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Does America still love the one percent?

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Does America still love the one percent? an exegesis of evolving representations of the upper class in post-recessionary Hollywood films
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Exegesis of evolving representations of the upper class in post-recessionary Hollywood films
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Jewett, Shawn M. ( author )
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Master's ( Master of humanities)
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University of Colorado Denver
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Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, CU Denver
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Humanities

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Upper class ( lcsh )
Upper class in motion pictures ( lcsh )
Upper class ( fast )
Upper class in motion pictures ( fast )
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Using film as a cultural artifact, this paper examines the evolving relationship between the American society and the upper class. In comparing the events and films of the Great Recession to those from the largest post-1950 recessionary periods, I argue that the evolution in the negative representations of class in film stems from cultural factors including film censorship, America's political economy, and the evolution of the Hollywood film industry. As such, the representations of the upper class in recent films is not solely representative of an evolution in Hollywood films, but of the cultural ideologies associated with the collapse of Wall Street and the subsequent government bailout. In this paper, I explicate the evolution of the representation of the upper class in mainstream Hollywood films by: (1) examining the economic factors unique to each recession; (2) examining the film industry factors unique to each era; and (3) employing a hermeneutic reading and comparison of 1959's Pillow Talk and Imitation of Life, 1976's King Kong and Network; and 2010's Inception and The Other Guys to illuminate a complex interplay of economic and industrial concerns that contribute to the formation of class identity.
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Includes bibliographical references.
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by Shawn M. Jewett.

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Full Text
DOES AMERICA STILL LOVE THE ONE PERCENT?:
AN EXEGESIS OF EVOLVING REPRESENTATIONS OF THE UPPER CLASS IN POST-RECESSIONARY HOLLYWOOD FILMS
by
SHAWN M. JEWETT B.S., Georgetown University, 1990 B.A., Theatre, Film & Television, 2012
A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Humanities Humanities Program
2017


This thesis for the Master of Humanities degree by Shawn M. Jewett has been approved for the Humanities Program by
Sarah Hagelin, Chair Margaret Woodhull, Advisor Jordan Hill Howard Movshovitz
May 13, 2017


Jewett, Shawn, M. (M.H. Humanities)
Does America Still Love the One Percent?: An Exegesis of Evolving Representations of the Lipper Class in Post Recessionary American Films Thesis Directed by Assistant Professor Margaret Woodhull
ABSTRACT
Using film as a cultural artifact, this paper examines the evolving relationship between the American society and the upper class. In comparing the events and films of the Great Recession to those from the largest post-1950 recessionary periods, I argue that the evolution in the negative representations of class in film stems from cultural factors including film censorship, Americas political economy, and the evolution of the Hollywood film industry. As such, the representations of the upper class in recent films is not solely representative of an evolution in Hollywood films, but of the cultural ideologies associated with the collapse of Wall Street and the subsequent government bailout. In this paper, I explicate the evolution of the representation of the upper class in mainstream Hollywood films by: (1) examining the economic factors unique to each recession; (2) examining the film industry factors unique to each era; and (3) employing a hermeneutic reading and comparison of 1959s Pillow Talk and Imitation of Life, 1976s King Kong and Network, and 2010s Inception and The Other Guys to illuminate a complex interplay of economic and industrial concerns that contribute to the formation of class identity.
The form and content of this abstract are approved, I recommend its publication.
Approved: Margaret Woodhull
m


DEDICATION
I dedicate this work to my mother, Crissy H. Jewett, and my wife, Kristen M. Jewett, both of
whom encouraged me to follow my passion.
IV


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I would like to acknowledge and thank Margaret Woodhull and Jordan Hill for the example they set as educators and social justice warriors; Sarah Hagelin for guiding me through the process of writing my thesis; and Howie Movshovitz for encouraging me to look deeper and
write another draft.
v


TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. INTRODUCTION..........................................................8
Statement of Questions.................................................8
Literature Review.....................................................11
Methodological Statement..............................................15
Conclusion............................................................20
II. AN ECONOMIC FRAMEWORK...............................................21
Creating Frameworks...................................................21
Permanent Prosperity of the 1950s...................................24
Nixons Gradualism..................................................30
A Neoliberal Turn.....................................................36
Sinking Foundations...................................................38
Conclusion............................................................42
III. GONE, NEVER TO RETURN..............................................43
Film Industry in the 1950s............................................43
Film Industry in the 1970s............................................55
Film Industry in the 2000s............................................62
Conclusion............................................................71
IV. AMBITION AND HARMLESS FOOLS..........................................73
Introduction..........................................................73
Imitation of Life: Ambitious but not Corrupt..........................74
Pillow Talk. The Rich Man as Harmless Fool............................86
V. THE OPAQUE HAND OF POWER.............................................94
vi


Introduction
94
King Kong\ Exploitation and Domination.................................96
Network. Creating Consent, Inculcating Implacability..................103
Conclusion............................................................Ill
VI. WHAT WEALTH CAN DO FOR YOU............................................113
Introduction..........................................................113
Inception'. Admiration and Fear of the Wealthy........................114
The Other Guys: Tying it All Together.................................123
Conclusion............................................................132
VII. CONCLUSION: DOES AMERICA STILL LOVE THE ONE PERCENT?.................134
REFERENCES................................................................138
vii


CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION
Statement of Questions
...for the first time in a long time we are confused about rich men in America.
We don't know if we like them anymore. For the last thirty years, we have liked them. We have lionized them, emulated them, and, most importantly, forgiven them. Our regardfor the rich hasn't been a matter of boom and bust; it has resisted the fluctuation of markets and been perhaps the most powerful unifying force in American culture... And so the collapse of the markets in 2008 was more than a signal event in the history of capitalism. It was a signal event in the history of the culture, because it put into question the culture's relationship to money. We were supposed to root for the rich, because our fates were supposed to be entwined with theirs. We were supposed to root for them to get their money back, because then we would get our money back. But when they got their money back, and it turned out to be our money well, how could America root for Jamie Dimon?1 Tom Junod
In the aftermath of Americas greatest recession since 1945, Tom Junods Esquire essay on financial icon Warren Buffet articulated emerging questions Americans had about class relationships. Junod observes that historically, the average Americans opinion of and relationship to the upper class has been supportive, even encouraging, due to the popular ideology of entwined economic reliance. However, Junod suggests the collapse of Wall Street, its subsequent governmental bail-out, and the lack of relief provided the middle and working classes called into question the nature of this relationship. American society blamed the actions of those on Wall Street and in the upper class for the market collapse and the successive economic woes. In turn, this signaled a negative change in the long-term support of the upper class.
Starting with Junods assumption that the exalted position of the wealthy in American society was resistant to previous recessionary events, I explicate the change towards negative
1 Tom Junod, Warren Buffet, American, Esquire.com, November 16, 2011. Accessed November 22, 2011. http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/interviews/all746/warren-buffett-1211/


representation of the upper class in the popular Hollywood films released immediately following the Great Recession as compared to the films released following previous recessions. The visible change between these eras in the way we perceive and represent the upper class in film, which serves as an indication of changes in Americas relationship with the wealthy, is dependent upon several factors outside of the recession itself. Unsurprisingly, Americas cultural evolution has mitigated the restrictions placed upon many things, including the political and morally driven censorship affecting film narratives. In turn, this has led to more ideologically driven explorations of class relationships in film. Given the cultural evolution of American ideologies on class and the perceived reduction of censorship in American films, it is perhaps natural to think that class explorations would become more explicitly critical over time. However, the critical commentary on class relationships has been impinged by changes in the film industry, including corporate ownership, the costs associated with blockbuster films, and the dependence upon foreign revenues that has emerged in the past decade.
Thus, what I have observed is a secondary system of censorship that has emerged as Hollywood transitioned from the studio system to studios absorbed in conglomerate mergers. Hollywood films have become a line item of massive corporations. Defined by their return on investment, blockbuster films have become global products dependent upon the political and cultural interests of other countries for their commercial success. As such, they are censored in a manner that ensures their profitability, but eliminates explicit critical commentary of Americas cultural ideologies of class. Although there has been an evolution in the critical commentary of the upper class, globally-positioned blockbuster Hollywood films are marginalizing them, proscribing their narratives to films made by smaller studios.
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For this reason, visual literacy is of vital importance, as it provides the spectators the ability to interpret, negotiate, and make meaning from information presented in these films.
In this thesis, I use film as a cultural artifact that reveals valuable information regarding the society in which it was made and consumed. Just as smoke can be an indexical fingerprint of a fire that no longer exists, so too are Hollywood films the fingerprints of popular American ideologies emergent from the socio-historical events from previous eras.
In seeking to answer questions about the evolutionary state of the relationship between the wealthy and the rest of American society, I first establish a framework to examine American ideologies about class in film, providing a context for understanding the political economy and the state of the film industry during specific recessionary periods. For the purpose of this analysis, I focus on representations of the upper class, per the Gilbert-Kahl model, in films spanning recessionary periods similar to the Great Recession. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), the next highest post-1950 declines in GDP (after the Great Recession of 2007-2009) are 1957-1958 and 1973-1975.2 To exhibit how these representations evolve over time and with respect to economic and industrial factors, I have situated my analysis on the post-recessionary films of 1959, 1976 and 2010.
Although critically acclaimed films might present class issues more keenly and documentaries typically address these issues explicitly, I focus my attention on high grossing films that were perceived as popular. Given their larger audience, they reflect the most prominent culturally accepted ideologies and having the greatest scope of cultural influence. Employing a close reading, I extract and highlight the evolution of popular cultural ideologies regarding class following these major recessions. Beginning with 1959,1 note how
2 The National Bureau of Economic Research The NBER's Business Cycle Dating Committee. http://www.nber.org/cycles/recessions.html (accessed February 7, 2017).
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Douglas Sirks Imitation of Life works to provide a cautionary tale on pursuing wealth while Michael Gordons Pillow Talk defangs the power of the wealthy, depicting them as harmless fools. At the height of the American New Cinema in 1976, John Guillermins King Kong and Sidney Lumets Network use the actions of the professional-managerial class as a means to represent the exertion of neoliberal power by the capitalist class. Finally, by 2010, Christopher Nolans Inception notes the awe and fear associated with the wealthy, as Adam McKays The Other Guys repositions the harmlessness of the upper class as a ploy to ensnare the gullible in their pursuit of additional wealth. Mckays film is notable in that it is the only popular film on this list (and the list of top grossing films from these recessionary periods) that explicitly admonishes the upper class for their role in effectuating the recession. As Derek Nystrom suggests, the closer we examine the dynamics of these films, the clearer it becomes that some of the central social and political upheavals of recent U.S. history are driven by and envisioned through that musty old character the class struggle.3 Given the contentiousness of the past years presidential election, its results, and the growing specter of authoritarianism in American politics, revisiting the spectacle of class ideologies in Hollywood films provides a blueprint for understanding the course of their evolution and the direction it may take in the future.
Literature Review
Signs may be analyzed, for few love them. But films are somehow delicate, like roses, and pulling the petals of roses in order to study it is often viewed as an act of destruction.4 Sol Worth
3 Derek Nystrom, Hard Hats, Rednecks and Macho Men: Class in 1970s American Cinema. (Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2009) 18.
4 Sol Worth, Studying Visual Communications. Ed Larry Gross. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1981)
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On April 24, 1896, a day after the first Kinetoscope exhibition, the first American article about film appeared in the New York Times. It was only an announcement, with no critical review or recognition of this new form of art. By 1915-16, the cinema aesthetics of Vachel Lindsay (The Art of the Moving Picture) and the psychological analyses by Hugo Munsterberg (The Photoplay: A Psychological Study) ushered in the first wave of film theory5. While these books are now considered to be an early version of formalist film theory, which emphasized the manipulation and control of the artistic palate of film (i.e. its technical devices) in addition to style or technique over mimetic realism, this view was codified in Rudolf Arnheims 1933 book Film as Art6
However, with the emergence of the Italian Neo-Realism movement, it was a realist theory that dominated after World War II.7 The shift in theoretical emphasis centers on the formation of the Cahiers du Cinema in 1951 and its co-founder, Andre Bazin, the first significant realist theoretician.8 Bazins formalist beliefs, which included the idea that cinema and reality are ontologically related,9 were polemic arguments against realist Sergei Eisensteins Theory of Montage, which asserted that editing created meaning in filmic images.10
In 1968, another shift began as modern film theory emerged from the publication of Christian Metzs Film Language: A Semiotics of the Cinema. Metz initiated a new direction
5 Thomas Sobchack, & Vivian Sobchack, An Introduction to Film, 2nd ed. (Glenview, IL, Boston, London: Scott, Foresmanand Company, 1987) 414-421.
6 Leo Braudy and Marshall Cohen, Film Theory and Criticism, 7th ed. (New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009) 167-170.
7 Sobchack, & Sobchack, An Introduction to Film, 414-421.
8 Louis Giannetti, Understanding Movies, 9th ed. (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2002) 456-492.
9 Andre Bazin, 1967. What is Cinema?, ed. Hugh Gray. (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 2005) 414-421.
10 Ken Dancy ger, The Technique of Film &Video Editing: History, Theory, and Practice. (Oxford: Focal Press, 2011) 16-23.
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in film study, suggesting a focus on whether (and if so, how) a viewers understanding of specific cinematic techniques and aesthetics constituted a filmic language through its structure and codes. It argued for the study of film as a science and promoted hermeneutic analysis. Metz concluded that a linguistic format could be applied to the semiotics of film, specifically by applying distinctions between the signified and the signifier, and the important realization that the discourse on film between semiologists and film theoreticians begins only when we acknowledge that films, as a system of images, are understood by viewers. (Metz 1968).
Grand Theory, as Metzs semiotic film theory would be called by subsequent critic David Bordwell, was seen as a profusely explanatory theses of psychological readings built upon Sigmund Freud, Claude Levi-Strauss and Karl Marx and successors Roland Barthes, Jacques Lacan, Michel Foucault, and Louis Althusser. Throughout the 1980s, Bordwell expressed beliefs that hermeneutic and psychological reading of film were confirming previously established theoretical frameworks. In the 1996 book, Post-Theory: Reconstructing Film Studies, Bordwell and co-editor Noel Carroll argue against "S.L.A.B. theory" (the ideas of Saussure, Lacan, Althusser, and Barthes), suggesting a consideration of the viewers cognitive processes when perceiving the film's non-textual, aesthetic forms, via mid-level neurological research.11 This book codified the beliefs of cognitive film theory.
In 2000, Warren Bucklands The Cognitive Semiotics of Film demonstrated that semioticians and cognitivists have similarities in dealing with meaning, reflexivity and spectatorship, despite Bordwells stand against ideological arguments (as being outside the
11 David Bordwell, Contemporary Film Studies and the Vicissitudes of Grand Theory, In Post-Theory: Reconstructing Film Studies, ed. David Bordwell and Noel Carroll. (Madison, Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1996) 3-36.
13


scope of film studies) inherent in semiotic S.L.A.B. theory.12 As such, Buckland suggests another shift in the film theory paradigm to cognitive film semiotics, combining the semiotic contextualization of images /meaning and the cognitivist neurological approach to a viewers primordial understanding of images/meaning. To date, this conflict of theories, and the call for and application of their integration, continues.
Similarly, Derek Nystrom suggests revisiting previous theoretical work in an attempt to address questions of American class dynamics in filmic representations. In Hard Hats, Rednecks and Macho Men: Class in 1970s American Cinema, Nystrom suggests that the shift away from S.L.AB. theory left these questions largely unanswered. The timing of the shift caused a gap in class-based theory in American film studies just as the University of Birminghams Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies began to theorize contemporary articulation of class identity.13 Using the British cultural studies that appeared in the late 1970s and 1980s, Nystrom focuses on the complexity of class formation as a means towards understanding class structure and representations in the American films of the 1970s.
For my investigation of the evolution of representations of the upper class in postrecession era films, a historical, social, economic and ideological analysis of films using a hermeneutic approach is logical. As my goals are interested in cultural interpretation and ideology formation, as opposed to the spectators cognitive capacity to understand films physiologically, I am situating my film analysis in social semiotics rather than cognitive film theory.
12 Warren Buckland, The Cognitive Semiotics of Film. (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000) 3-17.
13 Nystrom, Ftard Flats. 7.
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Methodological Statement
Film semiotics is a project that does not consider film to be an unproblematic, pregiven (sic) entity, but reflects on the very nature of films existence, together with the consequences it has on culture and society.
Semioticians challenge the commonsense ideological understanding of film as a mere form of harmless entertainment, maintaining that it is a system of signification that articulates experience.14 Warren Buckland
Contemporary film theorist Buckland summarizes the basis of modern or
contemporary film theory, initiated in 1968 by French film theorist Christian Metz in Film
Language: A Semiotics of the Cinema. Contemporary social semiotic analysis provides the
core of my methodology in examining the evolution of representations of the upper class in
post-World War II recessionary films. Key to my investigation is the semiotic implication
that images are filled with connotative meaning, created by the social context of their use and
hence, there are no ideological neutral signs.15 I will use this idea towards fostering an
understanding of Americas evolving relationship with the upper class, as presented in film.
In comparing class representation across time, I establish an understanding of social
semiotics and connotative meanings of images, described by Roland Barthes in Image,
Music, Text as the cultural interpretation of a sign.16 A sign is given, and changes its
meaning, specific to its context, its historical period and the cultural awareness of those using
it. Images analogous between time periods in their denotative, or literal, appearance may
have vastly different connotative meanings based on the change in cultural awareness. This is
the basis of contemporary social semiotic investigation, which explores how signs make
meaning within a specific social and historical context. British visual semiotician, Daniel
Chandler, notes it is important to recognize the importance of socio-cultural and historical
14 Warren Buckland, The Cognitive Semiotics of Film. (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000) 5.
15 See Barthes, 1977; Chandler, 2014; Turner, 2006.
16 Roland Barthes, Image, Music, Text, trans by Stephen Heath. (New York: Hill and Wang, 1977) 17.
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factors... semiotics seeks to analyse [sic] media texts as structured wholes and investigate latent, connotative meanings.17
Since socio-cultural and historical information is key to understanding the connotative meaning of images, my methodology will include a summarization of impactful historical events occurring in the recession years prior to the release of the films analyzed. These historical events inform and shape the narratives of the films as well as the connotations of the imagery they contain. In this regard, the work of Nystrom, which aims to make class visible to film and cultural studies,18 provides a theoretical scaffolding for the analysis of class structure and representations in film.
A summary of economic events contributing to the recession is also necessary, since my thesis question regarding the evolution of the representation of class in film is tied to periods of economic recession and how those factors again contribute to film narrative and cultural perceptions of class. I will provide a basic economic overview of the commonly held attributes of the three recession periods, as there are countless books on the political and economic policies, most with a partisan spin, and this is not the focus of my analysis. However, it will be important to note what the publicly held assumptions are regarding the assignment of blame for the recessions, as analysis will reveal that these notions influence film narratives of the times and how issues of class are addressed.
Hence, to find a historical and economic context, I suggest a hermeneutic reading of scenes from films released in the year following a major recession, as experienced from
17 Daniel Chandler, Semiotics for Beginners Introduction. http://visual-memory.co.uk/daniel/Documents /S4B/ (accessed February 19, 2015).
18 Nystrom, Hard Hats. 18.
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2007-2009, a period defined by the NBER19 as the largest decline in gross domestic product (GDP)20 since 1945. The NBERs next highest post-World War II era declines in GDP are 1973-1975 and 1957-1958.1 will focus on the NBER analysis as they are the official arbiter of economic expansions and contractions with more than 1,300 economics and business professors who do its research, as opposed to the U.S. Department of Commerces Bureau of Economic Analysis, which relies strictly on quantified data. Respectively, these recessions are popularly characterized by varying factors: a subprime mortgage crisis/housing bubble collapse, rising oil prices under OPEC/stagflation and a decline in manufacturing/production.
While censorship has affected how class is represented in films it has also shifted significantly over the years.21 In the late 1950s, during the first recession period investigated, the Production Code Administration (PCA) was still being enforced, although challenges to it were just beginning to signal its end. By the mid-1970s, the PCA had given way to the Motion Picture Association of Americas (MPAA) independent ratings board, the Classification & Ratings Administration (CARA). The films of this period faced far less censorship in subject matter and imagery than what was faced by their predecessors, giving way to a New Hollywood or American New Wave. By 2010, censorship in film from CARA still existed, contributing to the naturalization of ideology through image reinforcement. By sanctioning, and thereby providing authority to, certain images over others, the ideology of images are controlled without the opprobrium associated with the PCA. This has been compounded in the 21st century with the reliance on international
19 The National Bureau of Economic Research The NBER's Business Cycle Dating Committee. http://www.nber.org/cycles/recessions.html (accessed February 7, 2017).
20 Trading Economics. United States GDP Annual Growth Rate. http://www.tradingeconomics.com/united-states/gdp-growth-annual (accessed February 7, 2017).
21 Francis G. Couvares, Hollywoods Censor: Joseph I Breen and the Production Code Administration by Thomas Doherty. book review Film Quarterly, Vol. 62, No. 4. (Summer 2009). 88-89.
17


