Tag Archives: Chapters 4-6

Let’s Just Say, “It’s Complicated”

The film industry and its audiences had a complex, one can even go out on a limp and say abusive, relationship since cinema’s inception. Here the term “relationship” is specifically used to highlight that the engagement of these entities is a two way street. One is not exclusively dominant the other, nor are any of these players passive. Stepping outside the realm of fandom, it should be made clear that audiences engaged in ways that diverged from the industry’s expected practices. Particularly, the church used films for their interests or made them suitable for their members.  To boost their attendance, churches used films as an attraction, but soon this became a short-lived conservative middleclass alternative to the cinema itself (Fuller: 86). Occasionally, a motion picture was used with and even as the sermon (89). Indeed, it was difficult to find films that were suitable for this particular audience. Covering the projection during unsuitable scenes or cutting out the film were not effective workarounds (91). It is not the decline of this practices that is significant here, instead we must acknowledge the initiative of the church.

Secondly, even with fandom, we can find a variety of interesting practices.  Not only were hoards of fanmade scripts sent to studios, but aspiring actors and actresses waited outside studios for their chance. And sometimes they got it. Surely, these practices still exist today, however it is interesting to discover that this has been going on since the 1920’s. In addition, although it does seem as though audiences are passive here, the reality is fans brought about the star system. It was in fact the industry that had to respond to fans’ increasing demands for actor paraphernalia. Fans demanded to know the identities of these stars, taking the lead in making them into household names.