Scholar Looks at Hollywood's High Schools

Saint Mary's College sociology professor Robert Bulman and his new book "Hollywood Goes to High School" were featured in an article in the Contra Costa Times.

"Hollywood is doing nothing but reflecting middle-class anxiety," said Bulman, whose book evolved from a January Term course he first taught in 2000. The book examines how films about teenagers reflect a culture obsessed with individualism, and deeply ambivalent about wealth and privilege.

"Relax, it's just entertainment," Bulman said. "Yeah, but entertainment is a reflection of our culture. It speaks to our hopes and wishes about what we would like to see."

But Bulman said these movies never suggest that long-term solutions to urban high school problems must address racial discrimination and inner cities' lack of economic opportunity and access to higher education.

"By simplifying the many problems of urban public education and turning inner-city students and public school teachers into caricatures of their respective social classes," Bulman noted, "Hollywood is doing nothing but reflecting middle-class anxiety ... and the naive hope that such problems need not a sustained political commitment from all members of society, but merely the individual moral conversion of poor students."

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