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Title: Television, Tabloids and Tears. Fassbinder and Popular Culture (Ausschnitte)
Author: Jane Shattuc, Minneapolis, 1995
Television, Tabloids and Tears.
Fassbinder and Popular Culture (Ausschnitte)
Neoclassical and PoliticaI Economic Theories of State, Nationalism, and Media Culture
Broad economic histories of European media - based on either traditional neoclassical
or Marxist economic theories - have a difficult time explaining the contradictory
history of West German state television and its support of an explicitly plural
German culture. The role of the state from a neoclassical liberal perspective
is to promote the interests of society as a whole and to mediate and reconcile
the antagonisms that arise from social existence. At its most basic, the neoclassical
economic view envisions the state as a mechanism of regulating competition
and allowing the marketplace to remain open.(1)
Orthodox economic historians can comfortably accept government restrictions when the state intervenes in order to protect its industries through tariffs, quotas and trade agreements - all limitations based on future growth and increased economic power. But the neoclassical model reveals its limitations when one adds the issue of change and history. It assumes a static worldview in which economic sufficiency is the central goal of government interests. Such a model cannot subsume issues of a purely political nature - Nazi and American imperialism or even the Allied postwar denazification program, for example. The history of the German media and their interaction with the West German government as a purely economic protector has been fraught with contradictions stemming from Germany's anomalous political history of a fascist, a communist (East Germany), and a capitalist government in the past fifty years. In fact, economic historians of Western Europe have generally agreed that what distinguishes Germany's economic history from that of other West European nations is the degree to which "politics at the highest level" has been a determining factor.(2) Although they are deeply intertwined in the economic history of German media, such 'political' considerations are outside the neoclassical model.
In many ways, the traditional Marxist economic position offers an alternative to the ahistorical neoclassical view. The state and its political considerations are central. The government is a product of the interests of a particular class and, therefore, promotes riot competition but rather monopoly. Within traditional Marxist economics, imperialism, war, and cartelization come to center stage in the rise of German capitalism in the twentieth century. In this theoretical frame, Nazi German history becomes a stage of capitalist development as German economic history moved from free trade, or limited protection, to unlimited protection; from free to cutthroat competition in the world market; and finally from mercantilism to the colonialism of fascism.
From this economic standpoint, the postwar occupation of Germany functions as a reassertion of the ruling capitalist bourgeois class back into the position of governing power as in the 'democratic' Weimar era. After the errant rise of petit-bourgeois rule under Hitler (which political theorist Nicos Poulantzas argues characterizes the aberrant nature of the fascist class system), the Allied occupation returned the old German bourgeois elite to positions of power through the process of denazification.(3) Although the goal officially was to contain fascism, the ultimate purpose of the American move into postwar Germany was to bring stability to American international markets and continue expansionist multi-national policies. Major American film companies, within this model, are among the many multinationals that used the occupation to gain an even stronger market control in an unprotected Germany.
No historian would question the fact that the film industries in both the United States and West Germany are examples of the economic systems that their respective governments wish to promote. But the problem with highly generalized Marxist analysis is the complexities of problem solving in the modern state. On a purely economic level of analysis, "it is the nature of capitalism to change but because the different parts of world economy change at varying tempos [...] their positions relative to one another are [...] unstable."(4) For example, in the postwar expansion the West Germans created a social market economy (soziale Marktwirtschaft) in which the state functioned as a much more central regulator of the economy than in the neoclassical American system that backed its renaissance. The West German market economy capitalist system developed with greater intervention on the part of a planned economy and social welfare system than in a neoclassical, relatively unrestrained economy, which his led to greater state intervention in the media.
But in the case off Fassbinder and his work for public television, economic histories need to acknowledge that the product's purpose moves beyond profit into the realm of culture and nationalism. Not only is the concept of air explicitly German culture historically problematic after the rise of Nazism, the concept of culture itself cannot easily be separated from a concept of nationalism in general. Nationalism has been defined by Ephraim Nimni as "a political and ideological movement whose main concern is the well-being of a national community, be it real or fictitious."(5) Therefore we must consider how the West German state has engineered the course of growing media economy as well as a 'healthy' nationalism, of which Fassbinder was, oddly, a leading ambassador.
