This article employs the concept of imitation as a lens through which the author explores the complex relationship established between the fledgling Hollywood film industry and the first generation of girls to be culturally construed as “adolescent” and “movie fans” in the US. Interlacing early twentieth-century psychological literature, sociological studies, and materials published in film fan magazines, industry trade publications, and general newspapers with girls' own fan letters and photographs, the author maps the ways in which imitation became a source of agency and pleasure for movie-loving girls during the 1910s—a decade when popular and scientific sources understood imitative behavior as both a mark of women's intellectual inferiority and a product of female adolescent arrestment. The main goal of this piece is thus to show that adolescent girls contributed significantly to the implementation of Hollywood's star system. This article also analyzes the ambivalent modes of representation and address journalists directed at girl spectators and how such modes evidenced the film industry's growing dependence on young female audiences, as well as the broader patriarchal anxiety over girls' newfound public autonomy, spectatorial pleasure, and homoerotic identification.

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