- Dossier: Media Space in Perspective
In order to supplement the full-length articles presented in this issue, we approached a number of well-known scholars working with the intersection of media, space, and architecture. We invited participants to address the ways in which media spaces are created; how spaces, places, and architectures have been represented; shifting ideas about geographies of cultural production; and the importance of space as an analytical construct for media and cinema studies. The scholars who answered our call—Miranda Banks, Michael Curtin, Nitin Govil, James Hay, Scott Higgins, Derek Kompare, Vicki Mayer, Lisa Nakamura, and Serra Tinic—offer a wide range of insights touching on issues such as the geography and visibility of cultural labor; digitization and the reconfiguration of place; places of media production and spaces of decay; media mapping and mobility; the use of color in representing space; and racialized spaces in virtual environments. We hope that the reader will find this a thought-provoking and engaging collection of statements that complements and extends the concerns raised elsewhere in this issue.
- Company Town: Production Communities and the Myth of a Unified Hollywood
Last year the voice of Hollywood went silent. Jack Valenti, Hollywood lobbyist and head of the Motion Picture Association of America for almost forty years, died at the age of eighty-five in Washington, D.C. Officially, Valenti spoke as the “voice of Hollywood” in Washington, but his prominence within the motion picture production community, his showmanship, his professional tenacity, and his eagerness to go on record for any reporter made Valenti (for better or worse) a national, even global, ambassador for Hollywood. For almost forty years Hollywood’s leading man lived and worked in Washington. I point to this geographical peculiarity as an apt entry into a discussion of how Hollywood—as both an urban space and an industry— has been redefining its visibility and its voice.
Ideas of what Hollywood is have changed in its almost hundred-year history. The district, which sits at the center of the city of Los Angeles, no longer holds within its boundaries a majority of the screen production industry, even of those sectors of the industry still headquartered in Los Angeles. Historically, many of the major motion picture production studios as well as ancillary industries of screen production—postproduction houses, costume warehouses, and lighting companies—were based in Hollywood. But today most screen productions (whether feature films, television series, television specials, commercials, or music videos) have dispersed into surrounding localities or beyond the confines of Los Angeles. Hollywood and Los Angeles have suffered from both national and global screen production sprawl. One hold Los Angeles still has on the inner workings of the industry is that the major production crafts unions are still based there: the Directors Guild of America (DGA), the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), the Producers Guild of America, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), and the Writers Guild of America (WGA), as well as many locals of the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE) and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Though John Ford famously said, “Hollywood is a place you can’t graphically define. We don’t really know where it is” (Bordwell, Staiger, and Thompson xiii), what I wish to do here is do precisely that: examine, as it reaches it centenary, how Hollywood has represented itself by looking at specific examples of how individual union-based communities are represented and represent themselves geographically upon the landscape of the historic district, [End Page 62] banding together to form a unified voice of Hollywood that can, in turn, speak to the nation and the global media community.
Over the past ten years there has been a massive push to revitalize the geographic center of the district, Hollywood Boulevard, as a site from which Hollywood can be seen and heard. The exquisitely crafted Grauman’s Chinese and Egyptian theaters have been renovated. Every day at the Egyptian Theater the American Cinematheque screens the documentary Forever Hollywood, which, according to its 2007 website, celebrates a century of cinema and the “eternal allure of Hollywood,” documenting the story of the city’s transformation from farming suburb to...