Politicising stardom: Jane Fonda, IPC Films and Hollywood, 1977-1982
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This thesis is an empirical analysis of Jane Fonda’s films, stardom, and political activism during the most commercially successful period of her career. At the outset, Fonda’s early stardom is situated in relation to contemporaneous moral and political ideologies in the United States and how she functioned as both an agent and symbol of these ideologies. Her anti-war activism in the early-1970s constituted the apex of Fonda’s radicalisation and the nadir of her popular appeal; a central question of this thesis, therefore, is how her stardom was rehabilitated for the American mainstream to the point of becoming Hollywood’s most bankable actress. As the star and producer of IPC Films, Fonda developed political projects using commercial formats, namely Coming Home (1978), The China Syndrome (1979), Nine to Five (1980), and Rollover (1981). The final IPC film, On Golden Pond (1981), signalled an ideological breach in this political strategy by favouring a familial spectacle, and duly outperformed its predecessors significantly. The first and last chapters of this work provide historical parameters for IPC in Fonda’s career, while the remaining chapters are structured by the conceptual and political aspects of each IPC project. Julia (1977) is discussed as an IPC prototype through its dramatisation of political consciousness. Coming Home, The China Syndrome, Nine to Five, and Rollover all exhibit this motif whereas On Golden Pond employs melodramatic nostalgia. Often discussed reductively as a star symbolising change, this thesis instead uses archival and published sources to analyse Fonda’s individual agency in historical context, as well as the cultural and political impact of her stardom. The IPC enterprise provided cinematic apparatus for Fonda’s political recuperation within the American mainstream, which, more broadly, harboured significance for the nation’s conservative resurgence at the end of the 1970s.
AuthorsRafferty, James Michael
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