The Death Of The Movie Star
Jessi Zheng, Grade 10, Staff Writer
Lights, camera, action! America’s film industry experienced its golden age during the twentieth century, starting with the invention of sound recording technology.
The once popular silent films fell in popularity, as “talkies,” films that featured sound, garnered increased attention from the public. Movie stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and Jimmy Stewart catapulted into fame and established themselves as household names.
In recent years, the shine and sparkle of Hollywood has seemingly faded. Many celebrities seem to have lost their star factor with the rise of social media. In the modern age, “relatability” is far more crucial to one’s success than idolization.
The untouchability and mystique of movie stars throughout the Golden Age was their primary appeal. These factors made their lives seem exclusive, and caused people to place them on a pedestal. Now, it seems the development of social media has shattered the untouchable factor that Hollywood actors once had.
Through Instagram stories and YouTube videos, celebrities are able to engage with their audience, shattering the illusion that they are above the average person.
Streaming services have interfered with the culture of going to the movie theater, as most people prefer to watch shows and movies from the comfort of their home rather than going outside and paying additional money. According to Vanity Fair, “Between 2007 and 2011, overall profits for the big-five movie studios—Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, and Disney—fell by 40 percent.”
Quentin Tarantino, director of Pulp Fiction and the Kill Bill Duology, made headlines for attributing the fall of movie stars to the Marvel franchise. On the 2 Bears, 1 Cave podcast, Tarantino claimed that, “Part of the Marvel-ization of Hollywood is…you have all these actors who have become famous playing these characters…[b]ut they’re not movie stars…it’s these franchise characters that become a star.”
The increase of adventure and action in the film industry, often known as the star factor of actors, has, in Tarantino's opinion, lessened the appeal of going to watch movies for the performers.
During the height of Hollywood's popularity, hordes of people would gather in theaters to watch the most recent Monroe or Hepburn film. It was the reputation and fame of the actress that drove viewers to see the movie, rather than the plot.
Although there are people who see movies for the actors in the modern age, the majority come for entertainment. It is the story of the movie itself that intrigues the viewer to come. And, in the case of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), it is the character that piques the viewer’s interest, rather than the actor who plays them.
A popular example of this phenomenon is Spider-Man. Over the last three decades, three different actors have donned the famous Spidey suit–Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and Tom Holland.
However, despite the changing of the actor, Spider-Man has still remained a fan favorite. For many superhero fans, it is not the actor that is the star, but the dorkiness and relatability of the character that draws them to be avid viewers.
The decline of traditional movie stars has made personality and talent the deciding factor in one's success. In order to distinguish themselves from the competition, the new generation of performers and the characters they play must have their own distinctive charm, with recognition taking precedence over idolization. Tom Holland and Walker Scobell are just two actors that have enchanted fans with their endearing personalities and all-around talent. In the new age of Hollywood, the power of the audience outweighs the power of the star.