[Marxism] Jonathan Rosenbaum

David Quarter davidquarter at sympatico.ca
Sun Feb 1 18:01:19 MST 2004


 Although I never read Rosembaum's book, I would imagine that the 
description below is accurate, as when he discussed the book a 
couple years ago at the  Marxist Institute here in Toronto, he must 
have put half of the lecture hall to sleep. 


Date sent:      	Sun, 01 Feb 2004 19:05:53 -0500
To:             	marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu
From:           	Louis Proyect <lnp3 at panix.com>
Subject:        	[Marxism] Jonathan Rosenbaum
Send reply to:  	Activists and scholars in Marxist tradition
	<marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu>

> Jonathan Rosenbaum. Movie Wars: How Hollywood and the 
Media Limit What 
> Films We Can See. London: Wallflower Press, 2002. 192 pp. 
Notes, index. 
> £12.99 (paper), ISBN 1-903364-60-4.
> Reviewed by Fred Davies, Centre for Continuing Education, 
University of Sussex.
> Published by H-USA (December, 2003)
> 
> Rosenbaum's Bitch-Fest
> 
> Movie Wars was originally published in America by A Cappella 
Publishing in 
> November 2000 and has been reissued in Britain. The reception 
on this side 
> of the Atlantic will probably be sympathetic, as we also suffer--if 
not 
> more so--from the disease of American blockbusters that invade 
our shores 
> and colonize our screens. In 1997, the then-chairman of 
PolyGram Filmed 
> Entertainment, Stewart Till, was appointed by the new Labour 
government to 
> chair a committee on the British film industry. The result was a 
report, "A 
> Bigger Picture." It pinpointed distribution as the Achilles' heel of 
the 
> British film industry: many British films (if indeed most of them) 
never 
> even got a release. British multiplexes are in the main owned by 
American 
> studios or closely linked to their distributors. Britain's key player 
in 
> the field, Film Four, has collapsed. In France, Canal Plus 
suffered a 
> similar fate. PolyGram, the one independent European distributor 
(and 
> financier)--responsible for backing such British films as 
Trainspotting and 
> Four Weddings and a Funeral--has also disappeared, liquidated 
by an 
> American studio. This is the territory covered by Jonathan 
Rosenbaum's book.
> 
> The book's title is quite misleading, as it would indicate a serious 
> engagement with the political economy of Hollywood, at least on 
the lines 
> of "A Bigger Picture." Instead, it is a funny and informative but 
supremely 
> arrogant and self-serving meander through Rosenbaum's 
memoirs. It "loses 
> the plot" soon after the first few chapters and rambles through 
what seems 
> to be a reheating of old essays rather poorly stitched together. 
Clearly 
> one would expect to meet concepts like "oligopoly," "synergy," 
"Marxism," 
> or "capitalism," but maybe these have been erased for the 
dumbed-down 
> reader, just what Rosenbaum accuses his targets--his 
colleagues and fellow 
> writers on film, or at least their editors--of doing. He coins the 
cute 
> little phrase "media industry complex," which makes good copy, 
but with not 
> a reference to C. Wright Mills and with no further expansion into 
a 
> discussion of the challenge of the media giants--Murdoch, 
Berlusconi, 
> Lucas, Spielberg, Eisner--and their many-tentacled trans-national 
> corporations in our age. Instead, he launches into a personal ad 
hominen 
> bitch-fest and a celebration of his own writings. So this is not an 
> intellectually interesting book, but rather a good read from an 
insider 
> dishing the dirt and pedantically trashing his colleagues. His 
personal 
> venom is worse than his intellectual bite. He is in a great tradition 
of 
> American polemicists. Indeed a long time ago de Tocqueville 
wrote a whole 
> chapter on "Why American Writers and Speakers are Often 
Bombastic."
> 
> full: http://www.h-
net.msu.edu/reviews/showrev.cgi?path=241881075675488
> 
> 
> Louis Proyect
> Marxism list: www.marxmail.org 
> 
> 
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