Hollywood Has-Beens

Wednesday, Apr. 9, 2014 10:59 am

Kevin Kopelson, professor of English at the University of Iowa, offers a humorous take on “Hollywood Has-Beens” and what we can learn from them about acceptance and delight.

His presentation, complete with film clips, is at 4:15 p.m. Friday, April 18 in ARH Room 102. The free event is open to the public.

Every one of us, he says, will become a has-been someday. What type of has-been may depend upon your imagination as well as your imaginary role model:

  • Lina Lamont in Singin’ in the Rain (1952), a spectacular failure who doesn’t realize she’s one;
  • Tony Hunter in The Band Wagon (1953), an uncanny, unaccountable success;
  • Norman Maine in A Star is Born (1954), an alcoholic suicide;
  • Jane Hudson in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), an alcoholic murderess.

He says, “I intend to show that those of us who are academics at a certain age, and in particular those of us who are queer theorists, have much to learn (professionally) from these movie musicals.” He suggests they can teach us to cope with chagrin and to feel a kind of delight.

Kevin KopelsonKopelson is the author of six books, including: Beethoven’s Kiss: Pianism, Perversion, and the Mastery of Desire; The Queer Afterlife of Vaslav Nijinsky; and the somewhat satirical Confessions of a Plagiarist: And Other Tales from School.

Kopelson's presentation is sponsored by the Center for the Humanities