revenues, where a release in a market such as China will require changes made in compliance with their censorship codes. An overview of the film censorship practices in each time period will help place the imagery within the context of this shifting cultural framework.
To examine class representations in film using social semiotics, a framework for social classes in American will need to be established. Sociologist Diana Kendall, author of Framing Class: Media Representation of Wealth and Poverty in America, uses a social class model developed by Dennis Gilbert and Joseph A Kahl, the Gilbert-Kahl model, which divides the United States into six classes the upper class (or capitalist class), the upper-middle class, the middle class, the working class, the working poor and the poor and homeless (or underclass).22 This model provides an outline of economic class variables, essential to the concept of upward mobility in the American Dream. It additionally addresses Americas myth of a classless society by noting how social class variables exist and provide obstacles to raising upward through the classes. As such, it also provides cues in their semiotic analysis of class identifiers.
By using a hermeneutic/close reading of films we gain an understanding of how visual representations/symbols interpellate viewers, i.e. addressing and recruiting them into taking a particular position on an image that shape viewers as particular ideological subjects.23 Viewers have the ability to agree, negotiate or reject the images they see.
However, to negotiate with an image, by making meaning of its message (semiotics) and deciding what portions to accept, reject or modify, requires visual literacy, a term first coined
22 Diana Kendall, Framing Class: Media Representation of Wealth and Poverty in America 2nd ed. (Lanham, Boulder, New York, Toronto, Plymouth, UK: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2011) 14.
23 Marita Sturken and Lisa Cartwright, Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture 2nd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009) 446.
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in 1969 by John Debes, co-founder of the International Visual Literacy Association.24 This ability to discriminate, and interpret visual images, especially in a society replete with visual information, is vitally important as it gives individuals power over their culture and thus enables people to create their own meaning and identities and to shape and transform the material and social conditions of their culture and society.25
Although there have been numerous works on the symptomatic meaning in film, i.e. the set of social values found in the underlying meaning,26 the majority of books and articles focus on representations of the middle and working classes or social class as it relates to specific genres and/or years. At this point, I have found no works positioned on the representation solely of the upper class in film, either in individual films or over a period of time. In the field of sociology, frame analysis, a discourse analysis method that seeks to identify how an issue is defined and problematized, is typically used to address questions of media representations of class. The most significant recent contribution in this field has been by Diana Kendall, a Baylor University professor of sociology. Her book, Framing Class: Media Representations of Wealth and Poverty in America, as noted in reviews by Contemporary Sociology,27 Social Forces,28 and The Journal of Mass Media Ethics,29 clarifies and substantiates previous claims that media reify class-based stereotypes. However,
24 Maria Avgerinou, International Visual Literacy Association. What is Visual Literacy? Accessed February 21, 2015. http://www.ivla.org/drupal2/content/what-visual-literacy-0.
25 Jeff Share and Douglas Kellner, Toward Critical Media Literacy: Core Concepts, Debates, Organizations, and Policy. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education 26, (3): 2005. 369-386.
26 David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson. Film art: An Introduction 9th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010) 4-65.
27 Laura Grindstaff, Framing Class: Media Representations of Wealth and Poverty in America 2nd ed. Contemporary Sociology, Vol. 35, No. 5. 2006. 492-493.
28 Stephanie Moller, Framing Class: Media Representations of Wealth and Poverty in America 2nd ed. Social Forces, Vol. 86, No. 3. 2008. 1347-1349.
29 Wendy Wyatt, Framing Class: Media Representations of Wealth and Poverty in America 2nd ed. Journal of Mass Media Ethics, Vol. 21, No. 4. 2006. 359-371.
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her work on media focuses on print and television, excluding film, and lacks inclusion of the impact an economy has on visual narratives or images, an effect noted in other studies.30 As such, I seek to build on Kendalls work, hypothesizing that the representations of the upper class, specifically in film (when we eliminate the visually graphic differences due to censorship) are always negative during economic recessionary periods, regardless of their underlying causes.
Conclusion
Working in OppenheimerFunds 529 Educational Savings Plan department in 2008 and 2009,1 experienced firsthand Americas panic in the face of a recession. Every week, thousands of average Americans called our offices seeking explanations for their losses, their anger seemingly aggravated by the governments bailout (via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) of those perceived to be responsible. This bailout is the fracture point in the relationship between the classes to which Junod alludes. By understanding the representations of the upper class in film, we can begin to understand how Americas cultural perceptions and ideologies are constructed and how these constructions both reflect and influence the understanding of and relationships between classes, culminating in their naturalization. Employing a semiotic reading of the powerful and influential visual medium of film, while accounting for socio-historic and economic factors, reveals the codes and conventions used to naturalize these culturally constructed perceptions. This revelation is important as it exemplifies visual literacy, uncovering the meaning of these visual images, which we use to create meaning in our society, and in doing so, lays bare the direction of the relationship between the one percent and the average American.
30 Moller, Framing Class, 1347-1349.
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CHAPTER II
AN ECONOMIC FRAMEWORK
Creating Frameworks
When things go wrong, reigning ideas are challenged. 31 Judith Stein Framing is the process by which sense is made of events.32 One of the first steps in employing a close reading of any film is to create a framework for making meaning of the visual images. Using a social semiotic framework, where an image, or sign, gains meaning through its sociohistorical context, helps us to make sense of social life because information and meaning is not transmitted to us but rather created by us.33 History is primarily a written recording of those events that can be better termed as historiography (i.e. the writings of historians).34 In this sense, the past is, like other learned systems such as language and signs, interpreted based upon inter-textual readings using an epistemological, methodological, ideological and practical foundation.35 Historian Keith Jenkins states, ideology seeps into every nook and cranny of history.36 Jenkins perceives history as a means by which hegemony is reinforced via narratives that legitimate and illuminate dominate positions while obfuscating marginal ones, noting, all classes/groups write their collective autobiographies. History is the way people(s) create, in part, their identity.37 And without an understanding of historical events, you dont know how your cultural identity has been formed. Likewise in
31 Judith Stein, Pivotal Decade: How the United States Traded Factories for Finance in the Seventies. (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2010) 103.
32 Rebecca Ann Lind and Collen Salo, The Framing of Feminist and Feminism in News and Public Affairs Programs inU.S. Electronic Media, Journal of Communication 52 (2002): 211-28
33 William A. Gameson, News As Framing: Comments on Graber, American Behavioral Scientist 33 (1989): 157.
34 Keith Jenkins, Re-Thinking History. (London, New York: Routledge Classics, 2003) 6-7.
35 Ibid., 12-20.
36 Ibid., 24.
37 Ibid, 22-23.
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film, Valentin Volosinovs social context of signs suggests that, wherever a sign is present, ideology is present too.38 Thus, with a social semiotic reading of film, in which reading signs accurately relies on creating a historical context, we are interpreting the signs used to construct class narratives through which we make meaning of the relationships between classes.
Sociologist Diana Kendall suggests that class consciousness is the degree to which people at a similar location in the class system think of themselves as a distinct group sharing political, economic, and social interests.39 As Kendall used in her exploration of class in print media and television, for an exploration of class representations in film Ill employ the model developed by Dennis Gilbert and Joseph A Kahl (the Gilbert-Kahl model), which divides the American population into six classes the upper class (or capitalist class), the upper-middle class, the middle class, the working class, the working poor and the poor and homeless (or underclass).40 Films, when analyzed with their sociohistorical context, are not direct reflections of reality due to filters created by industrial concerns regarding profit motives and censorship. Cinematic representations are constructed to re-present the effects of cultural events on individuals and society by way of the codes, conventions, myths, and ideologies of its culture as well as by way of the specific signifying practices of the medium.41 To make meaning of the representations of the upper class in post-recessionary films, I will clarify the sociohistorical context contributing to those representations by focusing on two key elements.
38 Daniel Chandler, Semiotics: The Basics. (London, New York: Routledge, 2007) 214.
39 Diana Kendall, Framing Class: Media Representation of Wealth and Poverty in America 2nd ed. (Lanham, Boulder, New York, Toronto, Plymouth, UK: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2011), 14.
40 Dennis Gilbert and Joseph A Kahl, The American Class Structure: A New Synthesis. (Homewood, IL:
Dorsey, 1982)
41 Graeme Turner, Film as Social Practice IV, (London and New York: Routledge, 2006), 129.
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First, I will analyze the economic factors of the recessions and how the American public perceived them, and, most importantly, where the public assigned the blame for the recession. As Stein notes, sputtering economies lead to dissention on the fiscal and moral goals of capitalism leading to the escalation of class conflicts.42 Essentially, recessions led to questioning the hegemonic power structure of class relationships and the myth of a classless society. When recessions occur, the people, policies or groups associated with its cause is where the light is shone and the critiques are directed. Second, I will analyze the film industrys financial concerns and the effects of censorship as influential factors in the representations of class issues in film. Each decade carries with it a unique set of challenges, from the rise of television in the fifties to the emergence of the blockbuster in the seventies and the importance of foreign markets in the aughts. These two key elements, the state of the economy and of the film industry, will provide a framework for understanding the dominant cultural ideologies the images seek reify and naturalize or the marginalized ideologies they seek to dispel. Understanding how these naturalizations of dominant ideologies can lead to inaccurate portrayals of class structures and identities, altering an individuals or groups cultural self-awareness, is the foundation of this investigation of cinematic class representations and relationships. As social critic bell hooks suggested, We overidentify with the wealthy because the media socialize us to believe that people in the upper classes are better than we are.43
In this first chapter, I highlight the political economy of the largest post-1950 recessionary periods. These periods, which include 1957-58, 1973-75, and 2007-09, are additionally used to create an economic framework summarizing Americas shift from
42 Stein, Pivotal Decade. 102-103
43 bell hooks [Gloria Watkins], Where We Stand: Class Matters, New York: Routledge, 2000. 77.
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embedded liberalism to neoliberalism, and its influence in creating the most recent recession. How Americans viewed each recession is a product of the unique factors that led to the recession and Americas cultural views on capitalism, wealth, and poverty. As such, creating these frameworks for understanding the recession and its reception by the American public provides a context for understanding the representations of the upper class in films from each period that will be discussed in this paper.
Permanent Prosperity of the 1950s
Historian Robert Griffith summarized Dwight D. Eisenhower's Modern Republicanism approach to the national economy during his presidency as a desire to "fashion a new corporate economy that would avoid both the destructive disorder of unregulated capitalism and the threat to business autonomy posed by socialism."44 This approach clashed with that of his fellow Republicans who, by the 1950s, were eager to eliminate the Keynesian policies (often referred to as embedded liberalism) of FDRs New Deal and Trumans Fair Deal. Instead, Eisenhower used low taxes, balanced budgets, and public spending with a desire to control and grow the economy while avoiding, at all costs, the inflation that had plagued Americas post World War II years.45
Eisenhowers plans, and the prevalent thinking at the time, were influenced by the work of social scientist Robert Dahl and Charles Lindblom, who argued that unfiltered forms of capitalism and communism had failed. They suggested an amalgamation of political-economic constraints and regulation that served to both restrain and led the way in economic and industrial strategy, focusing on full employment, economic growth, and the welfare of its
44 Andrew J. Dmm, America In The Fifties (Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 2006), p. 102.
45 University of Virginia, Miller Center. Dwight D. Eisenhower: Domestic Affairs. Accessed February 7, 2017. http://millercenter.org/president/biography/eisenhower-domestic-affairs
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citizens.46 The success of embedded liberalism, combined with the G.I. Bill, Made in the USA consumer culture, cheap oil, and the continued economic and infrastructural rebuilding of Europe and Asia, delivered high rates of economic growth during the 1950s that extended into the following decade.
As such, despite presiding over three recessions, two minor periods from 1953-54 and 1960-61, and a more impactful one from 1957-58, his tenure was perceived as successful by the public. As the Miller Center suggests, People often remember the Eisenhower years as "happy days"... In the eyes of a majority of the public, Eisenhower usually made the right choices, as he often enjoyed approval ratings of more than 70 percent in the polls.47 However, numerous articles from the New York Times48 and papers from economists, both during his administration and more recently, found faults in these policies. In the summer of 1958, Economist Carl R. Jung suggested that Eisenhowers fear of inflation was misplaced, noting:
It is clear that monetary and fiscal policy must be directed toward maintaining a high rate of activity for the economy. Our problem is not so much inflation or busts as it is to sustain the boom... A continuing boom does create inflationary pressures. But balanced against this is the fact that high productivity and greater total production in the economy are attainable only if the accelerator is made to behave and business confidence is maintained.49
At the same time, The Conference of Economic Progress remarked that Eisenhowers
shallow efforts to reverse the recession might level it or make it worse, and, regarding his
emphasis on inflation policy, stated:
46 David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberialism. (Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2007) 9-11.
47 University of Virginia, Miller Center. Dwight D. Eisenhower: Domestic Affairs. Accessed February 7, 2017. http://millercenter.org/president/biography/eisenhower-domestic-affairs
48 There is a laundry list of articles in the NYT critical of the relative inaction made regarding the recession as of 1958. Edwin Dales This Recession:Causes and Corses so far; The Recession; Texof statement; Russell Bakers, Policy: relations w/ Soviet Union and Possible Recession; and a letter to the NYT from Eisenhowers former Economic Affairs special assistant.
49 Carl R. Jung, Current Recession: Some Causes and Cures, Business Horizons, Summer, 1958.
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We cannot admit that the American economy must choose between inflation and recessions, stagnation, or a low rate of economic growth. It is unreasonable to fear that the vigorous programs needed to reverse the recession and to restore full prosperity involve an undue risk of inflation.
This fear comes with bad grace from those who, in their ineffectual efforts to stop inflation, deliberately risked or even induced a serious economic recession.50
Inflation in America, especially in the post-World War II era, has lagged behind other countries due to government intervention and the ideology that rising inflation itself runs counter to the consumer culture required of capitalism. If the amount of money in the system outpaces the prices (and production) of goods and services, the dollar buys a smaller percentage of those goods and services. Quite simply, you cant buy this year what you could buy with the same amount of money last year, and if you save that money, next year it will be worth even less. In time, this leads to a loss of consumer confidence, both in the reliability of the marketplace and the elected politicians entrusted to control the economy.
As Berkowitz points out, in the post-New Deal era the burden of ensuring a consistent, reliable economy fell not on business leaders, but on the president.51 As such, Eisenhower and future presidents sought to maintain a sense of equilibrium, where inflation was not deemed harmful by the capitalist class, or where unemployment levels upset the rest of society. During World War I, from 1913-1919, the average inflation rate in America reached a peak of 9.8%; with the Great Depression in the 1930s, it fell to a historic low of -2.08%; and with World War II dominating the 1940s, inflation rebounded, reaching an average rate of 5.52% and a high of nearly 11% in 1942. With inflation averaging of 2.04% during the 1950s, despite a high of 7.9% in 1951, we can see why Eisenhowers detractors
50 Conference on Economic Progress, The Recession Cause and Cure: In Perspective of Our Long-Range Problems. June, 1958. 3, 52.
51 Berkowitz, Something Happened, 53.
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found attention to inflation misplaced.52 In 1957, the newly introduced Phillips Curve suggested that with low inflation, which was good for capitalism, came higher unemployment, which was bad for the middle to working-class poor and, subsequently, for politicians reelection hopes.
1950s economists were not alone in voicing their concern about Eisenhowers recessionary policies. In 2013, Princeton economists Blinder and Watson, using a modern, monetarist reading, which found that embedded liberalisms economic policies of reliance on government expenditures abetted Americas industrial military complex, noted a disturbing connection between Americas financial solvency and war that also contributed to recessionary economics:
After the Truman prosperity, which was fueled by high spending on the Korean War, Eisenhower won the 1952 election, determined to end the war.
He did so, and the sharp cutbacks in defense spending were the main reason for the 1953-1954 recession. Later, even more (albeit milder) defense cutbacks contributed to a short-but-sharp recession in 1957-1958. So growth plummeted from the Truman years to the Eisenhower years and did so quickly. Defense spending seems to have been a major reason.53
President Eisenhower, although suffering a slip in job approval during the height of
the recession, from a high of 70% down to 55%, ended his presidency with a 65% approval
rating.54 Despite some economic missteps, and an ill-advised preoccupation with inflation
that we will see repeated in the 1970s largest recession, Eisenhower benefitted from a
growing consumer culture that, unlike the thrift practiced since the Great Depression,
52 Tim McMahon, Long TermU.S. Inflation. InflationData.com, April 1, 2014. Accessed February 3, 2017. http://inflationdata.coni/Inflation/Inflation_Rate/Long_Term_Inflation.asp
53 Alan S. Blinder, and Mark W. Watson. Presidents and the Economy: A Forensic Investigation. mimeo, 2013.15.
54 Frank Newport, David W. Moore, and Lydia Saad, Long-Term Gallup Poll Trends: A Portrait of American Public Opinion Through the Century, Chart 1 Gallup.com Accessed February 3, 2017. http://www.gallup.com/polF3400/longterm-gallup-poll-trends-portrait-american-public-opinion.aspx
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embraced the culture of consensus and the burgeoning consumer credit required to keep up with ones neighbors.
The rise of consumption during this decade of prosperity shaped Americans perception of the recession that appeared at the close of the decade. Life magazine stated, Never before so much for so few, in 1954, while two years later Fortune magazine suggested, Never has a whole people spent so much money on so many expensive things in such an easy way as Americans are doing today.55 The 1950s witnessed prosperity of the masses as previously unknown in America, as the overall economy grew by 37%, consumer purchasing power by 30% and personal income by 45%.56 The GI Bill had disbursed $14.5 billion to veterans for education and training by 1956, when it expired, but the Veterans Administration estimated the increase in Federal income taxes alone would pay for the cost of the bill several times over. By 1955, 4.3 million home loans had been granted, with a total face value of $33 billion. While veterans were responsible for buying 20 percent of all new homes built after the war, overall homeownership growth, typically only 1 to 2 percentage points per decade, grew nearly 7%, a rate second only to the decade that had preceded it.57 The results rippled through the rest of the economy; there would be no new depressionjust unparalleled prosperity for a generation.58
As a result of the booming economic prosperity, and forms of entertainment censorship discussed later, upper to middle class Americans didnt see a problem that
55 David Halberstam, The Fifties. (New York: Random House Publishing Group, 1993) 496.
56 University of Virginia, Miller Center. Dwight D. Eisenhower: Domeshc Affairs. Accessed February 7, 2017. http://millercenter.org/president/biography/eisenhower-domeshc-affairs
57 United States Census Bureau Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division, Historical Census of Housing Tables, Last Revised: October 31, 2011, Accessed February 4, 2017. https://www.census.gov/hhes/www/housing/census/historic/owner.html
58 National Archives, Servicemens Readjustment Act (1944), Ourdocuments.gov. Accessed February 4, 2017. https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=76
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affected nearly one in five: poverty. Middle class whites had moved from the cities to the
suburbs, leaving behind the poor, minorities, and a deteriorating infrastructure. Funds were
not appropriated to provide relief to the poor urbanites nor the depressed rural areas of the
south, where much of the poverty was concentrated.59 By the mid-fifties television
portrayed a wonderfully antiseptic world of idealized homes in an idealized, unflawed
America. There were no economic crises, no class divisions or resentments, no ethnic
crises.60 In his admonishing 1963 piece, Our Invisible Poor, New York Times columnist
Dwight MacDonald noted that many Americans believed that poverty, as J.K. Galbraith
wrote in his The Affluent Society (1958), was no longer a massive affliction [but] more
nearly an afterthought. MacDonald suggested,
But the interesting thing about his pronouncement, aside from the fact that it is inaccurate, is that it was generally accepted as obvious. For a long time now, almost everybody has assumed that, because of the New Deals social legislation andmore importantthe prosperity we have enjoyed since 1940, mass poverty no longer exists in this country.61
However, the 1950s was not the nostalgically remembered, middle class utopia presented in film. It was a time of prosperity, but also a time of social turmoil, witnessing the birth of the civil rights movement and McCarthyism to labor strikes and the development of birth control pills. The fallacy of permanent prosperity wasnt only evident in the Eisenhower recession, but in the nearly 22.5% of the American population that lived in poverty by the end of the decade. While the poverty rate had declined during Eisenhower's presidency, nearly 40 million Americans lived below the poverty line by 1959. Although 16.5% of white
59 Amy K. Glasmcicr.. \n. lilas of Poverty in America: One Nation, Pulling Apart, 1960-2003. (New York and London: Routledge, 2006) xiii.
60 David Halberstam, The Fifties. (New York: Random House Publishing Group, 1993) 508.
61 Dwight MacDonald, Our Invisible Poor, NewYorker.com January 19, 1963 Accessed February 4, 2017. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1963/01/19/our-invisible-poor
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Americans and almost 55% of black Americans lived below the poverty line, much of the poverty was shielded from sight. Geographically, 35% of all poverty was rural and another 15% was Metropolitan, or what we would now refer to as inner city.62 As the Miller Center suggests, It was easier to celebrate the abundance of a booming consumer economy. People who had lived through the Great Depression of the 1930s emphasized the economic security of the 1950s.63
Americas favorable view of the presidents economic policies, a focus on rising prosperity levels, and, as the Miller Center suggests, a belief that the economic insecurity of the Great Depression was in the past, all contributed to the eras perception of the Eisenhower recession. Blame for the short lived, but sharp recession, the economic failings and inequalities of the period were not attributed to the elite classes. The blame for the recession was located primarily in the inevitable post-war production lag and the quickly righted economic policies of the Eisenhower administration. As I will discuss later, films internal censorship system and the culturally observed site of blame for the recession was influential in the depictions of class and class relationships in popular post-recessionary films.
Nixons Gradualism
It [the long post-war boom] incorporated millions of working Americans into a home-owning, college educated middle class. And it still had enough left over to lift millions of Americans out of desperate poverty and establish the social safety net for all citizens. By 1970, all that was fading into memory. The economic struggle of the postwar decade had centered around the problems of an affluent society... For the first time since the Great Depression, talk of
62 Glasmeier, An Atlas of Poverty, 1.
63 University of Virginia, Miller Center. Dwight D. Eisenhower: Domestic Affairs. Accessed February 7, 2017. http://millercenter.org/president/biography/eisenhower-domestic-affairs
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limits and diminishing expectations filled presidential addresses and dinner table conversations.64 Bruce./. Schulman
The Nixon administration marked the end of America's long period of post-World
War II prosperity and the onset of a period of high inflation and unemployment-"stagflation."
In Nixons first two years, unemployment rose from 3.3 percent to 6 percent. The average
inflation rate rose from 4.2 percent to 5.7 percent,65 its highest point since 1951 when
Eisenhower targeted it as his administrations primary focus. These results contradicted
expectations determined by the Phillips Curve and signaled the first stage of failure for the
embedded liberalism policies of Keynesian Economics. Nixon adopted a policy of monetary
restraint, referred to as Gradualism," to restrict the growth of the money supply and rein in
an overheating economy. As the Miller Center remarks, political concerns would play an
overriding role in the economic decisions of Nixon's first term.
Nixon, according to Haldeman's diary, repeatedly asked the chairman of his Council of Economic Advisers "to explain why we hadn't solved the inflation problem." The President also said "that he never heard of losing an election because of inflation, but lots were lost because unemployment or recession.
Point is, he's determined not to let the war on inflation get carried to the point that it will lose us House or Senate seats in November.66
As proof that Nixon understood that the public placed the burden of the economy on the federal government, and President directly, he admitted, I am now a Keynesian in economics.67 Despite this admission, Schulman suggests, Over the next six years, Nixons
64 Bruce J. Schulman, The Seventies: The Great Shift in American Culture, Society, and Politics. (Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, Perseus Boog Group, 2002) 7-8.
65 U.S. Inflation Calculator, Historical Inflation Rates: 1914-2017, Coinnews Media Group, LLC., Accessed February 4, 2017. http://www.usinflationcalculator.com/inflation/historical-inflation-rates/
66 University of Virginia, Miller Center, Richard Nixon: Domestic Affairs, Accessed February 5, 2017. http ://millercenter. org/president/biography/nixon-domestic-affairs
67 Brace J. Schulman, The Seventies. 25.
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ambitious and cunning policy agenda would poison American politics and fragment American Society.68
Crude oil prices, a major factor of the buoyant economy of the 1950s, hovered around the $25 per barrel mark for the duration of that decade. During this period, most of the oil Americans consumed was produced at home, however, by 1973 oil imports doubled from 1970 levels,69 and more than a third of the oil consumed came from abroad.70 In June of that year, five months after Americas involvement in the Vietnam War had officially ended, oil hit a 26-year low, costing just $19.47 a barrel. These events combined with a cheaper dollar, encouraging exports that would end the nations trade and payment deficits, and emboldened the U.S. government to end the remining controls on foreign investment. In doing so, Exports begin to rise. American manufacturers constructed new factories. They even gained ground in world markets.71
Economically, America looked to be entering another period of prosperity. Unfortunately, on October 20, 1973, Saudi Arabia and other Arab oil-producing states joined Libyas oil embargo on the United States. On the same day, President Nixons attorney general, Elliot Richardson, and his chief deputy, William Ruckelshaus, resigned in protest of Nixons firing of special prosecutor Archibald C. Cox, as he investigated the Watergate scandal. Stein notes that many Americans believed the oil crises was subterfuge created by Nixon as the country focused more on the Watergate scandal and in subsequent polls, more
68 Schulman, The Seventies. 24.
69 Edward D. Berkowitz, Something Happened: A Political and Cultural Overview of the Seventies. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006) 64.
70 Amory Lovins, What Did the 1973 Oil Embargo Teach Us?, Common Dreams, October 17, 2013.
Accessed February 5, 2017. https://www.commondreams.org/views/2013/10/17/what-did-1973-oil-embargo-teach-us
71 Judith Stein, Pivotal Decade: How the United States Traded Factories for Finance in the Seventies. (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2010) 101-102.
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Americans blamed the oil crisis on the U.S. government (23 %) than on the Arab countries (7%).72 In the oil shock that followed, crude oil prices more than doubled within two months to $52.44.
Edward Berkowitz asserts, Even more than Watergate and Vietnam, the economy was the factor that gave the seventies its distinctive character... it looked at the time as though a crucial climacteric had been reached and that the great streak that characterized the postwar period was over for good.73 By the end of 1974, the stock market had lost nearly half of its value. At the end of the first quarter of 1975, economic growth had declined by nearly 5% and by the second quarter, the annual unemployment rate, which had only exceeded 6% twice in the 25 years between 1949 and 1973, had reached 9.2%.74
With Nixons resignation on August 8th, 1974, the country turned to his replacement, Gerald Ford to address the flailing economy. Initially, Ford's economic team, like the administrations of Nixon and Eisenhower, advised him to focus on the problem of inflation. Nixon had used wage and price controls in an unsuccessful attempt to curb inflation, however, Ford proposed a tax hike and asked for a reduction in federal spending, the latter policy serving as reminder to how much economic conservatives had changed since the era of Eisenhower, who employed low taxes, balanced budgets and public spending projects. In an effort to gain the support of the American public, Ford launched the "WIN" (Whip Inflation Now) campaign. Of the twelve million buttons produced by the White House, only 100,000 were distributed. While the media mocked his WIN campaign and critics accused him of ignoring unemployment for decreases in inflation. During his first four months in
72 Stein, Pivotal Decade, 102
73 Berkowitz, Something Happened, 53.
74 Stein. Pivotal Decade, 102.
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office, unemployment had grown from 5.4 percent to 6.5 percent and was soon expected to top 7 percent. By December, with economic production continuing to fall as unemployment rose, Ford finally admitted the economy was in a recession.75
With his first State of the Union focusing on the struggling economy, Ford spoke directly to the American people saying, Recession and inflation are eroding the money of millions... Prices are too high, and sales are too slow... The emphasis on our economic efforts must now shift from inflation to jobs.76 Ford quickly moved on his speech to gain the support of the public.
In his January 1975 proposal, Ford asked for a tariff on imported oil, the end of price controls on domestic oil, and a new tax on domestic oil producers. His goal was to stimulate domestic oil production, which he believed would cause prices to drop in the long term as supply increased.... In an Omnibus Energy bill, Ford accepted [the Democrats] 12-percent reduction in domestic oil prices in return for authority to end price controls on oil over a forty-month period.
By the end of 1976, an election year, the economy showed signs of recovery. As Nixon had suggested, he never heard of losing an election because of inflation, but lots were lost because unemployment or recession.77 Fords administration understood what was important to the masses, addressing the issue of unemployment and rising costs, but Nixons fears proved prophetic for Fords reelection hopes. Even as unemployment, which had grown to 8.5 percent in 1975, receded to 7.7 percent in 1976,78 and the consumer price indexone
75 University of Virginia, Miller Center, Gerald Ford: Domestic Affairs, Accessed February 5, 2-17. https ://millercenter. org/president/ford/domestic -affairs
76 Gerald R. Ford: "Address Before a Joint Session of the Congress Reporting on the State of the Union.," January 15, 1975. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. Accessed February 5, 2017. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=4938.
77 University of Virginia, Miller Center, Richard Nixon: Domestic Affairs, Accessed February 5, 2017. http ://millercenter. org/president/biography/nixon-domestic-affairs
78 Bureau of Labor Statistics, Databases, Tables & Calculators by Subject, United States Department of Labor, Accessed February 5, 2017. http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNU04000000?years_option=all_years& periods_option=specific_periods&periods=Annual+Data
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measure of the rate of inflationdipped from 9.1 percent in 1975 to 5.8 percent in late 1976,79 the American economy remained sluggish sinking Ford as both the public and Jimmy Carter connected him with the failed policies of the Nixon presidency.
Unlike the previous recession in the late 1950s, whose representations were mired in the moral obligations of the Production Code (and will be discussed at length in the next chapter), the mid-1970s recession was accompanied by social unrest that was depicted in the cinema. Social issues and cultural criticism became a staple of 1970s films, a byproduct of cultural change and the Hollywoods industrial changes regarding economic orientation and censorship. However, similar to the previous recession, the public did not locate blame at the foot of the elite classes. In the wake of the numerous social and economic changes, including the Vietnam war, Watergate, the Nixon shock, and the Oil shock, Americans, in another example of the political economy mindset that had arisen after the Great Depression, found an abundance of reasons to blame the government and specific politicians for their economic woes. In the end, as Berkowitz points out, poor economic performance eroded the respect that Americans had for their political leaders. It was an accepted part of the post-New Deal order that the president managed the economy so that it grew without wrenching changes in the business cycle.80 The economic failures of the early to mid-1970s were seen as having less to do with the machinations of the capitalist class than with the collapse of our government by corrupt and inept officials at the highest levels.
79 University of Virginia, Miller Center, Gerald Ford: Domestic Affairs, Accessed February 5, 2-17. https ://millercenter. org/president/ford/domestic -affairs
80 Berkowitz, Something Happened, 53.
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A Neoliberal Turn
In August of 1971, two months prior to Lewis Powells nomination by President
Nixon to the U.S. Supreme Court, what is now referred to as the Powell Memo was sent to
the US Chamber of Commerce. Powells memo suggested that Americas free enterprise
system had long been under attack and called for action in its defense. It was the first salvo in
what would become a neoliberal project to free capital from its embedded liberalism
constraints,81 which by the mid-1970s had proven inconsistent with the requirements of
capital accumulation.82 The economic power of the capitalist class, the top 1 percent, fell
drastically during the 1970s, as the share of assets held by the top 1 percent, which had
approached fifty percent before the Great Depression, fell from 33 percent to 20 percent in
the first half of the decade.83 In response, Powell suggested a coordinated attack.
Strength lies in organization, in careful long-range planning and implementation, in consistency of action over an indefinite period of years, in the scale of financing available only through joint effort, and in the political power available only through united action and national organizations... the assault on the enterprise system is broadly based and consistently pursued. It is gaining momentum and converts.84
Powell went on to recommend an assault upon the major institutions-universities,
schools, the media, publishing, the courts-in order to change how individuals think about the
corporation, the law, culture and the individual.85
As Harvey points out, subsequent to the memo there were movements within the
conservative party and corporate culture that indicate steps to act on Powells suggestions.
Over the next ten years the size of the American Chamber of Commerce grew over 400
81 Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism. 11.
82 Ibid., 13.
83 Ibid., 16.
84 Reclaim Democracy! The Powell Memo (also known as the Powell Manifesto), Reclaimdemocracy.org Accessed February 5, 2017. http://reclaimdemocracy.org/powell_memo_lewis/
85 Harvey, Neoliberalism. 43.
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percent, and spent $900 million annually on political matters, which for 1979 would be the equivalent of almost $3.3 billion in 2016. When New York City required a bail-out to remain solvent in 1975, a cabal of bankers in control of the citys bonds took over the tax revenues to pay off bondholders first. What remained spiraled New York into a technical bankruptcy, crippling unions, freezing wages and reducing public employment and social services.86 Harvey called this action a coup by the financial institutions against the democratically elected government of New York City... wealth was redistributed to the upper class in the midst of a financial crisis... corporate welfare substituted for people welfare.87 Ultimately, the neoliberal state,88 created in the ashes of the recession that began the 1970s, relies on monetarism as the basis of government policy. In elevating the solvency of financial institutions and the unassailability of money as the primary objective of elected officials it has rendered the neoliberal state intolerable of any massive financial defaults.89 Thirty years of neoliberal freedom wrote Harvey in 2005, have, after all, not only restored power to a narrowly defined capitalist class. They have also produced immense concentrations of corporate power... [and] a disproportionate influence over the media and the political process.90
The embedded liberalism policies that had restored America from the Great Depression and contributed to building the middle class, fostering the promise of a meritocratic society, collapsed in the recession of the early 1970s giving way to a neoliberal monetarist policy that actively sought to return to the capitalist class the wealth distributed to
86 Harvey, A Brief History ofNeoliberialism. 45.
87 Ibid., 45-47.
88 A Neoliberal State seeks to disembed capital from social and political constrains, returning economic power to the upper class by financializing everything and placing corporate solvency above social and moral economy. It favors government by experts and elites. (Harvey.. I Brief History ofNeoliberialism. 5-66)
89 Harvey, A Brief History ofNeoliberialism. 72-73.
90 Ibid., 38.
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the middle class over the previous thirty years. This shift in economic power created income inequality in levels not seen since the Great Depression91 and set the stage for the greatest recession since.
Sinking Foundations
Americas love affair with homeownership began in earnest during the post-world War II years. Using their G.I. Bill home loans, veterans were responsible for buying 20 percent of all new homes built after the war.92 Homeownership before the war stood at 43.6 percent, jumping afterward to 55 percent. Despite large recessions in the 1950s, homeownership rose to 61.9 percent. This trend repeated in the 1970s, where despite the deep recession, homeownership during the decade increased from 62.9 percent to 64.4 percent. By 2000, 66.2% of Americans owned a home.93 Although the trend of rising homeownership continued, a disturbing trend was visible in the financial stability of those purchasing homes. In 2006, homeownership had risen to 69 percent, however, 52 percent of American households with income below the median were now a part of this group. The American dream of homeownership had been extended to those in for whom it had previously been out of reach: the working class and the bottom tier of the middle class.
In his first term, President George Bush had undertaken several neoliberal measures, including tax cuts rationalized as being an economic job stimulus that would create jobs that instead served as a tax windfall for the wealthy, fueling, among other things, risky speculative ventures. Lacking a corresponding reduction in government spending, previously
91 Institute for Policy Studies, Income Inequality, Inequality.org Accessed February 5, 2017 http ://inequality. org/income -inequality/
92 National Archives, Servicemens Readjustment Act (1944), Ourdocuments.gov. Accessed February 4, 2017. https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=76
93 United States Census Bureau Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division, Historical Census of Housing Tables, Last Revised: October 31, 2011, Accessed February 4, 2017.
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acquired budget surplus disappeared as tax revenues declined and government spending soared under the burden of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Combined, his tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 reduced federal revenue by an estimated $4 trillion over a period of ten years, worsened wealth inequality in the United States, and increased the federal deficit. 94 Despite this, from 2003 to 2007 the Dow Jones rose from just above 8,000 to over 14,000, while unemployment dropped from 6.3 percent to 4.7 percent.95 In the short term, Bushs tax cuts and spending seemed to be stimulating the economy, instead, the bottom was about to fall out.
From 2000 to mid-2006 national housing values increased by an unprecedented 106 percent.96 With the collapse of this rapidly increasing value, which fell by 34 percent over the next six years, the American housing bubble triggered The Great Depression. As Essenburg states, the housing bubble collapse fell for numerous reasons, including neoliberalism, credit derivatives and an unhealthy relationship between the investment side of finance, regulatory agencies and Congress.97 Neoliberalisms assault on embedded liberalism constraints took a decisive turn in 1998, when the Banking Act of 1933 (Glass-Steagall Act), which had been eroding since the 1960s, was gutted by the Federal Reserve. The act was designed to create a legal wall between the operations of commercial banking (personal), investment baking (corporate) and insurance services. As Essenburg recounts,
The Feds authorization of a merger between
Citicorp (commercial bank), Travelers Group (insurance company), and
Smith Barney and Primerica (two investment banks) [was followed by] the
94 University of Virginia, Miler Center, George W. Bush: Domestic Affairs, Accessed February 6, 2017 http://millercenter.org/president/biography/gwbush-domestic-affairs
95 Ibid.
96 Timothy Essenburg and Lindsey Hansen, The New Faces of Poverty: A Reference Guide to the Great Recession. (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, LLC, 2014) 39.
97 Ibid.
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Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, permitting over-the-counter (OTC) trades on some derivatives to go unregulated according to the Commodity Exchange Act of 1936.98
This attack on the policies instituted after the Great Depression, instilled to prevent the exploitation of the stock market from corporate wealth and the capitalist class, paved the way to the collapse of the housing market, which had been tied to the stock market through the bundling of credit derivatives. While this has been well covered territory, especially in both Michael Lewiss 2010 book, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine and the film adaptation, The Big Short (2015), directed by Adam McKay, Ill briefly set the stage.
Wall Street investors (Hedge Funds, Insurance Companies, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, etc.), freed by neoliberal reductions in market regulations, began investing in low rated Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs) that were buried in Mortgage Backed Securities made up of pools of mortgages. Many of these mortgages, deemed subprime, had been offered to households with income below the median. With mortgages available to the working class and the bottom tier of the middle class pumping up the number of homeowners and inflating house building demand and values, the stage was set for disaster.99 Eventually, the combination of rising interest rates, ARMs, variable rate mortgages, and high-risk mortgages led to an increasing foreclosure rate and the bursting of the bubble.100
When the housing market burst the stock market plummeted. On September 29, 2007, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, fell 777.68 points in intra-day trading, the largest point drop in any single day in history. On September 30, 2007, the Dow Jones closed at 13,930.01, ultimately dropping to its low of 6,594.44 on March 5, 2009. During the Great
98 Essenburg and Hansen, The New Faces of Poverty., 42.
99 Ibid., 44-52.
100 Ibid., 52-53.
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Recession, 400 banks failed, unemployment rose by six percent (quicker than either of the two previous major recessions101) and poverty grew by ten million people. By 2010, subprime mortgage delinquency was at 25.9 percent and foreclosures stood at 14.5 percent.102 In October of 2012, one report put the estimate of homeowners with underwater mortgages (owing more than the home was worth) at 22 percent, with a total home equity loss of $7 trillion.103
In response to the sharp, quick and deep recession, President Bush signed two acts, The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 and the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). The former, often called the bailout of the U.S. financial system, authorizing the United States Secretary of the Treasury to spend up to $700 billion to purchase distressed assets, primarily mortgage-backed securities, and supply cash directly to banks.104 TARP authorized $700 billion of expenditures to stabilize banks, restart credit markets, support the U.S. auto industry, of which approximately $46 billion was committed for programs to help struggling families avoid foreclosure, with these expenditures being made over time. With the vast bulk of the $1.4 trillion in funds directed at the financial solvency of corporations and the investors of the capitalist class, and some 5 million homes lost to foreclosure by 2011,105 the fallout of the Great Recession has included a cultural examination of the neoliberal class war, class identity, and class relationships. For the first time since the Great
101 Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Recession of 2007-2009, United States Department of Labor, Accessed February 6, 2017. https://www.bls.gov/spotlight/2012/recession/
102 Essenburg and Hansen, The New Faces of Poverty, 3-5.
103 Ingrid Gould Ellen and Samuel Dastrup, Housing and the Great Recession, Recession Trends. October 2012. 1.
104 The Washington Times, Summary of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, Washingtimes .com September 28, 2008. Accessed February 6, 2017. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/sep/ 28/summary-emergency-economic-stabilization-act-2008/
105 Lisa Myers, Rich Gardella and John W. Schoen, No End in Foreclosure Quagmire, NBCNews.com May 9, 2011. Accessed February 6, 2017. http://www.nbcnews.com/id/42881365/ns/business-personal_finance/t/no-end-sight-foreclosure-quagmire/#.WNVkOjvDHbO
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Depression, and unlike the Eisenhower or Nixon era recessions, most Americans not only found their government lacking in taking the necessary economic actions, they also perceived the actions of the capitalist class as the primary source of the recession.
Conclusion
Over the course of three, distinctly formed recessions, I have sketched a framework of the political economy that subsequent economist laid out as their causes. Additionally, I have created a context for each eras culture perception of the recession and, in turn, its cultural consensus for the assignment of blame for their economic hardships. The purpose of the examination of the political economy of each recession and its respective cultural reception is to provide a context for the exegesis of the films from each era. Films are, in semiotic terms, an indexical thumbprint of their times. As noted previously, Volosinov states, wherever a sign is present, ideology is present too.106 As films are a visible and tangible sign of their times, in their close readings we find Americas ideologies on class identity. However, before we explore the representations of class in these post-recessionary films, it is necessary to examine the film industry factors that also served to influence class representation.
106 Daniel Chandler, Semiotics: The Basics. (London, New York: Routledge, 2007) 214.
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CHAPTER III
GONE, NEVER TO RETURN
Film Industry in the 1950s
Depression memories dimmed, class consensus replaced class conflict, and authority and domesticity became new watchwords. 107 Brian Neve
Fortune magazine suggested in 1956 that there were 16.6 million middle class
families that reflected an economy of abundance... high spending, debt happy, bargain
conscious, upgrading, American consumers. Despite this, weekly film attendance
plummeted in the decade following 1956, from 30 percent of the population down to the 10
percent where it lingered for the next thirty-five years.108 To establish the framework for
understanding the state the film industry in the fifties there are numerous topics for
discussion, from the decline of the B picture to the growing importance of the foreign
market. Additionally, the advent of the 40 hour work week liberated weekends for many
Americans, allowing them to take advantage of their leisure time on activities other than the
cinema from homemaking and sports to vacations. However, to create a cultural context of
the state of the film industry in the fifties, which will allow for a more informed hermeneutic
reading of the eras popular post-recessionary films, I will focus on four primary influences
on the film industry in the fifities: The Paramount Case; the conjunction of suburban
migration with the rise of television; The House Committee on Un-American Activities
(HUAC); and challenges to the Motion Picture Production Code and the Production Code
Administration.
107 Brain Neve, HUAC, the Blacklist, and the Decline of Social Cinema in The Fifties: Transforming the Screen 1950-1959. (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 2003) 86.
108 Michelle Pautz, The Decline in Average Weekly Cinema Attendance, Political Economy, 2002, Vol. 11., Appendix Figure 1.
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Perhaps the greatest threat affecting the solvency of the major studios and the types of films produced during the fifties, resulted from the resolution of long-term legal battles over vertical integration, the system whereby the studios operated as an oligopoly that controlled film from screenplay to exhibition. In 1918, Paramount Pictures acquired the Famous Players-Lasky Corporation, allowing them to claim contracts on six of the years top ten most popular stars. Emboldened by their star power, which equated to box-office success at the time, Paramounts new exhibition deals required exhibitors to purchase films with lesser known stars, and a lower chance of profitability for the exhibitor, in order to acquire films with popular stars, initiating a practice of block booking. By 1921, the Federal Trade Commission had begun to investigate these practices and the ensuing case, The Federal Trade Commission v. Famous Players-Lasky Corporation, et al, resulted in a cease and desist order for block booking to be issued on July 9, 1927.109 The major studios appealed the order and continued the practice until the Supreme Court found Paramount and nine other members of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA) guilty of violating antitrust law.
However, in the economic distress of the Great Depression, the ruling was never enforced, with President Franklin D. Roosevelts administration realizing it was not in the best interests of the national economy or the public's morale to hobble such a vital industry while it struggled financially.110 Roosevelts compassion ended in 1938 when he ordered the Department of Justice to file suit against Hollywoods major film studios with the case U.S. v. Paramount. While Paramount was the primary defendant, the rest of the Big Five (Loew's
109 Richard Koszarski, An Evenings Entertainment: The Age of The Silent Feature Picture, 1925-1928. (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1990) 69-72.
110 J. A. Aberdeen, Introduction: The First Paramount Case Cobblestone Entertainment. Accesses February 6, 2017. http://www.cobbles.com/simpp_archive/ftc-case_into.htm
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(MGM), Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, RKO Pictures) and Little Three (Universal Studios, Columbia Pictures, United Artists) were also named. The consent decree issued in 1940, the beginning of World War II in 1942, and an initial ruling in favor of the studios in 1945 impeded the dissolution of the block booking practice for several years. Ultimately, on May 4, 1948, the Supreme Court forced the studios to divest themselves of movie theater chains.111 However, the actual process of divestiture continued throughout the fifties, culminating in 1959.112
Peter Lev suggests the end of 30 years of vertical integration didnt negatively impact movie attendance, but it did have a profound effect on film industry stability and profitability.113 Vertical integration had assured the major studios a profitable release pattern,114 an equitable division of the markets, and favorable terms of competition between the Big Five and the Little Three. The dissolution of the practice was, as with all anti-trust suits, intended to foster competition. The consent opened the market to independent film producers, who had formed the Society of Independent Motion Picture Producers (SIMPP) during the Paramount case. Walt Disney Productions Gunther Lessing released a SIMPP statement calling the decision a declaration of independence, as far as independent motion picture producers are concerned.115 With the direct line between film production to exhibition gone, taking with it guaranteed exhibition profits that could absorb losses in
111 J. A. Aberdeen, The Independent Producers and the Paramount Case, 1938-1949, Part 6: The Supreme Court Verdict That Brought an End to the Hollywood Studio System, 1948, Cobblestone Entertainment. Accesses February 6, 2017. http://www.cobbles.com/simpp_archive/paramountcase_6supremel948.htm
112 Murray Pomerance, American Cinema of the 1950s: Themes and Variations. (New Brunswick, New Jersey, and London: Rutgers University Press, 2005), 8.
113 Peter Lev, The Fifties: Transforming the Screen 1950-1959. (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 2003), 9.
114 Ibid.
115 J. A. Aberdeen, The Independent Producers and the Paramount Case, 1938-1949, Part 6: The Supreme Court Verdict That Brought an End to the Hollywood Studio System, 1948, Cobblestone Entertainment. Accesses February 6, 2017. http://www.cobbles.com/simpp_archive/paramountcase_6supremel948.htm
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production, the film industry became a significantly more precarious financial proposition at the precise moment that two new threats appeared: the suburbs and television.
Thanks to 1944s G.I. Bill and William Levitts popularization of mass-produced homes, the fifties was witness to a major shift in American culture: the Caucasian exodus from cities into the suburbs. Between 1950 and 1970, the suburban population grew from 35.1 to 75.6 million people (from 23.1 percent to 36.8 percent of the US population),116 As the American Dream shifted to embrace suburban living a new form of entertainment appeared to meet their needs: television. While movie admissions rose for a period during World War II, its 50 percent drop from 1946 to 1956 is attributed, in part, by a shift in discretionary income spending. During the war, many commodities were under rationing restrictions and could not be purchased, giving the movies a virtual monopoly of the entertainment business.117
However, after the war, spending transitioned as returning soldiers married, had children, and moved to the suburbs. Television provided these burgeoning suburban families a form of entertainment perfectly situated to their new needs. Once a television was purchased, parents and children could stay home to be entertained, forgoing the expenses involved with a trip into the city to see a movie. Televisions rise was meteoric. In 1950, 3.9 million households had televisions and in just five years that number was 30.7 million households. That reflects an 87% increase in that short time span.118 The film industry felt televisions influence immediately, indicated by poll results released by Paramount in 1950
116 Eric Avila, Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight: Fear and Fantasy in Suburban Los Angeles. (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 2004), 4.
117 Peter Lev, The Fifties. 7.
118 Michelle Pautz, The Decline in Average Weekly Cinema Attendance, Political Economy, 2002, Vol. 11. Appendix 3.
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which revealed that families with televisions in the home decreased their film going by 20-30 percent... (vs) a previous poll, which found a 46-74 percent drop.119
With film studios profitability and stability weakened by vertical disintegration and televisions surging popularity, film studios were forced to examine what made for popular, and profitable, films. Fewer in number and more selective, 1950s audiences created a new tension within the film industry, resulting in a period of high-quality films made within socially and aesthetically conservative parameters.120 The parameters that constricted the exploration of social issues in 1950s films, including class relations and identity, were further constricted when the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) begin to hold hearings on the political allegiance, and ideological leanings, of Hollywood. As Lev obsereved, The blacklist and related pressures also encouraged conventional thinking.121
In October, 1947, HU AC, originally formed in 1938 to investigate alleged disloyalty and subversive activities on the part of private citizens, public employees, and those organizations suspected of having Communist ties,122 began formal hearings on the question of communism in Hollywood. Of the initial 79 individuals subpoenaed, only The Hollywood Ten, primarily screenwriters, were charged with contempt of Congress when they cited the First Amendment in refusing to answer questions pertaining to their membership in the Communist Party. A subsequent meeting among studio producers and executives produced the Waldorf Statement, an agreement to fire the Hollywood Ten and suspend or fire all others in their employment until they declared under oath they were not
119 Peter Lev, The Fifties. 9.
120 Ibid., 62.
121 Ibid.
122 The Elanor Roosevelt Papers Project, House Un-American Activities Committee, The Gorge Washington University. Accessed February 6, 2017. https://www2.gwu.edu/~erpapers/teachinger/glossary/huac.cfm
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communists. The statement served as the origin of a blacklist that would eventually grow to include over 300 names.123 Additionally, the blacklist may have served as a way for studios to reduce costs (through firings and cuts in pay during blacklist enforcement from 1951 to 1953) during their own economic downturn, an industry-wide recession driven by various events including the anti-trust decisions and political regulations fueled by anti-Semitism.124
HU AC and the blacklist began to fade in the late fifties as lawsuits challenged the committees legality and black market scripts, from blacklisted writers, continued to be made and find success. By April of 1959, former president of the United States, Harry Truman, labeled HU AC the most un-American thing in the country today.125 Although Neve suggests that the effects of the blacklist could be felt into the sixties, during its enforcement in the fifties lives were destroyed and the climate of film production was heavily influenced, producing an era where the film languages of class, populism, and social criticism became suddenly suspect.126 The effects of the blacklist on films made during the fifties, as Lary May observes, is a factor in the key changes in theme from the 1930s to the 1950s... a decline in unhappy endings... and a fall in the incidence of depictions both of the rich as a moral threat and of big business as villainous.127
While HU AC and the blacklist undoubtedly influenced Hollywood and the changes in film themes, endings and social criticism, the primary influence on these representations extends back to 1934, when the studios finally granted the newly established Production Code Administration (PCA) the power to enforce the 1930 adoption of the Motion Picture
123 Neve, HUAC, the Blacklist. 65-70.
124 Ibid., 71-72.
125 Stephen J. Whitfield, The Culture of the Cold War. (Baltimore, London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996) 124.
126 Ibid., 85
127 Brain Neve, HUAC, the Blacklist. 73-74.
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Production Code. The Production Code (PC) ushered in an era of self-imposed film censorship that continues to shape cinematic representations into the present day. The topic of censorship will prove fundamental to understanding the changes in representations of class across the three post-recessionary eras being discussed and will be revisited to address the industrial influences of the seventies and the aughts. I will establish the history of the moral and theoretical foundations of film censorship from 1930 to 1959, which indicates Hollywoods tendency to veer from censorship rules during economically challenging periods and highlights similarities between the censorship adverse pre-code era of the thirties and the climate of the industry in the fifties. In doing so, I seek to connect the restrictions of representations of social issues, guided by film censorship, to the changing cultural contexts in America.
The 1920s witnessed numerous scandals in the film industry, from the initial antitrust lawsuits (concluding with the Paramount Case in 1948) to the highly publicized, image damaging manslaughter trials of comedic actor Roscoe Fatty Arbuckle and the unsolved death of Director William Desmond Taylor. In 1924, as a response to social changes, scandals, and religious pressure from the American Catholic Church, the MPPDA instituted The Formula consisting of 13 elements to be avoided on screen, including films that dealt with sex in an improper manner, emphasized violence or presented offending religious beliefs.128 By 1927, a new list of guidelines, the Donts and Be Carefuls emerges, expanding to 25 the elements to be avoided, including 11 more instances of what may never be used.129 If the studio deemed it necessary, films were modified after their production, prior
128 MPPDA Digital Archive, Will Hays and the MPPDA in the 1920s Accessed February 15, 2017. http://mppda.flinders.edu.au/history/ mppda-history/will-hays-and-the-1920s/
129 Ibid.
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to their release. While these were essentially adhered to, they were only advisory guidelines and carried no real threat of censorship from their administrative body, the Studio Relations Committee (SRC).
In 1930, under the auspices of concerns about the effect of sound film on children, as noted in the Payne Fund studies and the work of Melvin DeFleur,130 Jesuit priest Father Daniel A. Lord and Catholic layman Martin Quigley (influential as the editor of a prominent trade paper, the Motion Picture Herald) submit a new censorship code to William H. Hays, the President of the MPPDA. Still a gentlemans agreement, it was largely ignored during the era of Pre-Code films between 1930-34, in which many films pushed the codes boundaries of sex and violence in the pursuit of profits during the Great Depression. Doherty observes that in 1933, a prominent screenwriter asserted that the Hays moral code is not even a joke anymore; its just a memory.131 In the summer of 1934, the Catholic Legion of Decency (CLOD), who instituted their own ratings system for film and had obtained 2 million pledges (while aiming for half of their 20 million population) towards a boycott of Hollywood films, escalated their pressure and calls for censorship.132 For members of CLOD, viewing a condemned, or C rated, movie was the equivalent of committing a mortal sin.133
130 M. L. DeFleur, A Selective and Limited Influences Theory. In. Karen Bowers (Ed.), Mass Communications Theories: Explaining Origins, Processes, and Effects. (Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon, 2010). 140.
From 1929 to 1932, the Payne Fund studies, developed by the Motion Picture Research Council, began research concerning the influence of movies on children. Louisiana State University professor Melvin DeFleur, notes the researchers overwhelmingly concluded children were deeply influenced by the content of films and regular film attendees did poorly in school. The results, discredited now for sub-par methodological standards, caused panic among the public.
131 Ibid.
132 Time Magazine. Legion of Decency. June 11, 1934. Freerepublic.com. Accessed February 7, 2017. http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/2146228/posts
133 Paul Manaco, The Waning Production Code and the Rise of the Ratings System. The Sixties: 1960-1969, edited by Charles Harpole. (New York: Charles Scribners Sons, 2001) 56.
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Hollywood finally relented and Joseph I. Breen, the former head of the SRC, which
had overseen the enforcement of the Donts and Be Carefuls and the last four years of the
PC, was elevated to chief of the newly formed PC A. Unlike the toothless SRC, the PCA had
one major advantage, the MPPDA agreed that no film would enter production or be
distributed without the PCAs Seal of Approval. At the time, the studio heads saw the action
as the industrys only conceivable policy: give them what they want as long as it avoids
offending the best-organized groups,134 It is key to note here this was not a ratings board,
films either passed approval for exhibition to all ages or failed. Prior to its acceptance, film
producer Irving Thalberg insisted that 'the motion picture is literally bound to the mental
and moral level of its vast audience.135 In the end,
Their desire to bring Broadway to Main Street provoked the hostility of an increasingly insecure Protestant provincial middle-class seeking to defend its cultural hegemony from the incursions of a modernist, metropolitan culture that the provincials regarded as alien.136 137
Lord stated a concern for the effects of sound film on the moral development of children, his involvement in writing the code was about controlling film on a much larger scale.
Lord and his colleagues shared a common objective with Protestant film reformers: They all wanted entertainment to emphasize that the church, the government, and the family were the cornerstones of an orderly society and that success and happiness resulted from respecting and working in this
1 T7
system.
134 Couvares, Francis G. Hollywoods Censor: Joseph I Breen and the Production Code Administration by Thomas Doherty. Film Quarterly, Vol. 62, No. 4 (Summer 2009), 88.
135 MPPDA Digital Archive, Will Hays and the MPPDA in the 1920s Accessed February 7, 2017. http://mppda.flinders.edu.au/history/mppda-history/will-hays-and-the-1920s/
136 Ibid.
137 Gregory Black, Hollywood Censored: The Production Code Administration and the Hollywood Film Industry, 1930-1940 Film History, Vol. 3, No. 3 (1989), 171.
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Lord and Quigley sought to use the influential power of Hollywood films, censored under the PC, to whitewash the silver screens representations of social issues dealing with race, sexuality, morality, and class in America. Underlining censorships role as a tool to reinforce hegemonic power, the PC explicitly required that the sanctity of the institution of marriage and home shall be upheld,138 as well as the reverence of institutions such as the government, religion, and patriarchal structures in families and businesses.
The PC consisted of two parts intended as moral guidelines for filmmaking. The first part, General Principles, lays out the moral and theoretical reasoning behind the need for censorship in film. The second part, Working Principles, provides the structure for the practical application of the morality previously outlined, including a delineation of what type of plots could be told and what visuals were, and were not, allowed to tell them. The core principal issue of class is thoroughly addressed in the final section of the General Principles. Of the eight sub-sections regarding the moral obligations of film, six reference class concerns. Lord and Quigleys chief anxieties (found in sections A and B), that motion pictures reach every class of society and places unpenetrated by other art forms,139 140 is unambiguously situated to control the ideology represented in films that would be received by those in lower classes. Concerning these class fears, the PC states:
C) Because of these two facts, it is difficult to produce films intended for only certain classes of people. The exhibitors theaters are for the masses, for the cultivated and the rude, mature and immature, self-restrained and inflammatory, young and old, law-respecting and criminal. Films, unlike books and music, can with difficulty be confined to certain selected
140
groups.
138 Thomas Doherty, Pre-Code Hollywood: Sex, Immorality, and Insurrection in American Cinema, 1930-1934. (New York: Columbia Press, 1999), Appendix 2, 362.
139 Ibid., 350.
140 Ibid., 350.
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The popularity of film, reaching into every comer of America from the well-educated capitalist class to the uneducated working class; from the urban sophisticate to the rural naive, posed a threat to the hegemonic power, the cornerstones of an orderly society.141 Lord and Quigley perceived the working class and rural dwellers as lacking the education and worldliness to differentiate film from reality. Lord and Quigleys stated concern within the General Principles of the PC, is censorship proffered for the moral good of the nation, Correct entertainment raises the whole standard of a nation. 142 However, their implicit concern is that this lower-class demographic, in proving more susceptible to the interpellating powers of film where individuals recognize themselves as subjects through ideology,143 will realize their true marginalized location in society. As Horkeimer and Adomo suggest, Claims of art are always ideology... (the culture industry) being nothing other than style, it divulges styles secret: obedience to the social hierarchy.144 At its core, the PCs stated purpose was an effort to save the morality of those who couldnt save themselves, to project a single morality, with all films being suitable for all audiences. Additionally, it served to skew cinematic representations of American life towards reinforcing, rather than questioning, hegemonic ideologies.
By the 1950s, adherence to the PC began to show the strains of an audience, industry and culture that was changing, affected by World War II, the Kinsey Reports on sexuality and even the popularization of psychoanalysis. With attendance rates declining, studios looked for ways to entice audiences back into movie theaters, contesting much of the
141 Gregory Black, Hollywood Censored: The Production Code Administration and the Hollywood Film Industry, 1930-1940 Film History, Vol. 3, No. 3 (1989), 171.
142 Doherty, Pre-Code Hollywood. 361-362.
143 Cindy Nguyen, interpellation, The Chicago School of Media Theory, Accessed February 7, 2017. https://lucian.uchicago.edu/blogs/mediatheory/keywords/interpellation/
144 Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adomo, Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments. Ed. by Gunzelin Schmid Noerr, Trans. By Edmund Jephcott. (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2002) 103-104
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Working Principles guidelines of the PC, from costuming to narrative content.145 Robert Sklar explains,
The tendency in motion-picture production and exhibition had always been to get away with as much risque and socially disreputable behavior as the vigilance of the censors would allow and economic necessity dictated. For nearly two decades after 1934, the Production Code Administration had maintained stringent control over Hollywood productions, and rising box-office figures through 1946 seemed to confirm that clean family entertainment was the road to prosperity. But as families found their clean entertainment on the TV screen, there was a natural impulse in the movie trade to revert to shock and titillation.146
While suggesting the PC was solely responsible for the rising box-office figures from 1934-46 overlooks numerous economic and cultural factors, it does note the movie industrys tendency to veer from censorship rules during economically challenging periods, suggesting similarities between the censorship adverse pre-code era from 1930-34 and the climate of the industry in the 1950s.
In this context, United Artist made the decision to ignore the PCAs preemptive reviews of the play The Moon is Blue. The subsequent script and film by Otto Preminger in 1953, which dealt primarily with the changing cultural notions and discussions of sexuality, was completed making no changes. Unsurprisingly rejected for a seal of approval by the PC A, United Artists released it anyway. After several other major films were released without the seal, the PCA announced in 1956 a revision to the PC relaxing restrictions regarding several controversial issues, from abortion to drug use and miscegenation.147 Despite these changes, by 1959, the code was still around, but interpretation was increasingly loose... The MPAA studied a classification system in the fall of 1959, but took
145 Lev, The Fifties. 89.
146 Robert Sklar, Movie-Made America: A Cultural History of American Movies. (New York: Random, 1994) 294.
147 Ibid., 89-93.
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no action on this controversial notion for several years.148 The wavering enforcement of the PC by the end of the decade comes as no surprise, given the depth of the Eisenhower recession, Americas communal loss of cultural innocence in the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, and the challenges brought about by the Paramount Case, television,
HU AC, and the blacklists. As the PC faltered, this series of events paved the way for social issue films to re-emerge in the late sixties and seventies, both as viable revenue streams and culturally acceptable narratives that were more explicit in their ideology.
Film Industry in the 1970s
For the American film industry, the 1970s began in a state of dislocation
matched only by the coming of sound. 149 David A. Cook
Working from David A. Cooks extensive historical study of the 1970s-film industry, Todd Berliner suggest that insecurity was the explanation behind the artistic changes in studio filmmaking affecting cinematic representations of social class issues during the era. This insecurity was connected to the industrys collective losses of $600 million during its industry-wide recession from 1969 to 1971.150 The Recession of 1969 had three primary components. First, the major studios struggle after the Supreme Courts dismantling of vertical integration and block booking with the 1948 Paramount Case.151 The market hegemony implicit in the majors control of exhibition152 had minimized business considerations such as marketing potential and demographic appeal, leaving executives of the studio era unprepared for the changes that awaited them and unable to predict films that
148 Sklar, Movie-Made America, 94.
149 David A. Cook, Lost Illusions: American Cinema in the Shadows of Watergate and Vietnam, 1970-1979. Ed. Charles Harpole. (New York: Charles Scribners Sons, 2000) 9.
150 Todd Berliner, Hollywood Incoherent: Narration in Seventies Cinema. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010) 11-12.
151 Ibid., 12.
152 Cook, Lost Illusions. 3.
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would perform successfully. Second, the twenty-five-year decline in film attendance, particularly in the period between 1956 and 1971 when weekly attendance fell by 62 percent. The decline was, in part, indicative of the changing audience demographics, with the core audience shifting to baby boomers who enjoyed more unusual film entertainment than their parents darker, bolder, and more challenging, stylized, and eccentric.153 Further impacting audience figures, film became a more expensive form of entertainment, with ticket prices rising by 160 percent compared to a cost of living increase of 53.9 percent. Finally, unprepared for the necessity of marketing films to a fractured and changing audience, the late 1960s saw major studios release a large number of expensive, artistically conservative flops... (while) foreign films, and offbeat American films, geared towards the youth market, returned surprising profits. The crises conditions created financial and artistic opportunities.154 These new opportunities, transitioning Hollywood from the Studio Era to New Hollywood (and later to the Blockbuster era), were carried out on two important fronts. The first was the financial tides of corporate mergers that carried with it a new focus on marketing and deal-making. The second was the discontinuation of the Production Code and the emergence of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) film rating system, administered by the Classification & Ratings Administration (CARA).
The crises conditions, as noted by Berliner, provided the impetus for the Hollywood industry business model to be completely remade. Dominating Hollywood from 1927-1952, moguls led the studio system business model, typically owning a majority stake in the shares of the studios they ran. Moguls controlled production from start to finish using a group of stars and production staff (under exclusive contracts), with all profits being retained by the
153 Berliner, Hollywood Incoherent. 12.
154 Ibid.,. 13. (and) Cook, Lost Illusions. 1-7.
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studio. These profits were largely dependent upon A-films produced for consumption by all audiences per the standards of the PC.155 However, the end of assured profits from vertical integration, spiraling costs, and changing audience demographics created an uncertainty in this system that, combined with expensive flops, led to the emergence of conglomerate owned studios. The 1960s saw Universal, Paramount, United Artists, Warner Bros., and MGM purchased by larger, diversified corporations for whom, due to the studios recently downgraded share valuation and valuable real estate holdings, were good investments. These initial mergers had concluded by the end of the sixties, just before the emergence of Americas economic shift from embedded liberalism to neoliberalism, a shift that focused on the solvency of corporations above all other concerns. It is in this atmosphere that a new Hollywood emerged.
Veteran leadership had been replaced by a melange of agents, lawyers, bankers, and business executives who saw filmmaking primarily as an investment strategy, not unlike commodities trading, which combined the risks of high-stakes speculation with virtually limitless potential for corporate tax-sheltering. It was inevitable that this new perspective, together with the drastically escalating costs, would warp the shape of the industry and change its attitudes towards its production in fundamental ways.156
However, the new leaders of film studios, unlike the previous moguls, had little
experience in filmmaking, and when debt and flops continued they sought help. As
Hollywood entered its 1969-71 recession, its successful foray into the youth market was
defined by a new reliance on new filmmakers emerging from the film schools of Southern
California and New York, and saw the industry briefly dip into a more European model of
filmmaking dominated by auteurs. The New Hollywood cinema, appearing from 1967 to the
155 Cook, Lost Illusions. 1-7
156 Ibid., 3.
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end of the seventies, afforded unprecedented creative freedom to these new directors.157 As Cook notes, These filmmakers brought fresh, cost-effective talent to an industry embroiled in financial crisis and structural change.158
