The Author of Mass Entertainment
In recent decades, theater historians have strenuously argued that attributing plays to single authors such as Shakespeare belies the intensely collaborative nature of the Renaissance theater. The epilogue to Pleasing Everyone demonstrates how the same conceptual obstacles to claiming authorship in mass entertainment absorbed Charlie Chaplin, who came to view the auteur as necessarily having to match in himself the heterogeneity of his film crews and his mass audiences. The pressing question in Chaplin’s sound-era silent films—whether he should rightly be understood as a ruthless dictator or as a man of the people—is not particular to Chaplin, however: the epilogue closes with Orson Welles’s attempt to claim similar multiple personalities for himself in Citizen Kane.
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