Fuller Chapter 2… the Geography of Viewership

Too often I forget how incredibly massive the United States actually is; how diverse it’s people and opinions and tastes. No, I’m not a total idiot, I just live in the pleasantly opaque bubble of an East Coast Liberal arts college education.

Though I’m sure it’s the same way in those small towns within the beating heart of Bible Belt, where people are equally as submerged in their own opinions and surrounded by their own kind that every once and a while, they completely forget that they aren’t the only, or even the loudest, of voices.

Point being, I’ve always looked at the American film audience as a whole, divided by age, race, and gender but NEVER by state lines and religious backgrounds. I suppose this is a more general commentary on the fact that prior to this class, I had never actually considered the varying nature of the film audience. Up until a few weeks ago, “the viewer” was just a faceless, nameless, passive participant in the consumptive filmic process. Now I find myself reassessing all of my learned generalizations about the American viewing public; all the statistics and box office returns, all the fan magazine sales and historical accounts of the early Nickelodeons. Every one of these numbers and pictures has been whitewashed by the power of the stereotype of a consistent or “normal” American consumer.

Though I have very long understood the power of government and corporate censorship on the film industry, local regulation was something I never knew existed (outside that one company that makes Mormon acceptable versions of popular Hollywood films… but that somehow seems different.) I suppose in many ways this adds to my surprise in the impact of small scale cultural subdivisions and opinions on the relative success of a national market, and how that market bent under the weight of societal pressures and regulations in order to meet those values.