Obsessed with a screen image

The Picture Idol
R: James Young. B: James Young. D: Maurice Costello, Clara Kimball Young, Mary Maurice, George Cooper, Tom Powers, Charles Eldridge, Alice Lake. P: Vitagraph Company of America. USA 1912
Print: EYEfilm
Dutch titles

“The Vitagraph Company was well supplied with a leading man to play this situation, its own star romantic hero filled the bill. All the players seem to have enjoyed playing it; it is full of good comedy and made, on Broadway, where it was perhaps best understood, many good, appreciative laughs. A schoolgirl, played by Clara Kimball Young, falls in love with a picture hero, played by Maurice Costello. The girl’s parents (Mr. Eldridge and Mrs. Maurice), as well as her schoolboy sweetheart (…), are troubled. The father goes to see the picture idol and they make up a plan to disillusion the girl. His table manners made laughs, but didn’t quite cure the girl; so they made up one of the boys as the idol’s wife, and got four kids to come in from the street. This did the business. The camera work is very good.”
The Moving Picture World, June 15, 1912

“A spectator’s obsession with a screen image was (…) not an individual aberration but a cultural development signifying a profound change in social relations. Stardom as a widespread form of commodity fetishism signified the end of small-town values and the subsequent estrangement of human beings in an industrial order. The Picture Idol mistigates this transformation by showcasing its star in a small-town milieu. But under consumer capitalism, social relation would eventually be subject to reification so that, in the words of Georg Lukács, ‘a relation between people takes on the character of a thing.’ When personality displaced character as a basis for self-making in urban life, human beings and relationships became commodities subject to market forces. (…) Women were especially vulnerable because they were commodified as spectacle in heterosexual romance, while losing the supportive homosocial ties of Victorian femal culture.”
Vicki Callahan: Reclaiming the Archive: Feminism and Film History. Wayne State University Press 2010, p. 268