Abstract

In the 1970s the large multinational entertainment conglomerates that gained control of both publishing and Hollywood traded the rights to creative works across different media, hoping for a single moneymaking hit. This new emphasis on blockbuster productions led to a “winner-take-all” labor market with a few superstar earners and many struggling unknowns. Both Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick used their respective versions of The Shining to describe the conditions of the 1970s media industries. Each told the story of a would-be middle-class writer grappling with the Overlook Hotel, the larger, phantasmal structure of capital that surrounds him. In King’s version the hotel represents publishing and other aspects of the literary field, whereas Kubrick identifies it more closely with Warner Brothers, which distributed and financed the film. Understanding The Shining as a narrative of artistic production will ultimately help us understand not only the interlocking structure of the publishing and film industries in the late 1970s but also the ways in which the inequality in the media industries during that time prefigured and helped to justify the growing social inequality across society under neoliberalism.

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