were completely dependant on movies and would bend to his every whim. Seems like he was quite the savvy dude.