Indeed, the tendency of recent German histories to chronicle art cinema and not popular cinema stems from the fact that the German government, like that of most European countries, has tended to support what Dyer and Vincendeau call the "high white traditions" as emblems of national identity as German export culture.(6) Only recently has there been a concerted effort in film criticism to break down this opposition of high European and popular American as film critics have sought a European popular cinema. This book searches for the popular response to Fassbinder's television work, but in West Germany the manufacture of high culture was much more self-conscious than in other European countries and became synonymous with the Autor (the author)-the central discourse of the German state and its cultural arm of public television to legitimize their production of German culture and in particular Fassbinder's work.
The Autor and Cultural Capital
A Fassbinder film can be understood without knowledge of his biography, but such a reading is naive. Biographical reading is a result of how films of the European art cinema were promoted in criticism and in the popular press as the personal statements of their directors in the 1960s and 1970s. These statements have had real and historical 'objective' status in the reception of Fassbinder's films within his own country. Although the Fassbinder myth involved both his filmic form and the changing history of film in West Germany in the 1970s, this book limits itself to examining Fassbinder the historical being in order to understand "the Fassbinder film."
Oddly enough, while the West Germans were innocently debating the relationship of Fassbinder's films to his life, an increasing number of theoretically inclined film historians chose to disregard the role ofdirector as a meaninful element in the reception of a film. Since Roland Barhes's proclamation of "the death of [the] author," film studies have refused more and more to analyze the role of the director, preferring to show that the caregory is, in Barthes's words, "an empty, process, functioning prefectly without there being any need for it to be filled with the person of the interlocutor."(7) The influence of structuralism and poststructuralism on film historians for the most part resulted in the belief that a director such as Fassbinder was either a 'subject' of a complicated web of ideological operations or, at best, an effect ofthe filmic text.
On the one hand, we should welcome this reaction to the simple ahistorical and apolitical idealism of the theory of the auteur as the creative center of a film. But on the other hand, we have fallen into a contradictory position: we have reduced the director to an ahistorical 'given' of the film, but he or she is nevertheless still publicly received as an active individual who created the film's meaning. As John Caughie argues, this contradictory about-face resulted from the discipline's attempt "to deny its former attachment by leaving the author (or auteur, or director) without an adequate place in theory: if the author is not at the centre, he is nowhere; if the romance is over, I will reject him utterly."(8)
"Fassbinder" as an artistic figure was not only a creation of the director's own making, but also the result of prevailing discourses on the role of the artist or Autor and the media in West Germany in the 1970. Thomas Elsaesser's New German Cinema: A History reveals how the concept of the Autor's creative role differs from the French auteur and Hollywood director. In contrast to Cahiers du Cinema's egalitarian belief that the auteur could flower in a popular and commercial setting such as Hollywood, the discourse of the German Autor stands as an angry reaction against the growing commodification of German film in the 1960s and 1970s.(9)
The Autor comes closest to the role that the European art cinema director played, functioning as the director, writer, and editor constrained by a small state-supported or commercial budget. But the German independent filmmaker demanded total autonomy from aesthetic and economic constraint. In 1962 the founding document of New German Cinema, the Oberhausen Manifesto, argued repeatedly that the director must be free of "the usual conventions of the established industry," of the "restrictive influence of commercial partners," And of the "tutelage of the other vested interests."(10) The call for unusual artistic privileges for the German director was repeated in the official history of theKuratorium (the first ,state slupported film school): "The filmmaker- should have autonomy in giving shape to his film without having to take legal and financial risk."(11) According to Elsaesser, such demands were ultimately for a state-supported avantgarde that had no direct responsibility to its audience."(12)
Autorenfilm evolved as a central ideology by which the state created and protected a national film and media culture. Here the Autor represented the "author as a public institution"; the director's individual expressivity in a film fulfilled the state's mandate to produce a plurality of political points of view after the univocal culture of fascism.(13) Nevertheless, the West German state engendered a legitimization crisis in that it set up a class conflict around who determined German artists and culture. The amorphous nature of the assignation of Autor status helped deflect the unequal privilege of awarding public monies to one individual based on bourgeois notions of aesthetic individualism. Elsaesser argues that the Autor became "a euphemistic way of classifying the unclassifiable."(14) With the Autor discourse, film aesthetics became film politics.
