Today's date:
Fall 1998

Under the Signs of Mickey Mouse and Bruce Willis

Todd Gitlin, a professor of culture, journalism and sociology at New York University is a fellow this year at the Media Studies Center in New York. He is the author of The Twilight of Common Dreams, The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage, and the forthcoming novel, Sacrifice (Metropolitan/Henry Holt).

New York - If it seems perverse to speak of the unification of the world by Mickey Mouse and Bruce Willis, this is because the world is peculiar. If you visit the champagne works of Piper-Heidsieck in Reims, France, at the entrance you pass a plaque noting that the cellar was dedicated by Marie Antoinette. At the end of the tour, you enter a small museum consisting entirely of photographs of people drinking champagne. These worthies are neither members of today's royal houses, nor presidents or prime ministers, nor economic titans. They are movie stars, almost all of them American - Marilyn Monroe to Clint Eastwood. Perhaps Leonardo will be added - di Caprio, not da Vinci. The premise is unmistakable: Hollywood stars are the royalty of this century - more popular by far than doomed Marie.

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