Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Star System

           The best form of promoting a film is attracting people to what they already know and enjoy. People don’t like change, they like consistency. When people find an actor or actress that they enjoy watching on the big screen, they often stick to watching them in all movies. When an actress or actor captures the hearts and imaginations of audiences, stardom prevails and stardom is the best Hollywood mechanism that can exist. Hollywood uses the stardom system to promote their films. When people are familiar with a star, they flock to see the film, typically without any information regarding the film. People just want to see their beloved star. The star system helped Hollywood grow extensively. Throughout the 1920’s through 1940’s, the overwhelming popularity of stars helped production companies sway their opinions on who to cast and what genres to cast the beloved stars in. Stars were the perfect, cost effective advertisements for their films. Stars made what Hollywood is today!
Even as Hollywood was just beginning to take off in the 1920s, so did people’s infatuation with the actor and actresses they were watching. Stardom existed early in Hollywood history. Even stars such as Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, and Rudolph Valentino were a big hit in the early 1920s. These stars were attracting audiences so quickly that studios were more concerned about who starred in their film than the film itself. Typically, the stars predicted the success of a film. Stars were also known for particular traits. Such as Judy Garland and Gene Kelly were known to sing and dance during their films. These type of actresses swayed studios to make more musical genre films. Studios conformed to whatever the genre their particular star was associated with in the early days of Hollywood. Warner Bros studio star Humphrey Bogart was associated with crime films. But as his stardom persisted and he developed a dedicated audience, Bogart changed audiences’ viewings from crime to gangster to detective only within a few years. This dedication of the audiences that people were not watching the film itself but people were watching him. Thus proving that the star system was a tangible way for studios to achieve success in their movies.
A good example a beloved star that changed history is Shirley Temple. Shirley Temple was a 20th Century Fox star that captured the hearts of all audiences. She was one the most popular child actresses of all time. She became the essence of superstardom – she could sing, dance, and act. She was an epic success to 20th Century Fox Studios. Fans adored her cheerful attitude and people were attracted to her innocence. Eventually 20th Century Fox sold millions of dollars worth of products that advertised her name. They sold dolls, records, clothing apparel, and more. She was the stable actress for 20th Century for many years in the 1930s. When MGM was casting Wizard of Oz, Fox refused to loan Shirley Temple out to the MGM studios. Shirley Temple was a tool for promotion to 20th Century Fox. She proved that the star system was tangible for studios of the early Hollywood age.
Beloved stars captured the hearts of the American people. Even modern Hollywood uses stars to sell tickets at the box office. People like consistency and familiarity. It’s a comfort that will always be in American film. Stars will always have an impact on the structure on the Hollywood studio system – stars are the essence and money of American film.

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