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Culture Celebrity and the Cemetery

by Linda Levitt
Publisher: Routledge
Release Date: 2018-05-30
Genre: Art
Pages: 176 pages
ISBN 13: 0877882487
ISBN 10: 9780877882480
Format: PDF, ePUB, MOBI, Audiobooks, Kindle

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Monuments and memorials commemorating the dead and past events around the world have recently gained importance, not least because we are living in an era in which many are driven to record and archive the events of their lives. Cemeteries, in particular, are increasingly viewed as places associated with popular culture and cultural memory, with many now being considered as heritage tourism sites. Culture, Celebrity, and the Cemetery analyses the famous Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles, USA, examining how the cemetery presents itself as an attraction, whilst also safeguarding and promoting cultural heritage. Focusing on an analysis of the articulation and performance of commemoration, Levitt examines how the cemetery leverages its rich resources to draw visitors and the diverse ways in which visitors interact with the cemetery, considering the influence of celebrity culture, fandoms, and cinema culture. Combining ethnographic research with cultural analysis, the book situates Hollywood Forever in the context of cemetery development in the United States and argues that touristic visits to cemeteries more generally have become similar to visits to more traditional memorials. Providing more than just a critical analysis of this fascinating cemetery as a landscape of famous death, Levitt coherently weaves the theme of cultural memory and meaning-making throughout every chapter. Offering the first book-length study of the cultural impact of Hollywood Forever in particular, and the cemetery as public heritage space in general, Culture, Celebrity, and the Cemetery will be of interest to scholars and students of heritage studies and tourism around the world.
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Monuments and memorials commemorating the dead and past events around the world have recently gained importance, not least because we are living in an era in which many are driven to record and archive the events of their lives. Cemeteries, in particular, are increasingly viewed as places associated with popular culture and cultural memory, with many now being considered as heritage tourism sites. Culture, Celebrity, and the Cemetery analyses the famous Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles, USA, examining how the cemetery presents itself as an attraction, whilst also safeguarding and promoting cultural heritage. Focusing on an analysis of the articulation and performance of commemoration, Levitt examines how the cemetery leverages its rich resources to draw visitors and the diverse ways in which visitors interact with the cemetery, considering the influence of celebrity culture, fandoms, and cinema culture. Combining ethnographic research with cultural analysis, the book situates Hollywood Forever in the context of cemetery development in the United States and argues that touristic visits to cemeteries more generally have become similar to visits to more traditional memorials. Providing more than just a critical analysis of this fascinating cemetery as a landscape of famous death, Levitt coherently weaves the theme of cultural memory and meaning-making throughout every chapter. Offering the first book-length study of the cultural impact of Hollywood Forever in particular, and the cemetery as public heritage space in general, Culture, Celebrity, and the Cemetery will be of interest to scholars and students of heritage studies and tourism around the world.
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ABSTRACT: As the final resting place of celebrities and notable public figures such as Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Jr., Janet Gaynor, Mel Blanc, and Barbara La Marr, Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles has long served as a tourist attraction and a site of public memory. The touristic visit or pilgrimage to the cemetery can be, like the visit to a sanctioned memorial, a means of stitching oneself into the cultural past. This dissertation considers the articulation and performance of commemoration in contemporary culture, specifically situated at Hollywood Forever. I examine how the cemetery leverages its rich resources from the past to generate new collective experiences and attitudes in the present. Through the outdoor film series Cinespia, a communitywide Dia de los Muertos celebration, performances of Shakespearean plays, and annual memorial services and commemorative events in honor of celebrities interred there, Hollywood Forever invites visitors to use the cemetery as social space. Combining ethnographic research with cultural analysis, I consider how the public interacts with Hollywood Forever. This dissertation looks at the influence of celebrity culture, how shared experience in a unique setting can create a meaningful sense of place, and how the past is appropriated for purposes in the present. In examining the rituals and performances surrounding celebrity fan culture at the cemetery, I consider how fandom creates a sense of community that is deeply connected to the physical space of Hollywood Forever. Using the space of the cemetery for entertainment and leisure has the potential to change perceptions of the cemetery, as uneasiness with the setting fades and visitors become comfortable and enjoy their experience. As Hollywood Forever functions as a space that can provide both solitude and community, perceptions of the cemetery change in the process.
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