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Comparing Hollywood Icons

When you think of key Hollywood icons do you think of Humphrey Bogart and Gene Kelly or Robert Pattinson and Zac Efron? Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn or Megan Fox and Lindsay Lohan?

Maybe this could be an issue of generations and the sheer scale of the film industry today, but it appears that celebrity culture has already decided the current Hollywood icons. But are they of the same quality or brilliance of those legends who starred in some of the most quoted, loved and timeless pieces of film history to date? Or will they simply fade into obscurity once their star (and looks) fade? Will the fans move on and will society choose another ‘up and coming’ star and/or a member of ‘young hot Hollywood’ to replace them?

It seems as if this is the problem with Hollywood and in general, films today. Not enough emphasis is placed on actual acting ability and remarkable stories, but rather who is the big name at the moment that will draw crowds into the cinema and depart with hard earned cash in return for a mediocre film. But in truth it has become likely that the film or even the actors will fade into the background and won’t be remembered at the end of the year, let alone the end of the decade or century as previous films and icons are.

All this is unfortunate for the film industry and those genuine actors who do make films that deserve to be recognised in the future. So the public flocked to see the latest Twilight film over Harry Brown because they prefer to watch Robert Pattinson over Michael Caine, despite the latter being one of the most prolific and respected British actors of our time. Perhaps this is too harsh as the films are indeed aimed at two different types of movie-goer. However, I haven’t yet had someone ask me what I thought of the portrayal of youth in Harry Brown, meanwhile I’ve had a million questions about whether I’m on ‘Team Edward’, ‘Team Jacob’ or ‘Team Jedward’. In years to come, I still believe that when people list the greatest actors of all time we’ll still be singing the likes of Bogart and Kelly and it will be a case of Robert who? That is indeed the difference of being the actor of the moment and the actor of the best moments in Hollywood.

Lucy Kenderdine

Features & NewsFilm & TV
2 Comments on this post.
  • Rosie
    13 January 2010 at 10:01
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    Wow great article, you reall hit the nail on the head there. That’s the problem with so many things nowadays, there are so few things that will actually last and be remembered and even if they do for a shor time they will not have the longevity of the true Hollywood stars you mentioned and many more.
    I’m so glad other people share my opinion on this, I really enjoyed reading it.

  • Angus
    13 January 2010 at 15:03
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    But Hollywood has always relied on big names to draw in the crowds, it’s never exactly been renowned for its subtle film making. Sure, Robert Paterson and Zac Effron are all a part of the transient fame of Hollywood, but you seem to ignore the other Hollywood actors that we perhaps will remember. What about Heath Ledger, or Leonardo Di Caprio, neither of whom are (or were) exactly poor actors. Not to mention those who are yet to do go on to great things (a good actor spends a lifetime proving his/her ability).

    Independent films have always struggled to make themselves heard above the mainstream juggernaut, but we can at least be thankful that they do now have a voice, and can have major success at film festivals all over the world. Thank goodness the majority of them do address more ‘intellectual’ topics than most Hollywood films, but to believe that they will ever have the popularity that Hollywood films do is absurd. Even the more ‘intellectual’ Hollywood films struggle when placed next to their all action counterparts (Frost/Nixon would never make as much as ‘Avatar’ for example). This refers back to the ‘popular culture’ Vs ‘high culture’ battle seen in all the arts.

    Finally, as with anything, nobody knew Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn would be so revered today, because nobody can predict who posterity will remember. In 100 years time it will of course be a case of ‘Robert who?’, but people will still be complaining about the transience of their own ‘stars’, and alluding to actors of our generation, perhaps even referring to it as a golden age.

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