The American Newsreel and the World as Spectacle
Published by: University of Minnesota Press
280 pages, 140.00 x 216.00 x 38.00 mm, 21
- ISBN: 9781517903688
- Published: May 2020
A fascinating look at the United States’ conflicted relationship with news and the media, through the lens of the newsreel
When weekly newsreels launched in the early twentieth century, they offered the U.S. public the first weekly record of events that symbolized “indisputable evidence” of the news. In News Parade, Joseph Clark examines the history of the newsreel and how it changed the way Americans saw the world. He combines an examination of the newsreel’s methods of production, distribution, and reception with an analysis of its representational strategies to understand the newsreel’s place in the history of twentieth-century American culture and film history.
Clark focuses on the sound newsreel of the 1930s and 1940s, arguing that it represents a crucial moment in the development of a spectacular society where media representations of reality became more fully integrated into commodity culture. Using several case studies, including the newsreel’s coverage of Charles Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight and the Sino–Japanese War, News Parade shows how news film transformed the relationship between its audience and current events, as well as the social and political consequences of these changes. It pays particular attention to how discourses of race and gender worked together with the rhetoric of speed, mobility, and authority to establish the power and privilege of newsreel spectatorship.
In the age of fake news and the profound changes to journalism brought on by the internet, News Parade demonstrates how new technologies and media reshaped the American public’s relationship with the news in the 1930s—a history that can help us to better understand the transformations happening today.
Introduction. “History of the Most Graphic and Thrilling Sort”: The History of the Newsreel, The Newsreel as History
1. News Parade: The Logic of the Newsreel System
2. Newsreel Realism: Redefining the Real in Motion Picture News
3. “Heroes of the Lens”: Newsreel Cameramen, the Sino-Japanese War, and Looking as Action
4. “Come Along. We’re Going to the Trans-Lux to Hiss Roosevelt”: Modernity, Virtual Travel and the Newsreel Cinema as Public Forum
5. Double Vision: World War Two, Racial Uplift, and Politics of Visibility in the All-American Newsreel
Conclusion: News Parade’s Gone By?
"Sophisticated and accessible, with a depth and range that lends an impressive resonance, News Parade quickly convinced me that the study of the newsreel is a vital topic in the analysis of American culture. In Joseph Clark's hands, the emergence of spectatorship as a formative dimension of collective identity in the modern world is made clear and articulated in a wide variety of specific historical and social contexts."—Robert Burgoyne, author of Film Nation: Hollywood Looks at U.S. History, Revised Edition
"With historians returning at last to the neglected institution of the newsreel, Joseph Clark’s News Parade becomes the key study of this significant element of cinema experience, journalism, and media industries. Lucidly written, it deftly conveys the enormity of six decades of newsfilm production and thousands of hours of surviving footage. This book is the most significant history of American newsreels published in the last fifty years."—Dan Streible, New York University