The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-events in America - Study Guide Chapter 4 - Section V-XI Summary & Analysis

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Section V explores the impact of motion pictures as part of the Graphic Revolution on non-visual media. Boorstin describes movies as a kind of pseudo-event, especially in the sense that it was "more vivid and more impressive than the spontaneous original". The writing that movies were based on was thus giving secondary status, which Boorstin asserts, once again devalued the literary form. He goes on to say that one of the problems with movies is they feed an already "extravagant expectation of our power over the world" and allow us to believe that all experience can be fit into a movie. Boorstin suggests that we are in danger if we forget that the experiences that can't be captured by the camera are exactly those that can be captured in a book.

Section VI continues on the theme of the development of new "visual forms for narrative literature". In particular, he focuses on the development of Broadway shows as well as movie versions of those same shows. Boorstin points to the development of pseudo-events in the industry by describing an excerpt from Publisher's Weekly. He states, "In order to stir interest in the sale of movie rights to a book, the book need not yet have been written." Boorstin suggests that the very act of adapting the novel to the screen divorces the content from the original work, and thus it becomes a pseudo-event.

Boorstin discusses the "star system" in section VII. Essentially these people are "the celebrities of the entertainment world". The General Film Company, recognizing that actors and actresses would demand higher pay if they became well known, refused to give out their names. However, other filmmakers such as Carl Laemmle, Adolf Zukor, and Cecile B. De Mille, saw the advantage of publicizing the actors and actresses and the star system was born. Boorstin describes the transition from a "star film" containing a star actor, to a "film star" in which a particular actor made the film worthwhile. Boorstin concludes that "the star is a pseudo-event", particular due to the fact that it generates other pseudo-events such as fans.

Section VIII continues discussing the star system and how it has affected "traditional forms of achievement". In the publishing world it has translated to the "best-seller". However, this has had an impact on the actual ability of these books to make money. Boorstin states that best-sellers were often used as "loss-leaders" by companies such as Macy's and Gimbel's to get folks into the stores and thus barely made any money on the book itself.

Section IX discusses how art has also been affected by the star syndrome. In particular, Boorstin focuses on the destructive aspects of reproductions. The ability of machines to reproduce colors from nature removes the natural challenge to the artist to learn to mix colors. He suggests that artists are now reflecting the status quo through their non-representative, or non-form works.

Boorstin next focuses on musical impacts in section X. He discusses the impact of Muzak and how it has become a pseudo-event in and of itself. This new music is designed to create a specific environment, and has even been used to help workers become more productive on the job. He quotes an executive responsible for the design and packaging of Muzak, "After all, this is basically music to hear, not to listen to."

In section XI Boorstin concludes that the overall effect of the Graphic Revolution has been to "make all experience a commodity". We have drifted further and further away from direct experience.

This section contains 598 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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