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Star Labor

by Kate Fortmueller

The work of Hollywood beauty culture is something that is often hidden from view and seen as a secret that would distract from the glamour of the star. In reality, this glamour is often produced by a team of workers. As Jane Gaines explains in Contested Culture, "[…] [U]nder the studio system, the natural signs of the private person were produced as popular audio and visual images by the collective labor of many others as well – agents, publicists, voice coaches, lighting directors, make-up artists, and costume designers, as well as directors. In short, the transformation of the physiognomy and psyche of a human being by the process of industrial production for the purposes of cornering a market has no equivalent at any other moment in history, nor can manufactured stardom be found in any other society before its appearance in the U.S." (Gaines 36) In this sequence from Sunset Boulevard we see a representation of the elements of a star's work.

Sunset Boulevard (1950) - Beauty regime

In this sequence Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) prepares for her big comeback.

from Sunset Boulevard (1950)
Creator: Billy Wilder
Posted by Kate Fortmueller