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Negotiating Hollywood

Negotiating Hollywood: The Cultural Politics of Actors’ Labor

Danae Clark
Copyright Date: 1995
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 168
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  • Book Info
    Negotiating Hollywood
    Book Description:

    Actors' screen images have too often stolen the focus of attention from their behind the scenes working conditions. In Negotiating Hollywood, Danae Clark begins to fill this gap in film history by providing a rich historical account of actors' labor struggles in 1930s Hollywood. Taking the formation of the Screen Actors Guild in 1933 as its investigative centerpiece, Negotiating Hollywood examines the ways in which actors' contracts, studio labor policies and public relations efforts, films, fan magazines, and other documents were all involved in actors' struggles to assert their labor power and define their own images. Clark supplies information not only on stars, but on screen extras, whose role in the Hollywood film industry has remained hitherto undocumented.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8626-1
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. 1 The Actor’s (Absent) Role in Film Studies
    (pp. 1-17)

    The field of star studies is permeated by discourses of lack. The most common lament speaks to the sheer paucity of work in the field prior to the mid-1970s and the attendant reluctance that film scholars traditionally have shown in allowing the screen actor entrance into the discipline of film studies proper. The lack of “serious” work, in other words, is attributed to an institutional bias that has sought to maintain a distance between the academy and popular experience and to distinguish the intellectual labor of film scholars from what was perceived as an uncritical idolization of stars by nonintellectuals....

  6. 2 The Subject of Acting
    (pp. 18-36)

    The concept ofshifting, fragmenting, and binding,which stems from Marx’s theory of commodity fetishism and which has been used in cultural studies to describe various forms of institutional oppression,¹ is particularly useful in understanding the ways that studios positioned actors as social subjects during Hollywood’s Golden Era. By virtue of their labor power advantage, studio executives were able to determine the ideological boundaries of labor discourse as well as the economic boundaries of labor conditions and commodity exchange, thus limiting actors’ ability to control the terms of their subjective representation. In transforming labor into commodity form, film studios first...

  7. 3 The Politics of (Self–) Representation
    (pp. 37-62)

    According to Marx, the inevitable consequence of relations between labor and capital is crisis. This is due not to some inherent “logic of capital,” as some Marxist critics have interpreted Marx’s claim, but to the social relations of power within the capitalist mode of production. As Eric Lichten notes inClass, Power and Austerity,labor is not merely aneffectof capital but a barrier to capital accumulation that often takes the form of a conscious resistance by workers who seek greater autonomy within the capitalist mode of production.¹ This is another way of saying that the relation between labor...

  8. 4 Discourses of Entertainment
    (pp. 63-81)

    The film industry depends upon the production of entertainment for profit. While entertainment is ostensibly produced and sold in the marketplace in film form, the long-term effects of capital accumulation hinge on packaging the image of entertainment itself. In other words, the cumulative wealth of the American film industry can be attributed not only to box office receipts, but also to the successful promotion of a discourse about entertainment. Hollywood assumes a central role in the realization of this discourse. As the entertainment “capital,” Hollywood is both the site of economic production and the source or repository of ideological (re)production....

  9. 5 Labor and Film Narrative
    (pp. 82-117)

    Film studies seems incomplete without the study of films. Since much of the recent critical work within film studies has been preoccupied with the notion of “text,” and with obtaining a semiotic, psychoanalytic, or poststructuralist understanding of textuality, the Hollywood film has been a privileged object of study. Within cultural studies, however, this form of textual analysis has been placed into question. As Richard Johnson notes, textual analysis remains an important current within cultural studies, but the text is only ameansto an end. It is “no longer studied for its own sake . . . but rather for...

  10. 6 The Terrain of Actors’ Labor
    (pp. 118-128)

    “Doing cultural studies,” says Lawrence Grossberg, “is not a matter of merely continuing the work that has already been done, staying on the same terrain, but of asking what is left off the agenda in relation to specific contexts and projects.”¹ Thus, while my attempt to theorize actors’ subjectivity and to historicize actor—producer relations in the U.S. film industry might be said to fill a gap in previous studies or to chart a new terrain, my project is also meant to resituate star studies in relation to cultural studies by interrogating the historical and theoretical boundaries of cultural studies...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 129-142)
  12. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 143-146)
  13. Index
    (pp. 147-149)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 150-150)