Television, Tabloids, and Tears breaks with a high-culture emphasis on the form and the artist in Fassbinder criticisms; it investigates Fassbinder and popular culture - what he and his works meant to the 'average' German. State television's support of Fassbinder on a public medium offers a chance to look at the cultural class division in Germany. Here Pierre Bourdieu's concepts of cultural capital and competence are relevant. Aesthetic norms are a form of domination; they result from the ability of the educated bourgeoisie to impose their cultural standards on others through such distinctions as "good taste" and "vulgar taste" and "artisan" and "artist." Created by the "high-born" or the well-educated, these cultural oppositions perpetuate the myth of "naturally given" standards or what Bourdieu calls "a new mystery of immaculate conception."(15) Bourdieu writes that taste "owes its plausibility and its efficacy to the fact that, like all ideological strategies generated in everyday class struggle, it naturalizes real differences of nature."(16) Fassbinder, as the most reknowned Autor, reveals the triumph and failure of bourgeois cultural domination in postwar West Germany.
This book charts the emergence of two different Fassbinder genres based on melodrama: the melodramatic adaptation for television and the confessional melodrama for his privately produced and theatrically released German films. These two spheres of exhibition created two separate audiences and sets of expectations for Fassbinder's films. In the 1970s Fassbinder's success was built on two separate images of the director: the faithful adapter and the underground star/director.
With the television film Berlin Alexanderplatz these two heretofore separate Fassbinder genres come together explosively. The ideological estrangement in Berlin Alexanderplatz stems not from the heightened expressive inents or the mise-en-scène, but rather from the extent to which Fassbinder stretches the plausibility of narrative causality and the method with which he breaks social codes and taboos. Although these breaks with dominant film narrative traditions are a striking element in Fassbinder's film, they are to a degree controlled and read in relation to an auteur narrative of Fassbinder's work in television.
This book shifts the debate from these textual considerations to the historical contradictions inherent in a particular bourgeois discourse on the Autor. West German support of Fassbinder was based on institutional discourses that accorded him the status of an individual artist whose work was nonetheless representative of German culture. But what does it mean to be both exemplary as an artist and representative as a German? It is this contradiction that made Fassbinder a potentially disruptive figure. Fassbinder more than any recent German director explored the limits of the Autor discourse; his anomalous life was the subject not only of his work, but also of the West German tabloids. And when he declared "I am Biberkopf" - the protagonist of Berlin Alexanderplatz - he engendered an unprecedented national debate on what constitutes an acceptable German artist and who has the power to determine art.
British Broadcasting, the State, and Education
Both his birth in 1945 and his adult status as an Autor made Fassbinder a child of the occupation. Although "JCS 1076" - the generally agreed upon position statement of the Allies in 1945 - said that Germany was "not to be occupied for the purpose liberation but as a defeated enemy nation," the British disregarded the punitive tone of this directive after the Allied zones were created.(17) With their long experience in foreign occupation during the imperial period of the nineteenth century, the British brought a keen sense of the role that high culture and the media could play as a form of indirect but effective control of an occupied nation.
