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Hollywood Works: How Creativity Became Labor in the Studio System

  • RONNY REGEV (a1)

Abstract

Using the career of director William Wyler as a case study, the article argues that by standardizing creative professions such as acting and directing during the 1920s and 1930s, the Hollywood studio system was responsible for turning creativity into a modern form of labor. I make this claim by highlighting three main themes. First, the article draws attention to the operation behind cultural industries, as opposed to the content they produce, a topic that remains understudied. Second, it traces the historical development of “directing” as a profession. Looking at how this pivotal role changed since the early days of the industry, I argue there was a structural rationale behind practices of managerial control as well as those enabling creative autonomy. Third, focusing on Wyler’s career, the article fleshes out how this dual rationale functioned day to day and how it pushed creative employees like Wyler to develop a particular professional way of being.

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Copyright

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