It has been a widely-held assumption that the New Hollywood model, reliant on filmmakers to make executive decisions,159 ended when Michael Ciminos Heavens Gate (1980) proved a box-office failure.160 As the myth goes, the film financially crippled United Artists and destroyed their reputation with their corporate owner, Transamerica, which subsequently sold the studio to MGM. Steven Bach, a former senior vice-president and head of worldwide productions for United Artists studios, suggests otherwise, indicating the film accounted for a loss in UAs year end profits by only 25 percent and Transamericas stock by half a point.161 Bach observes that the actual culprit was the new studio culture that conflated a much-maligned studio system trained to make movies (and a) modern system that trains them to make deals and marketing plans.162 With a similar analysis, Cook notes that this New Hollywood model effectively ended after the saturation marketing of Jaws proved successful and deal-making... replaced filmmaking as the principle activity of Hollywood,163 with merchandising, sequels and franchises surging in importance when considering a project.
157 Cook, Lost Illusions. 3.
158 Ibid., 160.
159 Berliner, Hollywood Incoherent. 13.
160 Peter Bradshaw, Michael Cimino: A Great of a Great Period in American Film. The Guardian.com July 2, 2016. Accessed February 8, 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/jul/03/michael-cimino-deer-hunter-heavens-gate-american-film
161 Steven Bach. Final Cut: Art, Money, and Ego in the Making of Heavens Gate, the Film That Sank United Artists. (New York: New Market Press, 1999) 8.
162 Ibid.
163 Cook, Lost Illusions. 7.
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Foremost among the new attitudes was the changes in how films were marketed.
After reeling from losses in the late sixties, the same studios under new corporate management experienced profits of $173 million from 1972-1973, thanks in part to a few heavily marketed blockbusters.164 While the marketing of those films wasnt much different from the style of the past two decades, things changed dramatically in 1975. Universal (then owned by MCA, the worlds largest talent agency at the time) distributed Jaws (Steven Spielberg) by elevating a marketing tactic from exploitation/grindhouse films known as saturation booking.
Jaws was marketed and distributed in the same manner as B films, sci-fi, horror and Blaxploitation films had been in the past, by opening a film in as many theaters simultaneously, accompanied by intensive advertising... where its main purpose was to generate quick profits before bad reviews and word of mouth killed business.165 This became the standard procedure for blockbuster film releases and contributed greatly to a 400 percent increase in profits from the seventies over the sixties.166
However, as I will cover in the next section, by the turn of century, this reliance on blockbusters, wide-releases and national marketing campaigns caused film production costs to skyrocket, leading to yet another shift in Hollywoods business structure. It must be acknowledged that, similar to Americas shift in economic policy from embedded liberalism to neoliberalism, Hollywood could have taken a different path than one wherein multimedia mergers and conglomeration created the conditions for hegemonic market control in the eighties and nineties.167
164 Cook, Lost Illusions. 7.
165 Ibid.
166 Cook, Lost Illusions. 3
167 Ibid.
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Although New Hollywoods replacement of the studio era model was short lived, its formation was dependent on the transformation of the production code into the format still in existence.
As the audience for movies was increasingly narrowing to an age group in their late teens and early twenties, the entire Hollywood movie industry was confronted with the acute need to tread a thin line through a morass of claims and counter claims regarding what kind of standards and, hence, what kind of movies were best for society.168
When Jack Valenti took over the MPAA in 1966, he stated the old system had the odious smell of censorship, I determined to junk it at the first opportune moment.169 He revised the PC to include a Suggested for Mature Audiences (SMA) category, which was used to negotiate MGMs distribution of the controversial Italian film Blow-Up (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1966) after it had previously been denied a seal of approval.170 However, between 1966 and 1968, when the PC was in a period of stasis, several events occurred that forced Valentis to eliminate the PC and institute new regulations. Key amongst these events was the 1967 appointment by President Lyndon B. Johnson of a National Commission on Obscenity and Pornography over public concern about content on movies, television, and magazines.171 Additionally, in early 1968, the United States Supreme Court ruled that state and city ordinances regarding what motion picture materials adults and minors could see in places open to the public were constitutional and enforceable.172 These rulings, and the concerns regarding the coming attraction trailers previewed to family audiences, set up a clash between the demographic Hollywood was eager to attract those
1 paui Manaco, The Waning Production Code and the Rise of the Ratings System. The Sixties: 1960-1969, edited by Charles Harpole. (New York: Charles Scribners Sons, 2001) 64.
169 Thomas Doherty, Hollywoods Censor: Joseph 1. Breen and the Production Code Administration. (New York: Columbia Press, 2007). 330.
170 Manaco, The Sixties. 58.
171 Ibid., 62.
172 Ibid., 63.
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who wanted to see more adult materials onscreen and those who demanded respect for
family audiences. As a result, Valenti needed a way to settle the growing cultural clash.
The ultimate and definitive position taken up by Valenti on behalf of the MPAA in 1968 was to distinguish between sexual explicitness and violence as offensive materials... In the MPAAs rating system, Hollywood had found a method to accommodate the sexual revolution, a rapidly changing culture, and the shifting demographics of its audiences while appearing to act proactively toward what many citizens considered the larger interests of American society and the common good.173
As of November 1, 1968, the MPAAs motion-picture ratings system stratified sex
and violence in films released in America. The system, altered minimally in the last fifty
years, was an agreement between MPAA companies, enforced by the National Association of
Theater Owners (NATO); it was industry policy, but not a state or federal law.
All films produced and/or distributed by the MPAA companies were to carry a rating of suitability: G (for general audiences); M (for mature viewers; later changed to PG, for parental guidance); R (for films restricted to minors unless accompanied by an adult): or X (no one under 17 admitted; changed to NC-17 nearly three decades later).174
The new ratings system relaxed the censorship of the PC, although it did not entirely
quell debates on film content. New Hollywood embraced the relaxed boundaries on social
commentary immediately. As Manaco suggested, the audience for movies was increasingly
narrowing to an age group in their late teens and early twenties, and the ratings system
allowed producers to target these audiences in a way not previously possible. Although a few
films aimed at young people and embracing the late sixties counter-culture were successful,
such as Easy Rider (Dennis Hopper, 1969) and M*A *S*H (Robert Altman, 1970), these
werent the films that revived Hollywood during its depression.
By and large, however, other youthpix about campus revolution and unorthodox lifestyles proved disappointing at the box office. What did help
173 Manaco, The Sixties. 64-65.
174 Ibid., 65.
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lift the industrys fortunes were films aimed squarely at broader audiences.
The most successful were Francis Ford Coppolas The Godfather (1972);
William Friedkins The Exorcist (1973); Steven Spielbergs Jaws (1975)... and George Lucass American Graffiti (1973), Star Wars (1977), and The Empire Strikes Back (1980). In addition, films by Brian DE Palma (Obsession,
1976) and Martin Scorsese {Taxi Driver, 1976; Raging Bull, 1980) attracted critical praise.175
Few, if any, of these films would have received a seal of approval under the Production Code that existed for over thirty years. The explicit examinations of American culture, from issues regarding politics, race, gender, sexuality and class, exist in the films of New Hollywood in large part to the discontinuation of the Production Code and the emergence of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) film rating system.
Film Industry in the 2000s
The central cultural drama of this decade, however, was decidedly political, full of cycles and reversals that blurred the lines between global, national, and local politics. Timothy Corrigan
By the start of the 21st century, Hollywoods studios had emerged from the economic struggles of the sixties and seventies. Their box office revenues rose steadily during the new centurys first decade, from $16.7 billion in 2001 to $31.8 billion by 2010.176 Despite vertical disintegration, the end of the studio era, and the emergence of conglomerate ownership, major studios continued to be Hollywoods dominate business model. In 2000, eight major studios that had been dominant since the thirties, excluding Dreamworks S.K.G., earned 95 percent of the box office.177 However, blockbusters, which emerged in the seventies to pull the studios out of their recession, have since become the staple of the Hollywood film
175 David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson. Film Art: An Introduction. (New York: McGraw Hill, 2010), 478.
176 Kay H. Hofmann, Co-financing Hollywood Film Productions with Outside Investors: An Economic Analysis of Principal Agent Relationships in the U.S. Motion Picture Industry. (Wiesbaden, Germany: Springer Gabler, 2013), 31.
177 Ibid., 24. Hofmann lists the following group as major studios of the aughts: Dreamworks S.K.G., MGM, Paramount, Sony/Columbia Tri-Star, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal, Walt Disney, and Warner. Dreamworks was formed in 1994, excluding them from inclusion in the above statement.
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industry where the top 20 movies of the year usually account for an average of around 40 percent of the annual box office.178 With their immense production and marketing budgets yielding only the occasional, stellar return on investment, conglomerate-owned major studios turned to international financing practices to mitigate the risk.
Because of the major studios focus on blockbusters, the aughts witnessed two major shifts, which I suggest affected the representation of class in American films. First, the reliance upon budget augmentation through international financing has allowed Hollywood to continue making big-budget blockbusters at a cost. To acquire these funds and ensure a films appeal to emerging markets, especially that of the lucrative Chinese market, production companies have become gatekeepers pre-selecting only the most commercially promising ideas and are required to account for cultural discount the diminished value of an imported film due to differences in (narrative) style, relevance, cultural meaning and consumer preferences.179 This results in big-budget, American films from major studios where Americas cultural ideologies are avoided, viewed as possible distractions to international audiences that could negatively affect revenues. Next, Hollywoods focus on the blockbuster has created a bifurcation in the domestic market with two distinct segments -the commercial mass market and the independent/art-house (indie)market that differ in their respective content, marketing/release structures, and censorship.180 Since 1968, the MPAAs revised system of censorship has itself become an indication of the bifurcated state of Hollywood, with assertions of two systems one for major studios and one for indies -existing in ratings assigned by CARA. Combined, these shifts have, in large part, relegated
178 Hofmann, Co-financing Hollywood. 31.
179 Ibid., 18, 39.
180 Ibid., 17, 29,33-34.
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social issue films to the inde film market, a market with vastly reduced access to funds in comparison to the major studios, resulting in reduced visibility in advertising and theaters.
With the average negative costs of American film production in the seventies rising from $2 million in 1972 to nearly $10 million in 1979, an increase of 450 percent in less than seven years, 181 Cook suggests that three deep, structural alterations shaped the American film industry during the decade. First, profits from hit films skyrocketed from hundreds of thousands to hundreds of millions of dollars. Second, film production numbers dropped off as studios shaped schedules around individual, potential blockbusters, which could produce large studio profits and raise stock prices for their conglomerate owners. Of the remainder of the schedule, 25-30 percent was expected to break even and the rest to fail. Third, blockbusters increased the studios financial risk to the extent that production finance was effectively removed from the studios and augmented with outside money in the form of foreign tax shelters, television/video sales agreements and merchandising rights.182 With these staggering costs, Hollywood producers became gatekeepers. Subject matter took a backseat to the concerns of profitability. As Hofmann notes, Only one percent of all scripts which are screened by the major studios are considered for production and the majority of those that are purchased are not necessarily of high artistic quality but are rather financially promising.183
By 2006, the average negative costs of films from major studios had risen to $65.8 million at major studios and Hofmann states that blockbusters reliance on star actors/directors, which can account for up to half of the production costs, and expensive
181 Cook, Lost Illusions. 2
182 Ibid., 1-2
183 Hofmann, Co-financing Hollywood. 18.
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computer-based technologies contributed to the ever-escalating costs in production.184 In addition to rising production costs, the print and advertising (P&A) costs associated with modern marketing structures have escalated. In the 20-year period beginning in 1986, when the average P&A was $5.44 million, these costs have compounded annual growth rate of 9.04 percent.185 Nowadays the marketing cost associated with the distribution of a motion picture can easily reach 50 percent of the films initial negative costs. In 2006, the average P&A costs for (major) studio films amounted to 34.5 million USD.186 In part, the cause for this steady growth in advertising expenditures stems from Hollywoods agglomeration of film releases coinciding with six major public holidays, particularly blockbusters, of which nearly 50 percent are released in a period between the 2nd week in May to the 3rd week in July.187 In order to cut through the cannibalization of revenue caused by a glut of overlapping film releases (aka, the black hole effect),188 and differentiate a film in the mind of potential viewers, marketing costs have surged. Ultimately, the reliance upon costly event films, weighed down by above-the-line talent costs, computerized special effects, and the mass marketing required to seek significant opening weekend numbers has created a major studio system that could no longer bear its own weight.
Turning to foreign investors was not only a necessary move for Hollywood studios to defray its costs, it also provided access to foreign markets that are growing at rates faster than
184 Hofmann, Co-financing Hollywood. 18-20.
185 Ibid.,22.
186 Ibid., 21
187 Manuel Cartier and Sebastien Liarte, Impact of Underlying Demand and Agglomeration of Supply on Seasonally: The Case of the Hollywood Film Industry, International Journal of Arts Management. Vol. 14, No. 2 (Winter 2012). 20-21. Holidays used in this study are: Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
188 Ibid., 21.
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the domestic one. Hofmann calculates that in 2010, foreign markets doubled the revenues
earned domestically, asserting that,
Europe, the Middle East, and Africa account for 51 percent of total international revenues while the Asia Pacific region and in particular the Chinese market are the fastest growing territories with a percentage increase of 36.1 percent between the years 2005 and 2009.189
In the nineties, film distributers could open major Hollywood films worldwide, using marketing campaigns virtually identical to the original American advertising. When this began to fail in the aughts, box office hits in America were repackaged with marketing campaigns tailored to local markets. Furthermore, to cultivate these markets, major studios have begun to co-finance and co-produce more international titles because projects that originate in local markets tend to fare better at box offices abroad.190
However, in cultivating foreign markets, this cultural discount has further impacted major studios. For example, as the Chinese film market became more successful, the government sought to address the ideological implications of massively popular Hollywood films. At the start of the aughts, the ten most successful Hollywood films released in China dominated the market, accounting for 70 percent of film revenue. By contrast, the remaining 30 percent was comprised of revenues from the top 100 Chinese films. This unprecedented popularity caused the Chinese government to change their policies, determining that Hollywood imports must serve Chinas need and national interests and should be made use of for Chinas gains and goals.191 This influence over what can be shown in the worlds fastest growing market has extended into production decisions made by major studios. As
189 Hofmann, Co-financing Hollywood. 38.
190 Ibid., 39.
191 Wendy Su, Cultural Policy and Film Industry as Negotiation of Power: The Chinese States role and Stratagies in its Engagement with Global Hollywood 1994-2012, Pacific Affairs. Vol. 87. No. 1 (Mar. 2014). 100-101.
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cited in a Congressional report from the Joint Commissions and Temporary Committees,
For a type of movie, particularly the global blockbusters, they are not going to go and make
something that the Chinese would reject for social or political reasons. That is already a
truism.192 Or, as stated more bluntly in The Washington Times,
As profitability has increasingly become dependent on foreign viewers, studios have altered their movies to fit Chinese tastes. That means more action flicks and fewer dramas. More PG movies and fewer R-rated ones. And a seemingly endless supply of superhero sequels. More sinisterly, it also means altering movies to comply with the communist Chinese governments propaganda and censorship agency, the State Administration of Press,
Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT). Officially that means no depictions of the supernatural, no displays of gratuitous violence, and no reinterpretations of history (surely, the Chinese version of it). Unofficially, it also means no unfavorable depictions of China (e.g., the Chinese military) and limits on favorable depictions of Americans especially in relation to the Chinese.193
In the past forty years, blockbusters have become the lynchpin of major studios profitability. Over that same timeframe, their costs have skyrocketed, both in production and marketing. With costs rising, studios turned to international financing and exhibition revenues to augment their bottom lines and those of their conglomerate owners. In pursuit of international profits, major studios served as gatekeepers, ensuring that cultural disconnect wouldnt diminish potential international market value. In the end, Hollywoods reliance on blockbusters have pushed social issue films from the mainstream popularity they enjoyed in the New Hollywood of the late sixties and seventies. By the aughts, Hollywood had been divided into two distinct segments, separate and unequal: the commercial mass market and the independent/art-house (indie)market.
192 Sean OConnor and Nicholas Armstrong, Directed by Hollywood, Edited by China, Congressional Publications. U.S. Congress. Joint Commissions and Temporary Committees. 2015. 9.
193 Richard Berman, Redwashing the Silver Screen: How Chinese Censors Are Influencing American Movies, TheWashingtonTimes.com, August 8, 2016. Accessed February 4, 2017.
http://www.washingtontimes.eom/news/2016/aug/8/how-chinese-censors-are-influencing-american-movie/
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As noted previously, by the year 2000 eight major studios received 95 percent of the North American box office revenues. These major studios were marked by their conglomerate ownership, access to abundant financing and their distribution/exhibition connections.194 The remaining five percent comes from two other groups, mini-majors and indies. The former group is often owned and controlled by a major studio while producing and distributing films under their own names. Hofmann cites examples of New Line Cinema and Miramax, which make mostly art-house or specialty film content.195 The latter group is primarily owned and managed by the founder and marked by a proprietary detachedness from the majors while still typically dependent on their distribution networks.196 The result of this tiered system is reflected in the three-tiered way films are released in the American market. Motion pictures that are intended to be released in the domestic mass market are usually produced and distributed by the major Hollywood studios and their affiliated minimajors.197 Hence, wide releases are typically reserved for movies with mass appeal produced by major studios and accompanied with national media campaigns; platform releases begin in a limited number of theaters in large cities, can be expanded on the basis of popularity, and are accompanied by low budget, local media advertising campaigns; and limited releases, seen on a few screens in selected, major metropolitan cities, are used for films which expect to garner limited audiences and revenues.198 As a result of the major Hollywood studio tendency to avoid culturally specific social issues, which may negatively impact domestic and international revenues in big budget films, mini-majors and independent
194 Hofmann, Co-financing Hollywood. 24.
195 Ibid., 25.
196 Ibid., 25-26.
197 Hofmann, Co-financing Hollywood. 30.
198 Ibid., 33-34.
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studios are where these films find production and distribution homes. However, as majors account for most of the wide releases, occupying thousands of screens across the country, and comprise 95 percent of the revenues, social issue films of the aughts regarding race, gender, sexuality and class find themselves impacting a marginal portion of the American filmgoing audience.
The plight of the social issue film in the aughts, as relegated to mini-majors and indie studios, is compounded by censorship issues in the MPAAs ratings branch, CARA. The new system, where submitting a movie for a rating is a voluntary decision, enforced only by the agreement of each member of the MPAA (consisting of the major studios) to have all its theatrically released movies rated, initially allowed for the American New Wave movement and independent filmmaking to thrive. However, during his tenure, and that of his successor Chris Dodd, the ratings of films from studios versus that of independent film maker still carries the odious smell of censorship.199
Filmmakers Trey Parker and Matt Stone provide a unique look at the struggles of independent studios and film censorship in the age of film ratings. The pair disclosed in their 2000 Paley Center interview, that in 1997 they submitted their independently produced and joint independent and mini-major distributed film,200 Orgazmo (Trey Parker) to CARA for rating. Upon receiving an NC-17 rating, which excludes films from most theaters and forms of advertisement, the pair inquired about changes that could be made to secure an R rating. They were informed that providing them with this type of information would connotate censorship, and they couldnt provide information regarding images or dialogue
199 Thomas Doherty, Hollywoods Censor: Joseph I. Breen and the Production Code Administration. (New York: Columbia Press, 2007). 330.
200 The film was produced by several independent studios and distributed through October Films, majority owned by Universal in 1997.
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that needed to be removed. Two years later, in 1999, the pair submitted South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut (Trey Parker) to be rated. However, this film was produced and released under Warner Bros., one of the studios that provide funding for the MPAA and CARA. It too was given an NC-17 rating. This time, when they asked what could be done to reach an R rating, they were provided with a detailed list of scenes to cut and words to replace.201
This contradiction of terms exemplifies the discrepancies between the ratings systems applied to major studios versus their closely related mini-majors and independent studios. Those at the top, providing fiscally and internationally friendly entertainment, are provided with access to the bulk of theaters in the U.S., one of the most profitable film centers in the world. Meanwhile, mini-majors and independent filmmakers, whose work challenges the status quo and re-presents the social issue of the day, find their messages and representations more heavily censored and their films relegated to smaller release schedules limited to metropolitan venues.
Culminating in the aughts, forty years of Hollywoods major studios gravitation towards the fiscal rewards of blockbusters created the reliance on international markets and the bifurcation of the domestic market. Along the way, major studios have become gatekeepers, protecting their financial solvency by avoiding hot topic films with critical representations of cultural issue, the very substance of films in the New Hollywood era that helped them through there great recession in 1969-71. Additionally, major studios, in cultivating international markets, specifically the fast-rising Chinese market, have become wary of cultural discount, avoiding issues which may impact international revenues. As a
201 Inside Media at The Paley Center for Media, South Park Matt Stone on Problems with the MPAA, YouTube video, 3:24, posted by The Paley Center for Media," February., 10 2017. https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=nDzblNKj sOO
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result, the representations of class that were hampered by censorship in the fifties and buoyed by financial insecurities in the seventies were denied to American audiences in favor of culling international revenues.
Conclusion
Since the fifties, Hollywoods representations of class have been influenced by culturally informed and evolving censorship in addition to economic challenges that have reshaped its business structures in each successive decade. What began as a censorship code built on moral obligations, restricting critical representations of cultural structures from the government to patriarchy, evolved into a ratings system. It was a system that, initially, stimulated creativity and financial solvency for the studios. However, by the turn of the century, it had become a system favoring the conglomerate owned major studios, the same group that funded the ratings through the MPAA and CARA.
At the same time, the fifties witnessed the end of the studio system with the end of vertical integration, the challenges of a crumbling censorship code and the growth of television. Struggling through its own recession, the seventies found Hollywood rebounding under a new ratings system with the freedom to target new audiences with culturally cognizant representations of social issues. When New Hollywood discovered the financial windfall of the blockbuster, profits rose to peak levels. However, by the start of the 21st century, the major studios had begun to struggle from the weight of producing, distributing, and marketing their cash cows. In the subsequent turn to international markets, social issues faced a new form of censorship. Major studios avoided narratives that, although culturally relevant in America, could derail profits abroad. As a result of this decades long process of censorship and search for financial solvency, issues in film regarding class, its
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representations, and identities have evolved over the decades, and despite a brief respite in the seventies, issues of class are rarely explicit in mainstream Hollywood films and, more often than not, must be extracted from a reading of the film through the lens of its cultural context.
Because of this, it has been necessary to create a framework of each recessions economic state, cultural reception, and the state of industry, prior to examining the representation of the upper class in film. In creating this context, I will now turn to the representations of the upper class in the post-recessionary films from these three eras, asking if in fact there has been an evolution in those representations that can be said to be tied to the recessions that spurred their creation.
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CHAPTER IV
AMBITION AND HARMLESS FOOLS
Introduction
The fifties were a decade of great social ferment as America witnessed, among others, the beginnings of the civil rights and feminist movements, the sexual revolution, rock-and-roll, and the emergence of television. The economic insecurity of the Great Depression was believed to be in the past, and despite several recessions, prosperity was believed to be the new course of America. Personal income and purchasing power were trending ever upwards as Americans became entrenched in a culture of consumerism. Sparkling new suburban homes, with new cars outside and a new television inside, became the status quo. Economic prosperity was barely questioned by the public during Eisenhowers recession, regardless of the decades closing poverty rate of nearly a quarter of all Americans. However, there were concerns voiced by economists and fiscally conservative politicians, as noted in chapter two.
Given the complexity of the ideologies of the decade, it is no surprise that Douglas Sirks Imitation of Life and Michael Gordons Pillow Talk present both sympathetic and critical representations of the upper class. Sirks film lavishes the extravagances of wealth in glorious Eastmancolor, putting it on display as an advertisement of glamour to be envied. However, as Berger notes, the display works on the level of anxiety that creates the desire to emulate. The only way to alleviate the anxiety of envy brought about by the need to emulate is through purchasing, and to be
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a consumer is to need money. Ultimately, money becomes life.202 As such, Imitation of Life works as a cautionary tale against the pursuit of wealth above concerns of family and love. As Americans grew comfortable with the idea of debt and credit,
Sirks film suggests the accumulation of things afforded by those in the upper class is a threat to the American ideologies of love and family. At the same time, Pillow Talk manages to assuage the threat of a powerful upper class while revealing class tensions. Gordons film presents two cases of wealthy men depicted as harmless fools, made childish and petulant by their wealth. However, he also represents the assumptions of power made from both classes, incorporating scenes in which perceptions of class relationships are depicted from both sides of the equation. In comparing the two films, I uncover how popular Hollywood films of the period sought to comment critically on the upper class while being restrained by the censorship of the production code.
Imitation of Life: Ambitious but not Corrupt
Director Douglas Sirks 1959 film Imitation of Life (loL), a top ten box office success with earnings of $6.4 million on a $2 million budget, was indicative of the economic, political, and industrial times in which it was produced. Sirks film was an adaptation of Fannie Hursts 1933 book, which had been previously adapted in John M. Stahls 1934 film of the same name. The differences in the two films are, in part, reflective of their 25-year gap and the changes in American culture and the authority of the production code that occurred over that time. Additionally, they are divided by script changes initiated by Sirk that changed the focus of the film, incorporating a melodramatic mode of storytelling that centered on
202 John Berger, Ways of Seeing. (London: Penguin Books, 1977), 42-43.
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issues of race and gender while allowing for a critical examination of American preoccupation with consumerism. While the 1934 film faced staunch challenges to receive a seal of approval, the 1959 film received little notice from the PC A. IoL reflected the permanent prosperity mindset of a fifties American public that trusted in its president, its economy, its meritocracy, and its wealthy citizens. German born Sirk subtly and critically questioned this mindset, while adhering to the conventions of the era and the principles of the PC. Keeping in line with the cultural perceptions of class and industry norms, as established in the first two chapters, Sirks IoL is a film critical of the fifties consensus of consumerism, but is not critical of the upper class or their role in the steep recession America had just experienced.
Despite having experienced a severe, albeit short, recession, the criticism and representations of the capitalist class are neither explicit nor accusatory in IoL, but they appear nonetheless. Lora, a struggling actress and recent widow with a seven-year old daughter, Jessie, hires Annie, a single African-American woman with a light-skinned daughter who is roughly Jessies age, as a maid/nanny. Over a twelve-year span, Loras success propels her, economically, into the upper class. However, in the pursuit of fame and fortune, Loras ambition comes at the cost of her and Annies maternal connection to their daughters and in Loras relationship with the man she loves, Steve. Aided by his screenwriters, Sirk molded Hursts original exploration of gender, race, and class inequalities into a film that serves as a cautionary tale, highlighting the dangers of prioritizing wealth over love and family. In the shadows of the elevated storylines of race and miscegenation, Sirk deftly inserted criticism of Americas empty consumerism, carefully ensuring the PCs
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principals of moral obligations, justice and respect for institutions, such as marriage, was upheld.
Stahls 1934 version, produced and released just as the PC went into effect, faced
numerous battles with the PC A, particularly regarding its handling of race and
miscegenation. The Association of Motion Picture Producers (AMPP) was reluctant to
approve Universal's original script, concerned that,
The main theme is founded upon the results of sex association between the white and black race (miscegenation), and as such, in our opinion, it not only violates the Production Code but is very dangerous from the standpoint both of industry and public policy.203
Correspondence between AMPP director Joseph I. Breen and MPPDA president Will H. Hays indicate that one point the studio considered abandoning the project, and that two weeks into shooting Breen still had not approved the script, concerned that its racial questions were fraught with grave danger to the industry.204 The 1959 film did not encounter such resistance, but still shows the influences of an aging code that forced more nuanced and implicit forms of social commentary. Sirk, for the most part, still abided by the conventions of the time and the PC. In accordance with the PCs moral obligations, which dictated that social institutions be respected, widow Lora Meredith (Lana Turner) and her suiter, Steve Archer (John Gavin) are shown briefly kissing only after he proposes to her. However, Sirk plays with this convention as later in the film her next suiter, David Edwards (Dan OHerlihy), is her companion for eleven years. Even audiences in 1959 werent naive enough to think a thirty something widow with a child and a fortyish-year old man would
2113 Turner Classic Movies, Imitation of Life (1934) Notes, Leonard Ala I tin Classic Movie Guide. Accessed February 10, 2017. http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/79028/Imitation-of-Life/notes.html
2114 Turner Classic Movies, Imitation of Life (1934) Notes, Leonard Mai tin Classic Movie Guide. Accessed February 10, 2017. http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/79028/Imitation-of-Life/notes.html
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spend eleven years in a chaste relationship. In further accordance with the PC, Lora mentions several times that marriage is not a thing to be entered lightly, ultimately marrying Steve in the films conclusion and eschewing her pursuit of career and money over family.
Throughout the film, Sirk comments on class issues, shielding them behind the timelier issues of class and gender. While it cannot be confirmed, it is not difficult to see the influence of HU AC in the decision to subjugate the issues of class to the more culturally prominent plotline of race. In the aftermath of the hearings and the blacklist, whose effects could still be felt, attacks on capitalism and consumerism could have been perceived as Marxists, communist, and Anti-American. After having been questioned by the FBI over the use of the line Im beginning to think you should be investigated by a Congressional committee, in No Room for the Groom (1952),205 Sirk continued with social criticism, albeit more carefully.
It is not much of a stretch to say that Americans have difficulty with discussions of social issues regarding race, gender, sexuality, labor, and class. Recent movements, from Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, et al, suggest a disconnect between our nations reality and our nation as it exists in the constitution; between those oppressed by institutional policies and those privileged enough to go unaffected. Although Americans have difficulty with a national dialogue about various social issues, directors, writers and producers have found a clever way to bypass intellectual obstructionism and insert the discussion into its narratives: melodrama. Linda Williams proposed that melodrama is not a genre but a mode of storytelling, and is pervasive in most
2115 Michael Stern, Interview, Bright Lights. Winter 1977 78, p. 31
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Hollywood films. It is a way to bypass intellectual thought, using emotion to create empathy
for unjust suffering of innocent characters who embody a specific social issue.
Thus the basic vernacular of American moving pictures consists of a story that generates sympathy for a hero who is also a victim and that leads to a climax that permits the audience, and usually other characters, to recognize that characters moral value206
In addition to reflecting the economic, political, and industrial times in which it was produced, the 1959 production of IoL serves as an exemplary demonstration of melodrama. The film addresses issues of race, gender, and class emotionally, seeking to bypass the spectators logic on these social issues, replacing it with empathy. In Sirks version, moral value is not placed in the socio-economic ladder climbing of Lora, but in the throwback, Victorian-like ascetic life of Annie (Juanita Moore). As such, the audience does not view Lora as an innocent victim who is suffering unjustly. Sirk provides numerous examples of Loras unfettered career ambitions. While this drive may be considered just in light of her desires to fulfill her acting dreams and to provide for her daughter, its a drive on which IoL ultimately places the following caveat: ambition may make you successful and wealthy, but true happiness is found only in love, marriage, and family.
The plot of the 1959 version of IoL was significantly altered from the original book and the 1934 film version. Sirk and screenwriters Eleanore Griffin and Allan Scott felt the original book narrative would be difficult to accept due the audiences awareness of the burgeoning civil rights movement,207 a movement that had already witnessed the Brown v. Board of Education case, Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and the
2116 Linda Williams, Melodrama Revised in Melodrama: Genre, Style and Sensibility, ed. by Nick Browne. (Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press, 1998), 58.
2117 Tom Ryan, Douglas Sirk, SenseoJCinema.com. January 4, 1987. Accessed February 11, 2017. http://webcache.googleusercontent.co m/search?q=cache:RLfPEzXTUN8J:www.csus.edu/indiv/s/starkj/faculty/ comsl42outsiders/filmsof50s/douglassirkbio.pdf+&cd=l&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us
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desegregation of Little Rock Central High School. The Hollywood Reporter suggested that the original plot formula would not have stood up in today's era of integration when a Negro who owned half a successful corporation could buy her own home in any area that pleased her."208 Additionally, Variety suggested that, "While this device lends more scope, it also results in the over-done busy actress-neglected daughter conflict, and thus the secondary plot of a fair-skinned Negress passing as white becomes the film's primary force."209 Issues of race, gender and class were still present, but the story was altered in a way that the commentary on the culture of socioeconomic class the fifties was able to hide in plain sight.
The original plot of Hursts book finds Bea, a widow, supporting her father and daughter, Jessie, via door-to-door maple syrup sales. To help care for her family she hires an African-American woman, Delilah, who has a light-skinned daughter named Peola. Delilah is a master waffle maker, and together they open a restaurant that becomes an international success, making Bea wealthy. Peola rejects her mother and her race, opting to pass for white and marry a white man. Jessie grows up well cared for, but absent of her mothers love she becomes involved with her mothers fiance. The 1934 film changes some basic elements, with Bea becoming wealthy from incorporating Delilahs family pancake recipe and her likeness. Bea offers Delilah a 20 percent interest, which she, in a stereotypical mammy disposition, refuses. Peola ultimately embraces her African heritage and the love-triangle is reduced from a love triangle to an infatuation that prevents her mothers marriage. Sirks film adjusted the narrative so that Lora (formerly Bea) becomes a Broadway/Film star with her own talents, with Annie (Delilah) assisting her by serving as a nanny for Lora's child, Susie
2118 Turner Classic Movies, Imitation of Life (1959) Notes, Leonard Ala I tin Classic Movie Guide. Accessed February 10, 2017. http://www.tcm.coiu/tcmdb/title/79029/Iiuitation-of-Life/notes.html
209 Ibid
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(Jessie). Annies daughter, Sarah Jane (Peola), becomes remorseful about her desire to pass for white and the suffering she has inflected upon her mother. These changes to the story were not arbitrary. Instead, they allowed Sirk to make two major adjustments in the spectators focus on the film.
One suspects Sirk of using the genres conventions to undercut the audiences identification with the protagonist.210 Stephen Handzo suggests Sirk added two specific outcomes between the 1934 and 1959 films that change the nature of the class ideology being examined. First, he removes the working-class world from the film, focusing less on the domestic role that middle-class housewives in the audience might identify with, instead allowing them to experience vicariously Loras career and its lavish spoils. Lora wore Slmillion worth of jewelry and a $78,000 wardrobe with an average cost of $2,214.13 for each of her 34 costume changes. This is notable in a year in which the median income for a family was $5,417 and an income of over $25,000 placed your family in the top .07 percent.211 Second, that Lora, as a thirtyish year-old woman with a seven-year old daughter, making her aspirations somewhat impractical and self-indulgent.212 Ultimately, this sets up the cautionary, second half of the movie, where money does not buy the happiness that can only be achieved in pursuing true love, marriage and family.
In shifting the story from the working-class world Sirk shifted the sense of melodrama in the film, of innocent, unjust suffering from Lora to Annie. In doing so, he
2111 Stephen Handzo, Intimations of Lifelessness: Sirks Ironic Teaijerker, Bright Lights Film Journal. June 18, 2014. Accessed February 11, 2017 http://brighthghtsfilm.com/intimations-hfelessness-sirks-ironic-tearj erker-imitation-of-life/#fo otnote_0_ 11985
211 United States Census Bureau, Current Population Reports: Consumer Income, U.S. Department of Commerce. June 20, 1960 Series P-60, No. 34. Accessed February 12, 2017 https://www2.census.gov/prod2/ popscan/p60-034.pdf
212 Stephen Handzo, Intimations of Lifelessness: Sirks Ironic Teatjerker, Bright Lights Film Journal. June 18, 2014. Accessed February 11, 2017 http://brighthghtsfilm.com/intimations-hfelessness-sirks-ironic-tearj erker-imitation-of-life/#fo otnote_0_ 11985
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makes the unjust suffering associated with racial issues facing Annie the primary inequality towards which the audience will feel empathy. In the second shift, Sirk allows issues of race and gender to take center stage during an era of burgeoning civil and womens rights. As a result, Sirk, a self-confessed loner who felt uncomfortable with the excess of Hollywood,213 could critically comment on the consumer culture that had skyrocketed in America during the fifties. As Fortune magazine suggested in 1956, Never has a whole people spent so much money on so many expensive things in such an easy way as Americans are doing today.214
The song and image that appears over the opening credits of IoL serves as Sirks forewarning to the audience. The first shot, accompanied by a beautiful string arrangement, finds diamonds raining down the screen in slow motion. As Earl Grant begins to sing, the lyrics inform the audience that without love, youre only living an imitation of life. As Grant continues singing that the stars are duller without love, a false creation, an imitation of life, the diamonds begin to stack up at the bottom of the screen, revealing they are but glass imitations. As the screen fills with the costume jewels, the lyrics repeat the refrain that without love, everything is an imitation of life. In under two minutes, Sirk has told the audience that the pursuit of wealth can afford you expensive things but is detrimental to the pursuit of love, leading to an unworthy and false lifestyle.
At the beginning of the film Lora appears to be an innocent, unjustly suffering character, the key figure in the melodramatic mode. She is a widow who lives in a cramped, albeit two-bedroom, flat in New York City. After her husbands death, she worked for five years to save money to pursuit her dream of acting, but after five months is still struggling to
213 Tom Ryan, Douglas Sirk, SenseqfCinema.com January 4, 1987. Accessed February 11, 2017. http://webcache.googleusercontent.co m/search?q=cache:RLfPEzXTUN8J:www.csus.edu/indiv/s/starkj/faculty/ comsl42outsiders/filmsof50s/douglassirkbio.pdf+&cd=l&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us
214 David Halberstam, The Fifties. (New York: Random House Publishing Group, 1993) 496.
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find work. As Handzo noted, her age and daughter make her chosen occupation, somewhat impractical and self-indulgent.215 However, the moment her suitor Steve proposes to her and suggests she should leave acting behind, Lora responds, I want more, everything, maybe too much. Just as they kiss, she receives a phone call about an audition. Steve orders her not to pursuit the role and in the ensuing confrontation between the two Lora states she wants to achieve something. Steve counters, telling her, what youre after isnt real. She mocks him and lack of ambition to achieve success in photography, having recently chosen instead to settle for a copywriter job. Steve claims to have given up his goals for her, for something more important. When Lora replies acting is a dream shes had since she was a child, Steve tells her to grow up. She tells Steve she doesnt need him, leaves in a huff, and later avoids his phone calls. With this sequence, Sirk removes Loras innocence. She is not suffering unjustly, but of her own accord at the hand of her ambition. This shift in perception, just as her acting career takes off, shifts the audiences orientation towards the representation of class in the film, setting up a critical commentary on the single-minded pursuit of success and wealth as an unreal, and unmoral, goal.
A montage forwards the story eleven years, where Lora has become a successful and wealthy Broadway actress. However, she confides to Annie, Funny isnt it, after all this time, struggling and heartache, you make it and then you find out it doesnt seem worth it, something is missing... Maybe I dont want so much anymore. When Annie asks her what she would do, she remarks that they could both spend more time with their daughters. The suggestion to the audience is that Lora has traded, for both herself and Annie, the last eleven
215 Stephen Handzo, Intimations of Lifelessness: Sirks Ironic Teaijerker, Bright Lights Film Journal. June 18, 2014. Accessed February 11, 2017 http://brighthghtsfilm.com/intimations-lifelessness-sirks-ironic-teaijerker-iinitation-of-life/#footnote_0_11985
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years as mothers in exchange for her success and socioeconomic status. In Loras pursuit of success, she has become an absentee mother, leaving Annie to take care of Susie (Sandra Dee) and leaving both daughters to feel a sense of abandonment by their mothers. Her success has allowed Lora several luxuries. She has been able to send her daughter away to private school; buy a large upstate home, expensive furnishings, lavish clothes, and a horse for her daughter; and employ several servants to work with Annie. But what the audience sees throughout the remainder of the film is that the price for Loras success was paid in the unhappiness of both womens children.
Based on her confession to Annie, the audience momentarily believes Lora has turned a comer in her career (and class) ambitions. Then, in the very next sequence, she reverts to her pursuit of things over love and family. Sirk begins with a wide shot of a tony, upstate home with an appliance van parked in front. While Loras home is not the home of the robber-barons in the .01 percent of economic class, Lora has achieved a position in the top one percent, the capitalist class of the Gilbert-Kahl model. Cutting to the interior of the home, we see delivery men at work as Lora and Annie are decorating the home. Annie questions Lora, Ms. Lora, weve been spending an awful lot of money up here, you think we can really afford to have this stuff? Loras answer, Well, we cant afford not to. is the perfect consumer response, reflecting the mentality of spending money to make money and keeping up with the Joneses. Lev notes that producer Ross Hunter insisted on lavish sets, but that in the hands of Sirk the visuals become ironic, where opulence can look trashy and fake.216 The set design reinforces Sirks critique of the upper-class and the preoccupation with consumerism. Annie continues to voice her concern about Loras spending, noting the
216 Peter Lev, The Fifties: Transforming the Screen. (Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: Charles Scribners Sons, 2003)240-241.
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bill from Susies school. Lora again intones a consumer culture refrain that reflects the prosperity of the decade and the belief that the austerity of the post-Depression era could be forgotten, It doesnt matter. No matter what it costs. Susies going to have everything that I missed. To which Annie retorts, From her letters, she misses you. Once again, Sirk has repeated the theme that pursuit of money does not bring the happiness found in the pursuit of love and family.
Sirks penultimate critique on the pursuit of wealth in the capitalist class emerges
from the books altered love triangle. Lora, away in Italy making a movie, has asked Steve to
keep Susie company. During Loras absence, Susie develops a crush on Steve that she
believes is love. When Lora returns from filming, she announces to Susie that she has finally
decided (after some twelve years) she loves Steve and will quit her career to be with him.
The following day, Annie informs Lora that both of their daughters have developed problems
as a direct cause of their absentee parenting and tells her about Susies crush. When Lora
confronts her daughter, she discovers Susie has applied to go to school in Denver, far away
from a mother who would be too busy to notice her absence. To this, Lora replies,
Will you give me credit for nothing? Yes, Im ambitious, perhaps too ambitious. But its been for your sake as well as mine. Isnt this house just a little bit nicer than a cold water flat? And your new horse, arent you just crazy about it? And that closet of yours? Its only because of my ambition that youve had the best of everything. Thats a solid achievement that any mother could be proud of.
Susie responds telling her that her mother hasnt been there for her, giving her everything but herself. Despite her earlier claims of love and ending her career for Steve, she offers to give him up rather than have him come between her and her daughter. Susie calls her mother out on this, as several others have throughout the
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film, and tells her to stop acting. In this moment, it is Susie who understands the films theme that family matters more than careers or money.
In the final sequence of the film, Annie succumbs to a long illness. In her death, the audience realizes while Lora was building a career that Annie had cared for others in her community and church. She leaves various gifts and money to several minor characters that Lora doesnt even remember. This includes a milk man from their old, cold-water flat, who Annie had been sending yearly Christmas gifts to because of his kindness in their time of need. At Annies funeral, Sirk provides first a eulogy in a massive, crowded church. Then, in a wide shot of the procession, we see the streets filled with mourners and a band leading a horse drawn carriage with Annies ornate casket. Sirk cuts to close ups of those crying and a man who removes his sons hat, moving down for him to hold over his heart. When Sarah Jane (Susan Kohner) confesses to Lora that it was her hatred of her skin color that killed her mother, all Lora can do is console her. The film closes on the interior of a car in the funeral procession where Lora, along with Susie and Steve, accept Sara Jane into their newly formed family.217
In IoL, Sirk uses the melodramatic mode of storytelling to highlight the timely social issues of race and gender. This allowed him to insert a cautionary tale of the American Dream, a warning that Americas preoccupation with the pursuit of wealth and its trappings would come at the cost of the core institutions of love, marriage, and family.
217 Similarly, Peter Lev concludes one could say the family has reunited, but notes that Sirk, in his interview with Jon Halliday, suggested this was just a formality. (Lev, 240).
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Pillow Talk: The Rich Man as Harmless Fool
Pillow Talk (Michael Gordon, 1959) was one of two top-ten grossing comedies (along with Billy Wilders Some Like it Hot) released in the year following the conclusion of Eisenhowers recession, like Imitation of Life, Pillow Talk commented critically on the cultural perceptions of class relationships in an obfuscated, secondary storyline. However, while Imitation of Life addressed representation of the upper class as it related to cultural perceptions of acquiring wealth, Pillow Talk addressed the tension between the upper class and the middle and working classes. Gordons film initially faced some push-back from the PC A regarding its story line and, in a concern showing its age, the films title. Pillow Talk also employed a long-used Hollywood character, the wealthy fool, to observe the strained relationship between the classes while presenting the wealthy as harmless, if spoiled, children. In the end, both films reflect a fifties consumer culture that did not, in the aftermath of a major recession, perceive the capitalist class as an economic and ideological threat to the American Dream.
By todays standards, Pillow Talk is representative of the entirely innocuous comedy of the fifties, but for its era, the screenplay was filled with sexual innuendo and underlined a class rift in America. Interior decorator Jan Morrow (Doris Day) and songwriter Brad Allen (Rock Hudson) each anonymously share a party phone line; one which Brad continuously ties up as he sings to his many girlfriends. When Jan, who has proven impervious to Brads charms, attempts to have him removed from the line, Brad, having discovered Jans identity, decides to teach her a lesson by seducing her as Rex Stetson before revealing his identity. Instead, just as they begin to fall in
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love, Jan discovers Brads identity and ends their relationship. Brad ultimately wins her back by completely eradicating his playboy past, proving his love for her alone.
Despite the seeming innocence of the film today, it was the sexual innuendo of the script that in 1959 was still a cause for concern under the PC. As noted in the Hollywood Reporter, the script had been in various stages of production, both as a film and a play, since 1942. The original title "displeased" the PC A and was changed to Any Way the Wind Blows before being reinstated two months prior to the films release.218 The PC also objected to the films original ending, which saw Jan, using Brads trick switch to lock the door, shut off the lights and say All apartments look alike in the dark. The sexual innuendo between an unmarried couple, which was not allowed under the PCs Sexual Immorality section in the Working Principles,219 was changed in the final film and replaced with the revelation that Jan and Brad had married and were expecting a baby.220 The film was also director Michael Gordon's first since 1951, when he had been named a member of the American Communist Party during two appearances before HU AC, but refused to identify other members. In 1958 he succumbed, becoming an informer and returning to filmmaking.221 In the face of his eight-year long blacklisting, Gordons subdued, but clearly present commentary on class relationships makes its brief appearance that much more powerful.
218 Turner Classic Movies, Pillow Talk (1959): Notes, Leonard Ala I tin Classic Movie Guide. Accessed February 12, 2017. http://www.tcm.coiu/tcmdb/title/4363/Pillow-Talk/notes.htiul
219 Thomas Doherty. Pre-Code Hollywood: Sex, Immorality, and Insurrection in American Cinema, 1930-1934. (New York: Columbia Press, 1999) Appendix 2, 364.
2211 Matthew Kennedy, Pillow Talk The Library of Congress. Accessed February 13, 2017.
https://www.loc.gov/programs/static/national-film-preservation-board/documents/pillow_talk.pdf
221 John Simkin, Michael Gordon, Spartacus-educational.com Accessed February 13, 2017. http://spartacus-
educational.com/USAgordonM.htm
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Hollywoods stock character of the wealthy fool222 serves to represent members of the capitalist class in a harmless, childlike, and often empathetic light. From Charlie Chaplins The Rink (1916) to Steve Gordons (no relation) Arthur (1981) and Adam McKays The Other Guys (2010), which I will be discussing in chapter 5, wealthy fools have been used to portray people whose wealth has rendered them childlike or buffoonish and, ultimately, harmless. In Pillow Talk, Tony Walters (Nick Adams) and Jonathan Forbes (Tony Randall) represent the capitalist class in this manner. Tony is a young man who takes others for granted and behaves like a child. Gordon also uses his brief relationship with Jan to represent the upper classs perception of the middle class. Jonathan, his adult doppelganger, is used by Gordon to represent not only the childish behavior of the upper class, but also the divisive relationship they have with the working class.
Tony, a Harvard University student who is the child of one of Jans decorating clients, is presented as a smug, petulant mamas boy who attempts to grope Jan after his mother offers his services to drive her home. In the next sequence, we see that Tony has parked his 1955 MG TF convertible on the side of the road. Tonys car provides some context as to the wealth of the young mans family, as it would have cost $1,995 when new, roughly the equivalent to half of the median income of a family in that year.223 When she pushes him off, he remarks Jan, youre so
222 From Plato to Carl Jung to Joseph Campbell one of the main archetypal characters is that of the Trickster or Fool. However, while the Trickster is typically clever and mischievous and the Fool has no idea what he's doing, with only has his cheerful disposition to protect him. See: David Silverman, 12 Best Character Archtypes for Film: Part 3, Psych Central. April 13, 2015. Accessed February 13, 2017, https://blogs.psychcentral.com/liollywood-therapy/2015/04/12-best-character-archetypes-for-fdm-part-3/
223 Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports: Consumer Income, U.S. Department of Commerce. June 20, 1960 Series P-60, No. 34. Accessed February 12, 2017, https://www2.census.gov/prod2/popscan/p60-034.pdf
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primitive! Tonys remark serves as a call-back to his mothers earlier comment about a fertility goddess, which Jan had talked her out of placing in her home in affluent Scarsdale. That this particular town was selected as Mrs. Walkers home may have context in the towns 1950s communist scandal, in which the Scarsdale Citizens Committee, known as the "Committee of Ten," led by Otto Dohrenwend alleged "Communist infiltration" in the public schools.224 After setting the foot-tall, African-looking sculpture down in profile to the camera, Mrs. Walters proclaims, Savage little thing, isnt it. Despite Jans status in the middle to upper middle class, in his primitive comment she is perceived as less than by Tony, the equivalent of a native fertility goddess. When Jan threatens to tell his mother, Tony, as the typical mamas boy, hesitates momentarily, a look of concern washing over his face before he decides its your word against mine and resumes groping her. She finally dissuades Tony after she agrees to have a drink with him before he takes her home.
In the club, he tries to ply her with drinks, noting that a Harvard man never resorts to getting a woman drunk, except in an emergency. And you, Ms. Morrow, are an emergency. Tony winds up getting drunk himself, passing out on the clubs dance floor. In less than ten minutes on screen, Tony has represented the privileged, young adults of the upper class as spoiled children who treat those beneath their socioeconomic class as people who should cater to their whims, no matter how egregious. Despite this shameful representation, it does not present the capitalist class as having anything to do with the economic struggles the country is experiencing,
224 Scarsdale Hears Red Charge Again; School Head Tells Citizens Group Choice is Among Bare, Rich or Dictated Programs, NYTimes.com. April 8, 1952. Accessed February 15, 2017. http://www.nytimes.com/ 1952/04/08/archives/scarsdale-hears-red-charge-again-school-head-tells-citizens-group.html
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struggles Jan hints at when she bemoans the downturn in people having large families, stating, I guess its the high cost of living. Tonys wealthy fool is only marginally critical of the upper class, revealing a sense of entitlement and disdain within its denizens. Ultimately, his representation is that of a stereotypical, wealthy mamas boy who believes that anyone below his station should cater to his needs. Gordon uses Tonys adult version, Jonathan, to insert his more pointed social commentary.
The audience is introduced to Jonathan as he surprises Jan with a new Mercedes, a gift for her on-going work in decorating his new office. While Jan declines the gift, noting that its too personal. Again, to put this gift in some context, the car in question is a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster, one of 1,858 built in 1959, retailing at $10,950, or $91,377.56 when accounting for inflation. Clearly Jonathan is a man with money to spend frivolously! In his next scene, we discover that this present was in fact an attempt to woo Jan into marriage, despite her insistence that she doesnt love him. Theres also the fact that he previously has been married three times, a notion he begs Jan to ignore, indicating Those marriages were just a revolt against my mother. This statement aligns Jonathan with Tony in their representation of the maturation of the wealthy fool.
In later conversations with his old college pal, Brad, we discover that Jonathan is spending $200,000 to produce the musical for which Brad is writing songs. When Brad dismisses his request to hear some songs, as he is preparing to go out, Jonathan laments the declining value of money, stating, I dont know, money seems to have lost its value these days. With $200,000 my grandfather cornered the wheat market
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and started a panic in Omaha, today you cant even frighten songwriters with it. Trouble with you is youre prejudiced against me because Im part of a minority group. Millionaires. You outnumber us, but youll never get us. Well fight for our rights to the bitter end. And weve got the money to do it. He then tells Brad how important the show is to him, that Brad has worked his way up as a songwriter, starting with nothing and making a name for himself. Meanwhile, Jonathan complains that he started out in college with $8,000,000 and Ive still got $8,000,000,1 cant seem to get ahead. For a film released following a short, but massive recession, and at the tail-end of a decade that witness two other recessions, this type of type of humble brag suggests to the audience the degree to which the upper class is out of touch with everyone else in society. In the midst of a film that deals chiefly with s-e-x,225 and in his return debut from the blacklist, it is this very separation of class that Gordon addresses.
Near the end of the film, Jonathan is driving a distraught Jan home after the revelation of Brads deception. He stops at a roadside diner to get her a cup of coffee to help her feel better. The well-heeled pair are noticed by two robust, working class attired men sitting at the diners counter. Gordon initially plays the scene for comedy, as the men at the counter, heads turned towards where Jan and Jonathan are sitting, have picked up their conversation without context.
Hearing what appears to be a woman regretting a sexual tryst, the first man states, Poor kid, the anger present in his face building. His partner chimes in, Guy
225 Staff, Review: Pillow Talk, Variety.com. December 31, 1958. Accessed February 15, 2017. http://variety.coin/1958/filni/reviews/pillow-talk-2-1200419347/
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drives a big car, with all the optional extras, thinks he can get away with anything!226 Jan, sobs, I thought we were going to get married, to which Jonathan responds,
Forget it. This causes Jan to sob louder, and in a wide shot the audience sees that two additional men and the waiter, along with the men at the counter, are now all staring at the couple.
Not realizing his surroundings, Jonathan decides to slap Jan across the face,
for her own good. Jan, holding a handkerchief to her face with both hands as she sobs, is not visually impacted by the slap, itself accompanied by a comical sound effect. It is doubtful that a real slap in this situation could have been played for comical effect. However, the two men at the counter are shocked by his action. After a quick nod, implying they are both of the same mind, they get up and walk towards the table. The man who had commented on Jonathans car taps him on the shoulder, and as Jonathan turns his head, he punches him in the face, knocking him out. In keeping with the comedic overtones used to dilute the sequence and the emphasize the mocking representation of the upper class in Jonathan, comical music adjoins the scene the moment he gets hit, turning more farcical as he slides down the booth, disappearing from view under the table.
By building up Jonathans position as a wealthy fool throughout the movie, the scene plays as comedy, rather than denoting the serious implications of a working class man punching out an upper class man in defense of a woman. Gordon has inserted into the film a critical commentary on a culturally perceived ideology of wealthy men, men who feel they can do anything to those below them
226 Again, for context, the car referred to is a 1959 Imperial Crown Southampton, which, with a base price of $5,571, was more titan the American median yearly income in 1959.
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socioeconomically. Its an ideology closely related to the Marxism that would have been associated with members of the American Communist Party, and the very reason he had been blacklisted for the previous eight years. However, much like Sirks direction with Imitation of Life, Gordon succeeds in relaying his message by shielding it beneath the primary plot and the cinematic trope of the wealthy fool. That the PC was more concerned with the sexual innuendo of the title than a critical commentary that directly challenges the PCs concerns and principles on the social institution of class relationships, explicates how successful this tactic was.
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CHAPTER V
THE OPAQUE HAND OF POWER
Introduction
Class is not discussed or debated in public because class identity has been strippedfrom popular culture. The institutions that shape mass culture and define the parameters of public debate have avoided class issues. In politics, in primary and secondary education, and in the mass media, formulating issues in terms of class is unacceptable, perhaps even un-American. 227 Gregory Mantsios
Films of the seventies, produced and received in a tumultuous era of political, social, and economic strife, represent the struggle in the decade to redefine the boundaries of many of Americas cultural identities. In the aftermath of the 1973-75 recession, numerous films dealt with the issues of class dynamics in America. In the aftermath of the largest recession in over twenty-five years, the most popular, highest grossing films of 1976 saw the vast majority present narratives exploring the plight of the middle and working class. Characterizations of and critical commentaries aimed directly at those of the upper class appeared less frequently, and none of the top twenty-five grossing films of 1976228 have a story centered on an upper class character. Instead, I suggest that the seventies, in the examples of King Kong and Network, presents characters that represent the power of the upper class through the struggle of the liminal professional-managerial class (PMC).
As conceptualized by Barbara and John Ehrenreich, the PMC is a social grouping of salaried mental workers who do not own the means of production and whose major function in the social division of labor may be described broadly as the reproduction of capitalist
227 Gregory Mantsios, Class in America: Myths and Realities, in Privilege, ed. Michael s. Kimmel and Abby L. Ferber (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2003), 34.
228 The Gross Movie Pool, Top Grossing Movies for 1976, Engenuous Software. Accessed February 15, 2017. http://www.grossmoviepool.com/top-box-office/top_grossing_movies.cfnvYear-1976/
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culture and capitalist class relations.229 As a social group, and not a specific class
demarcation, the PMC straddles portions of the Gilbert-Kahl class model. At the top end
(lawyers, doctors, architects, corporate managers, business owners, some scientists) occupy a
place within the upper-middle class. At the other end (lower-level managers,
semiprofessionals, journalists, PhDs in Humanities and some social science, e.g.,
Sociologists), find themselves in the middle class.230 Situated between the working class and
the upper class, this social group serves to
Engineer, administer, and supervise the workplace as well as produce and sustain ideological superstructures such as the legal and educational systems, the mass media, and various state apparatuses which help ensure (in a highly mediated way) popular consent to capitalist relations of production... its role is one of directing and controlling labor in order to benefit the interests of capital. Yet the PMC also often finds itself at odds with the capitalist class. ..Asa result, the PMC has developed over its short history certain strains of anticapitalist thought and action.231
This struggle within the PMC, simultaneously seeking to serve the upper class, control the working class and maintain or improve their socioeconomic position, inhabits the critical commentary of post-recessionary class dynamics in John Guillermins King Kong (1976). Ivy-league primate paleontologist Jack Prescott (Jeff Bridges) stows away on an oil tanker under the direction of Petrox Oil Company executive Fred Wilson (Charles Grodin). Wilson believes that an island in the Indian Ocean holds a reservoir of undiscovered oil, a potential windfall hes eager to secure for his bosses on the Board of Petrox. Accompanied by the tankers captain, crew, a scientist, and a rescued starlet, Dwan (Jessica Lange), the
229 Barbara and John Ehrenreich, The Professional-Managerial Class, in Between Labor and Capital, ed. Pat Walker (Boston: South End, 1979), 12.
230 Barbara Ehrenreich, John Ehrenreich, The Real Story Behind the Crash and Bum of Americas Managerial Class: How the Rise and Fall of the Professional-Managerial Class has impacted the Last Hundred Years, Alternet.org. February 19, 2013. Accessed February 15, 2017. http://www.alternet.org/economy/barbara-and-john-ehrenreich-real-story-behind-crash-and-bum-americas-managerial-class?page=0%2C0
231 Derek Nystrom, Hard Hats, Rednecks, and Macho Men: Class in 1970s American Cinema. (Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 10.
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group discovers the island is inhabited by a primitive tribe that worships a giant ape known as Kong. When Wilson discovers the oil cannot be refined, he decides to capture Kong for use as a promotional gimmick to cover his mistakes and appease his superiors. I suggest that in the conflict of Fred Wilson with Jack Prescott and those in the working class, King Kong explores the strain on the PMC in interpreting and appeasing the demands of the capitalist class.
King Kong'. Exploitation and Domination
Fred Wilson, as an executive of the Petrox Oil Company, occupies a career in the top-end of the PMC social group. The film depicts Wilson as both fearful of his office superiors and eager to please them, willing to undertake arduous burdens to satisfy their needs in hopes of securing, and possibly improving, his socioeconomic position. In this representation, Wilson is situated as the films antagonist, opposite protagonist Jacks voice of middle class concerns. Early in the film, Wilson has dinner with the tankers captain, Ross (John Randolph). The captain occupies a place in the PMC as well, albeit closer to the lower-end and with a decidedly blue-collar disposition. The tanker pitches furiously as a storm rages, causing their plates to roll back and forth across the table. Ross taunts Wilson, who looks queasy, with talk of eating raw herring with a beer chaser and a scoop of ice cream. In this sequence, it initially appears that Ross self-identifies as blue-collar, resenting the usurpation of power by the white collar oil-executive. Wilson rises from the table and leaves the room as Ross smirks, but returns seconds later, covered in rain from the storm outside. When Ross states they could avoid the storm if they backtracked, thus delaying the by several days, Wilson instructs him to stay on target, flexing his managerial power. Ross appears to be won over by Wilsons resolve, stateing, You know, I gotta admit, for a New York desk guy, you
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got a lotta guts. Wilson, indicating his true place in the socioeconomic chain of command, remarks, Guts, hell. I sold this one to the board. If that island doesnt produce huge, Ill be wiping windshields.
Wilson indicates his allegiance to the capitalist class over the middle and working class several times throughout the film. The first comes in a joke made while presenting the crew with the true purpose of the voyage. He indicates that the images used to determine the location of the island comes from a NASA spy satellite that had gone off course. I personally got hold of the super-classified pictures via donation I made to someone in Washington D.C. No names, but I think he lives on Pennsylvania Avenue. The men laugh in a knowing way, as would the audience of the mid-seventies, acknowledging the reference to the corruption of the office of president after Richard Nixons Watergate scandal and the subsequent pardon from Gerald Ford. Despite the laugh, the statement aligns Wilson with the upper class (associated with the president) and not the working class of the crew.
In a sequence that takes place in the captains darkly lit officers room, Wilson is shown clashing with his fellow PMC counterpart, Jack. Again, he is depicted as single-minded in his servitude to Petrox, willing to put himself and those in his charge in danger to meet his goals and satisfy his capitalist class bosses on the board. Wilson mockingly suggests that, to appease Jack, the crew will bring enough explosives with them to blow up any sign of a monkey over four feet. Jack, in a response that links him to the college campus activists of the era, states, even an environmental rapist like you, even you wouldnt be asshole enough to wipeout a unique, new species of animal. Fred, the kids would bum every Petrox station from Maine to California. Wilson responds only with a steely-eyed gaze, and a swig from his scotch on the rocks, as Jack storms from the room. Occupying the lower-end of the
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PMC (and firmly within the middle class), Jack is aligned more closely with the working
class, and appears concerned about the state of the island, the natives, and even Kong
himself. Near the end of the film, when Kong has been brought to New York, Jack quits
Wilsons circus, wanting no part of the show he intends to put on. When Wilson reminds
him he signed a contract and took an advance, Jack mocks him, Oh, I just donated that in
your name to the SPCA232 fund for sending Kong home, heres your receipt. Sue me. The
Wilson/Jack dynamic exemplifies the liminal state of the PMC, as Nystrom notes,
Class relations can be defined along two axes... axes of exploitation and domination. Managers, therefore, can be described as occupying a capitalist-class position by virtue of their domination of the working class, even as they are located in a working-class position due to the fact that they do not own and control the means of production. Similarly, professionals can be said to be petty bourgeois in their control over their labor process, while also a part of the proletariat because they must sell their labor to capital.233
A few sequences later, the pressure of the capitalist class on the PMC, especially in
times of economic crises, is reinforced. Wilson writes out a message to be radioed back to the
home office. His geologist assistant, Roy Bagley (Rene Aubeijonois), reads the carbon copy
of the note. Realizing he has informed the board that the oil reserve is the biggest ever, no
problems at all, Roy reminds him that he said the pool might be oil, we cant be sure until I
get a sample and test it. Wilson again displays his fears, and the purpose for his risk-taking,
Roy, think positive. Guys who think negative dont get very high up the Petrox tower.
Wilsons position in the PMC, like all others in this social group, is unstable and dependent
upon continually appeasing the desires of capital and the capital class. This fear is reinforced
during recessions, when economic instability threatens positions of socioeconomic class
along most the class strata.
232 Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
233 Nystrom, Hard Hats, 10.
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During a break while searching for Dwan, Wilson demands that Carnahan (Ed Lauter) set seismic charges to map the island for oil deposits prior to resuming the rescue mission. When Jack becomes irate at the notion of interrupting the search, Wilson replies, Jack, I know how you feel, I feel the same. But theres a national energy crisis that demands that we all rise above our private, selfish interests. Jack responds, You hypocritical bastard, all youre thinking about is your stock options... but Wilson has already cut the transmission. Again, the clash between Wilson and Jack align along their positions in the PMC, with Wilson concerned about what he can provide the upper class and Jack concerned for the danger that Wilsons actions have placed upon someone in the middle class. However, while Jack is concerned for the welfare of Dwan, he is less concerned about the danger facing the working class men who are in Wilsons command, revealing his position, low as it might be, in the PMC.
Shortly after this sequence, Roy informs Wilson that the oil pool results have come in, indicating it will be great oil. Wilson exclaims, Fred Wilson is crazy, is he!? Wait till those candy asses in New York hear about this one. Wait till I put the screws to them, Ill grind them... Wilson is already planning how his discovery will grant him the economic leverage to erase capitalist control over him when he is cut off by Roy, who informs him it will be great, in 10,000 years. Wilson is momentarily crushed, his dreams of having a success that might propel him from the PMC into the capitalist class destroyed, and his position in the PMC seemingly in jeopardy. Inspired by Roys reference to having radioed New York about the big one, Wilson remembers Captain Rosss earlier joke about Kong making for a great commercial. Wilson quickly decides to capture the beast for just that purpose.
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Reinvigorated, he brags to Roy that If we had found oil, wed had Gulf, Shell,
Exxon crawling all over here. Not this one pal, Kong is all me and Petrox. A Fred S. Wilson exclusive. When several of his men no longer respond to radio contact, Wilson refuses Captain Rosss request to send out a search party, claiming they cant spare a man as they prepare a trap for Kong. Ross screams at him Jesus Wilson, youre playing with their lives. Wilson, as in his response to Jacks earlier concerns for something outside of the scope of his fulfillment of capitalist desires, cooling replies, Dont worry about it, captain. Moments later, Wilson spies Boan (Julius Harris), a tanker crew member who informs Wilson that the other crewmembers are in fact already dead. Having sacrificed working class men in his role as capitalist class enforcer, and in keeping with Hollywood tropes, antagonist Wilson dies beneath Kongs massive foot when his plan turns to folly, endangering everyone in New York City as Kong breaks free of his chains and tears through the city in search of Dwan.
Ultimately, Fred Wilsons character represents the PMCs interpreted desires of the capitalist class, the desire to fulfill the needs of capital above concerns for anything else, including the lives of individuals in the socioeconomic classes beneath them. His representation underlines the hegemonic ideology of neoliberalism, which seeks to financialize everything and place corporate solvency above social and moral economy.234 Wilson, as a member of the PMC social group, exists solely to ensure the capitalist class are successful in their endeavors.
The initial island encounter with the natives, which underscores both the 1933 and 1976 films anti-colonialism messages, bears mentioning in the context of race as a part of the class representations of the film. Wilson is acting in a manner clearly analogous to that of
234 David Harvey.. I Brief History of Neoliberalism. (Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 5-45.
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Full Text