In the eyes of the British, Anglo-American concepts of democracy and liberal thought could not be physically forced on a people as American Morgenenthau plan.(18) Rather, 'democratic' values were to be substituted for the militaristic and authoritarian values of German fascism. This could be accomplished through a reeducation process and new institutional structures for a 'democratic' German culture that would continue long after the occupation. In his analysis of the political underpinnings of this reeducation program, British historian Nicholas Pronay argues that the British notion of 'pluralism' went beyond changing German opinion; it involved restructuring the entire institution of media: "By far as possible re-staffing the educational system and reorienting the curricular and scholarly vehicles for attitude formation - including the rewriting of the nation's history, that perhaps most powerful formulator of basic attitudes - a long term change of outlook and attitudes would be secured." For Pronay this plan ultimately demanded that the Germans look to the English-speaking people as their "exemplar."(19)
As opposed to the commercialization of the postwar German film industry and press by the American occupational authorities, the decision to nationalize indicates the degree of importance the Allies attached to the political influence of broadcasting. As stated in one official U.S. military journal in the beginning of 1946, the Allied broadcasting policy was:
a) To make use of the information media in bringing home to the Germans the objectives of the occupation, and to reconstitute German informational services in such a manner that they assist in the democratic reorientation of the people; and
b) The establishment of a free German media of expression, cleansed of Nazi and militarist influence.(20)
Even though television was not to arrive for another six years, the Western Allies public broadcasting decision set the stage for television to become the single most important mass medium for one of the most audacious intellectual projects of the twentieth century: the cultural engineering of a German democracy.
On one level, one can argue that the two Allied countries' redirection of the German media was a 'natural' extension of the strengths of their own domestic media. The American authorities commercialized the film industry when it reappeared after the war. As a result, the postwar American military decision indirectly helped reassert American prewar industrial control of the German film industry. The Americans believed in a rather naive (and selfserving) Adam Smith-derived correlation between democracy and free enterprise.(21) The British, with one of the most sophisticated and extensive world broadcasting systems - the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) World Service - took over postwar German broadcasting as a public institution continuing the English tradition of social welfare.
Some historians of the German postwar period, however, have suggested that the Allies 'did not introduce American-style commercial broadcasting "because of the derelict state of the German economy at the time."(22) The decision did stem partially from a lack of consumer goods to advertise, but the commercialization of the postwar German film industry (an even more capital-intensive industry than radio) speaks against such a simple economic argument. In addition, broadcasting had always been a public concern in Germany since its inception in the 1920s when the Bundespost regulated the Reichsrundfunkgesellschaft (the state broadcasting company). The Telegraphenregel (telegraph law) of 1892 established the post's control over the technical facilities and the right to collect user fees for radio broadcasting. Regular radio service had begun in October 1923. The 1928 Telecommuni-cations Law reaffirmed the post's sovereignty over radio broadcasting, and this law was still in effect when the Allies occupied Germany in 1945. On this level, the British model of the BBC should be seen as partially the Allies' attempt to create the smoothest transition between what was perceived as the authoritarian use of a public medium under the Nazis and the 'democratic' use of state-run media during the Weimar period."(23)
On a more important level, however, the different directions taken by the film and broadcasting industries emanated from strong social and political differences between the British and the Americans over the creation of 'democratic' or 'pluralistic' values within a culture. A member of the reeducation team, the British Public Relations and Informational Services Control, in occupied Germany, Michael Balfour later echoed England's relative disinterest in film's reeducation possibilities. He reminisced in 1985:
"Of the media, the press and radio were by a long way the most important [...]. I'm afraid that I attached - and still attach - little importance to films. New German features were in the nature of things slow to emerge. A selection of old German features was admitted on sufferance because of the need to reduce German boredom by having something to show in the cinemas."(24)
The British concept of broadcasting and democratic pluralism stemmed from the rather benevolent but hierarchical tradition of state control and broadcast management by the educated elite within Great Britain. The Americans, on the other hand, carried out a much more complicated relationship with state control and socialism: at first they tolerated their Soviet ally; after the war that tolerance evolved into distrust as the spread of communism loomed. Unlike their transatlantic cousins, the English were never as daunted by the growing 'socialist menace' of Soviet-style state broadcasting. While the U.S. secretary of state was complaining to the Soviets at the Moscow Conference of spring 1947 that "there is a vital connection between modern democracy and a free press and radio," the English were quietly grooming former German resistance members, often socialists and communists, to run their zone's radio station.(25) Socialist-leaning political affiliation did riot offend the English as long as it did not interfere with their less than egalitarian system of top-down broadcasting governance. They were also much more comfortable with socially 'managed' broadcasting than with the Americans' marketplace management style.(26)
Historically, the English concepts of character formation and parliamentary rule lay in educating the ruling elite of a subjugated people. In this way the British had sought to maintain their empire through an inexpensive but highly effective form of indirect control throughout the nineteenth century, as exemplified by their rule of India and South Africa.(27) The British saw democracy as a result not only of socioeconomic rule, but also of mental and psychological makeup.
