Another ‘Tap into Research’ lecture celebrates TRU.

Joceline Anderson discusses the history of the cameo role to celebrate TRU’S 50th anniversary

In part with TRU’s 50th-anniversary celebration, TRU presents a Tap Into Research lecture with Joceline Anderson, Ph.D., an assistant teaching professor in the Journalism, Communications, and New Media department at TRU.

The short lecture provided insight into the Cameo role in television and movies and its significance. The talk also discussed Anderson’s new book, Stars and Silhouettes: The History of the Cameo Role in Hollywood.

The event was live-streamed on YouTube at 7 p.m. on Nov. 4. There was a chat available for Anderson to answer any viewer’s questions and comments while watching the premiere. Anderson pre-recorded the lecture along with accompanying slides.

In her lecture regarding her research, Anderson said, “one thing I love about my research about film culture and the cameo in small parts is that although there are many film traditions, Hollywood cinema is an important part of our shared, popular and participatory culture.” 

Anderson also touched on how streaming services are affecting people as viewers. “What we think of our shared moving image history is changing with the advent of streaming services as the structures that limited our access to films and television are now developing new schedules and patterns of viewing. Like it or not, our moving image culture is bound up with films that historically have come out of U.S. movie production.”

“In Canada, we often gripe about the inability of our domestic film industry to challenge the dominance of Hollywood,” Anderson said, regarding the effect of Hollywood on Canada. 

“As Canadians, though, many of us would be hard-pressed to recognize a Canadian star. Many of the stars who we think of as ours, a recent conversation about Eugene Levy comes to mind, are recognizable in Canada only after they have been made famous through the film machine of Hollywood.”

Anderson said, “in my book, Stars and Silhouettes, A History of the Cameo Role in Hollywood, from Wayne State University Press, I give an account of the cameo as it has been known and used over the last 100 years as a way to reinforce fan participation in celebrity culture.”

Anderson then discusses what cameos are and the history of why they came to be. “Cameos are often described in ways that account for the brief duration of the role as an extra, as a bit part, as a secondary role. Other names used to describe the cameo emphasize the aspect of celebrity and recognition that makes cameos stand out from most small roles such as celebrity flash guest roles, special appearances, or my favourite, ‘a special cup of tea.’”

Anderson adds that “to discuss the cameo, I like Ernest Mathijs definition, which is a role where performers are recognizable for their public persona rather than the character they play.” 

“Rather than remain in the background of the story, the cameo role stands out to audiences as it briefly breaks with fiction to display a real-life character. Cameo roles do stand out in the marketing of films and in audiences’ minds,” Anderson said.

To learn more about the cameo role or watch the lecture, anyone can check out the video on the Thompson Rivers University Youtube channel.