Hollywood’s Dream Factory -or- Manufacture of Body Genres

One of the basic poetic metaphors found in many of my dreams is the thematic of the human body. The anthropologist Mary Douglas "Natural Symbols: Explorations in Cosmology" has provided a guiding light for my paradigmatic thought about the social symbolic role of the body as it relates to social groups and their dreams. In exploring the relationship between film and dreams, it is hard to miss the poetic connection to the human body.

The Body as a Medium of Expression: Pornography, Horror and Melodrama on Film

In "The Body as a Medium of Expression", Jonathan Benthall and Ted Polemus (eds) provide the reader with an anthology of essays, which are in search of an integrated concept of the social role of the body from anthropological, sociological and political perspectives. Benthall tells us that; "The body is perhaps the foremost of all metaphors for a society's perception of itself, recurring constantly in myths and cosmogonies, art and literature." One might add, in dreams. Sadly, none of the well written essays substantially address the issue of the body in dreams.

In her essay "Film Bodies: Gender, Genre, and Excess", Linda Williams explores the anatomy of film bodies and their physical expression by performers on the silver screen. For Williams, bodies are defined by the film genre and the concomitant structures of fantasy. Williams explores three fantasy types of body genre, which include; pornography, horror and melodrama. Porn involves erotic images and sexuality, horror produces violent images and draws blood, while melodrama elicits scenes of crying. Williams points out, that all three body genres involve either sadism, masochism or a combination of both.

These fantasy body genres can also be found circulating in our dreams and have found expression at the International Institute for Dream Research (IIDR) website. So for example we find the body genre of pornography well represented in dreams; "Married or Soft Porn?", "Grotesque Body", "Cybersex and the Adult Entertainment Industry" and "Confessions of a Porn Addict".

The body genre of horror films can be found in dreams posted at the IIDR website, "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" and "Night of the Living Dead -or- Thriller".

Finally, melodrama is well represented in such posted dream interpretations as; "Cry Me a River -or- Who Will Write the History of Tears?", and "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying".

These are not the only fantasy body genres illustrated at the IIDR website. It has been one of my goals to present to you the reader a unified artistic vision of the anatomy of body fantasies in dreams. To say that global mass media and the Hollywood Dream Factory has influenced our perceptions of the body and our dreams is a gross understatement.


All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.