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Mamma Mia! edited collection
full name / name of organization:
Louise FitzGerald, University of East Anglia, UK
‘Diggin’ Dancing Queens and Wedding Scenes: The Phenomenon of Mamma Mia!
Call for abstracts deadline: 19th April 2010
Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This cfp invites submissions for a proposed collection exploring the 2008 film Mamma Mia! and the cultural phenomenon that surrounded it. To date, the film is positioned as the 42nd highest grossing film of all time, the most successful musical of all time, and the 5th highest grossing film of 2008. In Britain, the box office success of Mamma Mia surpassed the phenomenal success of Cameron’s 1997 film Titanic and it has been estimated that at least one in four British households owns a DVD copy of Mamma Mia. Indeed, on the day of the film’s DVD release, Amazon reported that it had become the fastest selling product. Reports from America, Sweden, Finland, Japan, Australia, Germany, France and Greece have also testified to the phenomenal success of the film.
Critics debating the film’s outstanding success have suggested that its popularity resulted from the dire economic recession that was enveloping so many countries in 2008 ( the idea of the musical functioning in terms of escapism has been debated since at least the classical Hollywood period). The film offered relatively cheap, escapist entertainment that, as many have argued, raised the spirits of audiences dealing with higher mortgage payments, bankruptcy and the threat of unemployment. Despite Mamma Mia’s outstanding international success amongst filmgoers, film critics have lauded the musical as a “cumulative weight of terribleness” and warned that those who loved the film would have to “prove their intelligence”. Such sentiments reflect an established tension that functions to polarize films as either ‘high’ or ‘low’ brow entertainment, and the audiences as either critically engaged or an uneducated mass of consumers. These sentiments are often couched in gendered terms and serve to reinforce the idea that films addressed to a male audience have more cultural capital than those addressed to women.
This edited collection aims to study Mamma Mia! in terms of its success, and how this success can also be contextualised within the film’s cultural politics. Indeed, the film has often incited debate at the level of gender politics, and can variously be read as empowering ‘mature’ woman, as rejecting marriage as the pinnacle of young women’s lives and as foregrounding a more positive representation of cinema’s lone mother figure. However others have commented on its apparent infantilization of Greek characters, and have pointed to Mamma Mia as an example of the cultural reiteration of regressive post-feminist gender politics. As such, this collection will explore the ways in which issues of class, gender and popular culture are articulated in Mamma Mia and debates about it. Topics might also include (but are not restricted to);
The mother and daughter relationship