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Hollywood In and Out: A Look into the Academy Awards Ceremony's Transition from Private Banquet to Public Spectacle
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Media Studies, Fashion Studies.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1286-073X
2019 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation only (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The Academy Awards ceremony is the foremost reference to Hollywood gatherings. Since its inception, in 1929, the event has shifted format and itinerated in different locations, frequently outside the confinements of Hollywood city. Several of these changes of venue bare a close relation with political decisions, the events’ increasing popularity, and the technological developments that turned the ceremony into a media event. Key to this mediatization of the Oscars is how the ceremony transformed from a private banquet into a public spectacle. This paper looks into such a transition from a private gathering into a public spectacle and the consequent spatial reconfigurations.

It is necessary to problematize the conceptualization of Hollywood, understanding it as a fluid idea that works both as a geographical space and as well as a community striving for prestige. This paper engages with Michel Foucault’s concept of heterotopia to help elucidate how the U.S. film industry’s appropriation of the notion of Hollywood allowed it to function as an abstract conception for the mediascape instead of anchoring the event to a geographical area. The first Oscars ceremony took place at the Roosevelt Hotel, in Hollywood. By 1930, the Academy Awards moved outside Hollywood, at the Ambassador Hotel’s Cocoanut Grove in Los Angeles. A big leap from private gatherings to public spectacle took place in 1944 when the ceremony changed the format and moved into Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Historical discourses around the event attribute such shift to a search for austerity during wartime. I argue that rather than lowering the event's profile as a gesture of austerity, the move into movie venues turned the ceremony into a grandiose public spectacle that function as the steppingstone for the media event we see today. By 1947, the Oscars had already moved out of Hollywood. Despite the restless migratory patterns that took the ceremony continued carrying its aura as the quintessential spectacle “live from Hollywood.” It was not until the construction of the Kodak Theatre was completed, in 2002, that the ceremony established in Hollywood for good. 

This presentation provides a historical overview of the Academy Awards Ceremony from a spatial perspective by looking at the venues in which it was organized, their infrastructure, and the arrangements required as a consequence of technological media shifts and the events’ increasing popularity. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019.
Keywords [en]
hollywood, architecture, geography, Chinese theatre, academy awards, class, oscars, movie theaters
National Category
History Architecture Studies on Film
Research subject
Cinema Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-167839OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-167839DiVA, id: diva2:1302842
Conference
Society for Cinema and Media Studies, SCMS 2019, Seattle, USA, March 13-17, 2019
Available from: 2019-04-06 Created: 2019-04-06 Last updated: 2019-04-07

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