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August 1994


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Patrick B Bjork <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 4 Aug 1994 23:08:42 -0500
text/plain (37 lines)
Thought I'd cross-post this (and more to come) thread(s) which more
or less parallel Screen-L's "dumbing down."
Patrick Bjork
Bismarck State College
[log in to unmask]
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 3 Aug 1994 06:14:11 -0500
From: Steven Mintz, U. Houston <[log in to unmask]>
To: Multiple recipients of list H-FILM <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: Audience manipulation in recent film
Sender: FilmGene <[log in to unmask]>
Patrick Bjork-
Glad to be on the spot, Patrick. The typical film of the 30's and the 40's
depended on being attractive not so much to a target audience, but to a large
heterogeneous audience. So, the romantic and screwball comedies of the era,
for instance, had elements that would please not only the lowest common
denominator, but also those who sought and appreciated more from a film.
Think of the work of Lubitsch, Von Sternberg, Sturges, Billy Wilder, for
instance. Imagine a film like "The Life of Emile Zola" being a popular hit
today (and winning the Oscar as Best film of the year!)
Subtlety and wit were acceptable in films and they did not scare away
audiences who did not get every nuance. There was plenty left over to satisfy
Of course, there were many, many films of a very low level and for every
Lubitsch there were 3 Stooges, but the point is there was a variety of
material in the mainstream for every level of taste. Filmmakers and,
especially, producers today fear that anything not understood by a ten-year
old is deliterious to the grosses. This is a tragedy and a fraud on the
public. We have allowed filmmakers to replace true ideas and emotion with
adrenalin. While there is room in films (and one might argue, plenty of room)
for sensation, why, oh why has sensation driven everything else out of sight?
Gene Stavis - School of Visual Arts - NYC