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DOES AMERICA STILL L OVE THE ONE PERCENT? : AN EXEGESIS OF EVOLVING REPRESENTATIONS OF T HE UPPER CLASS IN POST RECESSIONARY HOLLYWO OD FILMS b y SHAWN M JEWETT B.S., Georgetown U niversity, 1990 B.A., Theatre, Film & Television, 2012 A thesis submitted t o the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Humanities Humanities Program 2017

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ii This thesis for the Master of Humanities degree by Shawn M. Jewett has been approved for the Humanities Program by Sarah Hagelin, Chair Margaret Woodhull, Advisor Jordan Hill Howard Movshovitz May 13, 2017

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iii Jewett, Shawn, M. (M.H Humanities ) Does America Still Love the One Percent ?: An Exegesis of Evolv ing Representations of the Upper Class in Post Recessionary American Films Thesis Directed by Assistant Professor Margaret Woodhull ABSTRACT Using film as a cultural artifact, t his paper examines the evolving relationship between the American society and the upper class In comparing the events and films of the Great Recession to those from the largest post 1950 recessionary periods, I argue that the evolution in the negative representations of class in film stems from cultural factors including itical economy, and the evolution of the Hollywood film industry. As such, the representations of the upper class in recent films is not solely representative of an evolution in Hollywood films, but of the cultural ideologies associated with the collapse o f Wall Street and the subsequent government bailout. In this paper, I explicate the evolution of the representation of the upper class in mainstream Hollywood films by : (1 ) examining the economic factors unique to each recession; (2 ) examining the film ind ustr y factors unique to each era; and (3 ) employing a hermene utic reading and Pillow Talk and Imitation of Life King Kong and Network ; and Inception and The Other Guys to illuminate a complex interplay of economic and in dustrial concerns that contribute to the formation of class identity. The form and content of this abstract are approved, I recommend its publication. Approved: Margaret Woodhull

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iv DEDICATION I dedicate this work to my mother, Crissy H. Jewett, and my wife, K risten M. Jewett, both of whom encouraged me to follow my passion.

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v ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to acknowledge and thank Margaret Woodhull and Jordan Hill for the example they set as educators and social justice warriors; Sarah Hagelin for guiding me th rough the process of writing my thesis; and Howie Movshovitz for encouraging me to look deeper and write another draft.

