654.1 The relevance of a sociological approach to hollywood movies

Saturday, August 4, 2012: 10:45 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Tulio ROSSI , Sociology, USP, Sao Paulo, Brazil
This paper seeks to point out the relevance – sometimes neglected – of Hollywood films, considered by many scholars an insignificant type of entertainment, or just an instrument of alienation and maintenance of dominating structures in capitalist societies. Considering the great presence of audiovisual medias in the contemporary world and that the Hollywood industry has been working since the 1920’s in reaching large and diversified audiences, we believe that their movies have a great impact in how people in different societies behave and interpret actions and moral principles even in  their intimate lives. By assembling a great inventory of symbolic references - not intrinsic to reality but culturally shaped and recognized – Hollywood picks self-references to construct in fictional films a logical and predictable sense of reality that is apprehended by numerous viewers as natural. Hollywood representations are frequently taken as guidelines by several people, such as those seeking love similar to the way it is portrayed in romantic comedies or those quoting movie lines as statements of wisdom, e.g. the character Alfredo in Cinema Paradiso. Besides looking for the reception of such movies, it is also important to analyze their construction as audiovisual discourses and their content – even and especially the clichés. Adopting Sorlin’s methodology recommended in Sociologie du Cinéma, we believe that an in-depth investigation of blockbusters, their narratives, and ideological substances reveal much on how contemporary societies deal with visual medias in everyday life, interpret their content and reproduce different beliefs, dreams and hopes, based on what is seen in movies. We consider that a fundamental step in sociological research is to acquire a sense of estrangement towards the most “familiar” aspects of everyday life being then able to deconstruct and criticize our own social developed perceptions especially on what is usually regarded as trivial.