Scott Hardie | May 16, 2020
I saw a short documentary about Alfred Hitchcock the other night. It showed some of his many cameo roles on-screen in his films, and clips from when he hosted his own long-running TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and assorted other media appearances like TV commercials that he made and many broadcast interviews that he gave. Even his logo is his face. And this documentary mentioned how this very high profile as a director, where he was often more famous than anyone in his cast, led to him being the first director taken seriously by the public and acclaimed as a master filmmaker.

...But it's 2020 now. We understand media manipulation and constant self-promotion better. We've seen "lifestyle" figures like Kim Kardashian and Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart master the act of marketing themselves -- there is no separate brand; they are the brand. Donald Trump even made it to the White House by marketing himself aggressively as a brand.

So while I certainly don't dismiss Hitchcock's skill as a filmmaker, I do wonder if:

1) Part of his reputation can be chalked up to his higher visibility than his contemporaries. (That is to say, of all of the good directors of that era, he got more attention and thus an inflated reputation.)

2) His media appearances allowed him to shape his own reputation directly, in ways that academia/critics/scholars haven't yet undone.

3) He deserves way more credit for media manipulation than he gets. His films didn't just become hits on their own!

4) He ever got tired of the endless media appearances. It must have been exhausting, especially considering how prolific he was as a filmmaker at the same time.

Is Hitchcock deserving of some degree of re-appraisal? Or am I just making a very late realization about him that everyone else already understood long ago?


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