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Love Rules
Silent Hollywood
and the Rise of the
Managerial Class

By Mark Garrett Cooper

 

cover

BOOK REVIEW

Love Rules: Silent Hollywood and the Rise of the Managerial Class
By Mark Garrett Cooper

University of Minnesota Press : Minneapolis, Minnesota : 2003
ISBN 0-8166-3752-0 : 279 pages : hardcover : $54.95

University of Minnesota Press : Minneapolis, Minnesota : 2003
ISBN 0-8166-3753-9 : 279 pages : trade paperback : $19.95

Reviewed by Carl Bennett
This painful treatise on American love as portrayed by silent era Hollywood is inexplicably combined with an attempt to pigeon-hole the evolution of the Hollywood studio system into a cubby defined by a decidedly socialist schema. What the development of a managerial system within a burgeoning infant industry has to do with some insideous Hollywood insider conspiracy to dictate to the American public how a proper love is to be defined and applied to their lives is not satisfactorily explained by the author Mark Garrett Cooper, nor ultimately does his theorem have any basis in reality.

This abortion of a book consists of inanely obvious statements combined with obtusely constructed yet empty statements in a misguided mish-mash of ‘intellectual’ analysis. No amount of statement and restatement of his points, and no amount of buzz-word terminology (ie. mise-en-scène, semiology, diegesis, etc.) can prop up his hollow preoccupation with sight lines within shot frames and “well-illuminated spaces” to insightfully define either the American cinematic concept of love or the evolving corporate structure of Hollywood’s silent era motion picture industry.

Cooper cites a number of obscure and well-known writers such as Tom Gunning and André Bazin to either magnanimously bless their conclusions or to correct their flawed arguments with his clarified insights, not realizing that his own intellectual space has been hideously distorted by a need to impose a narrow sociological and intellectual order of judgment on the ultimately innocent infant film industry. At times, he inadvertently shows his contempt for his subject by the projection of superiority in his conclusions from the requisite intellectualized socialist and feminist agendas. The flaw of such intellectualism is the assumption of superiority, and the application of intellectualism is the sterilization of experience. Pathetically, Cooper reveals that, without intellect or experience, his personal agenda includes writing this book in an attempt to convince other academics that his perspective is legitimately insightful — wholly argument for argument’s sake — with nothing left to serve the reader’s interest. Cooper even undermines his credibility by his inability to spell proper names correctly (ie. Adolf [sic] Zukor, Joseph [sic] Von Sternberg).

It was the academic mantra, “Publish or die,” that drove this hideously awful book into existence. It is the bargain book bin that will intone, “Published . . . now dead,” over the coming years. Not only does Cooper err on multiple logical points, he commits the heinous sin of writing a stupidly dull book. One shivers to think what Cooper is teaching film students at Florida State University, where he is an assistant professor of English.

 
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