Democracy was to emerge from imbuing Germans with British educational values and the social distinctions that come with educated discernment. Unlike any other system, the English concept of 'education' emphasized values, soundness, and breeding more than the scientific or intellectual matters that were central to the American and German systems.(28) One of few methods for a low-born person to attain upper-class status in British culture was through a 'proper' education. This Pygmalion tradition demanded not only attendance at the 'right' schools (Oxford or Cambridge), but also the process of molding-or as some have described it, indoctrination - that comes with a class transformation. The success of this educational and cultural tradition both internally and in the empire led the English to believe that even the much distrusted post-Nazi Germans could be transformed. Nicholas Pronay argues that "no matter how distant or alien or deep-rooted the political tradition or culture of another society caught be, it was always possible to bring about a change of attitudes in depth through a conciliation of occupation and 'education'."(29) And what better agency to inculcate English cultural and educational values in postwar Germany than that bastion of high culture, the BBC?
The Founding of West German Broadcasting: The Search for a Pluralistic Institutional Structure
In his influential history of the founding of West German broadcasting, Broadcasting and Democracy in West Germany British historian Arthur Williams refers to West German broadcast media as "fundamental vehicle of democracy."(30) But he fails to state that his concept of democracy in broadcasting assumes that the BBC, the prototype for the present West German television, is a 'democratic' institution. Without delving into a debate on the BBC's class bias, one can examine the British reeducation program and see the cultural and class biases that the British implanted in their reconstruction of German broadcasting.
Founded in 1927 to replace a short-lived commercial company, the BBC derives its funds from an annual fee that the British must pay for a license to own television sets. The BBC has been run by a board appointed by the British government, which traditionally has not interfered in the board's governance. Sidney Head's introductory text, Broadcasting in America, describes it as a 'paternalistic system'; the board's members are drawn from leading members of the British community (the landed gentry, elected lords, and company presidents for its first board).(31)
The BBC has by design limited the production of popular programming as an antidote to the dominance of American popular culture in Britain. Although the programming philosophy is not as simplistic as Sidney Head's statement that government-sponsored television "hold[s] that popular tastes tend to be frivolous," the BBC has a rigid philosophy of "public service."(32) This ambiguous phrase translates into a sense of the British educated class disseminating cultural competence for those less fortunate. Sir John Keith, the BBC's first and most influential director general, replied to the accusation of elitism in British public television that "few knew what they wanted, fewer what they needed." As a result, the BBC evolved into an educated and sophisticated world broadcast system disseminating high culture as a whole country's 'culture.' Indicative of this class-down system is the fact that the BBC refused to do systematic research into the preferences of their British audience until the 1970s. BBC historian Asa Briggs quotes one official's reaction to audience wishes in the late 196Os:
"The real degradation of the BBC started with the invention of the hellish department which is called 'listener research'. That Abominable Statistic is supposed to show 'what the listeners like' and, of course, what they like is the red-nosed comedian and the Wurlitzer organ."(33)
The British brought this political and class-based sense of education and broadcasting with them in their reeducation plans for the lowest of classes: the Germans. If the mandate of the Allies was to create a form of cultural pluralism to substitute for the monologic ideology of the Nazis, using the BBC as a model of 'democratic' culture was contradictory: it replaced fascist culture with high culture.
