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The King of Comedy

Directed by Martin Scorsese.
With Robert De Niro, Jerry Lewis, Diahnne Abbott.
US, 1983, 35mm, color, 109 min.

Two downbeat fables—Cronenberg’s Videodrome and Scorsese’s The King of Comedy—perhaps pondering the mystery of Ronald Reagan, as well as the impending arrival of George Orwell’s dread 1984—dramatized the nature of celebrity in the context of mass-mediated reality. The King of Comedy puts a more recognizably human face on the Media. A thirty-four-year-old messenger still living at home, Rupert Pupkin (De Niro) is a borderline psychotic driven to become a celebrity—crossing over from passive Media consumer to elite Media subject. Pupkin has no discernable talent other than a ferocious, unrelenting need of recognition. Although he has never performed for an audience, he has studied obsessively to be a talk show guest, planning to start his career on a TV program watched each night by half of America.

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