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vi TABLE OF CONTENTS I. Statement of Questi Literature Re view Methodological Statement 20 II. AN ECONOMIC FRAMEWORK ... 21 Creating Frameworks 2 4 .30 3 6 .3 8 42 III. GONE 43 43 55 ....62 71 IV. 73 ..73 Imitation of Life : Ambitious but not Corrupt ..74 Pillow Talk : The Rich Man as Harmless Fool .86 V. THE OPAQUE HAND OF P

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vii ..94 King Kong : Exploitation and Domination Network : Creating Consent, Inculcating Implacability ..103 .111 VI 113 Inception : Admiration and Fear of the Wealthy 114 The Other Guys .123 132 VII. CONCLU SION: DOES AMERICA STILL LOVE THE ONE PERCENT?......... .134 REFERENCE

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CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION Statement of Questions for the first time in a long time we are confused about rich men in Ameri ca. We don't know if we like them anymore. For the last thirty years, we have liked them. We have lionized them, emulated them, and, most importantly, forgiven them. Our regard for the rich hasn't been a matter of boom and bust; it has resisted the fluctua tion of markets and been perhaps the most powerful 2008 was more than a signal event in the history of capitalism. It was a signal event in the history of the culture, because it put into question the culture's relationship to money. We were supposed to root for the rich, because our fates were supposed to be entwined with theirs. We were supposed to root for them to get their money back, because then we would get our money back. But when they got their money back, and it turned out to be our money well, how could America root for Jamie Dimon? 1 Tom Junod greatest recession since 1945, Tom Junod Esquire essay on financial icon Warren Buffet articulated emerging questions Americans had about class relationships. J unod observes that historically th and relat ionship to the upper class has been supportive, even encouraging, due to the popular ideology of entwined economic reliance. However, Junod suggests the collapse of Wall Street, its subsequent governmental bail out, and the lack of relief provided the middle and working classes called into question the nature of this relationship. American society blamed the actions of those on Wall Street and in the upper class f or the market collapse and the successive economic woes. In turn, this signaled a negative change in the long term suppo rt of the upper class exalted position of the wealthy in Am erican society was resistant to previous recessionary events, I explicate the change towards negative 1 Esquire.com November 16, 2011. Accessed November 22, 2011. http://www.esquire.com/news politics/interviews/a11746/warren buffett 1211/

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9 representation of the upper class in the popular Hollywood films released immediately following the Great Recession as compared to the films released foll owing previous recessions. The visible change between these eras in the way we perceive and represent the upper class in film, which serves as an indication of change s the wealthy, is dependent upon several factors outside of the recession itself Unsurprisingly, including the political and morally driven censorship affecting film narratives. In turn, this has led to more ideologically driven explorations of class relationships in film. Given the cultural evolution of American ideologies on class and the perceived reduction of censorship in American films, it is perhaps natural to think that class explorations would become more explicitly critical over time. Howeve r, the critical commentary on class relationships has been impinged by changes in the film industry, including corporate ownership, the costs associated with blockbuster films, and the dependence upon foreign revenues that has emerged in the past decade. Thus, w hat I have observed is a secondary system of censorship that has emerged as Hollywood transitioned from the studio system to studios absorbed in conglomerate mergers. Hollywood films have become a line item of massive corporations. Defined by their return on investment, blockbuster films have become global products dependent upon the political and cultural interests of other countries for their commercial success. As such, they are censored in a manner that ensures their profitability, but eliminates expli cit critical in the critical commentary of the upper class, globally positioned blockbuster Hollywood films are marginalizing them, proscribing their narratives to f ilms made by smaller studios.

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10 For this reason, visual literacy is of vital importance, as it provides the spectators the ability to interpret, negotiate, and make meaning from information presented in the se films. In this thesis, I use film as a cultural artifact that reveals valuable information regarding the society in which it was made and consumed. Just as smoke can be an indexical fingerprint of a fire that no longer exists, so too are Hollywood films the fingerprints of popular American i deologies emergent from the socio historical events from previous eras. In seeking to answer questions about the evolutionary state of the relationship between the wealthy and the rest of American society, I first establish a framework to examine American ideologies about class in film, providing a context for understanding the political economy and the state of the film industry during specific recessionary periods. For the purpose of this analysis, I focus on representations of the upper class, per the Gi lbert Kahl model, in films spanning recessionary periods similar to the Great Recession. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) the next highest post 1950 declines in GDP (after the Great Recession of 2007 2009) are 1957 1958 and 197 3 1975. 2 To exhibit how these representations evolve over time and with respect to economic and industrial factors, I have situated my analysis on the post recessionary films of 1959, 1976 and 2010. Although critically acclaimed films might present class issues more keenly and documentaries typically address these issues explicitly, I focus my attention on high grossing films that were perceived as popular. G iven their larger audience they reflect the most prominent culturally accepted ideologies and having the greatest scope of cultural influence Employing a close reading, I extract and highlight the evolution of popular cultural ideologies regarding class following these major recessions. Beginning with 1959, I note how 2 http://www.nber.org/cycles/recessions.html (accessed February 7, 201 7 ).

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11 Imitation of Life works to provide a cautionary tale on pursuing wealth while Pillow Talk defangs the power of the wealthy, depicting them as harmless fools. At the height of the American New Cinema in 1976, John Guillermin King Kong and Network use the actions of the professional managerial class as a means to represent the exertion of neoliberal power by the capitalist class. Finally, by 2010, Inception notes the awe and fear associated with the wealthy as Adam The O ther Guys repositions the harmlessness of the upper class as a ploy to ensnare the gullible in the ir pursuit of additional wealth. in that it is the only popular film on this list (and the list of top grossing films from these recessi onary periods) that explicitly admonishes the upper class for their role in effectuating the recession. As becomes that some of the central social and political uphe avals of recent U.S. history are driven by and envisioned through that musty old character 3 Given the authoritarianism in American poli tics, revisiting the spectacle of class ideologies in Hollywood films provides a blueprint for understanding the course of their evolution and the direction it may take in the future. Literature Review Signs may be analyzed, for few love them. But films a re somehow delicate, like roses, and pulling the petals of roses in order to study it is often viewed as an act of destruction. 4 Sol Worth 3 Derek Nystrom, Hard Hats, Rednecks and Macho Men: Class in 1970s American Cinema (Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2009) 18. 4 Sol Worth, Studying V isual Communications Ed Larry Gross. ( Philadelphia: Univers ity of Pennsylvania Press, 1981)

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12 On April 24, 1896, a day after the first Kinetoscope exhibition, the first American article about film appeared in the New York Times. It was only an announcement, with no critical review or recognition of this new form of art. By 1915 16, the cinema aesthetics of Vachel Lindsay ( The Art of the Moving Picture) and the psychological analyses by Hugo Munsterberg ( The Ph otoplay: A Psychological Study ) ushered in the first wave of film theory 5 While these books are now considered to be an early ver sion of formalist film theory, which emphasized the manipulation and control of the artistic palate of film (i.e. its technica l devices) in addition to style or technique over mimetic realism, this view was Film as Art 6 However, with the emergence of the Italian Neo Realism movement, it was a realist theory that dominated after World War II 7 The shift in theoretical emphasis centers on the formation of the Cahiers du Cinema in 1951 and its co founder Andre Bazin, the first significant realist theoretician 8 and reality a re onto logically related 9 were polemic arguments against realist Sergei Theory of Montage, which asserted that editing created meaning in filmic images 10 In 1968 another shift began as modern film t heory emerged from the publication of Christian Film Language: A Semiotics of the Cinema Metz initiated a new direction 5 Thomas Sobchack, & Vivian Sobchack, An Introduction to Film, 2nd ed ( Glenview, IL, Boston, Londo n: Scott, Foresman and Company, 1987) 414 421. 6 Leo Braudy and Marshall Cohen, Film Theory and Criticism, 7th ed (New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009) 167 170. 7 Sobchack, & Sobchack, An Introduction to Film, 414 421. 8 Louis Giannetti, Understanding Movies, 9th ed. ( Upper Saddle Ri ver, New Jersey: Prenti ce Hall, 2002) 456 492. 9 Andre Bazin, 1967. What is Cinema? ed. Hugh Gray. (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 2005) 414 421. 10 Ken Dancyger, The Technique of Film &Video Editing: History, Theory, and Practice (Oxford: Focal Press, 2011) 16 23.

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13 in film study, suggesting a focus on whether specific cinematic techniques and aesthetics constituted a filmic language through its structure and codes. It argued for the study of film as a science and promoted hermeneutic analysis Metz concluded that a linguistic format could be applied to the semiotics of film, specifically by applying distinctions between the signified and the sig nifier, and the important realization that the discourse on film between semiologists and film theoreticians begins only when we acknowledge that films, as a system of images are understood by viewers. (Metz 1968). theory would be called by subsequent critic David Bordwell, was seen as a profusely explanatory theses of psychological readings built upon Sigmund Freud, Claude Lvi Strauss and Karl Marx and successors Roland Barthes, Jacques Lacan, Michel Foucault, and Louis Althusser. Throughout the 1980s, Bordwell expressed beliefs that hermeneutic and psychological reading of film were confirming previously established theoretical frameworks. In the 1996 book, Post Theory: Reconstructing Film Studies Bordwell and co editor Noe l Carroll argue against "S.L.A.B. theory" (the ideas of Saussure Lacan Althusser and Barthes ), suggesting a consideration of textual, aesthetic forms, via mid level neurological research 11 This book codified the beliefs of cognitive film theory. The Cognitive Semiotics of Film demonstrated that semioticians and cognitivists have similarities in dealing with meaning, reflexivity and spectatorship, despite 11 David Bordwell, Contemporary Film Studies and t In Post Theory: Reconstructing Film Studies ed. David Bordwell and Noel Carroll. ( Madison, Wisconsin: The Univ ersity of Wisconsin Press, 1996) 3 36

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14 scope of film studies) inherent in semiotic S.L.A.B. theory 12 As such, Buckland suggests another shift in the film theory paradigm to cognitive film semiotics, combining the semiotic co primordial understanding of images/meaning. To date, this conflict of theories, and the call for and application of their integration continues. Similar ly, Derek N ystrom suggests revisiting previous theoretical work i n an attempt to address questions of American class dynamics in filmic representations I n Hard Hats, Rednecks and Macho Men: Class in 1970s American Cinema Nystrom suggests that the shift away from S. L.AB. theory left these questions largely unanswered. The timing of the shift caused a gap in class based theory in American film studies just as the University of Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies articu 13 Using the British cultural studies that appeared in the late 1970s and 1980s, Nystrom focuses on the complexity of class formation as a means towards understanding class structure and representations in the American films of the 1970s. For my investigation of the evolution of representations of the upper class in post recession era films, a historical, social, economic and ideological analysis of films using a hermeneutic approach is logical As my goals are interested in cultura l interpretation and cognitive capacity to understand films physiologically, I am situating my film analysis in social semiotics rather than cognitive film theory. 12 Warren Buckland, The Cognitive Semiotics of Film (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000) 3 17. 13 Nystrom, Hard Hats. 7.

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15 Methodological Statement Film semiotics existence, together with the consequences it has on culture and society. Semioticians challenge the commonsense ideological understanding of film as a mere form of harmless entertainment, maintaining that it is a system of significati on that articulates experience. 14 Warren Buckland C ontemporary film theorist Buckland summarizes the basis of modern or y, initiated in 1968 by French film theorist Christian Metz in Film Language: A Semiotics of the Cinema C ontemporary social semiotic analysis provides the core of my methodology in examining the evolution of representations of the upper class in post Worl d War II recessionary films. Key to my investigation is the semiotic implication that images are filled with connotative meaning, created by the social context of their use and hence, there are no ideological neutral signs. 15 I will use this idea towards f ostering an In comparing class representation across time, I establish an understanding of social semiotic s and connotative meanings of images, described by Roland Barthes in Image, Music, Text as the cultural interpretation of a sign. 16 A sign is given, and changes its meaning, specific to its context, its historical period and the cultural awareness of those using it. Images analogous between time periods in their denotative, or literal, appearance may have vastly different connotative meanings based on the change in cultural awareness. This is the basis of contemporary social semiotic investigation, which explores how signs make meaning within a specific social and historical context. British visual semiotician, Daniel cultural and historical 14 Warren Buckland, The Cognitive Semiotics of Film ( Cambridge, UK: C ambridge University Press, 2000) 5. 15 See Barthes, 1977 ; Chandler, 2014; Turner, 2006. 16 Roland Barthes, Image, Music, Text trans by Stephen Heath. (New York: Hill and Wang, 1977) 17.

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16 latent, connota 17 Since socio cultural and historical information is key to understanding the connotative meaning of images, my methodology will include a summarization of impactful historical events occurring in the recession years prior to the release of the films analyzed. These historical events inform and shape the narratives of the films as well as the connotations of the imagery they contain. In this regard, the work of Nystrom which aims 18 provide s a theoretical scaffolding for the analysis of class structure and representations in film. A summary of economic events contributing to the recession is also necessary, since my thesis question regarding the evolution of the representation of class in f ilm is tied to periods of economic recession and how those factors again c ontribute to film narrative and cultural perception s of class I will provide a basic economic overview of the commonly held attributes of the three recession periods, as there are c ountless books on the political and economic policies, most with a partisan spin, and this is not the focus of my analysis. However, it will be important to note what the publicly held assumptions are regarding the assignment of blame for the recessions, a s analysis will reveal that these notions influence film narratives of the times and how issues of class are addressed. Hence, t o find a historical and economic context, I suggest a hermeneutic reading of scenes from films released in the year following a major recession, as experienced from 17 memory.co.uk/daniel/Documents uary 19, 2015). 18 Nystrom, Hard Hats. 18.

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17 2007 2009 a period defined by the NBER 19 as the largest decline in gross domestic product (GDP) 20 since 1945. World War II era declines in GDP are 1973 1975 and 1957 1958. I will focus on the NBER analysis as they are the official arbiter of economic expansions and contractions with more than 1,300 economics and business Economic Analysis, which relies st rictly on quantified data. Respectively, these recessions are popularly characterized by varying factors: a subprime mortgage crisis/housing bubble collapse, rising oil prices under OPEC/stagflation and a decline in manufacturing/production. While censorsh ip has affected how class is represented in films it has also shifted significantly over the years. 21 In the late 1950s, during the first recession period investigated, the Production Code Administration (PCA) was still being enforced, although challenges t o it were just beginning to signal its end. By the mid 1970s, the PCA had given way to the Classification & Ratings Administration (CARA). The films of this period faced far less censorship in subject matter and imagery than what was faced by their predecessors, giving CARA still existed, contributing to the naturalization of ideology through image r einforcement. By sanctioning, and thereby providing authority to, certain images over others, the ideology of images are controlled without the opprobrium associated with the PCA. This has been compounded in the 21 st century with the reliance on internatio nal 19 http://www.nber.org/cycles/recessions.html (accessed February 7, 201 7 ). 20 states/gdp growth annual (accessed February 7, 201 7 ). 21 Francis G. Thomas Doherty. book review Film Quarterly Vol. 62 No. 4 (Summer 2009). 88 89.

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18 revenues, where a release in a market such as China will require changes made in compliance with their censorship codes. An overview of the film censorship practices in each time period will help place the imagery within the context of this shifting cu ltural framework. To examine class representations in film using social semiotics, a framework for social classes in American will need to be established. Sociologist Diana Kendall, author of Framing Class: Media Representation of Wealth and Poverty in Ame rica uses a social class model developed by Dennis Gilbert and Joseph A Kahl, the Gilbert divides the United States into six classes the upper class (or capitalist class), the upper middle class, the middle class, the working class, t he working poor and the poor and 22 This model provides an outline of economic class variables, essential to the concept of upward mobility in the American Dream. It additionally addresses oting how social class variables exist and provide obstacles to raising upward through the classes. As such, it also provides cues in their semiotic analysis of class identifiers. By using a hermeneutic/close reading of films we gain an understanding of h ow visual representations/symbols interpellate viewers, i.e. addressing and recruiting them into taking a particular position on an image that shape viewers as particular ideological subjects. 23 Viewers have the ability to agree, negotiate or reject the ima ges they see. However, to negotiate with an image, b y making meanin g of its message (semiotics) and deciding what portions to accept, reject or modify, requires visual literacy, a term first coined 22 Diana Kendall, Framing Class: Media Representation of Wealth and Poverty in America 2 nd ed ( Lanham, Boulder, New York, Toronto, Plymouth, UK: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2011) 14. 23 Marita Sturken and Lisa Cartwright, Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture 2 nd ed ( Ne w York: Oxford University Press, 2009) 446

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19 in 1969 by John Debes, co founder of the International Vis ual Literacy Association. 24 This ability to discriminate, and interpret visual images, especially in a society replete with visual enables people to create their o wn meaning and identities and to shape and transform the 25 Although there have been numerous works on the symptomatic meaning in film, i.e. the set of social values found in the underlying meanin g, 26 the majority of books and articles focus on representations of the middle and working classes or social class as it relates to specific genres and/or years. At this point, I have found no works positioned on the representation solely of the upper class in film, either in individual films or over a period of time. In the field of sociology, frame analysis, a di scourse analysis method that seeks to identify how an issue is defined and problematized is typically used to address questions of media represen tations of class. The most significant recent contrib ution in this field has been by Diana Kendall, a Baylor University professor of sociology. Her book, Framing Class: Media Representations of Wealth and Poverty in America as noted in reviews by Contempo rary Sociology, 27 Social Forces, 28 and The Journal of Mass Media Ethics, 29 clarifies and substantiates previous claims that media reify class based stereotypes. However, 24 Maria Accessed February 21, 2015 http://www.ivla.org/drupa l2/content/what visual literacy 0. 25 Jeff Share and Douglas Kellner Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education 26, (3): 2005. 369 386. 26 David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson. Film art: An Introduction 9 th ed (New York: McGraw Hill, 2010) 4 65 27 Laura 2 nd Contemporary Sociology, Vol. 35, No. 5. 2006. 492 493. 28 Stephanie nd Social Forces, Vol. 86, No. 3. 2008. 1347 1349. 29 Wendy nd ed Journal of Mass Media Eth ics, Vol. 21, No. 4. 2006. 359 371.

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20 her work on media focuses on print and television, excluding film, and lacks inclusion of the impact an economy has on visual narratives or images, an effect noted in other studies. 30 As class, specifically in film (when we eliminate the visually graphi c differences due to censorship) are always negative during economic recessionary periods, regardless of their underlying causes. Conclusion W orking in OppenheimerFunds 529 Educational Savings Plan department in 2008 and 2009 I experienced firsthand Amer recession. Every week, t housands of average Americans called our office s seeking explanations for their losses, their anger seemingly aggravated by the government ailout ( via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Ac t) of th ose perceived to be responsible. This bailout is the fracture point in the relationship between the classes to which Junod alludes. By understanding the perceptio ns and ideologies are constructed and how these constructions both reflect and influence the understanding of and relationships between classes culminating in their naturalization. Employing a semiotic reading of the powerful and influential visual medi um of film while accounting for socio historic and economic factors reveals the codes and conventions used to naturalize these culturally constructed perceptions. This revelation is important as it exemplifies visual literacy, uncovering the meaning of t he se visual images, w hich we use to create meaning in our society, and in doing so, lays bare the direction of the relationship between the one percent and the average American. 30 Moller Framing Class 1347 1349.

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21 CHAPTER I I AN ECONOMIC FRAMEWOR K Creating Frameworks 31 Judith Stein Framing is the process by which sense is made of events. 32 One of the first step s in employing a close reading of any film is to create a framework for making meaning of the visual images. Using a social semioti c framework, where an image, or sign, gains meaning through its sociohistorical context, helps us to make sense of social life because information and meaning is not transmitted to us but rather created by us. 33 History is primarily a written recording of t hose events that can be better termed as historiography (i.e. the writings of historians). 34 In this sense, the past is, like other learned systems such as language and signs, interpreted based upon inter textual readings using an epistemological, methodolo gical, ideological and practical foundation. 35 36 Jenkins perceives history as a means by which hegemony is reinforced via narratives that legitimate and illuminate domina te positions while 37 And without an understanding of tural identity has been formed. Likewise in 31 Judith Stein, Pivotal Decade: How the United States Traded Factories for Finance in the Seventies (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2010) 103. 32 Rebecca Ann Lind and Col Journal of Communication 52 (2002): 211 28 33 American Behavioral Scientist 33 (1989): 157. 34 Keith Jenkins, Re Thinking History (London, New York: Routledge Classics, 2003) 6 7. 35 Ibid., 12 20. 36 Ibid., 24. 37 Ibid, 22 23.

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22 38 Thus, with a social semiotic reading of film, in which reading signs accurately relies on creating a historical context, we are interpreting the signs used to construct class narratives through which we make meaning of the relationships between classes. people at a similar location in the class system think of themselves as a distinct group sharing 39 As Kendall used in her exploration of class in print media and television, for an exploration of class representations in model developed by D ennis Gilbert and Joseph A Kahl (the Gilbert Kahl model), which divides the American population into six classes the upper class (or capitalist class), the upper middle class, the middle class, the working class, the working poor and the poo r and homeless (or underclass). 40 Films, when analyzed with their sociohistorical context, are not direct reflections of reality due to filters created by industrial concerns regarding profit motives and censorship. Cinematic re presentations are constructed to re present the effects of ideologies of its culture as well as by way of the specific signifying practices of the 41 To make me aning of the representations of the upper class in post recessionary films, I will clarify the sociohistorical context contributing to those representations by focusing on two key elements. 38 Daniel Chandler, Semiotics: The Basics (London, New York: Routledge, 2007) 214. 39 Diana Kendall, Framing Class: Medi a Representation of Wealth and Poverty in America 2 nd ed (Lanham, Boulder, New York, Toronto, Plymouth, UK: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2011), 14. 40 Dennis Gilbert and Joseph A Kahl, The American Class Structure: A New Synthesis. (Homewood, IL: Dorse y, 1982) 41 Graeme Turner, Film as Social Practice IV (London and New York: Routledge, 2006), 129.

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23 First, I will analyze the economic factors of the recession s and how the American public perceived the m, and, most importantly, where the public assigned the blame for the recession. As Stein notes, sputtering economies lead to dissention on the fiscal and moral goals of capitalism leading to the escalation of class con flicts. 42 Essentially, recessions led to questioning the hegemonic power structure of class relationships and the myth of a classless society. When recessions occur, the people, policies or group s associated with its cause is where the light is shone and the critiques are directed. Second, I will analyze the film censorsh ip as influential factor s in the representations of class issues in film. Each decade carries with it a unique set of challenges, from the rise of television in the fifties to the emergence of the blockbuster in the seventies and the importance of foreign markets in the aughts. These two key elements, the state of the economy and of the film industry, will provide a framework for understandin g the dominant cultural ideologies the images seek reify and naturalize or the marginalized ideologies they seek to dispel. Understanding how these naturalizations of dominant ideologies can lead to inaccurate portrayals of class structures and identities, cultural self awareness, is the foundation of this investigation of cinematic class representations and relationships. As social critic bell hooks s with the wealthy because the media socialize us to believe that people in the upper classes are 43 In this first chapter, I highlight the political economy of the largest post 1950 recessionary periods. These periods, which include 1957 58, 1973 75, and 2007 09, are additionally 42 Stein, Pivotal Decade. 102 103 43 bell hooks [Gloria Watkins], Where We Stand: Class Matters New York: Routledge, 2000. 77.

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24 embedded liberalism to neoliberalism, and its influence in creating the most recent recession. H ow Americans viewed each recession is a product of the unique factors that led to the rece these frameworks for understanding the recession and its reception by the American public provides a context for understanding the representations of the upper class i n films from each period that will be discussed in this paper. "fa shion a new corporate economy that would avoid both the destructive disorder of unregulated capitalism and the threat to business autonomy posed by socialism." 44 This approach clashed with that of his fellow Republicans who, by the 1950s, were eager to elim public spending with a desire to control and grow the economy while avoiding, at al l costs, 45 work of social scientist Robert Dahl and Charles Lindblom, who argued that unfiltered forms of c apitalism and communism had failed. They suggested an amalgamation of political economic constraints and regulation that served to both restrain and led the way in economic and industrial strategy, focusing on full employment, economic growth, and the welf are of its 44 Andrew J. Dunar, America In T he Fifties (Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 2006), p. 102. 45 2017. http://millercenter.org/president/biography/eisenhower domestic affairs

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25 citizens. 46 of Europe and Asia, delivered high rates of economic growth duri ng the 1950s that extended into the following decade. As such, despite presiding over three recession s two minor periods from 1953 54 and 1960 61, and a more impactful one from 1957 58, his tenure was perceived as successful by the public. As the Miller C 47 However, numerous articles from the New York Times 48 and papers from economists, both during his administration and more recently, found faults in these policies. was misplaced, notin g: It is clear that monetary and fiscal policy must be directed toward maintaining a high rate of activity for the economy. Our problem is not so much inflation or busts as it is to sustain the boom inflationary pressures. B ut balanced against this is the fact that high productivity and greater total production in the economy are attainable only if the accelerator is made to behave and business confidence is maintained. 49 At the same time, The Conference of Economic Progress emphasis on inflation policy, stated: 46 Da vid Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberialism. (Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2007) 9 11. 47 2017. http://millercenter.org/president/biography /eisenhower domestic affairs 48 There is a laundry list of articles in the NYT critical of the relative inaction made regarding the recession as Bakers, former Economic Affairs special assistant. 49 Business Horizons Summer, 1958.

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26 We cannot admit that the American economy must choose between inflation ation, or a low rate of economic growth. It is unreasonable to fear that the vigorous programs needed to reverse the This fear comes with bad grace from those who, in their inef fectual efforts to stop inflation, deliberately risked or even induced a serious economic 50 Inflation in America, especially in the post World War II era, has lagged behind other countries due to government intervention and the ideology that r ising inflation itself runs counter to the consumer culture required of capitalism. I f the amount of money in the system outpaces the prices (and production) of goods and services, the dollar buys a smaller percentage of those goods and services. Quite sim buy with the same amount of money last year, and if you save that money, next year it will be worth even less. In time, this leads to a loss of consumer confidence, both in the reliability of the marketplace and the elected politicians entrusted to control the economy. As Berkowitz points out, in the post New Deal era the burden of ensuring a consistent, reliable economy fell not on business leaders, but on the president. 51 As such, Eisenhower and future presidents sought to maintain a sense of equilibrium, where inflation was not deemed harmful by the capitalist class, or where unemployment levels upset the rest of society. During World War I, from 1913 1919, the average inflation rate in America reached a peak of 9.8%; with the Great Depression in the 1930s, it fell to a historic low of 2.08%; and with World War II dominating the 1940s, inflation rebounded, reaching an average rate of 5.52% and a high of nearly 11% in 1942. With inflation averaging of 2.04% during 50 Conference on Eco Cause and Cure: In Perspective of Our Long Range 51 Berkowitz, Something Happened 53.

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27 found attention to inflation misplaced. 52 In 1957, the newly introduced Phillips Curve suggested that with low inflation, which was good for capitalism, came higher unemploy ment, which was bad for the middle to working class poor and, subsequently, for recessionary policies. In 2013, Princeton economists Blinder and Wa tson, using a modern, financial solvency and war that also contributed to recessionary economics: After the Truman prosperity, which was fueled by high spending on the Korean War, Eisenhower won the 1952 election, determined to end the war. He did so, and the sharp cutbacks in defense spending were t he main reason for the 1953 1954 recession. Later, even more (albeit milder) defense cutbacks contributed to a short but sharp recession in 1957 1958. So growth plummeted from the Truman years to the Eisenhower years and did so quickly. Defense spending se ems to have been a major reason. 53 President Eisenhower, although suffering a slip in job approval during the height of the recession, from a high of 70% down to 55%, ended his presidency with a 65% approval rating. 54 Despite some economic missteps, and an ill advised preoccupation with inflation that we will see repeated in the 1970s largest recession, Eisenhower benefitted from a growing consumer culture that, unlike the thrift practiced since the Great Depression, 52 InflationData.com April 1, 2014. Accessed February 3, 2017. h ttp://inflationdata.com/Inflation/Inflation_Rate/Long_Term_Inflation.asp 53 Alan S. Bl inder and Mark nvestigation. mimeo, 2013.15. 54 Frank Newport, David W. Moore, and Lydia Saad Long Term Gallup Poll Trends: A Portrait of American Public Opinion Through the Century Chart 1 Gallup.com Accessed February 3, 2017. http://www.gallup.com/poll/3400/longterm gallup poll trends portrait american public opinion.aspx

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28 embraced the culture of consensus and th e burgeoning consumer credit required to keep up perception of the recession that appeared at the close of the decade. Life magazine stated, 55 The 1950s witnessed prosperity of the masses as previ ously unknown in America, as the overall economy grew by 37%, consumer purchasing power by 30% and personal income by 45%. 56 The GI Bill had disbursed $14.5 billion to veterans for education and training by 1956, when it expired, but the Veterans Administra tion estimated the increase in Federal income taxes alone would pay for the cost of the bill several times over. By 1955, 4.3 million home loans had been granted, with a total face value of $33 billion. While veterans were responsible for buying 20 percent of all new homes built after the war, o verall homeownership growth, typically only 1 to 2 percentage points per decade, grew nearly 7%, a rate second only to the decade that had preceded it. 57 The results rippled through the rest of the economy; there woul d be no new depression just unparalleled prosperity for a generation. 58 As a result of the booming economic prosperity, and forms of entertainment that 55 David Halberstam, The Fifties (New York: Random House Publishing Group, 1993) 496. 56 2017. http://millercenter.org/president/biography/eisenhower domestic affairs 57 United States Census Bureau Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division Last Revised: October 31, 2011, Accessed February 4, 2017. https://www.census.gov/hhes/www/housing/census/historic/owner.html 58 National Archives Ourdocuments.gov Accessed February 4, 2017. https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=76

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29 a ffected nearly one in f ive: poverty. Middle class whites had moved from the cities to the suburbs, leaving behind the poor, minorities, and a deteriorating infrastructure. Funds were not appropriated to provide relief to the poor urbanites nor the depressed rural areas of the so uth, where much of the poverty was concentrated. 59 fifties television portrayed a wonderfully antiseptic world of idealized homes in an idealized, unflawed America. There were no economic crises, no class divisions or resentments, no ethnic cris 60 Dwight MacDonald noted that many Americans believed that poverty, as J.K. Galbraith re But the interesting thing about his pronouncement, aside from the fact that it is inaccurate, is that it was generally accepted as obvious. For a long time now, almost everybody has assumed that, because of legislation and more important the prosperity we have enjoyed since 1940, mass poverty no longer exists in this country. 61 However, the 1950s was not the nostalgically remembered, middle class utopia presented in film. It was a time of prosperity, but also a time of social turmoil, witnessing the birth of the civil rights movement and McCarthyism to labor strikes and the development of reces sion, but in the nearly 22.5% of the American population that lived in poverty by the end of the decade. While the poverty rate had declined during Eisenhower's presidency, nearly 40 million Americans lived below the poverty line by 1959. Although 16.5% of white 59 Amy K. Glasmeier, An Atlas of Poverty in America: One Nation, Pulling Apart, 1960 2003 (New York and London: Routledge, 2006) xiii. 60 David Halberstam, The Fifties (New York: Random House Publishing Group, 1993) 508. 61 NewYorker.com January 19, 1963 Accessed February 4, 2017. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1963/01/19/our invisible poor

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30 Americans and almost 55% of black Americans lived below the poverty line, much of the poverty was shielded from sight. Geographically 35% of all poverty was rural and another 15% was Metropolitan, or what we would now refer to as inner city. 62 As th e Miller Center who had lived through the Great Depression of the 1930s emphasized the economic security 63 economic policies, a focus on ri sing prosperity levels, and, as the Miller Center suggests, a belief that the economic insecurity of Eisenhower recession Blame for the sh ort lived, but sharp recession, the economic failings and inequalities of the period were not attributed to the elite classes. The blame for the recession was located prima rily in the inevitable post war production lag and the quickly righted economic poli cies of t he Eisenhower administration internal censorsh ip system and the culturally observed site of blame for the recession was influential in the depictions of class and class relati onships in popular post recessionary fi lms. It [the long post war boom] incorporated millions of working Americans into a home owning, college educated middle class. And it still had enough left over to lift millions of Americans out of desperate poverty and establish the social safety net for all citizens. By 1970, all that was fading into memory. The economic struggle of the postwar decade had centered around the problems of 62 Gla smeier, An Atlas of Poverty 1. 63 2017. http://millercenter.org/president/biography/eisenhower domestic affairs

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31 limits and diminishing expectations filled presidential addresses and dinner table conversations. 64 Bruce J. Schulman The Nixon administration marked the end of America's long period of post World War II prosperity and the onset of a period of high inflation and unemployment "s tagflation." rs, unemployment rose from 3.3 percent to 6 percent The average inflation rate rose from 4.2 percent to 5.7 percent, 65 its highest point since 1951 when Eisenhower targeted it as his administration s primary focus. Thes e results contradicted expectations determined by the Phillips Curve and signaled the first stage of failure for the embedded liberalism policies of Keynesian Economics. Nixon adopted a policy of monetary the growth of the money supply and rein in an overheating economy. As the Miller Center remarks, political concerns would play an overriding role in the economic decisions of Nixon's first term. Nixon, according to Haldeman's diary, repeatedly asked the chairman of his Council of Economic Advisers "to explain why we hadn't solved the inflation problem." The President also said "that he never heard of losing an election because of inflation, but lots were lost because unemployment or recession. Point is, h e's determined not to let the war on inflation get carried to the point that it will lose us House or Senate seats in November. 66 As proof that Nixon understood that the public placed the burden of the economy on the federal government, and President dire 67 64 Bruce J. Schulman, The Seventies: The Gr eat Shift in American Culture, Society, and Politics (Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, Perseus Boog Group, 2002) 7 8. 65 February 4, 2017. http://www.usin flationcalculator.com/inflation/historical inflation rates/ 66 http://millercenter.org/president/biography/nixon domestic affairs 67 Bruce J. Schulman, The S eventies. 25.

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32 ambitious and cunning policy agenda would poison American politics and fragment 68 Crude oil prices, a ma jor factor of the buoyant economy of the 1950s, hovered around the $25 per barrel mark for the duration of that decade. During this period, most of the oil Americans consumed was produced at home, however, by 1973 oil imports doubled from 1970 levels, 69 and more than a third of the oil consumed came from abroad. 70 In June of that hit a 26 year low, costing just $19.47 a barrel. These events combined with a cheaper dolla r, the U.S. government to end the remining controls on foreign investment. In doing so, y even gained 71 Economically, America looked to be entering another period of prosperity. Unfortunately, on October 20, 1973, Saudi Arabia and other Arab oil producing states joined general, Elliot Richardson, and his chief deputy, William Ruckelshaus, resigned in protest of scandal. Stein notes that many Ameri cans believed the oil crises was subterfuge created by 68 Schulman, The Seventies 24. 69 Edward D Berkowitz, Something Happened: A P olitical and Cultural Overview of the Seventies (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006) 64. 70 Common Dr eams October 17, 2013. Accessed February 5, 2017. https://www.commondreams.org/views/2013/10/17/what did 1973 oil embargo teach us 71 Judith Stein, Pivotal Decade: How the United States Traded Factories for Finance in the Seventies (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2010) 101 102.

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33 Americans blamed the oil crisis on the U.S. government (23 %) than on the Arab countries 72 In the oil sho ck that followed, crude oil prices more than doubled within two months to $52.44. thoug h a crucial climacteric had been reached and that the great streak that characterized the 73 By the end of 1974, the stock market had lost nearly half of its value. At the end of the first quarter of 1975, economic growth h ad declined by nearly 5% and by the second quarter, the annual unemployment rate, which had only exceeded 6% twice in the 25 years between 1949 and 1973, had reached 9.2%. 74 th 1974, the country turned to his replacement Gerald Ford to address the flailing economy. Initially Ford's economic team like the administrations of Nixon and Eisenhower, advised him to focus on the problem of inflation. N ixon had used wage a nd price controls in an unsuccessful attempt to curb in flation, however, Ford proposed a tax hike and asked for a reduction in federal spending the latter policy serving as reminder to how much economic conservatives had changed since the era of Eisenhower, who employed low taxes, balanced budgets and public spending projects In an effort to gain the support of the American public Ford launched the "WIN" (Whip Inflation Now) campaign. Of the twelve million buttons produced by the White House only 100,000 mpaign and critics accused him of ignoring unemployment for decreases in inflation. During his first four months in 72 Stein, Pivotal Decade, 102 73 Berkowitz, Something Happened 53. 74 Stein. Pivotal Decade 102.

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34 office, unemployment had grown from 5.4 percent to 6.5 percent and was soon expected to top 7 percent. By December with economic production continuing to fall as unemployment rose, Ford finally admitted the economy was in a recession 75 With his first S tate of the Union focusing on the struggling economy, Ford spoke directly ding t he money of Prices are too high, and sales are too slow The emphasis on our economic 76 Ford quickly moved on his speech to gain the support of the public. In his January 1975 proposal, Ford asked f or a tariff on imported oil, the end of price controls on domestic oil, and a new tax on domestic oil producers. His goal was to stimulate domestic oil production, which he believed would cause prices to drop in the long term as supply increased In an Om nibu s Energy bill, Ford accepted [the Democrats] 12 percent reduction in domestic oil prices in return for authority to end price controls on oil over a forty month period. By the end of 1976, an election year, the economy showed signs of recovery As Ni he never heard of losing an election because of inflation, but lots were lost because unemployment or recession. 77 important to the masses, addressing the issue of unemployment and rising costs, nemployment which had grown to 8.5 percent in 1975, receded to 7.7 percent in 1976, 78 and the consumer price index one 75 17. https://millercenter. org/president/ford/domestic affairs 76 Gerald R. Ford: "Address Before a Joint Session of the Congress Reporting on the State of the Union.," January 15, 1975. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. Accessed February 5, 2017. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=4938. 77 http://millercenter.org/president/biography/nixon domestic affairs 78 United States Department of Labor Accessed February 5, 2017. http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNU04000000?years_option=all_years& periods_option=specific_periods&periods=Annual+Data

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35 measure of the rate of inflation dipped from 9.1 percent in 1 975 to 5.8 percent in late 1976, 79 the Ame rican economy remained sluggish sinking Ford as both the public and Jimmy Carter connected him with the failed policies of the Nixon presidency. Unlike the previous recession in the late 1950s, whose representations we re mired in the moral obligations of the Production Code (and will be discussed at length in the next chapter), the mid 1970s recession was accompanied by social unrest that was depicted in the cinema. Social issues and cultural criticism became a staple o f 1970s films, a byproduct of censorship. However, similar to the previous recession, the public did not locate blame at the foot of the elite classes. In the wake of the numerous social and economic changes, including the Vietnam war, Watergate, the Nixon shock, and the Oil shock, Americans, in another example of the political economy mindset that had arisen after the Great Depression, found an abundance of reasons to blame the government and specific politicians for their economic woes. that Americans had for their political leaders. It was an accepted part of the post New Deal order that the president managed the economy so that it grew without wrenching changes in 80 The economic failures of the early to mid 1970s were seen as having less to do with the machinations of the capitalist class than with the collapse of our government by corrupt and inept officials at the highest levels. 79 University of Virginia, Mill 17. https://millercenter.org/president/ford/domestic affairs 80 Berkowitz, Something Happened 53.

