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BELIEVE IT OR NOT

Hollywood on the Potomac.

MOVIE-GOING HAS LONG CEASED to be a national habit for just about everyone except teenagers, but the movies themselves remain a powerful instrument in the multimedia symphony of American mass culture. Television is a continuum and pop music a way of life, but each new picture is an aspiring Event—its fatal attraction dependent on stimulating the public’s fascination. Entertainment aside, the movies’ function has been to offer metaphors, showcase possibilities, present new personality types, and provide socially cohesive cocktail-party conversation and intimations of the zeitgeist. More: the Hollywood blockbuster is also the r&d of American politics. Both pols and producers seek to generate consensus by fabricating scenarios that appeal to the greatest number of consumers. Once in a while there’s a confluence so resonant it seems world-historic: the coincidence of Rocky and Jimmy Carter in

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