19 juillet 2010

Par Ailleurs, Hollywood est une industrie

Corporate Hollywood today: an introduction
by Chuck Kleinhans (Jump Cut, Jul 2010)
"It’s time to think about Hollywood as an industry. [..]

Mass communications methods had also developed, in which it was common to do large-scale institutional examination of complex systems, but usually with little or no concern for the aesthetic qualities of what was at hand. And within the field of mass communication studies, in the United States in particular, there were was a deep split between “administrative” and “critical” approaches. The former (dominant) model assumed that the function of studying mass communications was to help the existing (monopoly capitalist) system run better, while the latter direction took a much more skeptical view.

Personalities and politics also played a part. Some of the key founders of communication studies in the United States in the 30s and after WW2 sought to justify this new field within a traditional social science framework and gain research funds to support their work by stressing its usefulness. They pushed the administrative model, arguing that their work would help corporations and government build better media systems, in broadcasting in particular, as well as provide well-trained professionals to staff the system. In contrast, the more politically radical, critical approach argued that rather than servicing the existing system and offering only small adjustments, the whole system needed to be regarded as open to question. Critique was needed, especially in the United States, where broadcasting was a for-profit business and regulated only with an eye to maintaining the market, in contrast to European models of state operated public service broadcasting.

The critical side of media studies often employed an institutional analysis (usually framed as a political economy approach). The analysis here tended to be directed at large scale issues of information control: monopolies dominating communications, governmental and corporate control of information (from news to market data), and the shaping of public opinion. Issues of aesthetics, entertainment, audience and reception were ignored or simplified into slogans. At the same time, the critical school often found itself in a minority stance and was combative; it had little room for or reason to ally itself with radical cultural approaches developing elsewhere. In the past, particularly in film studies, different approaches often gathered into antagonistic camps. People interested in the art and craft of film thought they had little or nothing to learn from those doing institutional analysis. Others immersed in economic and industry studies found cultural discussions a distraction."
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André Malraux : "Par Ailleurs, le cinéma est une industrie."
in Esquisse d'une psychologie du cinéma (1945)

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