Through an analysis of hundreds of Hollywood movies, this book examines some of the most contentious social issues of our time, including racism, social inequality, sexism, and gerontophobia. With studies of some of the most enduring film genres in Hollywood's history, including romantic films such as Casablanca, war movies from World War II through the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, alienation films, including Five Easy Pieces and Lost in Translation, the school movie, from Goodbye, Mr. Chips to other films set in academia, including Dead Poets Society and Dangerous Minds, the book outlines and demonstrates the sociological approach to viewing films and highlights the socially conservative nature of much Hollywood movie production, which draws on common stereotypes and reinforces dominant cultural values - but is also capable of challenging and serving to change them.
James J. Dowd is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Sociology at the University of Georgia, USA. He is the author of Stratification Among the Aged and the co-author of The Primary Group: Its Rediscovery in Contemporary Sociology.
1. Introduction: A Sociologist Goes to the Movies
2. Patriotic Gore: War Movies and the American Flag
3. The Ends of Teaching: Desire and Ambition in the School Genre
4. Romance Movies: Tales as Old as Time
5. The Coming of Age: Older Characters in Hollywood Films
6. Alienation Across the Life Course: Disconnections from Society
7. The Grip of Tradition: Hollywood Film and the Reproduction of Gender Inequality
8. Conclusion - Three Kongs: Race, Gender, and Fear in Hollywood Ape Films