Rock around the Real Fictional bands on film_S Butler_Redacted.pdf (23.8 MB)

“Rock around the Real” Fictional bands on film: The evolution of an invisible genre

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posted on 2023-11-02, 04:56 authored by Stephen ButlerStephen Butler
‘To begin with, everything’– Russell Hammond (Almost famous) Rock music is a global phenomenon that originated in the 1950s and continues to the present day. The rock musician has become a ubiquitous figure in a wide range of mass media forms: novels, biographies, magazines, games, TV shows and films. Since rock music and its ‘project of authenticity’ (Keightley 2003) began ‘becoming residual’ (Grossberg 2002), a phenomenon sometimes characterized as the “death of rock” (Dettmar 2006), fictional band films have proliferated. This thesis documents the evolution of the fictional band film in terms of genre theory, the social history of rock, and the discourses of authenticity circulating in the media. The thesis employs poststructuralist film theory and semiotic analysis to elaborate on the significance of what might be regarded as an ‘invisible genre’ (Brown 2013). The study focuses on five feature films, each of which tells the story of a fictional band in a particular phase of what Bennett (1991, p. 147) calls the ‘paradigmatic rock’n’roll career’: cult phase, crossing over, transcendence, decline, and comeback. In contrast to the prevalent critical view that the rock fiction film is inferior to non-fictional genres such as the documentary, concert film and biopic, analysis suggests that the fictional band film is a specific performance of rock, and perhaps rock’s paradigmatic cinematic expression.



Central Queensland University

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I request that access to the thesis or portfolio (hard bound and electronic copy}, or parts thereof, be restricted for a specified period, and that release of the thesis during that period for the purpose of research or private study be contingent upon the approval of the Chair, Research Higher Degree Committee (or nominee}. I understand, in those cases where I am not reasonably available, such approval may be granted without my having been consulted. Embargo expired.

Open Access

  • Yes

Era Eligible

  • No


Dr John Fitzsimmons ; Professor Denis Cryle

Thesis Type

  • Doctoral Thesis

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