Berkeley Film & Media Seminar
BFMS Lecture Series: Giorgio Bertellini
In the forthcoming volume The Divo and the Duce: Promoting Film Stardom and Political Leadership in 1920s America (University of California Press, 2019), I seek to document and analyze an inaugural moment of today’s much discussed convergence of political and celebrity culture. Specifically, I uncover practices of public opinion management that in 1920s America gave political relevance to Italian-born Hollywood actor Rudolph Valentino and popular appeal to the Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. Amidst the period’s remarkable expansion of consumerism and mass entertainment, these two foreign stars’ popularity, together with their widely-promoted fiction and non-fiction films, were made to challenge the revered ideals of direct democracy and free consumers’ choice in favor of mass consensus for charismatic male leadership.
Co-sponsored by the Department of Italian Studies.