Stars, Fans, and Consumption in the 1950s: Reading Photoplay (Paperback)Sumiko Higashi (author)
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As the leading fan magazine in the postwar era, Photoplay constructed female stars as social types who embodied a romantic and leisured California lifestyle. Addressing working- and lower-middle-class readers who were prospering in the first mass consumption society, the magazine published not only publicity stories but also beauty secrets, fashion layouts, interior design tips, recipes, advice columns, and vacation guides. Postwar femininity was constructed in terms of access to commodities in suburban houses as the site of family togetherness. As the decade progressed, however, changing social mores regarding female identity and behavior eroded the relationship between idolized stars and worshipful fans. When the magazine adopted tabloid conventions to report sex scandals like the Debbie-Eddie-Liz affair, stars were demystified and fans became scandalmongers. But the construction of female identity based on goods and performance that resulted in unstable, fragmented selves remains a legacy evident in postmodern culture today.
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Number of pages: 298
Weight: 399 g
Dimensions: 216 x 140 x 17 mm
Edition: 1st ed. 2014
"This book demonstrates a rich interdisciplinarity across and between the subjects of film and history. ... A unique aspect of Stars, Fans, and Consumption in the 1950s: Reading Photoplay is the effort to recreate the historical experience of reading a fan magazine. ... Higashi incorporates new ways of presenting history and continues her important interdisciplinary work in Hollywood's cultural representations." (Jennifer Frost, American Historical Review, February, 2016)
"What a pleasure and a wonderful surprise to see a new book by Sumiko Higashi! In poring over every issue of Photoplay from 1948 to 1963, Higashi has arrived at what is an eclectic, but surely significant group of women stars - some well-remembered, like Marilyn Monroe, whose stardom in the era was demonstrable through box office grosses and a number of articles; some remembered through a certain distorted lens, like Doris Day; some surprising in this era, like Natalie Wood; and one or two perhaps forgotten by all but film scholars. Higashi writes with style and grace; she takes her subject very seriously, but does not preach to the choir. The section on stars is a lot of fun, but also revealing; the section on fans, fandom, and consumerism is positively scintillating." - David M. Desser, Emeritus Professor, University of Illinois, USA
"With characteristic acumen and a brilliant gaze upon Hollywood's 1950s movie star phenomena, Sumiko Higashi makes an invaluable contribution to our understanding of the American character, consumerism, and the often neglected pragmatics of the film business. Higashi puts the stars in a scholarly limelight that brings new understanding to obsessions with movie stardom of the time - obsessions that continue forcefully today." - Murray Pomerance, author of The Eyes Have It: Cinema and the Reality Effect
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