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36 A Neoliberal Turn In August of 1971, two months prior to Lewis Nixon to the U.S. Supreme Court, what is now referred to as the Powell Memo was sent to system had long been under attack and called for action in its defense. It was the first salvo in what would become a neoliberal project to free capital from its embedded li beralism constraints, 81 which by the mid 82 The economic power of the capitalist class, the top 1 percent, fell drastically during the 1970s, as the share of assets held by the top 1 percent, which had approached fifty percent before the Great Depression, fell from 33 percent to 20 percent in the first half of the decade. 83 In response, Powell suggested a coordinated attack. Strength lies in organization, in careful long range planni ng and implementation, in consistency of action over an indefinite period of years, in the scale of financing available only through joint effort, and in the political power available only through the assault on th e enterprise system is broadly based and consistently pursued. It is gaining momentum and converts 84 universities, schools, the media, publishing, the courts in order to change how indivi 85 As Harvey points out, subsequent to the memo there were movements within the Over the next ten years the size of the American Chamber of Commerce grew over 400 81 Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism 11. 82 Ibid., 13. 83 Ibid., 16. 84 Reclaim Democra The Powell Memo (also known as the Powell Manifesto) Accessed February 5, 2017. http://reclaimdemocracy.org/powell_memo_lewis/ 85 Harvey, Neoliberalism 43.

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37 percent, and spent $900 million annually on political matters, which for 1979 would be the equivalent of almost $3.3 billion in 2016. When New York City required a bail out to remain to pay off bondholders first. What remained spiraled New York into a technical bankruptcy, crippling unions, freezing wages and reducing public employment and so cial services. 86 r people welfare. 87 Ultimately, the neoliberal state, 88 created in the ashes of the recession that began the 1970s, relies on monetarism as the basis of government policy. In elevating the solvency of financial institutions and the unassailability of money a s the primary objective of elected officials it has rendered the neoliberal state intolerable of any massive financial defaults. 89 narrowly defined cap italist class. They have also produced immense concentrations of process 90 The embedded liberalism policies that had restored America from the Great Depression and contri buted to building the middle class, fostering the promise of a meritocratic society, collapsed in the recession of the early 1970s giving way to a neoliberal monetarist policy that actively sought to return to the capitalist class the wealth distributed to 86 Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberialism 45. 87 Ibid., 45 47. 88 A Ne oliberal State seeks to disembed capital from social and political constrains, returning economic power to the upper class by financializing everything and placing corporate solvency above social and moral economy. It favors government by experts and elite s. (Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberialism 5 66) 89 Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberialism 72 73. 90 Ibid., 38.

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38 the middle class over the previous thirty years. This shift in economic power created income inequality in levels not seen since the Great Depression 91 and set the stage for the greatest recession since. Sinking Foundations meownership began in earnest during the post world War II years. Using their G.I. Bill home loans, veterans were responsible for buying 20 percent of all new homes built after the war 92 Homeownership before the war stood at 43.6 percent, jumping afterward to 55 percent. Despite large recessions in the 1950s, homeownership rose to 61.9 percent. This trend repeated in the 1970s, where despite the deep recession, homeownership during the decade increased from 62.9 percent to 64.4 percent. By 2000, 66.2% of Ame ricans owned a home. 93 Although the trend of rising homeownership continued, a disturbing trend was visible in the financial stability of those purchasing homes. In 2006, homeownership had risen to 69 percent, however, 52 percent of American households with income below the median were now a part of this group. The American dream of homeownership had been extended to those in for whom it had previously been out of reach: the working class and the bottom tier of the middle class. In his first term, President George Bush had undertaken several neoliberal measures, including tax cuts rationalized as being an economic job stimulus that would create jobs that instead served as a tax windfall for the wealthy, fueling, among other things, risky speculative ventures Lacking a corresponding reduction in government spending, previously 91 Inequality.org Accessed February 5, 2017 http://inequality.org/income inequality/ 92 Ourdocuments.gov Accessed February 4, 2017. https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=76 93 United States Census Bureau Census of

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39 acquired budget surplus disappeared as tax revenues declined and government spending soared under the burden of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Combined, his tax cuts of 2001 and duced federal revenue by an estimated $4 trillion over a period of ten years, 94 Despite this, from 2003 to 2007 the Dow Jones rose from just above 8,000 to over 14,000, wh ile unemployment dropped from 6.3 percent to 4.7 percent. 95 and spending seemed to be stimulating the economy, instead, the bottom was about to fall out. 2006 national housing values increased by an unpre cedented 106 96 With the collapse of this rapidly increasing value, which fell by 34 percent over the next six years, the American housing bubble triggered The Great Depression. As Essenburg states, the housing bubble collapse fell for numerous rea sons, including 97 liberalism constraints took a decisive turn in 1998, when the B anking Act of 1933 (Glass Steagall Act), which had been eroding since the 1960s, was gutted by the Federal Reserve. The act was designed to create a legal wall between the operations of commercial banking (personal), investment baking (corporate) and insur ance services. As Essenburg recounts, Smith Barney and Primerica (two investment banks) [was followed by] the 94 http://millercenter.org/president/biography/gwbush domestic affairs 95 Ibid. 96 Timothy Essenburg and Lindsey Hansen, The New Faces of Poverty: A Reference Guide to the Great Recession (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC CLIO, LLC, 2014) 39. 97 Ibid.

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40 Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, permitting over the counter (OTC) trades on some derivatives to go unregulated according to the Commodity Exchange Act of 1936. 98 This attack on the policies instituted after the Great Depression, instilled to prevent the exploitation of the stock market from corporate wealth and the capitalist class, paved the way to the collapse of the housing market, which had been tied to the stock market through the bundling of credit derivatives. While this has been well covered territory, especially in The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine and the film adaptation, The Big Short Wall Street investors (Hedge Funds, Insurance Companies, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, etc.), freed by neoliberal reductions in market regulations, began investing in low rated Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs) that were buried in Mortgage Backed Securities made up of pools of mortgages. Many of these mortgages, deemed subprime, had be en offered to households with income below the median. With mortgages available to the working class and the bottom tier of the middle class pumping up the number of homeowners and inflating house building demand and values, the stage was set for disaster. 99 Eventually, risk 100 When the housing market burst the stock market plummeted On September 2 9, 2007, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, fell 777.68 points in intra day trading, the largest point drop in any single day in history. On September 30, 2007, the Dow Jones closed at 6,594.44 on March 5, 2009. During the Great 98 Essenburg and Hansen, The New Faces of Poverty ., 42. 99 Ibid., 44 52. 100 Ibid., 52 53.

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41 Recession, 400 banks failed, unemployment rose by six percent (quicker than either of the two previous major recessions 101 ) and poverty grew by ten million people. By 2010, subprime mortgage delinquency was at 25.9 percent and foreclosures stood at 14.5 percent. 102 loss of $7 trillion. 103 In response to the sharp, quick and deep r ecession, President Bush signed two acts, The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 and t he Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) The former, often called the bailout of the U.S. financial system authorizing the United States Secretary of the Treas ury to spend up to $700 billion to purchase distressed assets, primarily mortgage backed securities, and supply cash directly to banks. 104 TARP authorized $700 billion of expenditures to stabilize banks, restart credit markets, support the U.S. auto industry of which a pproximately $46 billion was committed for programs to help struggling families avoid foreclosure, with these expenditures being made over time. With the vast bulk of the $1.4 trillion in funds directed at the financial solvency of corporations and the investors of the capitalist class, and some 5 million homes lost to foreclosure by 2011, 105 the fallout of the Great Recession has included a cultural examination of the neoliberal class war, class identity, and class relationships. For the first ti me since the Great 101 February 6, 2017. https://www.bls.gov/spotlight/2012/recession/ 102 Essenburg and Hansen, The New Faces of Poverty 3 5. 103 Ingrid Gould Ellen and Samuel D Recession Trends October 2012. 1. 104 Washingtimes .com September 28, 2008. Accessed February 6, 2017. http://www.washingtontimes .com/news/2008/sep/ 28/summary emergency economic stabilization act 2008/ 105 2011. Accessed February 6, 2017. http://www.nbcnews.com/id/42881365/ns/business p ersonal_finance/t/no end sight foreclosure quagmire/#.WNVkOjvDHb0

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42 Depression, and unlike the Eisenhower or Nixon era recessions, most Americans not only found their government lacking in taking the necessary economic actions, they also perceived the actions of the capitalist class as the primary source of the recession. Conclusion Over the course of three, distinctly formed recessions, I have sketched a framework of the political economy that subsequent economist laid out as their causes. Additionally, I rception of the recession and, in turn, its cultural consensus for the assignment of blame for their economic hardships. The purpose of the examination of the political economy of each recession and its respective cultural reception is to provide a context for the exegesis of the films from each era. Films are, in semiotic terms, an indexical thumbprint of their times. As noted previously, Volosinov states, 106 As films are a visible and tangible sign of t However, before we explore the representations of class in these post recessionary films, it is necessary to examine the film industry factors that also served to influence class representation. 106 Daniel Chandler, Semiotics: The Basics ( Lond on, New York: Routledge, 2007 ) 214.

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43 CHAPTER III GONE, NEVER TO RETURN Film Industry in the 195 0s authority and domesticity became new watchwords 107 Brian Neve For tune magazine suggested in 1956 that there were 16.6 million middle class Despite this, weekly film attendance plummeted in the decade following 1956, fr om 30 percent of the population down to the 10 percent where it lingered for the next thirty five years. 108 To establish the framework for understanding the state the film industry in the fifties there are numerous topics for discussion, from the decline of market. Additionally, the advent of the 40 hour work week liberated weekends for many Americans, allowing them to take advantage of their leisure time on activities other than the cinema from homem aking and sports to vacations. However, to create a cultural context of the state of the film industry in the fifties, which will allow for a more informed hermeneutic recessionary films, I will focus on four primary influ ences on the film industry in the fifities : The Paramount Case; the conjunction of suburban migration with the rise of television; The House Committee on Un American Activities (HUAC); and challenges to the Motion Picture Production Code and the Production Code Administration. 107 Brain Neve, HUAC, the Blacklist, and the Decline of Social Cinema in The Fifties: Transforming the Screen 1950 1959 (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 2003) 86. 108 Political Economy 2002, Vol. 11., Appendix Figure 1.

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44 Perhaps the greatest threat affecting the solvency of the major studios and the types of films produced during the fifties, resulted from the resolution of long term legal battles over vertical integration, the system whereby the stu dios operated as an oligopoly that controlled film from screenplay to exhibition. In 1918, Paramount Pictures acquired the Famous Players most popular stars. Emboldened by the ir star power, which equated to box office success at known stars, and a lower chance of profitability for the exhibitor, in order to acquire films with popular st ars, initiating a practice of block booking. By 1921, the Federal Trade Commission had begun to investigate these practices and the ensuing case, The Federal Trade Commission v. Famous Players Lasky Corporation, et al resulted in a cease and desist order for block booking to be issued on July 9, 1927. 109 The major studios appealed the order and continued the practice until the Supreme Court found Paramount and nine other members of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA) guilty of vi olating antitrust law. However, in the economic distress of the Great Depression, the ruling was never enforced, with President Franklin D. Roosevelt it was not in the best interests of the national economy or the public's mora le to hobble such a vital industry while it struggled financially. 110 U.S. v. Paramount. While Paramount was the primary defendant, the rest of the Big Five (Loew's 109 ment: The Age of The Silent Feature Picture, 1925 1928. (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1990) 69 72. 110 J. A. Aberdeen 6, 2017. http://w ww.cobbles.com/simpp_archive/ftc case_into.htm

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45 (MGM), Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, RKO Pictures) and Little Three (Universal Studios, Columbia Pictures, United Artists) were also named. The consent decree issued in 1940, the beginning of World War II in 1942, and an initial ruling in favor of the studios in 1945 impeded the dissolution of the block booking practice for several years. Ultimately, on May 4, 1948, the Supreme Court forced the studios to divest themselves of movie theater chains. 111 Howe ver, the actual process of divestiture continued throughout the fifties, culminating in 1959. 112 bility and 113 114 an equitable division of the markets, and favorable terms of competition between the Big Five and the Little Three. The dissolution of the pract ice was, as with all anti trust suits, intended to foster competition. The consent opened the market to independent film producers, who had formed the Society of Independent Motion Picture Producers (SIMPP) during the Paramount case. Walt Disney Production statement calling as far as independent motion 115 With the direct line between film production to exhibition gone, taking with it guaranteed ex hibition profits that could absorb losses in 111 1949, Part 6: The Supreme Cobblestone Entertainment. Accesses February 6, 2017. http://www.cobbles.com/simpp_archive/paramountcase_6supreme1948.htm 112 Murray Pomerance, American Cinema of the 1950s: Themes and Variations (New Brunswick, New Jersey, and London: Rutgers University Press, 2005) 8. 113 Peter Lev, The Fift ies: Transforming the Screen 1950 1959 (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 2003) 9. 114 Ibid. 115 1949, Part 6: The Supreme Court Verdict That Brought an End Cobblestone Entertainment. Accesses February 6, 2017. http://www.cobbles.com/simpp_archive /paramountcase_6supreme1948.htm

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46 production, the film industry became a significantly more precarious financial proposition at the precise moment that two new threats appeared: the suburbs and television. produced homes, the fifties was witness to a major shift in American culture: the Caucasian exodus from cities into the suburbs. Between 1950 and 1970, the suburban population grew from 35.1 to 75.6 million people (from 23.1 percent to 36.8 percent of the US population), 116 A s the American Dream shifted to embrace suburban living a new form of entertainment appeared to meet their needs: television. While movie admissions rose for a period during World War II, its 50 percent dro p from 1946 to 1956 is attributed, in part, by a shift in discretionary income spending. During the war, many commodities were under rationing entertainment business. 117 H owever, after the war, spending transitioned as returning soldiers married, had children, and moved to the suburbs. Television provided these burgeoning suburban families a form of entertainment perfectly situated to their new needs. Once a television was purchased, parents and children could stay home to be entertained, forgoing the expenses involved with a trip into the c ity to see a movie. T elevision 3.9 million households had televisions and in just five years that number was 30.7 million h ouseholds. That reflects an 87% increase in that short time span 118 The film industry felt 116 Eric Avila, Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight: Fear and Fantasy in Suburban Los Ange les (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 2004), 4. 117 Peter Lev, The Fifties. 7. 118 Political Economy 2002, Vol. 11. Appendix 3.

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47 which revealed that families with televisions in the h ome decreased their film going by 20 119 With film studios profitability and stability weakened by vertical disintegration and xamine what made for popular, and profitable, films. Fewer in number and more selective, 1950s audiences created a new quality films made within socially and aesthetically conservative parame 120 The parameters that constricted the exploration of social issues in 1950s films, including class relations and identity, were further constricted when the House Committee on Un American Activities (HUAC) begin to hold hearings on the political alle giance, and ideological lean ings, of Hollywood. As Lev obsereved 121 In October, 1947, HUAC, originally formed in 1938 to investigate alleged disloyalty and subversive activities o n the part of private citizens, public employees, and those organizations sus 122 began formal hearings on the question creenwriters, were charged with contempt of Congress when they cited the First Amendment in refusing to answer questions pertaining to their membership in the Communist Party. A subsequent meeting among studio producers and suspend or fire all others in their employment until they declared under oath they were not 119 Peter Lev, The Fifties. 9. 120 Ib id., 62. 121 Ibid. 122 The Gorge Washington University Accessed February 6, 2017. https://www2.gwu.edu/~erpapers/teachinger/glossary/huac.cfm

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48 communists. The statement served as the origin of a blacklist that would eventually grow to include over 300 names. 123 Additionally, the blacklist may have served as a way for studios to reduce costs (through firings and cuts in pay during blacklist enforcement from 1951 to 1953) during their own economic downturn, an industry wide recession driven by various even ts including the anti trust decisions and political regulations fueled by anti Semitism. 124 HUAC and the blacklist began to fade in the late fifties as lawsuits challenged the from blacklist ed writers continue d to be made 125 Although Neve suggests that the effects of the blacklist could be felt into the sixties during its enforcement in the fifties lives were destroyed and the climate of film production was heavily influenced, producing an era where 126 The effects of the blackl ist on films made during the fifties, as Lary moral threat and of big business 127 While HUAC and the blacklist undoubtedly influenced Hollywood and the changes in film themes, endings and social criticism, the primary influence on these representations extends back to 1934, when the studios finally granted the newly e stablished Production Code Administration (PCA) the power to enforce the 1930 adoption of the Motion Picture 123 Neve, HUAC, the Blacklist 65 70. 124 Ibid., 71 72. 125 Stephen J. Whitfield, The Culture of the Cold War (Baltimore, London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996) 124. 126 Ibid., 85 127 Brain Neve, HUAC, the Blacklist 73 74.

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49 Production Code. The Production Code (PC) ushered in an era of self imposed film censorship that continues to shape cinematic representations into the present day. The topic of censorship will prove fundamental to understanding the changes in representations of class across the three post recessionary eras being discussed and will be revisited to address the industrial influences of the s eventies and the aughts. I will establish the history of the moral and theoretical foundations of film censorship from 1930 to 1959, which indicates tendency to veer from censorship rules during e conomically challenging periods and highlights similarities between the censorship adverse pre code era of the thirties and the climate of the industry in the fifties In doing so I seek to connect the restrictions of representations of social issues, guided by film censorship, to the changing cultural contexts in America. The 1920s witnessed numerous scandals in the film industry, from the initial anti trust lawsuits (concluding with the Paramount Case in 1948) to the highly publicized, image nd the unsolved death of Director William Desmond Taylor. In 1924, as a response to social changes, scandals and religious pressure from the American Catholic Church, the MPPDA instituted cluding films that dealt with sex in an improper manner, emphasized violence or presented offending religious beliefs. 128 expanding to 25 the elements to be avoided, including 11 more i nstances of what may never be used. 129 If the studio deemed it necessary, films were modified after their production, prior 128 Will Hays and the MPPDA in the 1920s essed February 15, 2017. http://mppda.flinders.edu.au/history/ mppda history/will hays and the 1920s/ 129 Ibid

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50 to their release. While these were essentially adhered to, they were only advisory guidelines and carried no real threat of censorship from their administrative body, the Studio Relations Committee (SRC). In 1930, under the auspices of concerns about the effect of sound film on children, as noted in the Payne Fund studies and the work of Melvin DeFleur, 130 Jesuit priest Father Daniel A. Lord and Catholic layman Martin Quigley (influential as the editor of a prominent trade paper, the Motion Picture Herald) submit a new censorship code to William H. Hays, the President of the ing the of sex and violence in the pursuit of profits during the Great Depression. Doherty observes ral code is not even a joke 131 In the summer of 1934, the Catholic Legion of Decency (CLOD), who instituted their own ratings system for film and had obtained 2 million pledges (while aiming for half of their 20 million populat ion) towards a boycott of Hollywood films, escalated their pressure and calls for censorship. 132 For members of CLOD, viewing a 133 130 M. L. DeFleur, A Selective and Limited Influences Theory. In. Karen Bowers (Ed.), Mass Communications Theories: Explaining Origins, Processes, a nd Effects ( Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon, 2010). 140. From 1929 to 1932, the Payne Fund studies, developed by the Motion Picture Research Council, began research concerning the influence of movies on children. Louisiana State University professor Mel vin D eFleur, notes the researchers overwhelmingly concluded children were deeply influenced by the content of films and regular film attendees did poorly in school. The results, discredited now for sub par methodological standards, caused panic among the public 131 Ibid. 132 Time Magazine. Legion of Decency June 11, 1934. Freerepublic.com Accessed February 7, 2017. http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f religion/2146228/posts 133 The Sixt ies: 1960 1969

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51 Hollywood finally relented and Joseph I. Breen, th e former head of the SRC, which PC, was elevated to chief of the newly formed PCA. Unlike the toothless SRC, the PCA had one major advantage, the MPPDA agreed that no film would enter production or be offending the best organized groups, 134 It is key to note here this was not a ratings board, films either passed approval for exhibition to all ages or failed. Prior to its acceptance, film insisted that 'the motion picture is literally bound to the mental and mo ral 135 In the end, provoked the hostility of an increasingly insecure Protestant provincial middle class seeking to defend its cultural hegemony from the incursions of a modernist, met ropolitan culture th 136 Lord stated a concern for the effects of sound film on the moral development of children, his involvement in writing the code was about controlling film on a much larger scale. Lord and his col leagues shared a common objective with Protestant film reformers: They all wanted entertainment to emphasize that the church, the government, and the family were the cornerstones of an orderly society and that success and happiness resulted from respecting and working in this system. 137 134 Couvares Francis G. Hollywood : Joseph I Breen and the Production Code Administration by Thomas Doherty. Film Quarterly, Vol. 62, No. 4 (Summer 2009), 88. 135 Will Hays and the MPPDA in the 1920s http://mppda.flinders.edu.au/history/mppda history/will hays and the 1920s/ 136 Ibid. 137 Gregory Black, Hollywood Censored: The Production Code Administration and the Hollywood Film Industry, 1930 Film History Vol. 3, No. 3 (1989), 171

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52 Lord and Quigley sought to use the influential power of Hollywood films, censored race, sexuality, morality, and class in America. 138 as well as the reverence of institutions such as the government, religion, and pa triarchal structures in families and businesses. The PC consisted of two parts intended as moral guidelines for filmmaking. The first part, General Principles, lays out the moral and theoretical reasoning behind the need for censorship in film. The second part, Working Principles, provides the structure for the practical application of the morality previously outlined, including a delineation of what type of plots could be told and what visuals were, and were not, allowed to tell them. The core principal i ssue of class is thoroughly addressed in the final section of the General Principles. Of the eight sub sections regarding the moral obligations of film, six reference class that moti on 139 is unamb iguously situated to control the ideology represented in films that would be received by those in lower classes. Concerning these class fears, the PC states: C) Because of these two facts, it is difficult to produce films intended for only the cultivated and the rude, mature and immature, self restrained and inflammatory, young and old, la w respecting and criminal. Films, unlike books and music, can with difficulty be confined to certain selected groups. 140 138 Thomas Doherty, Pre Code Hollywood: Sex, Immorality, and Insurrection in American Cinema, 1930 1934 (New York: Columbia Press, 1999) Appendix 2, 362. 139 Ibid., 350. 140 Ibid., 35 0.

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53 The popularity of film, reaching into every corner of America from the well educated capitalist class to the uneducated working class; f rom the urban sophisticate to the rural 141 Lord and Quigley perceived the working class and rural dwellers as lacking the education and worldliness to differentiate film the General Principles of the PC, is censorship proffered for the moral good of the nation, 142 However, their implicit concern is that this lower class demographic, in proving more susceptible to the where individuals recognize themselves as subjects through ideology 143 will realize their true marginalized location in society. As 144 save th emselves, to project a single morality, with all films being suitable for all audiences. Additionally, it served to skew cinematic representations of American life towards reinforcing, rather than questioning, hegemonic ideologies. By the 1950s, adherence to the PC began to show the strains of an audience, industry and culture that was changing, affected by World War II, the Kinsey Reports on sexuality and even the popularization of psychoanalysis. With attendance rates declining, studios looked for ways t o entice audiences back into movie theaters, contesting much of the 141 Industry, 1930 Film History Vol. 3, No. 3 (1989), 171. 142 Doherty, Pre Code Hollywood. 361 362. 143 The Chicago School of Media Theory Accessed February 7, 2017. https://lucian.uchicago.edu/blogs/mediatheory/keywords/interpellation/ 144 Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments Ed. by Gunzelin Schmid Noerr, Trans. By Edmund Jep hcott. (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2002) 103 104

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54 Working Principles guidelines of the PC, from costuming to narrative content. 145 Robert Sklar explains, The tendency in motion picture production and exhibition had always been to get away w ith as much risqu and socially disreputable behavior as the vigilance of the censors would allow and economic necessity dictated. For nearly two decades after 1934, the Production Code Administration had maintained stringent control over Hollywood product ions, and rising box office figures through 1946 seemed to confirm that clean family entertainment was the road to prosperity. But as families found their clean entertainment on the TV screen, there was a natural impulse in the movie trade to revert to sho ck and titillation. 146 While suggesting the PC was solely responsible for the rising box office figures from 1934 tendency to veer from censorship rules during economica lly challenging periods, suggesting similarities between the censorship adverse pre code era from 1930 34 and the climate of the industry in the 1950s. reviews of the play The Moon is Blue T he subsequent script and film by Otto Preminger in 1953, which dealt primarily with the changing cultural notions and discussions of sexuality, was completed making no changes. Unsurprisingly rejected for a seal of approval by the PCA, Unit ed Artists released it anyway. After several other major films were released without the seal, the PCA announced in 1956 a revision to the PC relaxing restrictions regarding several controversial issues, from abortion to drug use and miscegenation. 147 Despi ssification system in the fall o f 1959, but took 145 Lev, The Fifties 89. 146 Robert Sklar, Movie Made America: A Cultural History of American Movies (New York: Random, 1994) 294. 147 Ibid., 89 93.

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55 148 The wavering enforcement of the PC by the end of the decade comes as no surprise, given the depth of the Eisenhower and the Korean War, and the challenges brought about by the Paramount Case, t elevision, HUAC, and the blacklists. As the PC faltered, this series of events paved the way for social issue films to re emerge in the late sixties and seventies, both as viable revenue streams and culturally acceptable narratives that were more explicit in their ideology. Film Industry in the 1970s 149 David A Cook Working from David A. C film industr y, Todd Berliner suggest that insecurity was the explanation behind the artistic changes in studio filmmaking affecting cinematic representations of social class issues during the era. 00 million during its industry wide recession from 1969 to 1971. 150 vertical integration and block booking with the 1948 Paramou nt Case. 151 The market 152 had minimized business considerations such as marketing potential and demographic appeal, leaving executives of the studio era unprepared for the changes that awaited them and u nable to predict films that 148 Sklar, Movie Made America 94. 149 David A. Cook Lost Illusions: American Cinema in the Shadows of Watergate and Vietnam, 1970 1979 Ed. 150 Todd Berliner, Hollywood Incoherent: Narration in Seventies Cinema (Austin: University of Texas Press 2010) 11 12. 151 Ibid., 12. 152 Cook, Lost Illusions 3.

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56 would perform successfully. Second, the twenty five year decline in film attendance, particularly in the period between 1956 and 1971 when weekly attendance fell by 62 percent. The decline was, in part, indicative of the changin g audience demographics, with the core parents 153 Further impacting audience figures, film became a mo re expensive form of entertainment, with ticket prices rising by 160 percent compared to a cost of living increase of 53.9 percent. Finally, unprepared for the necessity of marketing films to a fractured and changing audience, the late 1960s saw major stud returned surprising profits. The crises conditions created financial and artistic 154 These new opportunities, transitioning Hollywood from the Studio Era to New Hollywood (and later to the Blockbuster era), were carried out on two important fronts. The first was the financial tides of corporate mergers that carried with it a new focus on marketing and deal making. The second was the discontinuation of the Production Code and the emergence of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) film rating system, administered by the Classification & Ratings Administration (CARA). industry business model to be completely remade. Dominating Hollywood from 1927 1952, moguls led the studio system business model, typically owning a majority stake in the shares of the studios they ran. Moguls controlled production from start to finish using a group of stars and production staff (under exclusive contracts), with all profits being retained by the 153 Berliner, Hollywood Incoherent. 12. 154 Ibid., 13. (and) Cook, Lost Illusions 1 7.

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57 consumption by all audiences per the standards of the PC. 155 However, the end of assured profits from vertical integration, spiraling costs, and changing audience demographics created an uncertainty in this system that, combined with expensive flops, led to the emergence of conglomerate owned studios. The 1960s saw Universal, Paramount, United Artists, Warner Bros., and MGM purchased by larger, diversified cor recently downgraded share valuation and valuable real estate holdings, were good investments. These initial mergers had concluded by the end of the sixties, just before the emergence of the solvency of corporations above all other concerns. It is in this atmosphere that a new Hollywood emerged. Veteran leadership had been replaced by a mlange of agents, lawyers, bankers, and business executives who saw filmmaking primarily as an investment strategy, not unlike commodities tr ading, which combined the risks of high stakes speculation with virtually limitless potential for corporate tax sheltering. It was inevitable that this new perspective, together with the drastically escalating costs, would warp the shape of the industry an d change its attitudes towards its production in fundamental ways. 156 However, the new leaders of film studios, unlike the previous moguls, had little experience in filmmaking, and when debt and flops continued they sought help. As Hollywood entered its 196 9 71 recession, it s successful foray into defined by a new reliance on new filmmakers emerging from the film schools of Southern California and New York, and saw the industry briefly dip into a more European model of filmmaking domin ated by auteurs. The New Hollywood cinema, appearing from 1967 to the 155 Cook, Lost Illusions 1 7 156 Ibid., 3.

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58 end of the seventies, afforded unprecedented creative freedom to these new directors. 157 As effective talent to an industry embroiled in f 158 It has been a widely 159 (1980) proved a box office failure. 160 As the myth goe s, the film financially crippled United Artists and destroyed their reputation with their corporate owner, Transamerica which subsequently sold the studio to MGM. Steven Bach a former senior vice president and head of worldwide product ions for United Art ists studios, s uggests otherwise, indicating the film only half a point. 161 Bach observes t hat the actual culprit was the new studio culture that conflated malign ed studio system trained to make movies (and a) modern system that trains 162 With a similar analysis, Cook notes that this New Hollywood model effectively ended after the saturation marketing of Jaws proved successful 163 with merchandising, sequels and franchises surging in importance when considering a project. 157 Cook, Lost Illusions 3. 158 Ibid., 160. 159 Berliner, Hollywood Incoherent 1 3. 160 The Guardian.com July 2, 2016. Accessed February 8, 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/jul/03/michael cimino deer hunter heavens gate american film 161 Steven Bach. F Artists. (New York: New Market Press, 1999) 8. 162 Ibid. 163 Cook, Lost Illusions 7.

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59 Foremost among the new attitudes was the changes in how films were marketed. Aft er reeling from losses in the late sixties, the same studios under new corporate management experienced profits of $173 million from 1972 164 nt from the style of the past two decades, things changed dramatically in 1975. Universal (then Jaws (Steven Spielberg) by elevating a marketing tactic from exploitation/grindhouse fi lms known as saturation booking. Jaws fi, horror and where its main purpose was to 165 This became the standard procedure for blockbuster film releases and contributed greatly to a 400 percent increase in profits from the seventies ov er the sixties. 166 However, as I will cover in the next section, by the turn of century, this reliance on blockbusters, wide releases and national marketing campaigns caused film production costs iness structure. It must be mergers and conglomeration created the conditio ns for hegemonic market control in the 167 164 Cook, Lost Illusions .7. 165 Ibid. 166 Cook, Lost Illusions 3 167 Ibid.

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60 formation was dependent on the transformation of the production code into the format still in existence. As the audience for movies was increasingly narrowing to an age group in their late teens and early twenties, the entire Hollywood movie industry was confronted with the acute need to tread a thin line through a morass of claims and counter claims regarding w hat kind of standards and, hence, what kind of movies were best for society. 168 169 He revis ed the PC to include a Suggested for Mature Audiences (SMA) category, which was Blow Up (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1966) after it had previously been denied a seal of approval. 170 However, between 1966 and 1968, when the PC was in a period of stasis, several events amongst these events was the 1967 appointment by President Lyndon B. Johnson of a movies, television, and magazines. 171 Additionally, in early 1968, the United States Supreme lts 172 audiences ollywood was eage r to attract those 168 The Sixties: 1960 1969 169 Thomas Doherty, (N ew York: Columbia Press, 2007). 330. 170 Manaco, The Sixties 58. 171 Ibid., 62. 172 Ibid., 63.

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61 who wanted to see more adult materials onscreen and those who demanded respect for family audiences. As a result, Valenti needed a way to settle the growing cultural clash. The ultimate and definitive position taken up by Valenti o n behalf of the had found a method to accommodate the sexual revolution, a rapidly changing culture, and the shiftin g demographics of its audiences while appearing to act proactively toward what many citizens considered the larger interests of American society and the common good. 173 picture ratings system stratified sex and viol ence in films released in America. The system, altered minimally in the last fifty years, was an agreement between MPAA companies, enforced by the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO); it was industry policy, but not a state or federal law. All f ilms produced and/or distributed by the MPAA companies were to carry a minors unless accompanied by an 174 The new ratings system relaxed the censorship of the PC, although it did not entirely quell debates on film content. New Hollywood embraced the relaxed boundaries on social allowed producers to target these audiences in a way not previously p ossible. Al t hough a few films aimed at young people and embracing the late sixties counter culture were successful, such as Easy Rider (Dennis Hopper, 1969) and M*A*S*H (Robert Altman, 1970), these sion. unorthodox lifestyles proved disappointing at the box office. What did help 173 Manaco, The Sixties. 64 65. 174 Ibid., 65.

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62 The most successful were Fra The Godfather (1972); The Exorcist Jaws American Graffiti (1973), Star Wars (1977), and The Empire Strikes Back (1980). In addition, films by Brian DE Palma ( Obses sion 1976) and Martin Scorsese ( Taxi Driver 1976; Raging Bull 1980) attracted critical praise. 175 Few, if any, of these films would have received a seal of approval under the Production Code that existed for over thirty years. The explicit examinations o f American culture, from issues regarding politics, race, gender, sexuality and class, exist in the films of New Hollywood in large part to the discontinuation of the Production Code and the emergence of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) fil m rating system Film Industry in the 2000s cycles and reversals that blurred the lines between global, national, and local By the start of the 21 st struggles of the sixties and seventies. Their box office revenues rose steadily during the new 176 Despite vertica l disintegration, the end of the studio era, and the emergence of conglomerate ownership, studios that had been dominant since the thirties, excluding Dreamworks S.K.G. earned 95 percent of the box office. 177 However, blockbusters, which emerged in the seventies to pull the studios out of their recession, have since become the staple of the Hollywood film 175 David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson. Film Art: An Introduction (New York: McGraw Hill, 2010), 478. 176 Kay H. Hofmann, Co financing Hollywood Film Productions with Outside Investors: An Economic Analysis of Principal A gent Relationships in the U.S. M otion Picture Industry. (Wiesbaden, Germany: Springer Gabler, 2013), 31. 177 Ibid ., 24 Hofmann lists the following group as major studios of the aughts: Dreamworks S.K.G., MGM, Paramount, Sony/Columbia Tri Star, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal, Walt Disney, and Warner. Dreamworks was formed in 1994, excluding them from inclusion in the above statement.

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63 n average of around 40 178 With their immense production and marketing budgets yield ing only the occasional, stellar return on investment, conglomerate owned major studios turned to international financing practices to mitig ate the risk. Because of the major studios focus on blockbusters, the aughts witnessed two major shifts, which I suggest affected the representation of class in American films. First, the reliance upon budget augmentation through international financing has allowed Hollywood to continue making big budget blockbusters at a cost. To acquire these funds and ensure a pre selectin g only the most commercially promising ideas of an imported film due to differences in (narrative) style, relevance, cultural meaning and 179 This results in b ig budget, American films from major studios where cultu ral ideologies are avoided, viewed as possible distraction s to international audiences that could negatively the blockbuster has created a bifurca tion in the domestic market with two distinct segments the commercial mass market and the independent/art house (indie)market that differ in their respective content, marketing/release structures, and censorship. 180 revised system of censorship has itself become an indication of the bifurcated state of Hollywood, with assertions of two systems one for major studios and one for indies existing in ratings assigned by CARA. Combined, these shifts have, in large part, relegated 178 Hofmann, Co financing Holly wood 31. 179 Ibid., 18, 39. 180 Ibid., 17, 29, 33 34.

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64 soci al issue films to the inde film market, a market with vastly reduced access to funds in comparison to the major studios, resulting in reduced visibility in advertising and theaters. With the average negative costs of American film production in the sevent ies rising 181 Cook suggests that three deep structural alterations shaped the American film industry during the decade. First, profits from hit fil ms skyrocketed from hundreds of thousands to hundreds of millions of dollars. Second, film production numbers dropped off as studios shaped schedules around individual, potential blockbusters, which could produce large studio profits and raise stock prices for their conglomerate owners. Of the remainder of the schedule, 25 30 percent was expected to break even and the rest to fail. was effectively removed from th foreign tax shelters, television/video sales agreements and merchandising rights. 182 With backseat to the conc which are screened by the major studios are considered for production and the majority of those that are purchased are not necessarily of high artistic quality but are rather financi ally 183 By 2006, the average negative costs of films from major studios had risen to $65.8 actors/directors, which can account for up to half of the production costs, and expensiv e 181 Cook, Lost Illusions. 2 182 Ibid., 1 2 183 Hofmann, Co financing Hollywood 18.

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65 computer based technologies con tributed to the ever escalating costs in production. 184 In addition to rising production costs, the print and advertising (P&A) costs associated with modern marketing s tructures have escalated In the 20 year per iod beginning in 1986, when the average P&A was $5.44 million, these costs have compounded annual growth rate of 9.04 percent. 185 ial negative costs. In 2006, the average 186 In part, the cause for film releases coinciding with six maj or public holidays, particularly blockbusters, of which nearly 50 percent are released in a period between the 2 nd week in May to the 3 rd week in July. 187 In order to cut through the cannibalization of revenue caused by a glut of overlapping film releases ( 188 and differentiate a film in the mind of potential viewers, marketing costs have surged. Ultimately, the reliance upon costly event films, weighed down by above the line talent costs, computerized special effects, and the mas s marketing required to seek significant opening weekend numbers has created a major studio system that could no longer bear its own weight. Turning to foreign investors was not only a necessary move for Hollywood studios to defray its costs, it also provi ded access to foreign markets that are growing at rates faster than 184 Hofmann, Co financing Hollywood 18 20. 185 Ibid.,22. 186 Ibid., 21 187 Demand and Agglomeration of Supply on International Journal of Arts Management. Vol. 14, No. 2 (Winter 2012). 20 21. Holiday Day, Lab or Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. 188 Ibid., 21.

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66 the domestic one. Hofmann calculates that in 2010, foreign markets doubled the re venues earned domestically, asserting that Europe, the Middle East, and Africa account for 51 percent of total international revenues while the Asia Pacific region and in particular the Chinese market are the fastest growing territories with a percentage increase of 36.1 percent between the years 2005 and 2009. 189 In the nineties, film distributers could open major Hollywood films worldwide, using marketing campaigns virtually identical to the original American advertising. When this began to fail in the aughts, box office hits in America were repackaged with marketing campaigns tailored to local markets. Furth ermore, to cultivate these markets, major studios finance and co produce more international titles because projects that 190 However, in cultivating foreign markets, thi major studios. For example, as the Chinese film market became more successful, the government sought to address the ideological implications of massively popular Hollywood films. At the start of the aughts, the te n most successful Hollywood films released in China dominated the market, accounting for 70 percent of film revenue. By contrast, the remaining 30 percent was comprised of revenues from the top 100 Chinese films. This unprecedented popularity caused the Ch inese government to change their policies, determining that 191 fastest growing mark et has extended into production decisions made by major studios. As 189 Hofmann, Co financing Hollywood 38. 190 Ibid., 39. 191 Stratagies in its Engagement with Global Hollywood 19 94 Pacific Affairs Vol. 87. No. 1 (Mar. 2014). 100 101.

