Postmodern Chick Flicks: The Return of the Woman’s Film by Roberta Garrett (auth.)

By Roberta Garrett (auth.)

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While these critics also tend to neglect the relationship between allusionism, postmodernist cinema and feminism or women’s cinema, their emphasis on social and cultural movements takes us further towards these issues and suggests some possible reasons why women’s cinema did not ‘go mainstream’ in the manner of other experimental filmic forms during this period. To begin with, it is worth stressing that while cine-historical accounts of new Hollywood’s ability to expand and flourish under new conditions cannot fail to highlight its commercial success, those focusing on its artistic or creative development during the same period take a more critical view.

Feminism, postmodernist cinema and new Hollywood Looking at accounts of the development of new Hollywood alongside Carroll’s discussion of the rise of cinematic allusionism suggests three important factors concerning the relationship between new Hollywood, post-Fordism and postmodernism. Firstly, that the new Hollywood of the late 1960s provided the ideal industrial and cultural environment to nurture the emergence of a new mainstream cinematic mode later defined as postmodernist. Secondly, that while self-consciousness and the implementation of counter-cinematic distancing devices were aspects of this form, its most pronounced feature was its use of prior cinematic allusion linked to both the academic re-evaluation of classical Hollywood and its recirculation through new media exhibition outlets.

Features which were subsequently defined as postmodernist – such as allusionism or the self-conscious manipulation of generic expectation – were thus tested out and developed within popular Hollywood (albeit during an innovative period) and became widely recognised by a large section of the cinema-going public. For critics such as Carroll and Ryan and Kellner, these forms of nonrealist experimentalism were, initially at least, aligned with the youth movements and identity politics of the late 1960s (Carroll, 1982: 79; Ryan and Kellner, 1990: 17–48).

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