Artists in the Audience: Cults, Camp, and American Film Criticism
Gone with the Wind an inspiration for the American avant-garde? Mickey Mouse a crucial source for the development of cutting-edge intellectual and aesthetic ideas? As Greg Taylor shows in this witty and provocative book, the idea is not so far-fetched. One of the first-ever studies of American film criticism, Artists in the Audience shows that film critics, beginning in the 1940s, turned to the movies as raw material to be molded into a more radical modernism than that offered by any other contemporary artists or thinkers. In doing so, they offered readers a vanguard alternative that reshaped postwar American culture: nonaesthetic mass culture reconceived and refashioned into rich, personally relevant art by the attuned, creative spectator.
CHAPTER TWO Movies to the Rescue: American Modernism and the Middlebrow Challenge 19
CHAPTER THREE Life on the Edge: Manny Farber and Cult Criticism 30
CHAPTER FOUR Hallucinating Hollywood: Parker Tyler and Camp Spectatorship 49
CHAPTER FIVE From Termites to Auteurs: Cultism Goes Mainstream 73
CHAPTER SIX Heavy Culture and Underground Camp 98
CHAPTER SEVEN Retreat into Theory 122
CONCLUSION Love, Death, and the Limits of Artistic Criticism 150
What People are Saying About This
Greg Taylor's Artists in the Audience is one of the more innovative works of cinema studies that I have read in some time. It's essential reading for anyone interested in the history and theory of film criticism, and it touches as well on important issues in art history and cultural studies. Robert Sklar, author of "Movie-Made America"
Since World War II, cinema has challenged American intellectuals to define their relation to popular culture. In this incisive history, Greg Taylor traces many attitudes dominant today--the search for momentary pleasures in mass entertainment, the ironic celebration of movies' wilder side, the phenomena of camp and cult films--back to the work of Manny Farber, Parker Tyler, and a series of avant-garde filmmakers. He shows how critics of great ingenuity and panache managed to revolutionize tastes, convincing guardians of middlebrow culture that Hollywood movies came alive as art only when treated with a mixture of offhand respect, humor, and bravado. This is a witty, thoughtful account of a crucial period in intellectual tastemaking.