Commerce and Culture

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8. The Rise of the Motion Picture

  • Commerce and Culture

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07/28/2006Paul A. Cantor

The motion picture is purely commercial art. Lack of taste can earn a producer a fortune. This is the perfect intersection of commerce and culture. Most movies are bad, but many are very good. The movie form is so recent, that its history is right there to see. It was just a novelty item at first.

Hollywood is unpredictable, just as economics is unpredictable. The same things that produce a flop produce a blockbuster like The Godfather – Cantor’s favorite. There is an anti-commercial bias behind movie production, but many directors do their best work under hard commercial pressure. Many artists produce poorly when given great leeway. The structure of the movie industry is a mess. It’s everybody working against everybody else.

Lecture 8 of 10 from Paul Cantor's Commerce and Culture.

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Contact Paul A. Cantor

Paul A. Cantor is Clifton Waller Barrett Professor of English at the University of Virginia. He is the author of The Invisible Hand in Popular Culture: Liberty vs. Authority in American film and TV. He is the co-editor, with Stephen Cox, of Literature and the Economics of Liberty. See his interview in the Austrian Economics Newsletter.

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