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The Face That Launched a Thousand LawsuitsThe American Women Who Forged a Right to Privacy$
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Jessica Lake

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780300214222

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300214222.001.0001

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Setting the Scene

Setting the Scene

Proliferating Pictures and the Advent of Photography and Cinema

(p.19) 1 Setting the Scene
The Face That Launched a Thousand Lawsuits

Jessica Lake

Yale University Press

This chapter offers an analysis of the changes in visual technologies that were occurring in the nineteenth century and the ways in which photography and cinema radically altered the experience of seeing and being seen by others. For the picture taker, photography offered many pleasures; for the pictured subject, however, it created an acute tension between feelings of identification and alienation. I argue that the invention of photography and its fashioning as an amateur pastime (led by George Eastman and the Kodak company) from the 1880s, together with the development of cinema at the end of the nineteenth century, occasioned the potential for new harms to pictured subjects (especially women) for which existing laws provided inadequate redress. This chapter discusses the popularity of ‘detective’ cameras and surreptitious photography and the ways in which the camera became a gendered device – with advertisements and news commentary employing camera-as-firearm associations and casting young men as ‘hunting’ for pictures of ‘pretty girls’. It also demonstrates the potential discomfort of becoming a subject upon the silent screen in early film history and how film studios appropriated people’s personal narratives in their drive for sellable stories.

Keywords:   Photography, Cinema, Camera, Detective, Portrait, Surreptitious, Kodak, Amateur, Women, Pictures

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