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67 cited in a Congressional report from the Joint Commissions and Temporary Committees, something that the Chinese would reject for social or political reasons. That is already a 192 Or, as stated more bluntly in The Washington Times, As profitability has increasingly become dependent on foreign viewers, studios have altered their movies to fit Chinese tastes. That means more action flicks and fewer dramas. More PG movies and fewer R rated ones. And a seemingly endless supply of superhero sequels. More sinisterly, it also means pro paganda and censorship agency, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT). Officially that means no reinterpretations of history (surely, the Chinese version of it). Unofficially, it also means no unfavorable depictions of China (e.g., the Chinese military) and limits on favorable depictions of Americans especially in relation to the Chinese. 193 In the past forty years, blockbusters have b profitability. Over that same timeframe, their costs have skyrocketed, both in production and marketing. With costs rising, studios turned to international financing and exhibition revenues to augment their bottom lines and those of their conglomerate owners. In pursuit of international profits, major studios served as gatekeepers, ensuring that cultural disconnect blockbusters ha ve pushed social issue films from the mainstream popularity they enjoyed in the New Hollywood of the late sixties and seventies. By the aughts, Hollywood had been divided into two distinct segments, separate and unequal: the commercial mass market and the independent/art house (indie)market. 192 Congressional Publications U.S. Congress. Joint Commissions and Temporary Committees. 2015. 9. 193 Richard Berm TheWashingtonTimes.com August 8, 2016. Accessed February 4, 2017. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/aug/8/how chinese censors are influencing american movie/

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68 As noted previously, by the year 2000 eight major studios received 95 percent of the North American box office revenues. These major studios were marked by their conglomerate ownership, access to abundant financing and their distribution/exhibition connections. 194 The remaining five percent comes from two other groups, mini majors and indies. The former group is often owned and controlled by a major studio while producing and distributing films under their own names. Hofm ann cites examples of New Line Cinema 195 The latter group is from the majors while still typically d ependent on their distribution networks. 196 The result of this tiered system is reflected in the three tiered way films are released in the American usually produced an d distributed by the major Hollywood studios and their affiliated mini 197 Hence, wide releases are typically reserved for movies with mass appeal produced by major studios and accompanied with national media campaigns; platform releases begin in a l imited number of theaters in large cities, can be expanded on the basis of popularity, and are accompanied by low budget, local media advertising campaigns; and limited releases, seen on a few screens in selected, major metropolitan cities, are used for fi lms which expect to garner limited audiences and revenues. 198 As a result of the major Hollywood studio tendency to avoid culturally specific social issues, which may negatively impact domestic and international revenues in big budget films, mini majors and independent 194 Hofmann, Co financing Hollywood 24. 195 Ibid., 25. 196 Ibid., 25 26. 197 Hofmann, Co financing Hollywood 30. 198 Ibid., 33 34.

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69 studios are where these films find production and distribution homes. However, as majors account for most of the wide releases, occupying thousands of screens across the country, and comprise 95 percent of the revenues, social issue films of th e aughts regarding race, gender, sexuality and class find themselves impacting a marginal portion of the American filmgoing audience. The plight of the social issue film in the aughts, as relegated to mini majors and indie studios, is compounded by censor new system, where submitting a movie for a rating is a voluntary decision, enforced only by the agreement of each member of the MPAA (consisting of the major studios) to have all its theatrically release d movies rated, initially allowed for the American New Wave movement and independent filmmaking to thrive. However, during his tenure, and that of his successor Chris Dodd, the ratings of films from studios versus that of independent film maker still carri 199 Filmmakers Trey Parker and Matt Stone provide a unique look at the struggles of their 2000 Paley Center interview, that in 199 7 they submitted their independently produced and joint independent and mini major distributed film, 200 Orgazmo (Trey Parker) to CARA forms of advertisement, the pair i rating. They were informed that providing them with this type of information would 199 Thomas Doherty, (New York: Columbia Press, 2007). 330. 200 The film was produced by several independent studios and distributed through October Films, majority owned by Universal in 1997.

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70 that needed to be removed. Two years later, in 1999, the pair submitted South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut (Trey Parker) to be rated. However, this film was produced and released under Warner Bros., one of the studios that provide funding for the MPAA and CARA. It too NC 201 This contradiction of terms exemplifies the discrepancies between the ratings systems appl ied to major studios versus their closely related mini majors and independent studios. Those at the top, providing fiscally and internationally friendly entertainment, are provided with access to the bulk of theaters in the U.S., one of the most profitable film centers in the world. Meanwhile, mini majors and independent filmmakers, whose work challenges the status quo and re presents the social issue of the day, find their messages and representations more heavily censored and their films relegated to smal ler release schedules limited to metropolitan venues. gravitation towards the fiscal rewards of blockbusters created the rel iance on international markets and the bifurcation of the dome stic market. Along the way, major studios have become representations of cultural issue, the very substance of films in the New Hollywood era that helped them thro ugh there great recession in 1969 71. Additionally, major studios, in cultivating international markets, specifically the fast rising Chinese market, have become wary of cultural discount, avoiding issues which may impact international revenues. As a 201 The Paley Center for Media, South Park YouTube video 3:24, pos for Media," February., 10 2017 https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=nDzblNKjsO0

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71 resul t, the representations of class that were hampered by censorship in the fifties and buoyed by financial insecurities in the seventies were denied to American audiences in favor of culling international revenues. Conclusion epresentations of class have been influenced by culturally informed and evolving censorship in addition to economic challenges that have re shaped its business structures in each successive decade. What began as a censorship code built on moral obligations restricting critical representations of cultural structures from the government to patriarchy, evolved into a ratings system. It was a system that, initially, stimulated creativity and financial solvency for the studios. However, by the turn of the centu ry, it had become a system favoring the conglomerate owned major studios, the same group that funded the ratings through the MPAA and CARA. At the same time, the fifties witnessed the end of the studio system with the end of vertical integration, the cha llenges of a crumbling censorship code and the growth of television. Struggling through its own recession, the seventies found Hollywood rebounding under a new ratings system with the freedom to target new audiences with culturally cognizant representation s of social issues. When New Hollywood discovered the financial windfall of the blockbuster, profits rose to peak levels. However, by the start of the 21 st century, the major studios had begun to struggle from the weight of producing, distributing, and mar keting their cash cows. In the subsequent turn to international markets social issues faced a new form of censorship. Major studios avoided narratives that, although culturally relevant in America, could derail profits abroad. As a result of this decades long process of censorship and search for financial solvency, issues in film regarding class, its

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7 2 representations, and identities have evolved over the decades, and despite a brief respite in the seventies, issues of class are rarely explicit in mainstream Hollywood films and, more often than not, must be extracted from a reading of the film through the lens of its cultural context. economic state, cultural reception, and the state of industry, prior to examining the representation of the upper class in film. In creating this context, I will now turn to the representations of the upper class in the post recessionary films from these three eras, asking if in fact there has been an evolution in those representations that can be said to be tied to the recessions that spurred their creation.

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73 CHAPTER IV AMBITION AND HARMLESS FOOLS Introduction The fifties were a decade of great social ferment as America witnessed among others, the beginnings of the civ il rights and feminist movements, the sexual revolution, rock and roll, and the emergence of television. The economic insecurity of the Great Depression was believed to be in the past, and despite several recessions, prosperity was be lieved to be the new course of America. Personal income and purchasing power were trending ever upwards as Americans became entrenched in a culture of consumerism. Sparkling new suburban homes, with new cars outside and a new television inside, became the status quo. Economic prosperity was barely closing poverty rate of nearly a quarter of all Americans. However, there were concerns voiced by economists and fiscally conserva tive politicians, as noted in chapter two. Given the complexity of the ideologies of the decade it is no surprise that Imitation of Life and Pillow Talk present both sympathetic and critical representations of the upper cl s film lavishes the extravagances of wealth in glorious Eastmancolor, putting it on display as an advertisement of glamour to be envied. However, as Berger notes, the display works on the level of anxiety that creates the desire to emulate. The o nly way to allev iate the anxiety of envy brought about by the need to emulate is through purchasing, and to be

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74 a consumer is to need money. Ultimately, mon ey becomes life. 202 As such, Imitation of Life works as a cautionary tale against the pursuit of wealth above concerns of family and love. As Americans grew comfortable with the idea of debt and credit, a threat to the American ideologies of love and family. At the same time, Pillow Talk manages to assuage the threat of a powerful upper class while revealing class tensions fools, made childish and petulant by their wealth. However, he also represents th e assumptio ns of power made from both classes incorporating scenes in which perceptions of class relationships are depicted from both sides of the equation. In comparing the two films, I uncover how popula r Hollywood films of the period sought to comment critically on the upper class while being restrained by the censorship of the production code. Imitation of Life : Ambitious but not Corrupt Imitation of Life ( Io L ) a top ten box office success with earnings of $6.4 mill ion on a $2 million budget, was indicative of the economic, political, and industrial times in which it was produced. John M. Stahl of the same name The differences in the two films are, in part, reflective of their 25 year gap and the changes in American culture and the authority of the production code that occurred over that time. Additionally, they are divided by script changes initiated by Sirk t hat changed the focus of the film, incorporating a melodramatic mode of storytelling that centered on 202 John Berger, Ways of Seeing ( London: Penguin Books, 1977), 42 43.

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75 issues of race and gender while allowing for a critical examination of American preoccupation with consumerism. While the 1934 film faced staunch challeng es to receive a seal of approval, the 1959 film received little notice from the PCA. Io L reflected the economy, its meritocracy, and its wealthy citizens. German born Sirk subtly and critically questioned this mindset, while adhering to the conventions of the era and the principles of the PC. Keeping in line with the cultural perceptions of class and industry norms, as established IoL is a film critical of the fifties consensus of consumerism, but is not critical of the upper class or their role in the steep recession America had just experienced. Despite having experienced a severe, albeit short, recession, the criticism and repr esentations of the capitalist class are neither explicit nor accusatory in IoL but they appear nonetheles s. Lora, a struggling actress and recent widow with a seven year old daughter, Jessie, hires Annie, a single African American woman with a light skinn ed success propels her, economically, into the upper class. However, in the pursuit of fame and nnection to their by his into a film that serves as a cautionary tale, highlighting th e dangers of prioritizing wealth over love and family. In the shadows of the elevated storylines of race and miscegenation,

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76 principals of moral obligations, justice and respect for institutions, such as marriage, was upheld. numerous battles with the PCA, particularly regarding its handling of race and miscegenation. The Association of Motion Picture Producers (AMPP) was reluctant to appr ove Universal's original script, concerned that T he main theme is founded upon the results of sex association between the white and black race (miscegenation), and as such, in our opinion, it not only violates the Production Code but is very dangerous from the standpoint both of industry and public policy. 203 Correspondence between AMPP director Joseph I. Breen and MPPDA president Will H. Hays indicate that one point the studio considered abandoning the project, and that two weeks into shooting Breen still had not approved the script, concerned that its racial 204 The 1959 film did not encounter such resistance, but still shows the influences of an aging code that forced more nuanced and implicit forms of social commentary. Sirk, for the most part, still abided by the dictated that social institutions be respect ed, widow Lora Meredith (Lana Turner) and her suiter, Steve Archer (John Gavin) are shown briefly kissing only after he proposes to her. However, Sirk plays with this convention as later in the film her next suiter, David Edwards enough to think a thirty something widow with a child and a fortyish year old man would 203 Leonard Maltin Classic Mov ie Guide Accessed February 10, 2017. http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/79028/Imitation of Life/notes.html 204 Leonard Maltin Classic Movie Guide Accessed February 10, 2017. http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/titl e/79028/Imitation of Life/notes.html

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77 spend eleven years in a chaste relationship. In further accordance with the PC, Lora mentions several tim es that marriage is not a thing to be entered lightly, ultimately marrying Steve in Throughout the film, Sirk comments on class issues, shielding them behind the timelier iss ues of class and gender. While it cannot be confirmed, it is not difficult to see the influence of HUAC in the decision to subjugate the issues of class to the more culturally prominent plotline of race. In the aftermath of the hearings and the blacklist, whose effects could still be felt, attacks on capitalism and consumerism could have been perceived as Marxists, communist, and Anti American. After having been questioned by the FBI over the d by a Congressional No Room for the Groom (1952), 205 Sirk continued with social criticism, albeit more carefully. It is not much of a stretch to say that Americans have difficulty with discussions of social issues regarding race, gender, sexu ality, labor, and class. Recent movements, from Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, et al suggest a disconnect between o and our nation as it exists in the constitution; between those oppressed b y institutional policies and those privileged enough to go unaffected. Although America ns have difficulty w ith a national dialogue ab out various social issues, directors, writers and producers have found a clever way to bypass intellectual obstructionism a nd insert the discussion into its narratives: melodrama. Linda Williams proposed that melodrama is not a genre but a mode of storytelling, and is pervasive in most 205 Bright Lights Winter 1977 78, p. 31

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78 Hollywood films. It is a way to bypass intellectual thought, using emotion to create empathy for unjust suffering of innocent characters who embody a specific social issue. Thus the basic vernacular of American moving pictures consists of a story that generates sympathy for a hero who is also a victim and that leads to a climax that permits the a udience, and usually other characters, to recognize that 206 In addition to reflecting the economic, political, and industrial times in which it was produced, t he 1959 production of Io L serves as an exemplary demonstration of melodram a. The film addresses issues of race, gender, and class emotionally, seeking to bypass the value is not placed in the socio economic ladder climbing of Lora, but in the throwback, Victorian like ascetic life of Annie ( Juanita Moore ). As such, the audience does not view Lora as an innocent victim who is suffering unjustly. Sirk provides numerous examples of considered just in light of her Io L ultimately places the following caveat: ambition may make you successful and wealthy, but true happiness is found only in love, marriage, and family. The plot of the 1959 version of Io L was significantly altered from the original book and the 1934 film version. Sirk and screenwriters Eleanore Griffin and Allan Scott felt the original book narrative would be difficult to accept due burgeoning civil rights movement, 207 a movement that had already witnessed the Brown v. Board of Education case Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and the 206 Melodrama: Genre, Style and Sensibility ed. by Nick Browne. (Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of Cal ifornia Press, 1998) 58. 207 SenseofCinema.com January 4, 1987. Accessed February 11, 2017. http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:RLfPEzXTUN8J:www.csus.edu/indiv/s/starkj/faculty/ coms142outsiders/filmsof50s/douglas sirkbio.pdf+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

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79 desegregation of Little Rock Central High School. The Hollyw ood Reporter suggested that the original p lot formula would not have stood up in today's era of integration when a Negro who owned half a successful corporation could buy her own home in any area that pleased her." 208 Additionally, Variety suggested that, While this device lends more scope, it also results in the over done busy actress neglected daughter conflict, and thus the secondary plot of a fair skinned Negress passing as white becomes the film's primary force." 209 Issues of race, gender and class were still present, but t he story was altered in a way that the commentary on the culture of socioeconomic class the fifties was able to hide in plain sight. daughter, Jessie, via d oor to door maple syrup sales. To help care for her family she hires an African American woman, Delilah, who has a light skinned daughter named Peola. Delilah is a master waffle maker, and together they open a restaurant that becomes an international succe ss, making Bea wealthy. Peola rejects her mother and her race, opting to pass for white lements, disposition, refuses. Peola ultimately embraces her African heritage and the love triangle is adjusted the narrative so that Lora (formerly Bea) becomes a Broadway /Film star with her own talents, with Annie (Delilah) assisting her b y serving as a nanny for Lora's child Susie 208 Turner Classic Leonard Maltin Classic Movie Guide Accessed February 10, 2017. http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/79029/Imitation of Life/notes.html 209 Ibid

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80 for white and the suffering she has inflected upon her mother. These changes to the story were not arbitrary. Instead they allowed Sirk to make two major adjustments in the spectators focus on the film. 210 Stephen Handzo suggests Sirk added two specific ou tcomes between the 1934 and 1959 films that change the nature of the class ideology being examined. First, he removes the working class world from the film, focusing less on the domestic role that middle class housewives in the audience might identify with instead $1million worth of jewelry and a $78,000 wardrobe with an average cost of $2,214.13 for each of her 34 costume changes. This is notable in a year in which the median income for a family was $5,417 and an income of over $25,000 placed your family in the top .07 percent. 211 Second, that Lora, as a thirtyish year old woman with a seven year old daughter, indulgen 212 Ultimately, this sets up the cautionary, second half of the movie, where money does not buy the happiness that can only be achieved in pursuing true love, marriage and family. In shifting the story from the working class world Sirk shifted the sense of melodrama in the film, of innocent, unjust suffering from Lora to Annie. In doing so, he 210 Bright Lights Film Journal June 18, 2014. Accessed February 11, 2017 http://brightlightsfilm.com/intimations lifelessness sirks ironic tearjerker imitation of life/#footnote_0_11985 211 United States Cens us Bureau U.S. Department of Commerce June 20, 1960 Series P 60, No. 34. Accessed February 12, 2017 https://www2.census.gov/prod2/ popscan/p60 034.pdf 212 Bright Lights Film Journal June 18, 2014. Accessed February 11, 2017 http://brightlightsfilm.com/intimations lifelessness sirks ironic tearjerker imitation of life/#footnote_0_11985

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81 makes the unjust suffering associated with racial issues facing Annie the primary inequality towards which the audience will feel empathy. In the second shift, Sirk allows issues of race result, Sirk, a self confessed loner who felt uncomfortable with the excess of Hollywood, 213 could critically comment on the consumer culture th at had skyrocketed in America during the fifties. As Fortune magazine suggested in 1956 214 The song and image that appears over the opening credits of Io L forewarning to the audience. The first shot, accompanied by a beautiful string arrangement, finds diamonds raining down the screen in slow motion. As Earl Grant begins to sing, the glass imi tations. As the screen fills with the costume jewels, the lyrics repeat the refrain that without love, everything is an imitation of life. In under two minutes, Sirk has told the audience that the pursuit of wealth can afford you expensive things but is de trimental to the pursuit of love, leading to an unworthy and false lifestyle. At the beginning of the film Lora appears to be an innocent, unjustly suffering character, the key figure in the melodramatic mode. She is a widow who lives in a cramped, albei t two years to save money to pursuit her dream of acting, but after five months is still struggling to 213 SenseofCinema.com January 4, 1987. Accessed February 11, 2017. http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:RLfPEzXTUN8J:www.csus.edu/indiv/s/starkj/faculty/ coms142outsiders/filmsof50s/douglassirkbio.pdf+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us 214 David Halberstam, The Fifties (New York: Random House Publishing Group, 1993) 496.

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82 find work. As Handzo noted, her age and daughter make her chosen occupatio somewhat impractical a nd self 215 However, the moment her suitor Steve proposes to her and audition. Steve orders her not to him and lack of ambition to achieve su ccess in photography, having recently chosen instead tells her to gr unjustly, but of her own accord at the hand of her ambition. This shift in perception, just as class in the film, setting up a critical commentary on the single minded pursuit of success and wealth as an unreal, and unmoral, goal. A montage forwards the story eleven years, where Lora has become a successful and something i she would do, she remarks that they could both spend more time with their daughters. The suggestion to the audience is that Lora has traded, for both herself and Annie, the last eleve n 215 Bright Lights Film Journal June 18, 2014. Accessed February 11, 2017 http://brightlightsfilm.com/intimations lifelessness sirks ironic tea rjerker imitation of life/#footnote_0_11985

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83 success, she has become an absentee mother, leaving Annie to take care of Susie (Sandra Dee) and leaving both daughters to feel a sense of abandonment by their mo thers. Her success has allowed Lora several luxuries. She has been able to send her daughter away to private school; buy a large upstate home, expensive furnishings, lavish clothes, and a horse for her daughter; and employ several servants to work with Ann ie. But what the audience Based on her confession to Annie, the audience momentarily believes Lora has turned a corner in her career (and class) ambitions. Then, in the very next sequence, she reverts to her pursuit of things over love and family. Sirk begins with a wide shot of a tony, upstate he robber barons in the .01 percent of economic class, Lora has achieved a position in the top one percent, the capitalist class of the Gilbert Kahl model. Cutting to the interior of the home, we see delivery men at work as Lora and Annie are decorating th e home. Annie perfect consumer response, reflecting the mentality of spen ding money to make money and 216 ritique of the upper class and the preoccupation 216 Peter Lev, The Fifties: Transforming the Screen 2003) 240 241.

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84 prosperity of the decade and the belief that the austerity of the post Depression era could be rep eated the theme that pursuit of money does not bring the happiness found in the pursuit of love and family. ing a movie, has asked Steve to believes is love. When Lora returns from filming, she announces to Susie that she has finally decided (after some twelve years) she loves St eve and will quit her career to be with him. The following day, Annie informs Lora that both of their daughters have developed problems confronts her daughter, she d iscovers Susie has applied to go to school in Denver, far away from a mother who would be too busy to notice her absence. To this, Lora replies, t that any mother could be proud of. everything but herself. Despite her earlier claims of love and ending her career for Steve, she offers to give him up rather than have h im come between her and her daughter. Susie calls her mother out on this, as several others have throughout the

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85 film, and tells her to stop acting. In this moment, it is Susie who understands the In the final sequence of the film, Annie succumbs to a long illness. In her death, the audience realizes while Lora was building a career that Annie had cared for others in her community and church. She leaves various gifts and money to several minor cha their old, cold water flat, who Annie had been sending yearly Christmas gifts to eulogy in a mas sive, crowded church. Then, in a wide shot of the procession, we see the streets filled with mourners and a band leading a horse drawn carriage with own for him to hold over his heart. When Sarah Jane ( Susan Kohner ) confesses to Lora that it was her hatred of her skin color that killed her mother, all Lora can do is console her. The film closes on the interior of a car in the funeral procession where L ora, along with Susie and Steve, accept Sara Jane into their newly formed family. 217 In IoL Sirk uses the melodramatic mode of storytelling to highlight the timely social issues of race and gender. This allowed him to insert a cautionary tale of the Americ and its trappings would come at the cost of the core institutions of love, marriage, and family. 217 Similarly Peter Lev concludes but notes that S irk, in his interview with Jon Halliday, suggested this was just a formality. (Lev, 240).

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86 Pillow Talk: The Rich Man as Harmless Fool Pillow Talk ( Michael Gordon 1959) w as one of two top ten grossing Some Like it Hot ) released in the year following Imitation of Life Pillow Talk commented critically on the cultural perceptions of class rela tionships in an obfuscated, secondary storyline. However, while Imitation of Life addressed representation of the upper class as it related to cultural perceptions of acquiring wealth, Pillow Talk addressed the tension between the upper class and the middl e and working classes. initially faced some push back from the PCA Pillow Talk also employed a long used Hollywood character, the wealthy fool, to observe the stra ined relationship between the classes while presenting the wealthy as harmless, if spoiled, children. In the end, both films reflect a fifties consumer culture that did not, in the aftermath of a major recession, perceive the capitalist class as an economi c and ideological threat to the American Dream. Pillow Talk is representative of the entirely innocuous comedy of the fifties, but for its era, the screenplay was filled with sexual innuendo and underlined a class rift in America. Int erior decorator Jan Morrow (Doris Day) and songwriter Brad Allen (Rock Hudson) each anonymously share a party phone line; one which Brad continuously ties up as he sings to his many girlfriends. When Jan, s to have him removed from the her as Rex Stetson before revealing his identity. Instead, just as they begin to fall in

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87 ir relationship. Brad ultimately wins her back by completely eradicating his playboy past, proving his love for her alone. Despite the seeming innocence of the film today, it was the sexual innuendo of the script that in 1959 was still a cause for concern under the PC. As noted in the Hollywood Reporter, the script had been in various stages of production, both as a film and a play, since 1942 T he original ti tle "displeased" the PCA and was changed to Any Way the Wind Blows before being reinstated two mont release. 218 Jan, using trick switch to lock the door, shut off the light s alike ouple, which was not 219 was changed in the final film and replaced with the revelation that Jan and Brad had married and were expecting a baby. 220 The film was also director Michae l Gordon's first since 1951, when he had been named a member of th e American Communist Party during two appearances before HUAC, but refused to identify other members I n 1958 he succumbed, becoming an informer and returning to filmmaking 221 In the face of hi s eight commentary on class relationships makes its brief appearance that much more powerful. 218 Leonard Maltin Classic Movie Guide Accessed February 12, 2017. http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/4363/Pillow Talk/ notes.html 219 Thomas Doherty. Pre Code Hollywood: Sex, Immorality, and Insurrection in American Cinema, 1930 1934 (New York: Columbia Press, 1999) Appendix 2, 364. 220 The Library of Congress Accessed February 13, 2017. https ://www.loc.gov/programs/static/national film preservation board/documents/pillow_talk.pdf 221 Spartacus educational.com Accessed February 13, 2017. http://spartacus educational.com/USAgordonM.htm

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88 222 serves to represent members of the capitalist class in a harmless, childlike, and often empathetic light. The Rink Arthur (1981) and Adam McKay The Other Guys (2010), which I will be discussing in chapter 5, wealthy fools have been used to por tray people whose wealth has rendered them childlike or buffoonish and, ultimately, harmless. In Pillow Talk Tony Walters (Nick Adams) and Jonathan Forbes (Tony Randall) represent the capitalist class in this manner. Tony is a young man who takes others f or granted and behaves like a perception of the middle class. Jonathan, his adult doppelgnger, is used by Gordon to represent not only the childish behavior of the uppe r class, but also the divisive relationship they have with the working class. his mother of fers his services to drive her home. In the next sequence, we see that cost $1,995 when new, r oughly the equivalent to half of the median income of a family in that year. 223 222 From Plato to Carl Jung to J oseph Campbell, one of the main archetypal characters is that of the Trickster or Fool. However, while the Trickster is typically clever and mischievous and the Fool has no idea what he's doing, with only has his cheerful disposition to protect him. See: D Psych Central April 13, 2015. Accessed February 13, 2017, https://blogs.psychcentral.com/hollywood therapy/2015/04/12 best character archetypes for film part 3/ 223 U.S. Department of Commerce June 20, 1960 Series P 60, No. 34. Accessed February 12, 2017, https://www2.census.gov/prod2/popscan/p60 034.pdf

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89 about a fertility goddess, which Jan had talke d her out of placing in her home in Committee, known as the "Committee of Ten led by Otto Dohrenwend alleged "Communist infiltration" in the public schools 224 After setting the foot tall, African per middle class, in his native fertility goddess. When Jan threatens to tell his mother, Tony, as the typical r his face before dissuades Tony after she agrees to have a drink with him before he takes her home. er resorts to getting a woman drunk, except in an emergency. And you, Ms. Morrow, are floor. In less than ten minutes on screen, Tony has represented the privileged, young adults of the upper class as spoiled children who treat those beneath their socioeconomic class as people who should cater to their whims, no matter how egregious. Despite this shameful representation, it does not present the capitalist class as having an ything to do with the economic struggles the country is experiencing, 224 oice is Among Bare, Rich or NYTimes.com April 8, 1952. Accessed February 15, 2017. http://www.nytimes.com/ 1952/04/08/archives/scarsdale hears red charge again school head tells citizens group.html

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90 struggles Jan hints at when she bemoans the downturn in people having large marginally critical of the upper class, revealing a sense of entitlement and disdain within its denizens. Ultimately, his representation is that of a stereotypical, wealthy version, Jonathan, to insert his more pointed social commentary. The audience is introduced to Jonathan as he surprises Jan with a new Mercedes, a gift for her on going work in decorating his new office. While Jan context, the car in question is a Mercedes Benz 300 SL Roadster, one of 1,858 built in 1959, retailing at $10,950, or $91,377.56 when accounting for inflation. Clearly Jonathan is a man with money to spend frivolo usly In his next scene, we discover that this present was in fact an attempt to woo Jan into marriage, despite her married three times, a notion he begs Jan to ignore, representation of the maturation of the wealthy fool. In later conversations with his old college pal, Brad, we discover that Jonathan is spending $200,000 to produce the musical for which Brad is writing songs. When Brad dismisses his request to hear some songs, as he is preparing to go out, Jonathan lost its value these days. With $200,000 my grandfather cornered the wheat market

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91 group. Millionaires. important the show is to him, that Brad has worked his way up as a songwriter, starting with nothing and maki ng a name for himself. Meanwhile, Jonathan complains at the tail end of a decade th at witness two other recessions, this type of type of humble brag suggests to the audience the degree to which the upper class is out of deals chiefly with s e x 225 and in his return debut f rom the blacklist, it is this very separation of class that Gordon addresses. Near the end of the film, Jonathan is driving a distraught Jan home after the to help her feel better. The well heeled pair are noticed by two robust, working class as the men at the counter, heads turned towards where Jan and Jonathan are sitting, have pic ked up their conversation without context. Hearing what appears to be a woman regretting a sexual tryst, the first man 225 Var iety.com December 31, 1958. Accessed February 15, 2017. http://variety.com/1958/film/reviews/pillow talk 2 1200419347/

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92 drives a big car, with all the optional extras, 226 two additional men and the waiter, along with th e men at the counter, are now all staring at the couple. Not realizing his surroundings, Jonathan decides to slap Jan across the face, sobs, is not visually impacted by the comical effect. However, the two men at the counter are shocked by his action. After a quick nod, implying they are both o f the same mind, they get up and walk towards and as Jonathan turns his head, he punches him in the face, knocking him out. In keeping with the comedic overtones used to dilut e the sequence and the emphasize the mocking representation of the upper class in Jonathan, comical music adjoins the scene the moment he gets hit, turning more farcical as he slides down the booth, disappearing from view under the table. By building up J the scene plays as comedy, rather than denoting the serious implications of a working class man punching out an upper class man in defense of a woman. Gordon has inserted into the film a critical c ommentary on a culturally perceived ideology of wealthy men, men who feel they can do anything to those below them 226 Again, for context, the car referred to is a 1959 Imperial Crown Southampton, which with a base price of $5,571 was more than the Am erican median yearly income in 1959

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93 been associated with members of the American Communist Par ty, and the very reason he had been blacklisted for the previous eight years. However, much like Imitation of Life Gordon succeeds in relaying his message by shielding it beneath the primary plot and the cinematic trope of the wealth y fool. That the PC was more concerned with the sexual innuendo of the title than a critical institution of class relationships, explicates how successful this tactic was.

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94 CHAPTER V THE OPAQUE HAND OF P OWER Introduction stripped from popular culture. The institutions that shape mass culture and define the parameters of public debate have avoide d class issues. In politics, in primary and secondary education, and in the mass media, formulating issues in terms of class is unacceptable, perhaps even un 227 Gregory Mantsios Films of the seventies, produced and received in a tumultuous era of political, social, and economic strife, re present the struggle in the decade to redefine the boundaries of many 75 recession, numerous films dealt with the issues of class dynamics in America. In the a ftermath of the largest recession in over twenty five years, the most popular, highest grossing films of 1976 saw the vast majority present narratives exploring the plight of the middle and working class. Characterizations of and critical commenta ries aimed directly at those of the upper class appeared less frequently, and none of the top twenty five grossing films of 1976 228 have a story centered on an upper class character. Instead I suggest that the seventies, in the examples of King Kong and Net work presents characters that represent the power of the upper class through the struggle of the liminal professional managerial class (PMC). As conceptualized by Barbara and John Ehrenreich, the PMC is a social grouping of o not own the means of production and whose major function in the social division of labor may be described broadly as the reproduction of capitalist 227 Privilege ed. Michael s. Kimmel and Abby L. Ferber (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2003), 34. 228 Engenu ous Software Accessed February 15, 2017. http://www.grossmoviepool.com/top box office/top_grossing_movies.cfm/Year 1976/

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95 229 As a social group, and not a specific class demarcation, the PMC straddles portions of the Gilbert Kahl class model. At the top end (lawyers, doctors, architects, corporate managers, business owners, some scientists) occupy a place within the upper middle class. At the other end (lower level managers, semiprofessionals journalists, PhDs in Humanities and some social science, e.g., Sociologists), find themselves in the middle class. 230 Situated between the working class and the upper class, this social group serves to Engineer, administer, and supervise the workplace as well as produce and sustain ideological superstructures such as the legal and educational systems, the mass media, and various state apparatuses which help ensure (in a highly mediated way) popular consent to capitalist relations of e is one of directing and controlling labor in order to benefit the interests of capital. Yet the PMC also often finds itself at odds with certain strains of anticapitalist tho ught and action. 231 This struggle within the PMC, simultaneously seeking to serve the upper class, control the working class and maintain or improve their socioeconomic position, inhabits the critical commentary of post recessionary class dynamics in John King Kong (1976). Ivy league primate paleontologist Jack Prescott (Jeff Bridges) stows away on an oil tanker under the direction of Petrox Oil Company executive Fred Wilson (Charles Grodin). Wilson believes that an island in the Indian Ocean h olds a reservoir of undiscovered oil, a entist, and a rescued starlet, D w a n (Jessica Lange), the 229 Between Labor and Capital ed. Pat Walker (Boston: South End, 1 979), 12. 230 Class: How the Rise and Fall of the Professional Alternet.org February 19, 2013. Acce ssed February 15, 2017. http://www.alternet.org/economy/barbara and john ehrenreich real story behind crash and burn americas managerial class?page=0%2C0 231 Derek Nystrom, Hard Hats, Rednecks, and Macho Men: Class in 1970s American Cinema (Oxford, New York : Oxford University Press, 2009), 10.

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96 group discovers the island is i nhabited by a primitive tribe that worships a giant ape known as Kong. When Wilson discovers the oil cannot be refined, he decides to capture Kong for use as a promotional gimmick to cover his mistakes and appease his superiors. I suggest that in the confl ict of Fred Wilson with Jack Prescott and those in the working class King Kong explores the strain on the PMC in interpreting and appeasing the demands of the capitalist class. King Kong : Exploitation and Domination Fred Wilson, as an executive of the P etrox Oil Company, occupies a career in the top end of the PMC social group. The film depicts Wilson as both fearful of his office superiors and eager to please them, wi lling to undertake arduous burdens to satisfy their needs in hopes of securing, and pos sibly improving, his socioeconomic position. In this representation, Randolp h). The captain occupies a place in the PMC as well, albeit closer to the lower end and with a decidedly blue collar disposition. The tanker pitches furiously as a storm rages, causing their plates to roll back and forth across the table. Ross taunts Wilso n, who looks sequence, it initially appears that Ross self identifies as blue collar, resenting the usurpation of power by the white collar oil executive. Wilso n rises from the table and leaves the room as Ross smirks, but returns seconds later, covered in rain from the storm outside. When Ross states they could avoid the storm if they backtracked, thus delaying the by several days, Wilson instructs him to stay o n target, flexing his managerial power. Ross appears to be won

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97 Wilson indicates his allegiance to the capitalist class over the middle and working class several times throughout the film. The first comes in a j oke made while presenting the crew with the true purpose of the voyage. He indicates that the images used to determine the personally got hold of the super classified pictu res via donation I made to someone in Washington D.C. No names, but I think he lives on Pennsylvania A a knowing way, as would the audience of the mid seventies, acknowledging the reference to the corruption of the office of preside subsequent pardon from Gerald Ford. Despite the laugh, the statement aligns Wilson with the upper class (associated with the president) and not the working class of the crew. I n a sequence that takes place in Wilson is shown clashing with his fellow PMC counterpart Jack Again, he is depicted as single minded in his servitude to Petrox, willing to put himself and those in his charge in danger to meet his goals and s atisfy his capitalist class bosses on the board. Wilson mockingly suggests that ivists enough to wipeout a unique, new species of animal. Fred, the kids would burn every Petrox responds only with a steely eyed gaze, and a swig from his scotch on the rocks, as Jack storms from the room. Occupying the lower end of the

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98 PMC (and firmly within the middle class), Jack is aligned more closely with the working class, and appears concerned about the state of the isl and, the natives, and even Kong himself. Near the end of the film, when Kong has been brought to New York, Jack quits him he signed a contract and took an advance, Jac your name to the SPCA 232 Wilson/Jack dynamic exemplifies the liminal state of the PMC, as Nystrom notes, capitalist class position by virtue of their domination of the working class, even as they are located in a working class position due to the fact that they do not own and control the means of production. Similarly, professionals can be said to be petty bourgeois in their control over their labor process, while also a part of the proletariat because they must sell their labor to capital. 233 A few sequences later the pressure of the capitalist class on the PMC, especially in times of economic crises, is reinforced. Wilson writes out a message to be radioed back to the home office. His geologist assistant, Roy Bagley (Rene Auberjonois), reads the carbon copy of the not for his risk taking, upon continually appeasing the desires of capital an d the capital class. This fear is reinforced during recessions, when economic instability threatens positions of socioeconomic class along most the class strata. 232 Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals 233 Nystrom, Hard Hats 10.

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99 During a break while searching for Dwan, Wilson demands that Carnahan (Ed Lauter) set seismic charges to map the island for oil deposits prior to resuming the rescue mission. When Jack becomes irate at the notion of interrupting the search, Wilson replies, ds transmission. Again, the clash between Wilson and Jack align along their p ositions in the PMC, with Wilson concerned about what he can provide the upper class and Jack concerned while Jack is concerned for the welfare of Dwan, he is less concerned about the danger might be, in the PMC. Shortly after this sequence, Roy informs Wilson that the oil pool results have come in, indicating it will be grea leverage to e rase capitalist control over him when he is cut off by Roy, who informs him it will be great, in 10,000 years. Wilson is momentarily crushed, his dreams of having a success that might propel him from the PMC into the capitalist class destroyed, and his pos ition in great commercial. Wilson quickly decides to capture the beast for just that purpose.

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100 Exxon crawling all over here. Not this one pal, Kong is all me and Petrox. A Fred S. Wilson t, Wilson refuses for something outside of the scope of his later, Wilson spies Boan (Julius Harris), a tanker crew member who informs Wilson that the other crewmembers are in fact already dead. Having sacrificed working class men in his role as capitalist class enforcer, and in keeping with Hollywood tropes, antagonist Wilson dies York City as Kon g breaks free of his chains and tears through the city in search of Dwan. capitalist class, the desire to fulfill the needs of capital above concerns for anything else, inc luding the lives of individuals in the socioeco nomic classes beneath them. His representation underlines the hegemonic ideology of neoliberalism, which seeks to fin ancialize everything and place corporate solvency above social and moral economy. 234 Wilson, a s a member of the PMC social group, exists solely to ensure the capitalist class are successful in their endeavors. Th e initial island encounter with the natives, which underscores both the 1933 and colonialism messages, bears mentioning i n the context of race as a part of the class representations of the film. Wilson is acting in a manner clearly analogous to that of 234 David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism (Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 5 45.

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101 the colonialist that exploited the natural resources of Africa, India, et al. He is willing to murder the indigenous tribe t o get their oil, a product he views as vastly more valuable globally than in the culture of the natives of the island. In abducting Kong, he believes he has acted as their savior, summoning religious connotations. Jack rebukes was the terror and the mystery of the lives, their magic. A year from now, that will be an island of burnt King Kong the actions of colonialist, serving the kings and queens of their country in exploiting and dominating another country, are de picted as analogous to the service provided by the members of the PMC, serving the capitalist class to exploit and dominate those in the middle and working class. It is also important to note that King Kong to conglo merate ownership and new modes of marketing. In an era when the business of film had transitioned from the studio system to that of conglomerate holdings subject to corporate mergers, lawsuits over character and distribution rights and production deals wer e common. Thus, in 1975, when Dino De Laurentiis decided to remake Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. King Kong forty years of legal rights came into question before production. De Laurentiis had purchased the rights to the rem ake for $200,000 from RKO 235 eenplay. When Universal Studios discovered De Laurentiis plans, the sued RKO, claiming they had a verbal agreement with them regarding the remake. In turn, RKO countersued Universal and De Laurentiis. Years later, in 1982, a Universal lawsuit against Ninte ndo over infringement rights in the Donkey 235 Ray Morton, King Kong: The His tory of a Movie Icon from Fay Wray to Peter Jackson (New York: Applause Theatre and Cinema Books, 2005), 150.

