||My thesis mainly deals with Woody Allen's two films: "Zelig" and "ThePurple Rose of Cairo." I focus on the relation|
between the formation of identity and the role of mass media,
especially American film industry from its burgeoning in the
1920s to maturation in the 1930s. Both films make use of the
fictional quality of film product and the culture phenomenonof
star to disorder the hierarchy of reality and fiction, and to
parody the sense of self-consciousness. We may view these two
films as an allegory for the formation process in which "reel"
human identities are shaped up with theestablishment of American
film industry. The image of real man with legitimated
identities finds references in the ideologically designed stars
in the reelworld. Zelig is recognized as a true American after
his chameleon performancequalifies social demand. "The Purple
Rose of Cairo" represents a miserable world where the cinema is
the public's last hope to hang on to. What is marked in the
films is the prevailing anxiety of Americans, especially males,
caused by the ideally scripted models and an emasculinizing
social condition.The self that is promised to be fulfilled in
American dream is founded only in stylized new selves,
symbolized in imagined film products. However, the ideal
images are products in a society where the individualis under
the demand of the collective. This individual dream in teh
images isrevealed as illusory and an impossible imagiantion
promoted by Hollywood andAmerican government in different
periods. In the conflic between the dream and social demands,
the American self is realized in a condition of alwayschanging
and being alienated. The self has to conform to the artificial
imagesto satisfy its insatiable dream of being independent and
ideal. As the twofilms show, the imaginary identity provided by
the dream may cause the spectator's exploitation by Hollywood
and can even be held responsible for the misery in life.
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