Razzle Dazzle, Pt 5: The Maverick

A six-part video essay about fame and the movies
by Aaron Aradillas and Matt Zoller Seitz  posted July 27, 2010
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This is the fifth chapter in a six-part series of video essays looking at how movies have examined the many facets of fame. Also in this series: Part 1 (The Pitch), Part 2 (The Hero), Part 3 (The Fraud), Part 4 (The Parasite), and Part 6 (The Takeaway). This installment, titled "The Maverick," deals with a disreputable offshoot of the traditional hero: an eloquent, exuberant, often impolite figure who serves as a town crier or truth-teller figure (or seems to). Unlike the traditional hero, The Maverick seems to take a more active role in shaping his image and connecting with the public. He's an outsider who uses mass media to articulate the audience's fears and yearnings, and whose charisma spurs them to action.

There are many different varieties of Maverick, ranging from pure entertainers (such as Howard Stern in Private Parts) to outlaws that spew suppressed or forbidden thoughts (Barry Champlain in Talk Radio, Hard Harry in Pump Up the Volume). More troubling are the rebels-in-name-only, a group that includes the title character of Bob Roberts, a millionaire right-wing mouthpiece who repackages establishment sentiments as outlaw philosophy. The Maverick is impulsive, volatile, sometimes unstable, and prone to self-destruction. And in the end he's not as powerful as he or his audience may think, because his fame depends on access to microphones or TV cameras that can be taken away at any time, for any reason.



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Warner Home Video
Andy Griffith in A Face in the Crowd, directed by Elia Kazan


video essay  |  fame


Razzle Dazzle, Pt 1: The Pitch by Aaron Aradillas and Matt Zoller Seitz
Razzle Dazzle, Pt 2: The Hero by Aaron Aradillas and Matt Zoller Seitz
Razzle Dazzle, Pt 3: The Fraud by Aaron Aradillas and Matt Zoller Seitz
Razzle Dazzle, Pt 4: The Parasite by Aaron Aradillas and Matt Zoller Seitz
More: Article Archive


San Antonio-based film critic Aaron Aradillas is a contributor to The House Next Door, the founder and publisher of Rockcritics.com and the host of “Back by Midnight,” an Internet radio program about film and television.

More articles by Aaron Aradillas

Matt Zoller Seitz is a writer and filmmaker whose debut feature, the romantic comedy Home, is available through Netflix and Amazon. His writing on film and television has appeared in The New York Times, New York Press, and The Star Ledger, among other places. He is also the founder of The House Next Door, a movie and TV criticism website.

More articles by Matt Zoller Seitz
Author's Website: The House Next Door