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UNL News Blog

Art imitating life

Any time you get a real-life news story intersecting with the timing of a film along the same general subject matter, you get stories wondering whether the news event will help the film’s popularity. I remember, in 1998, getting handed an assignment shortly after U.S. warplanes attacked Iraqi targets during the No-Fly Zone era in Iraq. It was during the Lewinsky scandal, which caused endless comparisons to a movie that came out a few weeks earlier called “Wag The Dog.” Such Cinematic Serendipity — real-life news intersecting with Hollywood — is a regular entry point into which to punch an enterprising and well-spoken film-studies professor.

In UNL’s case, it’s the ever-resourceful Wheeler Winston Dixon, Ryan Professor of Film Studies, who was recently tapped by to discuss whether the recent capture of a Russian spy ring would have a beneficial impact on the new Angelina Jolie spy-thriller “Salt.” Dixon, as he always does, gives a well-reasoned response to the story’s central question — that a movie can have box-office success if it’s, well, of good quality, features strong performances and has some star power to boot.

Dixon gets quoted a lot nationally. One main reason — besides his ever-growing list of published books on the history of film — is because he is not afraid to share his opinions on all matters in his area of expertise.

In a given month, we may send Dixon a half-dozen to a dozen queries on how film and culture intersect, and he gives direct, clear answers to reporters’ questions. Sounds simple, but it’s not. Nonetheless, it’s helped give him a very solid batting average when it comes to getting quoted by major news outlets.

Here are a few of our recent Dixon favorites:

Why are there so many movies that put emphasis on an anti-hero? From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

What makes a “real” superstar? From E! Online.

Sizzle surrounds “Avatar” as industry anticipates new phase for movies, from The Christian Science Monitor.

Horror films reflect the times, from the San Jose Mercury News.

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