Political Economy of the Starlet

Following on my previous post and its comments, I have a pet hypothesis I'd love to be able to devote some more time to or see someone devote their energy to. At a macro view, it seems that in the 1960s particularly Hollywood rapidly shifted the place of women - both prominent female characters and the centrality of women actors as stars - as it moved from the studio years to the conglomerate/package-unit years. Why? In other words, I crave a political economy explanation for the Molly Haskell argument.

Moreover, I can foresee various shades of political economy explanation and would be particularly interested in models for the studio/producer decisionmaking and how they change under different types of corporate or private governance or different market structures. I often refer to this blog as a diaristic sketchpad, and my interest in explanation in firm behavior is a prime example. It's something I simply don't have time to explore right now but that intellectually I keep coming back to. Morever, it's a side that political economy explanations frequently overlook.

This explanation of course would require bracketing the simpler explanation that there were real (not perceived) audience and market conditions driving this change. My gut instinct tells me it's an explanation worth bracketing, though at some point such instinct needs to be tested against empirical evidence.

One more recent variation of this, by the way, is the pressing question on why male stars in Hollywood get better compensation than female stars. I'll concede I can think of several other explanations, including the global exportability of action genres. Would be curious for any reader thoughts.


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