Communication and Culture | Hollywood l945-present
C292 | 1060 | Ritrosky

Today, we inhabit a culture in which movies, TV, music, literature,
and advertising form an increasingly integrated, pervasive media
environment.  Contemporary Hollywood movies are no longer considered
really successful unless they launch a consumer product line -
soundtrack albums, computer games and websites, amusement park rides,
clothing and other merchandising tie-ins, spin-offs and sequels - and
unless they perform in international markets as well as in the U.S.
Even filmmakers celebrated for their cinematic accomplishments move
across the various media, producing television programs, computer
games, and commercials.  In this environment, distinctions between
art, entertainment, and commerce that once appeared to be self-evident
have become hopelessly blurred.

How much has changed since the end of World War II, when Hollywood
movie studios were at their zenith reaching a huge percentage of the
American public?  Beginning in the postwar period and in subsequent
decades, Hollywood has changed in a variety of ways, and we will trace
economic, social, and creative changes.  For instance, movie studios
have diversified into related entertainment fields, such as television
production and theme parks.  The studios themselves have been absorbed
into transnational conglomerates that view film production as merely
one source in a worldwide stream of revenue.  New distribution
technologies - first television and then cable, satellites, home
video, the Internet - have turned the home into Hollywood¹s most
lucrative exhibition market.  Perceptions of the audience and our
society have changed, influencing the types of films that get made.

So, this course will examine Hollywood¹s changing role as a site of
cultural production.  We will look at the rise of television, the
changing nature of the blockbuster, media/marketing tie-ins, the
status of independent movies, the continuing challenges faced by men
of color and all women working in Hollywood, the impact of new
technologies, Hollywood in international venues, and associated
changes in Hollywood's narrative strategies, formal styles, stars,
genres, and target audiences.  (The course includes a weekly evening
screening session.)