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102 Kong video game led to the determination that RKO owned the rights to the original film and periodical publishing rights, and Un iversal only owned the rights not covered by the other three. 236 The fourth most popular film of the year King Kong was released on December 17, 1976, earning three times its $23,000,000 budget, with domestic grosses of $52,614,445 and international grosses of $38,000,000. 237 Following the successful marketing format of Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975), King Kong was released in twice as many screens as the Spielberg hit, 974 as compared to 409, with a similar blanket of advertising. Unfortunately, King Kong however, King Kong had cost nearly 3 times as much to make. Screenwriter Lorenzo Semple Jr. felt from the start that the film was a doomed venture. The Universal lawsuit and a guar anteed Christmas release date had forced De Laurentiis to begin shooting before the production was fully prepared. Among the disasters, was a 40 foot mechanical ape that cost ong ended 238 King Kong Han nibal (Ridley Scott). 236 Mark Vaz, Living Dangerously: The Adventures of Merian C. Cooper, Creator of King Kong (New York City: Villard, 2005), 362 363, 389, 455 456. 237 Engenuous Software Accessed February 15, 2017. http://www.grossmoviepool.com/top box office/movie_data.cfm/King Kong/movie_id 3006/ 238 Starlog #75, October 1983. Accessed February 16, 2017. http://www.the007dossier.com/007dossier/post/2013/05/21/Lorenzo Semple Jr Starlog Interview Part 2

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103 Network : Creating Consent, Inculcating Implacability If King Kong presents an introduction to the dynamics of the PMC in establishing Network (1976) provides a master class in iden tifying those perceptions. Paddy Chayefsky voiced the middle and lower class worries associated with the social concerns of the day, acknowledging issues from Vietnam and Watergate to the recession and energy cr ises and members along the upper middle and middle classes continuum as they see k to satisfy the capitalist desires of the upper class and control the labor of the working class. Additionally, the film acknowledges and questions the power and function of the culture industry, controlling consumers via entertainment, 239 in a neoliberal s tate, representing the influence media wields and the threat of that influence when it disseminates corporate propaganda. This acknowledgement is connected to one of the themes in which the film excels: a critical commentary of television journalist and th eir liminal, PMC position in the culture industry, located between the audience and the capitalist elite (advertisers, corporations, and conglomerates) to whom they answer. Network revolves around the tale of Howard Beale, a newscaster for the languishing UBS network, who is fired for low ratings by his friend, Max Schumacher (William Holden), the president of the news division. Beale threatens to kill himself on air, and when Max allows him a follow up appearance to save his dignity, he instead rants abou t the bullshit of 239 Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments ed. Gunzelin Schmid No err, Trans. Edmund Jephcott. (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2002), 94 136.

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104 man. Ratings soar and Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway), the head of programming, and Frank Hackett (Robert Duvall), an executive at the company that recently purchased UBS, CCA Corp., use Beale to lift UBS out of the ratings cellar and th e financial red. Diana and Diana assert the only way to reclaim lost ratings is to be rid of Beale and she and Frank In Chayefsky storylines, and commentaries, far more than could b e covered fully in the confines of this paper. As such, I will focus on the PMC struggles represented in the dynamics of the relationship between Howard Beale (Peter Finch) and Arthur Jensen (Ned Beatty), where Beale articulates the rage of the American pe ople before Jensen, directly representing the representation of the PMC, much as in King Kong provides a context for understanding characters that represent th e power of the capitalist class. A force displayed in full form when he meets with Jensen. marking the its midpoint. Chayefsky builds up to this moment, carefully constru cting a man based upon his ratings and market share, Beale had been considered a success in his industry some six years prior to the events they are about to witn ess. In this brief set up, Beale is positioned as a sitting member of the PMC (occupying the lower end of the social group, much as Jack Prescott in King Kong), a position he is in danger of losing due to declining

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105 is to be fired, he finds himself free of the weight of 240 In his first onscreen newscast, Beale announces his retirement and his intention to commit suicide live 241 by th e PMC of interest in him is in regards to profit. He has been fired for low ratings, but his suicide would bump his number up, and provide something the network would be willing to promote. Later, sentation as someone casting off the restrictive demands of belonging to the PMC. Max, well aware of the requirements as the President of bullshit and it is, so in defiance of the role requirements of the PMC social group. Thanks to a surge in ratings after his outburst, Diana and Frank, each occupying management roles locating them in the higher end of the PMC (and bearing the weight of greater pressure from the capitalist class in terms of their responsibilities and expectations), 240 Nystrom, Hard Hats 10. 241 Debate on Classes ed. Erik Olin Wright (New York: Vers o, 1989), 303.

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106 decide to follow the audience numbers and put Beale back on the air. Their pursuit of ratings, King Kong reveals their subservient position bet ween labor and capital. As they do not own the means of production, they are but workers for the controlling voice of news to Beale, a voice reserved for members of the PMC. However, in their pursuit of numbers, Diana acknowledges that Beale is no longer sharing their PMC When Beale addresses America in his subsequent, network authorized newsc ast, he addresses Americans by sharing their voice, airing their fears and their grievances. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, 'Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel belted radials and I won't say anything. Just leave us All I know is that first you've got to get mad. You've got to say, 'I'm a HUMAN BEING, God damn it! My life has VALUE!' So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, 'I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE! s a voice, it frames that voice as part of a construction of consent emanating from the middle and working class. That they simply want their TV and steel belted radials implies a complicity in their acceptance of 242 243 During the recession and energy crisis of the early to mid seventies, the world of the middle and working class did 242 Harvey, A Brief History 38 243 Ibid., 39.

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107 admonishment for their complicity and an acknowledgement of the policies used in its new role as articulator of middle and working class rage, situated outside the PMC responsibilities to capital, becomes short lived when he inadvertently unmasks the neoliberal pursuits of UBS and CCA. Prior to this revelation, Beale, in his new role as th confides in his audience. He announces the death of the chairman of the board at UBS, passing because now CCA is now in And when the twelfth largest company in the world controls the most awesome God damned propaganda force in the whole godless world, who knows what shit will be peddled for truth on this network? informing the American pu elevision is not the truth. Television is a goddamned amusement park turn of also) inculcates 244 For Horkheimer and Adorno, the media is a tool for the manipulation of culture by the capitalists class, and through the management by the PMC, it serves only to prov 244 Horkheimer and Adorno, Dialectic 123.

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108 245 Under the control of CCA, the news at UBS has become indistinguishable from the illusion of television, everything is the same and nothing is real. That is, until Arthur Jensen, the representation of the upper class in the film, reveals to Beale what is the nature of realty. and thus UBS. The conglomerate, Westworld Funding Corporation, is a consortium of banks and insurance companies that represent a business front for the dealings of Saudi Arabia in purchases made in American property and corporations. In a country still wracked by the energy crisis and the actions of OPEC, this alignment provides an easy shortcut to the feel. He orders them to unite and send telegrams to the White House and President Ford requesting the CCA deal be stopped. In an impromptu meeting to determine the fallout of s with the Saudis, and they hold every pledge we got. We need that Saudi money bad. This show is working class has impacted the bottom line of the upper class a nd threatened their culture that provides the lone representation of the capitalist class in Network Mr. Jensen walks Beale from his office to the boardroom, tellin g him a story of his start as a salesman. That he has working class origins does not serve to diminish his position, but acts as a precursor to his sales pitch. Chayefsky, in an act of clever foreshadowing, has 245 Horkheimer and Adorno, Dialectic 135 136.

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109 Mr. Jensen introduce the boardroom as Valhall a, the majestic hall of the slain in Norse mythology. Beale himself is safe, however, his position as voice of the people is about to be destroyed. In a darkened room, standing opposite from where Beale is seated with a lengthy table stretched out between is rivete gears, addressing him in a more conventional tone. Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale? You get up on your little twenty one inch screen and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM, and ITT, and AT &T, and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today. What do you think the Russians talk about in their councils of state, Karl Marx? They get out their linear programming charts, statistical decision theories, minimax s olutions, and compute the price cost probabilities of their transactions and investments, just like we do. We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable byl aws of business. The world is a business, Mr. Beal Representing the ideologies of the upper class directly in his role as CEO, Mr. Jensen explicates the neoliberal policies, i.e., the financialization of everything at the expense of a social and moral e conomy. 246 In doing so, Network does not directly criticize the upper class for their hand in the events of Watergate, the Viet Nam war, the institutional policies of oppression that gave rise to the the energy crises or 246 Harvey, A Brief History 11, 33.

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110 e ven the recession. However, it forcefully reminds the spectators that in the minds of those in the capitalist class, the world is a business whose unifying ideology is the pursuit of money. osen him to Jensen steals voice spoke to him, tasking him with telling his television au American public. Instead, influenced directly by his encounter with upper class power, he is numbers and market share begin to slide. However, the film makes an unusual contradiction regarding the outcome for Howard believes that Beale i hear that it overrides the concerns of ratings. Diana and Frank feel otherwise, they see his

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111 numbers, which could potentially drag UBS back into the red. As members of the PMC, they decide to kill Howard Beale. Diana calmly notes that if members from anot her UBS show commit the assassination, it can be used as a ty in, which will boost their ratings. In essence, the members of the PMC, Diana and Frank, are so ensconced in their roles, so determined to pulation of the masses through entertainment (not through truth), that they are willing to disobey an order from their capitalist class superior. events of the era, from W atergate and the Viet Nam war to the recession. After a decade of cultural turmoil, which redefine d those in the PMC, 247 have gone rogue, wanting things to go back to how they used to be. Caught between the those who would send boys to war and the middle and working class families they come from; between those who would oppress women and minorities and those who would demand their rights; and between those who would ho ld America hostage at the gas pump and a culture dependent upon oil, the PMC has cracked under the pressure, and are now seeking only the status quo. Conclusion In this chapter I have examined the role of the PMC in revealing the power of the upper class in a pair of popular, American movies from 1976. The characters of Fred Wilson and Jack Prescott, in King Kong and Diana Christensen, Frank Hackett, and Howard Beale, in Network represent the various positions of the PMC, where the closer to the capitali st 247 Nystrom, Hard Hats 11

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112 class one becomes, the more pressure is exerted on you to control middle and working class laborers. For those with aspirations of joining the capitalist class, such as Frank Wilson, the pressure exceeds mere financial risks, with the lives of others be coming part of the PMC, a position only granted while working in support of the upper class, changeable at any time. Additionally, he represents the danger of the PMC empowering the middle and working classes rather than controlling them, leading ultimately to his demise. In Diana and Frank, the PMC is represented as fearful of the power in the capitalist class, but relishing the power they are afforded in their se rvice. A power which ultimately becomes their only concern. As with the films I discussed from 1959, these representatives of the popular films of 1976 are often critical of the wealthy. As depicted in these films, primarily through the PMC, the capitalist class is represented as single minded in their pursuit of wealth, regardless of the effect it may have on the moral and social economy of the middle and working classes. However, at no time are they directly critical of the capitalist class. The connectio n between the upper class and any direct responsibility for the institutional polices responsible for many

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113 CHAPTER VI WHAT WEALTH CAN DO F OR YOU Introduction 248 bell hooks Inception (2010) a The Other Guys (2010), I examine the implications of the Great Recession and the impact of the representations of American class relationships in popu lar films in the wake of a recession where, unlike those previously discussed, the upper class was culturally perceived as being the direct cause of the recession. Further, the capitalist class, particularly the individuals associated with Wall Street, wer e perceived as benefiting from the government at the larger Emergency Economic Stabiliz ation Act of 2008 and TARP, and an additional $16.1 trillion in nearly interest free loans between December 1, 2007 and July 21, 2010, 249 as Tom Junod 250 Fueled by this cultural context condemnation of the capitalist class lurks in the action of Inception and comedy of The Other Guys becoming both explicit and direct in the credits of the latter. 248 bell hooks, Art on My Mind (New York: The New Pre ss, 1995), 163. 249 Google Data from World Bank, Last Updated February 6, 2017. Accessed February 16, 2017. https://www.google.com/publicdata/explore?ds=d5bncppjof8f9 _&met_y=ny_gdp_mktp_cd&idim=country:USA&dl=en&hl=en &q=gdp+of+the+united+states 250 http://www.esquire.com/news politics/interviews/a11746/warren buffett 1211/

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114 Inception : Admiration and Fear of the Wealthy Following suit of the typical blockbuster f ilms released by major studios in the 21 st Inception was distributed domestically using a wide released in the peak of the summer schedule. It premiered nationwide on July 16, with a total of 3,792 screens, while simultaneously being released in 15 other countries, with 39 251 Produced on a budget of $160 million, 252 Inception grossed $292,576,195 million domestically (US and Canada) and another $532,956,569 in foreign markets, o r 35.4 percent domestically and 64.6 percent in foreign markets, placing it sixth among the top grossing (domestic) films of the year. 253 Boasting location shooting in Morocco, Paris, Tokyo, Alberta and London 254 with an international cast that included Japane largest foreign markets included China ($68.4 million), the UK ($56.5 million), France ($43.4 million) and Japan ($40.9 million). 255 Sharing its July release with only one other major hit, Despicable Me ( Pierre Coffin Chris Renaud ), Inception retained its number one ranking until the release of The Other Guys ( Adam McKay ) on August 6 th Similar to nine of the top ten domestic grossing films of the year ( Iron Man II ( Jon Favreau ) being the exception), it 251 IMDb.com Inc, n. d. Accessed February 16, 2017. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1375666/releaseinfo?ref_=tt_dt_dt 252 The marketing budget for the film was not made public, as is standard practice, but Hofmann suggests that f a motion picture can easily reach 50 percent of the See: Hofmann, Co Financing Hollywood 21. 253 BoxOfficeMojo.com Accessed February 16, 2017. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=main&id=inception.htm 254 "Inception (2010) Filming Locations http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1375666/locations?ref_=tt_dt_dt 255 BoxOff iceMojo.com Accessed February 16, 2017. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=intl&id=inception.htm

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115 followed the expected norm of blockbuster Hollywood films in the decade by finding the majority of its financial success not in America, but in other countries. As a blockbuster film created with international appeal in mind, it does not d irectly address the American Great Recession nor its attendant issues of class identity and relationships. However, despite not being set in America nor aimed solely at American audiences, its representations of wealth, specifically those connected with mo dern, international business elites, aligns with two American ideologies: the seemingly limitless power of the capitalist class and fears of an American aristocracy. These concepts are represented in two key figures, Saito (Ken Watanabe) and Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy). In the former, we see wealth imagined as a harmless, even beneficial, superpower. Analogous allows Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) to cull his worldwide team. The only hindrance they face is their own imagination, if they can think of it, Saito will provide. In the latter, Richard is the continue what his father started, the opportunit y exists to turn the company into a global creating an American Aristocracy 256 Inception, at its core, is a spy thriller set in the world of corporate espionage. The narrative splits along two storylines. In one, Cobb fights with his inner demons, having 256 The founding fathers message is more complicat ed than can be addressed in the confines of this paper. While they believed in the noblesse oblige, mer itocracy, and equal opportunity, they also believed these traits all came did not believe these positions of power should be handed down as a r ight, but earned based on individual merit. See, Robert E. Weir, Class in America [3 volumes]: An Encyclopedia (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2007). 276 278

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116 caused the death of his wife, Mal ( Marion Cotillard ). In the other, Saito is the driving force, implanting an idea (inception) into y standing between them and total energy pursuit to stop another, ev en more powerful billionaire. In Saito, Inception presents a character that should objectively be perceived as the Warner Bros. desire to release the film in China. The Chinese government has strict censorship guidelines, and simply h have been enough to keep Inception from being released in China. 257 somewhat nebulous, introduced only as a wealthy, Japanese businessman that Cobb, Arthur ( Joseph Gordon Levitt ) and Nash ( Lukas Haas shared dream technology. However, it turns out that Saito is aware of what Cobb is doing and is using the exercise to test his abilities. Due to his failure in retrieving information from Saito, Cob b and his crew are forced to go into hiding from the company that had employed them, Cobalt Engineering. As Cobb and Arthur prepare to leave via helicopter they are surprised as Saito and a disheveled and bloodied Nash are already onboard. Saito states tha t 257 For a list of nearly twenty movies blocked or changed for reasons from viole nce to the presence of ghosts, S ee: BuisnessInsider.com October14, 2016. Accessed February 17, 2017. http://www.businessinsider.com/hollywood movies in china 2016 10/#what movies got outright blocke d from release in china its a long list 20

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117 traitor, summoning one of his lackeys to hand Cobb a gun. Cobb refuses and Saito has Nash he replies, introduced as a character akin to a wealthy super villain, ruthless and manipulative. rly unimaginable, and he is a seemingly altruistic hero. Again, perhaps because of the Chinese release of the film, the idea of a non American, wealthy individual with limitless power is not depicted as Saito insinu possible for him to go home and see his children, something he has been unable to do as he is allows Cobb to clear a US immigration checkpoint. There is no explanation given, other than a foreigner with extreme wealth and power can bypass American legal statutes for an American citizen involved in a capital offense. His wealth is represented as a superpower, enabling him to do the unimaginable. In the wake of the Great Recession, this character is manipulating finances to cover their losses at the expense o f the masses. Americans had listened to news reports of the escapades of Jaime Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase 258 258 JP Morgan Chase, using hedge funds, bet against the toxic mortgages after the crash had started, making money by selling short on the financial catastrophe they had created. JP Morgan was fined $296.9 million, b ut

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118 and Bernie Madoff, the investment advisor and operator of a Ponzi scheme considered to be the largest financial fraud in U.S. history. But in d oing so, it does not present a critical view supplies the worlds ener gy. While this is perhaps the most incredulous act by Saito, it is not an isolated event. Tom Hardy ). After an extended foot isplay of wealth comes when Cobb and his crew struggle with a way to get access to Robert to implant commercial 747. The 747 is required because the first class cabin would be in the nose of the entire cabin and the first wealth as superpower has made all their real world problems disappear and their plans, received $25 billion in funds from the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. They essentially made a profit three times off of the same scam. See, Forbes.com July 14, 2015. Accessed February 16, 2017. https ://www.forbes.com/sites/mikecollins/2015/07/14/the big bank bailout/#6ee8eb62d83f Propublica.org Accessed February 16, 2017. and https://projects.propublica.org/bailout/list

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119 whatever they can think of, come true. His true motives are never questioned and he is represented as the altruistic champion of global energy. It is important to note that, as a contrast to the endless possibilities provided by massive wealth, Nolan interjects the reality of the less aff luent that connects with American audiences who were still reeling from the recession. Cobb and his crew, as the characters that the spectators are most easily able to identify with, are merely pawns in a war between billionaires. They do not represent the PMC in a position between capital and labor, but are rather highly skilled employees. While in Mombasa, Cobb, Eames and Saito visit the offices of Yusuf ( Dileep Rao ), a chemist of the drugs required to place people into the shared dream required for their mission. Needing a strong sedative for their purpose, Yusuf shows them proof of his wares, revealing a room in his basement where a dozen men come to share a dream for three to four hours the equivalent of forty hours to the dreamers daily. When Eames model from Cobb et al, thus, they cannot make their dreams come true in the real world. In few elites of the capitalist class, these modest men choose to escape into the dream. In contrast to the wealthy, represented in the film as those who can make every whim come true, the less fortunate can find solace only in fantasy. Unlike with Saito, In actively root against Robert. As the heir to wealth and power via control of the empire

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120 established by his father, he represents a concern well established in America: the creation of a powerful American Aristocracy through inheritance. Several voices prominent in the founding of this country, including John Adams, were vehemently against the creation of a permanent American Aristocracy created through inherited wealth. For this very reason, Amer means to redistribute wealth and collect revenue for the government. The modern estate tax as we know it today began with the Revenue Act of 1916, which created a tax on th e transfer of wealth from estate to beneficiaries. However, the estate tax is an anathema to the tenets of neoliberalism and has been waning since 1976, when it reached a high of 77 percent. 259 Working from John Adams political writings, Luke Mayville writes It is not surprising that Adams, upon close observation of European aristocracies, came to view the few as the principal threat to republics. In late eighteenth century Europe, the role of the nobility in society and politics faced heightened scrutiny a s noble status became increasingly associated with monetary wealth and as nobles were viewed as using their privileged access to government to multiply personal fortunes. 260 Americans, despite a list of founding fathers consisting primarily of the gentry cl ass, 261 are culturally wary of those who inherit rather than build fortunes for themselves. A powerful member of the capitalist class himself, Saito is nonetheless the American lexicon. After the market crash in 2008, the analogous power of 259 Darien B. Jacobsen, Brian G. Raub, Statistics of Income. SOI Bulletin Vol.27, Issue 1. 118 128. 260 Polity Vol. 47. Number 1 (January 2015). 9. 261 Weir, Class in America. 276.

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121 Maurice and his hei r, Robert, to those on Wall Street would connect with spectators, providing an additional, cultural reason to distrust and root against them. As such, should break up his fathe The plan that Eames designs to achieve this goal, where Robert awakens with the ideologies: 1) 2) I will create something for myself. 3) Robert stands to inherit a global energy empire, with the capability of becoming a su perpower, but there is no indication in the film that he is worthy of taking over what his father had built. Nolan introduces the father and son in a sequence reminiscent in mise en scne and blocking to the opening scene of The Godfather (Francis Ford Cop pola, 1972), creating a short hand way of indicating what may be perceived as a menacing form of wealth and power. In a darkened, wood paneled office filled with attorneys, illuminated only from the blinds and the amber light of wall sconces and table lamp godfather, Browning ( Tom Berenger ), is shown asserting his position of power. Browning walks across the office, opening two massive doo rs to an adjacent, larger room. On the right, Maurice lies in a hospital bed, attended to by a nurse. On the left, Robert stares through the blinds of the window. Browning approaches tentatively,

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122 between the men, unsure of the state of the room. He begins to ask Robert how his father is and Maurice, hearing a voice, stirs and lashes out, knocking a picture from a bedside table. Nolan cuts to a close up of the photograph as Robert picks it up, revealing an image of a young Robert with his father. Browning r toward his son was, based upon the last word Robert could deciph er from his dying father This disappointment in his own son serves two purposes in the film. First, it allows father, one proven to have been cold since at least when his mother died and his father showed no compassion towards his son. Second, it allows his father, but b ecause he tried to be. In the latter example, American concerns of wealth and inherited power, heightened by the recent recession, are represented. film, a blockbust er, spy thriller/action movie designed to appeal to international audiences, critically comments, albeit indirectly, upon American ideologies and fears of the wealth and powerful. The representations of the capitalist class, in the characters Saito and Rob ert, represent both the awe and reverence for the wealthy in addition to the fear of their power over the rest of society. The film serves as a reminder of concerns prevalent during the Great lle suggests, Adams believed that wealth is politically powerful in modern societies not merely because money buys influence, but also because citizens admire and

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123 even sympathize with the rich. He thought wealth is powerful in the same way that beauty is powerful it distinguishes its possessor and prompts reactions of approval and veneration. Citizens vote for and with the rich not because, as is often said, they hope to be rich one day, but because they esteem the rich and submit to their wishes. 262 The Ot her Guys : Tying it All Together The release of The Other Guys shared some similarities with Inception It too was produced by a major studio (Columbia), premiered on a wide release platform ( 3,651 theaters ), boasted major stars (Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlber g, Samuel L. The Other Guys ( TOG ), produced with a budget of $100 million, earned the bulk of its revenues domestical ly. With revenues in North America (U.S. and Canada) of $119,219,978 million versus $51,212,949 million abroad, its earnings ratio was almost the opposite of constituting an even 70/30 split. 263 TOG was unreleased in China, one of the key market s for assuring international profits. China also acts as an additional censor, determining what types of images can be shown and what ideological issues can be discussed by films distributed within its borders. 264 The lack of its success internationally, and its absence entirely from the Chinese market, stems, in part, from plot, which places the standard buddy cop action drama squarely in the world of the confusing financial crimes that elicited the Wall Street collapse in 2008 and fomented the Great R ecession. 262 w Polity 1. 263 BoxOfficeMojo.com Accessed February 16, 2017. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=main&id=ferrellwahlberg2010.htm 264 r Screen: How Chinese Censors Are Influencing American TheWashingtonTimes.com August 8, 2016. Accessed February 4, 2017. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/aug/8/how chinese censors are influencing american movie/

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124 The Other Guys representations of the upper class presents both the pressures of the capitalist class on the professional managerial class, as presented in King Kong and a variation of the wealthy fool character, as observed in Pillow Talk Addi tionally, it incorporates dynamics of more serious, genre deviant films of the seventies that Todd Berliner defines as genre breakers and genre benders. In doing so, the film works at a conscious level to set the spectators at ease, via their knowledge of genre conventions, while simultaneously seeking to create uncomfortable ambiguities 265 The plot of TOG follows two detectives, Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell), a transfer from forensic accou nting, and Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg), who had been groomed for a top post in homicide before accidently shooting Derek Jeter. Allen, working on a case of a landlord who has failed to obtain scaffolding permits, uncovers a massive financial cover up. Davi d Ershon (Steve Coogan), the landlord in unwilling to post any losses and instructs Ershon to recover the funds, telling him to replacement funds Ershon targets comes from the police themselves, curtesy of the milquetoast union treasurer, Bob Littleford (Michael Delany), wh o is searching for a Boardman continues as CEO of Lendl, and the company is bailed out of their losses by the government. 265 Berliner, Hollywood Inco herent. 90 99.

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125 Unlike the international revenue dependent In ception TOG is critical of both the American upper class and professional managerial class, depicting the ways in which members of the PMC served the interests of capital as they triggered the market crash. There are a pair of characters in TOG that, much like in King Kong represent the power of the upper class indirectly, reflrecting the socioeconomic Don Beaman (Andy Buckley). In his first appearance, he provides the detectives with use of force. Later, forced to turn over their investigation to the Se curities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) SEC who will be conducting the investigation. Beaman, attempting to appear between me and David Ershon. And if this were an actual investigation, I would immediately understand you guys are the best at these types of investigations. Outside o f Enron,

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126 the characters onscreen and the real world PMC members of the SEC, who, in their 266 failed to prevent a financial collapse that incited a recession. In cinematic atonement, he can tell the det until he can barely stand and force him onto his office window ledge where he eventually falls to his death. That this is played for comedic effect, details how critical the film is of those who profited from the recession at the expense of most Americans. The second representation is a made by a district attorney, who appears only once in the film. After Allen and Terry uncovered more substantial information on Radford ( Josef Sommer thing. When that happens, stop. Gentlemen, do we Captain Gene Mauch ( Michael Keaton appearance, McKay, as co screenwriter, establishes how a district attorney, a man of considerable power in the professional managerial class, is relegated to a servant 266 Nystrom, Hard Hats 10.

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127 enforcing the interests of the capitalist class. The scene registers with the spectator as a pointed, critical commentary of the power of the CEOs, hedge fund managers and investment bankers of Wall Street, individuals so powerful as to bend the law in their favor. s similar to the wealthy fool present in each Pillow Talk and Some Like it Hot Unlike Jonathan Forbes in the former, and Osgood Fielding III (Joe E. Brown) in the latter, who are both unaware of their foolishness, Ershon may be perc eived as a foolish investor, but his comical one liners and mannerism belie his true, manipulative capitalistic desires. Confronted in his office by Allen and Terry, he easily diverts them with gifts, first using courtside tickets to a Knicks game and then Broadway tickets to the Jersey Boys musical, which they later realize were intended as bribes. escap e. Initially, in a manner similar to the wealthy fools previously mentioned, he makes a lame attempt to dismiss the security team. Having taking a phone call from Ending the Roger Wesley (Ray Ershon announces lou dly to the crowd who has just heard him speak on the virtues of

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128 throng of people surro und them as Ershon slips away. representation of the capitalist class in the aftermath of the market collapse, comes from his speech to The Center for American Capitalism. Ershon vo ices his capitalist ideology, one that, while played for comedy, is virtually analogous with the tenets of neoliberalism and the prevailing beliefs on Wall Street. McKay begins the speech with a low up, the camera golden tones of the room and the soft halo of light on his head make him appear presidential. McKay reinforces the somberness of the moment, using a crane sho t to rise up, reveling the audience Ershon is addressing. Over this first shot, Ershon For the remainder of the speech McKay cuts from a medium shot of Ershon at the podium to an establishing long s hot providing the size of the room and the number of attendants, before returning to the original medium shot. The sequence is shot more like a political commercial than a comedy, lending an uncomfortable truthfulness comes more comical, it also becomes more critical of the underlining ideology that led to the market crash. The bit is supposed to be a joke, something no one would say in an actual speech, but filmed using iconic political imagery, the scene reminds us th at there are those who take these beliefs seriously. ator extra bacon. I myself have eighteen Lamborghinis, and a Subaru

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129 American way. Ershon is not the clueless, wealthy fool Jonathan represented in the fifties. th ree times on the same, ingenious fraud. First, with discounted mortgages turned into collapsed, and finally, on the government bailout paid for by American tax payers. While the c ontent of his speech seems laughable, the framing asks the spectator to consider the seriousness of his words, and the ideology that excess is the American way. In effect, the sequence is both a nod to the comedic expectations of the film and a distortion of them that feels unnerving. In dealing with the seriousness of these crimes and the ensuing market crash, McKay, as director, uses two modes of narration more common in the incoherent narratives of the seventies. Working in a popular milieu, but with ul terior, didactic motives, narrative falls somewhere between two categories that served as hallmarks of the seventies genre defiant films: genre breakers and genre benders. As defined by Todd consciously br oadcasts its violation of traditions, inviting audiences to join in the effort to expose, and usually mock, genre generic codes, misleading spectators into expecting a conventio 267 In 267 Berliner, Hollywood Incoherent. 90 91.

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130 268 TOG manages to blend the two categories. The fi lm opens with the over the top actions of Detectives Highsmith (Samuel L Jackson) and Danson (Dwayne Johnson), who blow up cars and bad guys with aplomb before plummeting to their death in the ultimate act of hubris: jumping off a building to chase after s uspects, convinced of their own invulnerability. Despite Terry being more handsome, Allen is portrayed a lady killer (and former pimp) whose wife, Dr. Sheila Gamble (Eva Medes) is beautiful. Likewise, Terry, the less intellectual of the pair, is portrayed as having learned both ballet and the harp. These jokes mock the stereotypical characters and motifs of the buddy cop film, commenting on earlier films in a way that allow the spectators, who are watching a $100 million, summer action comedy, the release a nd comfort of knowing laughter. However, the film defies some genre expectations and mirrors events occurring during the financial collapse of the recession. Terry, ill equipped to understand white collar crime on Wall Street, continually suggests the crim e is SEC where an employee didactically explain s to Terry (and the spectators) what the organization does. Terry, the cop more similar to those portrayed by Detectives Highsmith and Danson, cannot grasp the financial crimes. Like the spectators, and the American public, the disparate tendrils of financial crimes make little sense. At th e 268 Berliner, Hollywood Incoherent. 92, 97.

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131 Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds are used to bail out Lendl Global because like the banks in the 2008 crash, they were big As a buddy cop film, TOG wraps up the case onscreen, but As Kinkle and Toscano state, Th e Other Guys nearly links di rectly to the crisis at various points but never quite does so, except in superficial and obvious ways, always falling back on cop film convention Until, that is, the closing credits sequence. 269 The closing credits of TOG is, u nlike any portion of the other popular films that led to the Great Recession. It consists of ten infographics, accompanied by a establishmen activist music group Rage Against the Machine. The infographics are presented as follows: 1) How a Ponzi scheme works, informing the spectator that Charles er Bernie Madoff. 2) $700 billion in tarp funds equaled $2258 for every person in the U.S. 3) bonuses. 4) Goldman Sachs tax rate dropped from 34 percent in 2007 to 1 percent after the bailout. 5) Avera ge ratio of CEO to employee pay by year, rising from 8:1 in 1919, to 130:1 in 1997 and then to 319:1 by 2010. 6) Average executive pay in 1998 was $2.3 million, rising to $11.8 million by 2005. 7) How quickly Goldman Sachs stock prices rebounded after the crash compared to the average stock price. 8) NYPD max. retirement benefit equals $48,026 to the average CEO retirement benefits package of $83.6 million. 9) to $64,200 in 2009, a loss of 47 percent. 10) Ber nie Madoff will be eligible for parole in 2159. 269 Film Quarterly Vol. 65, No. 1 (Fall 2011), 47.

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132 According to P icture Mill Productions, the firm that produced the credits McKay envisioned the credits as precisely something tacked on to the end, a way of working his anger about the financial crisis and he theater with get in the way of the movie 270 Although not technically a genre bending, incoherent ending as defined by Berliner, the credits serve the film in the same manner. The spectators, manipulat ed by the genre conventions of a buddy cop comedy, arrive at the end of the film only to be confronted directly with what the film has worked to convey unconsciously: the capitalist class is to blame for the recession and they got away with it scot free. C onclusion In this chapter, I have explained how Inception even as a film mindful of its of the Great Recession. In presenting Saito as a superhero whose power is we alth, the reinforces positive stereotypes about the upper class. Simultaneously, in its disdain for the inherited wealth of Robert, the film plays on the very American fears of y into the Chinese market, the disparate representation could be contributed to changes made to appease the Chinese censors, who would have looked unfavorable on an Asian villain. As a film with revenues coming primarily from its domestic release, TOG make s no such capitulations. Indeed, the films narrative wavers in its narrative between the styles of the genre benders and breakers of the seventies, initially inviting the spectators to mock the standard Hollywood buddy cop action/comedy movie 270 Krinkle and To

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133 tropes before catching them off guard, making them confused and unnerved by what they see. The Other Guys takes the critical commentary of the upper class to a new level. Unlike any of the previous films analyzed in this paper, which have all been critical to a deg ree, TOG explicitly criticizes the capi talist class for a social issue, p roviding the spectators with animated information graphic s connecting them directly to the causes of the Great Recession.

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134 CHAPTER VII CONCLUSION : DOES AMERICA STILL LOVE THE ONE PERCENT? I began this thesis with an intriguing question posed by Tom Junod. In an article on billionaire investor Warren Buffet, he wondered if the culturally perceived cause of the Great Recession the actions of the capitalist class in fomenti ng the 2008 market crash had fundamentally changed the way most Americans relate to those in the one percent. Inspired, I felt this was a question which could be analyzed using film as a historical document, a document revealing the ideologies of class f rom the era in which it had been produced and distrust of the upper class, the evolution of these representations has been the result of a combination of economic, political, and industrial factors. In this paper, I explicate the evolution of the representation of the upper class in mainstream Hollywood film s by: (1) examining the factors of the political economy unique to each recession; (2) examining the film indu stry factors unique to each era; and (3) employing a hermeneutic reading and Pillow Talk and Imitation of Life King Kong and Network ; and Inception and The Other Guys to illuminate a complex interplay of economic and ind ustrial concerns that contribute to the formation of class identity. Towards this endeavor, chapters two and three sought to create a cultural context for understanding how these complex evolutions would affect the films produced, and account for their va riations in narrative structure and the cinematic depictions of social issues from their respective timeframes. Analyzing the political economy of these early recessions, I emphasized the attention directed towards managing inflation during the 50s and 70s highlighting the prioritization of those in government in balancing the equation for the sake

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135 of class relationships and their careers. During these early recessions politicians feared both surging and diving inflation rates, believing in the Phillips cu rve model that suggested an inverse correlation bet ween inflation and unemployment. If the rate grew to low, the middle and working classes were negatively impacted by the rising unemployment, which typically resulted in action taken at the ballot box to r emove them from power. Conversely, if the inflation rate was too high it impacted the capitalist class with increases in business costs, resulting in pressure from the upper class to address the rate or risk losing their financial support. As a result, Pre sidents Eisenhower and Nixon prioritized inflation controls, shaping the cultural consensus of the recession towards actions not directly associated with the capitalist class. However, this consensus shifted during the Great Recession, as the economic poli cy, influenced by nearly forty years of neoliberal ideology, favored the capitalist class over the middle and working classes. It is this evolution of economic policy that is on display the wealthy. the means of production, distribution and exhibition came to an end between 50s and the 70s. De valued during their industry wide slump in the 60s, the studio s were bought by conglomerate corporations. As Hollywood attempted to reverse their fortunes, turning to young directors to exploit new audiences, the change from the Production Code to a ratings system allowed for an exploration of social issues that had previously been restricted. The industry witnessed an explosion in films taking new, explicit risks in storytelling. With the introduction of the blockbuster in the mid 70s, corporate influenced Hollywood shifted towards films with large production costs, but the potential for massive profits. By the aughts, Hollywood studios could no longer depend on domestic revenues to offset the

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136 skyrocketing costs of blockbuster films. The emerging reliance on foreign markets created a new form of censorship, relegating the social issue films that had thrived in the 70s to the margins of Hollywood, produced by mini majors and independent studios with minimal release platforms. In chapters four, five, and six, I employed a hermeneutic reading of the films, using a social semiotic lens taking into account the shifting cultural perceptions and ideologies of upper class. Socio economic elevation was depicted as something obtaina ble in Imitation of Life but the film also served as a cautionary tale of the dangers of focusing solely on the accumulation of wealth. In Pillow Talk the wealthy are depicted as oblivious and generally harmless fools who occasionally need to be put in c heck by the middle and working classes. During the 70s representations of the upper class as leading or supporting characters in popular films was a rarity. As such, I emphasized the critical commentaries of the cinematic perceptions of the upper class thr ough their pressure on those in the professional managerial class, situated between capital and labor. King Kong and Network provided evidence of this pressure and the actions those in their service are willing to undertake to remain in their privileged po sition. In the latter, the desires of the capitalist class are explicitly stated through the depiction of CCA CEO Arthur Jensen although no direct corollary between these desires and the recession of the era were made. By the aughts, the freedom to explo re social issues that erupted in the 70s had evolved, However, rather than social issue films that explicitly admonish the wealthy for the collapse of the market and the ensuing recession, as might be expected considering the evolution of cultural freedoms in American society, both Inception and The Other Guys still

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137 practice in implicit admonishing. Inception question the power of wealth. Depending upon who welds it, it is shown as both something to be revered and feared. However, while The Other Guys updat es the notion of the wealthy fool, implicitly suggesting the role is but an act to attract financial investors, its end credits make a rare proclamation, explicitly admonishing the upper class for their direct role in causing the Great Recession. That this appears in the end credits rather than the narrative is endemic of changes in Hollywood seen in the previous decade. What I have uncovered that is surprising, and disappointing, is that in 2010, even after a massive recession in which the average joe and experts alike laid the cause of blame by Hollywood in popular film appeared in The Other Guys and even then, the explicit tive, but in its credits. Based upon those made by mini major and independent studios, it is disappointing to determine that American films explicitly addressing the so cial issues plaguing us today, from race to class, are being relegated to an ever dwindling market. Meanwhile, blockbuster, international films, revenues. Althoug wealthy has turned sour in the aftermath of the Great Recession, unlike previous recessions, my findings now ask additional questions. Good films are being made about these important is sues, but how many people will see them? As Hollywood becomes more dependent on blockbuster films, which are more reliant on international revenues, the question becomes,

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