Stars in Our Eyes - The star phenomenon in the contemporary era (US), 2002

The Keanu Effect

Stardom and the Landscape of the Acting Body: Los Angeles/Hollywood as Sight/Site

by Carmel Giarratana

The Keanu Effect (PDF file, 122 KB)

Article Focus:



Academic Essays , Speed , Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure , River's Edge , My Own Private Idaho , Point Break , Matrix, The , Feeling Minnesota , Last Time I Committed Suicide, The , Act of Vengeance , Prince of Pennsylvania, The , Speed 2 , Chain Reaction , Johnny Mnemonic , Fake Geffen Marriage and Related, The


Anakin McFly
So... (2009-11-04 22:23:04)

(stuff until page 5/6 is mostly an analysis of Speed, so if you're not into film theory you can skip that.)

Thoughts? I'm calling Reasonable Fish on this one, though it seems very bandwagon prone and to be using the 'if critics say it, it must be true!' argument a bit too much. Also, the continued misspelling of 'Traven' started to piss me off after a while.

I agree with some of the author's comments about Keanu's acting style, although in my case I consider it an actual acting style rather than the absence of one, as he says.

I'm also kind of averse to how a main part of his argument also seems to revolve around how Keanu is a star mostly because of his looks and nothing else. Also, this line:

"However, despite his reputation for "poor acting," it appears talent has little to do with his being cast in a role. Although he has been a convincing clown in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989), an angst-ridden teenager in River's Edge (1987) and My Own Private Idaho (1991), and a cartoon-like action/sci-fi hero in Point Break, Speed and The Matrix (1999)"

is so Fish in the Nile. He's basically listed all of Keanu's main performances and called them good, just after he called him a bad actor. Not to mention that he later appears to find Point Break to be the best positive example of Keanu's acting ability, which... well.

(Small sidetrack; regarding the line: "When his body is threatened with violence and breach, as in the stakeout scene where Utah is thrown to the: ground and nearly meets his end pinned underneath a slicing lawn mower, the crisis for the viewer seems to be, "Oh no, what will happen to Keanu's beautiful face?"

I'd actually been thinking more along the lines of "DIE, JOHNNY, DIE!", because Utah = most annoying Keanuspawn ever, srsly. Though I kind of like him for that, because he's fun to write. Yeah okay I'm probably the only person here who doesn't like Point Break and I shall stop now.)

Some interesting points in the essay about how Keanu fulfills the audience's craving for the same, yet different, in their movies. Although of course this then requires an acknowledgement that Keanu is not exactly the same in all his films, but the author doesn't appear to be that kind of fish. He goes on quite a bit about the malleability of Keanu's image as an actor and a person, but that seems to be something universally agreed upon anyway.

I'd do it differently (2009-11-05 00:17:12)
 Somehow I didn't think that the focus on LA/Hollywood and the comparison to an actor such as Keanu made much sense. For this paper, I myself would've chosen a "star" type of actor who also plays into the hype and the personal embodiment of Hollywood. Keanu's reluctance to be seen as a star seems very contradictive to the author's constant focus on on him as just that. LA/Hollywood is a "star" that collectively wants to be seen as such, while Keanu is the exact opposite: a quiet, unwilling "star" who just wants to be seen as a hard-working actor. A craftsman, really. He's not enough of a traditional moviestar to be compared to the star qualities of Hollywood.

When was this written, by the way? 1999-2000'ish?

Also, I don't like the structure of this paper. I would expect a synopsis/abstract and a summary layout of the author's theory at the beginning. This just doesn't cut it as a "professional" layout for an academic paper.

Anakin McFly
(2009-11-05 09:29:42)

I guess he was working with a slightly different definition of star, i.e. someone who stars in a movie. In that sense, Keanu's personal life and behaviour would not really be taken into account.

Essay was written in 2002. It was part of a collection of essays entitled 'Stars in Our Eyes', so I guess the format would be different.

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