Hollywood Stars

  • Exist not just in the films but in photos, public appearances, magazines.
  • From WWII on – Audiences keen to consume details of stars’ lives.
  • Hollywood seen as glamorous to British viewers
  • American stars epitomised ideology of consumerism.
  • Audiences did not want the ordinary but the unattainable.
  • Stars presented more mature, complete, confident self-images. Articulated through glamorous dress, hair, makeup and general physical appearance. Offered utopian fantasies and transcendence i.e. losing oneself, opportunity to escape for a while.


How is the spectator linked to the character?

  • Use of camera and editing to build an ‘I’ picture.
  • The way the character leads us through the story, encouraging sympathy and sharing of knowledge.
  • Important for gendered identities, in that media texts construct images of idealised self.
  • Use of mirrors in films to provide idealised or distorted or potential for destruction of images (The Phantom of the Opera / Talented Mr Ripley)

Cinematic identification fantasies

  • Devotion – viewers may say they have seen every film a star has made or a film e.g. Titanic, umpteen times
  • Adoration – fantasised romance.
  • Worship – goddesses!

Homoerotic bonds

  • Transcendence – escapism
  • Aspiration – fan wants to be like star.
  • Inspiration – stars offer audiences more powerful and confident images of self, we would like to have their confidence, strength, independence.

Extra-cinematic identification processes

  • Pretending – Dressing like them, role playing
  • Imitation – adopting gestures, speech patterns.
  • Resembling – selecting an element of physical appearance one has which is like the star’s e.g. eyes, legs…
  • Copying – hair or clothing – magazines often offer this possibility – remember Jennifer Anniston’s hair style?

Points worth noting:

  • Consumption is female by tradition!
  • Shopping encourages connection between desiring and having.
  • Cinema screens are shop windows – offer us endless opportunities to have the look , the life style, the gadgets etc. and merchandising extends this.
  • Product placement – Aston Martins, Minis, etc. all advertised within and in promotional material for the films.
  • Woman is a commodity too! Idealisation of femininity: thin, long legged, active, sexual being…


Did you find this information helpful?