The Construction of Social Reality in Contemporary Lithuanian Popular Films

 

Ilona Vitkauskaitė

 

The relatively new phenomenon of popular/commercial Lithuanian cinema, together with television production and their intertwined relation, is still often overlooked by scholars. So far, these films or TV programmes are only analysed in individual reviews, while their evaluations are usually based on the criteria of artistry. This focus often leads to a totalising judgement of such films or TV series as cheap and tasteless entertainment. However, recalling Antonio Gramsci’s concept of hegemony, it can be said that popular culture, although trivial and schematic at first glance, conveys a hegemonic world view, supporting and strengthening the dominant socio-political and economic system. Popular culture participates in constructing us as social actors, at the same time acknowledging and shaping our desires. Therefore, popular films or series are much more than ‘cheap entertainment’ – they are also saturated with ideologies, which makes them well-suited for exploring the role of representations in the maintenance of social structures, formation of individual and social identities and practices, normalisation of certain lifestyles, values, and beliefs.

 

Firstly, this paper examines how the desires and fantasies of the post-Soviet transformation are expressed in Lithuanian popular culture. Secondly, it explores a close relation between commercial cinema and television. The findings of the paper are based on a textual analysis of two case studies, Women Lie Better: Christine (Moterys meluoja geriau. Christine, 2013) and Women Lie Better: Robertelis (Moterys meluoja geriau. Robertelis, 2018), both films being based on successful TV series.

Ilona Vitkauskaitė is a PhD student at Vilnius University, Faculty of Communication. Her research interests include popular cinema and culture, post-Soviet transformation, neoliberalism, gender and sexuality. She is also the editor of the film section at the cultural weekly newspaper 7 meno dienos.