restricted access Introduction - Stardom in the 2000s
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1 ★★★★★★★★★★ ✩✩✩✩✩✩✩✩✩✩ I N T R O D U C T I O N Stardom in the 2000s MURRAY POMERANCE These pages contain discussions of twenty-five stars of Hollywood cinema who flourished, all to a distinctive degree in the international eye, in the decade between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2009. Although these stars were as bright as stars have ever been in Hollywood, producing a kind of illumination that had staying power and global effect, the book itself is called Shining in Shadows because all of them shone within an intensively American darkness brought on by the surprise attacks of 11 September 2001. In our economy, our philosophy, our social thought, our poetic hopes, and the screen dreams that energized and mirrored us, 9/11 lasted throughout the decade in one way or another: as a memory, as a wound, as a pretext for the withdrawal of civil liberty, as an incitement to ongoing fear. Whether or not it affected any particular cinematic endeavor or begrimed any actual performative work (beyond the relatively small number of films actually depicting it, such as the omnibus 11'09"01 [2002], Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center [2006], or Paul Greengrass’s United 93 [2006]), 9/11 can generally be said to have shocked, slowed, rigidified, and made self-conscious the entire cultural apparatus of the United States and the West; to have tinted the decade and leeched out some of the light that might otherwise have illuminated our world. Perhaps it can be suggested that if after the Great Depression of 1929 American cinema turned to a “feel good” aesthetic, with morally uplifting drama, ebullient social comedy, and gay musicals working to take people’s minds off the bleakness of their real conditions, the cinema of the 2000s largely worked through spectacularization , intensified distribution, and oddball dramatic setups to perform the same escapist function, to give people reasons for believing the “War on Terror” declared by the Bush administration and its apparently incessant side effects were not all there was to life. The 2000s were born in a storm of global panic and alarm, something of a foundation for the numerous American and global crises that would follow. Y2K, a “millennium bug,” had already been bruited around the world, a virus that would strike all computer systems at the stroke of midnight on 1 January 2000, ready and eager to produce manifold forms of infrastructural damage (on New Year’s morning, vast populations awoke in a worldwide wave to discover that nothing had happened at all, thus instantly rendering parodic the “need” for the so-called “preparations” that had been put in place as much as eighteen months before). Hardly had nervous systems settled when the dot.com bubble, in which the stock market, which had promised an unending upward spiral of growth and munificence, burst unceremoniously . Wall Street’s richest suddenly found themselves indicted (shades of Oliver Stone’s Wall Street [1987], a film that would be sequelized as soon as the decade was over). The George W. Bush presidency came into effect, and with it a climate of irresponsible aggressiveness and tarnished dignity. If Bush couldn’t antagonize America’s partners and neighbors, he could at least—and routinely—turn himself into a public fool through malapropisms that not only made the news but were catalogued in Mark Crispin Miller’s The Bush Dyslexicon. Inauspiciously at first—but by the end of the decade causing major international upheavals in monetary value—the euro entered the marketplace (on 1 January 2002). By 2003, conflict had erupted in Darfur, a site that would ground a humanitarian crisis of major proportions. The U.S. Army entered Iraq, and by the summer of 2003 a severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic was threatening on several continents (during the summer, a major rock concert in Toronto brought megastars including the Rolling Stones to beg for help). Ronald Reagan, once a screen star and labor leader, then a governor, finally president of the United States, and the man responsible for trickle-down economics—the somewhat unlikely proposition that the wealthy and successful would naturally invest in such a way as to benefit the poor and unemployed—died, his funeral attended by luminaries from the worlds of politics and entertainment equally. North Korea began nuclear testing, Pluto lost its status as a planet, a tsunami ravaged Southeast Asia, and a fictional teenaged wizard named Harry Potter took over the imaginations...


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