The Calm before the Storm and Robert B. Ray

I am going to write my post before I potentially lose power for ‘weeks,’ so bear with me while I write this in the midst of chaos here on long Island.

Fetishism and Film: What the Heck is Ray Talking About?

I have to say, I found it extremely weird that Ray uses fetishism in his argument about the cinema. He says that: “They were quickly surprised by their viewers’ fascination with individual players. For a brief moment, the industry resisted this unintended consequence of the movies, this admiration for actors that seemed an ‘overestimation of value,’ a fetishism” (Ray 6). This was such an interesting yet a very strange argument. What I took out of what Ray is saying here is that some of the viewers of films and television show’s develop some sort of fetish for the actors and the glamour that images of films bring. I have to say that sometimes we do see big movie buffs developing obsessions with actors/actresses/and the films themselves.

He later says that, “Hollywood came to recognize this fetishism as a means of making money, and the star system deliberately set out to encourage it. In fact, although continuity cinema’s insistence on story often reduced the immediate attraction of its components (“while an image could be beautiful,” one cameraman recalls, “it wasn’t to be so beautiful as to draw attention to itself”), inadvertently, as the impressionists and Surrealists saw, the movie’s glamorized everything: faces, clothes, furniture, trains” (6). This made me really think about how much we do glamorize what we see on screen. Look at some woman and men and how much media images affect them, IE) Body Image. We are so caught up with what we think is ‘perfect’ in the glamorization of images in film and media that we could develop a fetish described by Ray. What is most disturbing about this argument is that Hollywood feeds off of this fetishism’s and glamorization’s. People are becoming more and more obsessed with these images and are expecting ‘perfection’ based on these images, that men and women are being harmed in the process. My question here is: Do you think that we are being harmed by all the glamour that Hollywood exudes? Do you agree with Ray’s development of ‘fetishism’ in his article?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Calm before the Storm and Robert B. Ray

  1. Mike Salerno says:

    I should leave a reply too before the storm gets really bad. Hope everybody is staying safe and dry!

    The second quote you picked from Ray’s essay tells us why fetishism, as he calls it, has endured for so long in modern, “Hollywood” cinema: money. The moguls in the movie industry know what makes money, and one of those reasons, among many, is the allure of the star. I was having dinner with a bunch of friends last week and we were talking about our favorite actors and how we would go see any movie they were in simply due to how much we enjoyed their past performances. Does this glamorization potentially harm my future movie-watching experiences? I don’t think it harms it, but it can lead me astray from considering other films that are worth watching.

    A question that popped into my mind while reading your post and responding was this: Has ‘Hollywood’ skewed movie audience’s opinions on what makes a good film by fostering fetishism and glamorizing various aspects of movies? Or have people harmed cinema, perhaps forever, by attributing value and giving money to aspects of films that predominantly attract their attention (the actors, the genre, the type of story, etc.)

  2. I really enjoy what was pulled out of the first quote, “They were quickly surprised by their viewers’ fascination with individual players. For a brief moment, the industry resisted this unintended consequence of the movies, this admiration for actors that seemed an ‘overestimation of value,’ a fetishism” (Ray 6).” The way that Ray writes definitely suggests a parasitic relationship between the audience and the actor, as opposed to the character. This can be seen today in the way critics/fans/viewers are sold on projects based not on story of substantial information, but on actors. There is a sigh of relief when a “liked” actor is attached to a role or project. Aside from the actors, I think this reading of Ray nails the idea of a cult movie. People latch on to films that are (usually) terrible (i.e. Troll 2) and celebrate the film based on what they find in it.

    This reading of Ray was a more refined approach to how I interpreted him. I really like the commodification attached to the second quote, and how it showcases the monetary intent of Hollywood. All in all though, this was really sharp interpreting, and I think its a really good observation, but I have to wonder, if the fetishism is installed or something viewers attach.

Comments are closed.