Hollywood Blockbusters: The Anthropology of Popular Movies by David Sutton, Peter Wogan

By David Sutton, Peter Wogan

Why do Jaws, Field of Dreams, The titanic Lebowski, and The Godfather stay strikingly renowned during this age of fragmented audiences and ever-faster spin cycles? Hollywood Blockbusters argues that those motion pictures proceed to captivate audiences simply because they play upon underlying tensions and difficulties in American tradition, very similar to the myths that anthropologists research in non-Western contexts. In making this argument, the authors hire and expand anthropological theories approximately ritual, kinship, present giving, strength, egalitarianism, literacy, metalinguistics, stereotypes, and the mysteries of the opposite. The results—original insights into smooth movie classics, American tradition, and anthropological theory—will attract scholars of movie, Media, Anthropology, Sociology, and Cultural Studies.

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Pen opposition. This shift is captured in the scene’s seating arrangements. As the camera slowly zooms in, we see Michael seated directly between two figures: short-tempered Sonny, representing brute force, and sensible Tom, the adopted son of GermanIrish descent. It makes sense that Tom, as a quasi-outsider, has until now been an inter­mediary with the outside world (reading the judges’ and Senators’ telegrams, inform­ing the police captain of the Corleones’ legal rights). In this scene, Tom is even sitting at a desk with a typewriter and paper folders.

Opposition that Sonny creates between Ivy League suits and guns, and the one Don Corleone makes between contracts and guns. As in the latter case, the cannoli is being compared to the gun. 15 Once again, a crisp symmetry, a poetic parallelism, is created between two objects. As in the Don’s simple ultimatum to the bandleader (“either his brains or his signature would be on the contract”), the two halves of Clemenza’s sentence use identical grammatical constructions: imperative/transitive verb (leave, take) + definite article (the) + noun/ direct object (cannoli, gun).

None of them understands what Michael has grasped: the power of print. Drawing on his understanding of literacy, Michael’s solution is to kill the drug dealer and police captain, but then follow this up with newspaper stories about “a crooked cop who got what was coming to him,” thereby putting a media spin on the killing and precluding retaliation from the state and the public. Michael’s strategy was an innovative blend of guns and newspapers, a combination that was not envisioned by the others, who were still operating within the Don’s own gun vs.

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