Although each of the Allied zones created its own internal broadcasting system, the British, as the major architects of the reeducation, had the most long-range constitutional effect on programming.(34) Because broadcasting was seen as a central agency of attitude formation under the Nazis, the planning of its public role initially was taken over in the postwar period by an elite corp of imported Oxbridge-trained policy makers from both the BBC and the Political Warfare division of the British military. During the war the British had developed a highly sophisticated counterpropaganda unit. Working through the Foreign Office, this unit used the BBC and the extensive governmental agencies devoted to the relatively new science of propaganda. Reorienting the Germans through culture and education after the war was based on a programmatic method of inculcation learned through wartime propaganda; it seemed to be a most rational and enlightened (although somewhat sinister) method.(35) Where the Americans (and to a lesser degree the French) wanted a decentralized broadcast system of many semiautonomous stations in order to ensure a plurality of institutional and regional voices, the British fought for centralization based on the BBC's London-dominated system that would allow them to carry out systematically their broad cultural policies.
The 'democracy' created by these cultural policies was to be individual, intellectual, and ethical, not a geographical phenomenon based on regional and ethnic differences. Some historians have disdainfully labeled it brainwashing.(36) The British argued that the occupying authorities' mission should be twofold: selecting an elite corps of 'suitable' Germans and apprenticing them in the English method of controlled democratic broad-casting; and establishing a constitution based on an independent state-run broadcasting system. With these structural mechanisms in place, the British would not need to fear the return of fascist propaganda under German control.
Major General Alex Bishop, the commander in charge of the re-creation of the informational media for the British zone, echoed reticence to impose overt British reeducation through programming at the British station Nordwestdeutscher Rundfunk (NWDR) in Hamburg. Bishops public position was that the role of British occupational broadcasting should be "to provide for the BZ [British zone] of Germany a Home Service on the lines of the BBC Home Service [...]. To retain its audience and to build effectively a new tradition in German broadcasting, NWDR must not be too obviously concerned with the re-education of the audience, or even with any obvious attempt to raise its cultural standards. Entertainment will not be too obviously edifying, and information not too obviously instructional. Excessive attention by NWDR to the political and historical re-education of the Germans will destroy its credibility, and it follows that the overt presentation of 'world' or 'British' views of current and past events should be conveyed to the German public mainly by other means."(37)
The British contribution to German reeducation was distinguished by these "other means", which were to be built into the institutional fabric of German broadcasting.
A Managed Democracy: The Selection of the Administrator
True to promise, an elite of highly educated 'good' Germans continued to program the 'right' spectrum of culturally pluralistic voices as guaranteed by their constitutional mandate. But these questions still remain: By what criteria were these German policy makers chosen? What constitutes a plurality of voices in West German broadcast programming?
No one better exemplified benevolent, patriarchal English broadcast management than Sir Hugh Greene, who originated the British zone's broadcasting constitution at NWDR. He is still considered the father of West German broadcasting by many Germans today.(38) Brother of novelist Graham Greene and head of the BBC's German Service during the war, Oxford educated Hugh Greene symbolized administration by an educated liberal patrician. According to one of Greene's German 'protégé' broadcasters, Greene allowed
"every ideology, every opinion, and we all learnt what it means [to have] a free press, freedom of opinion, of expression and to make programmes with a high degree of information and were very depressed that with the going home of Greene, went out of German radio this special integration of being correct in information but at the same time being interesting."(39)
Greene's influence on German broadcasting was twofold. First, he established the prototype for the benevolent but strong administrator - the model for the West German broadcast Intendant, or director general of the German broadcast stations. There was a liberal spirit at NWDR under Greene, but the power structure was decidedly authoritarian. It is often pointed out that the British under Greene were the first to turn over their broadcasting rights to the Germans, but this fact does not speak to the careful selection of management that allowed an early transition. According to Michael Tracey, it was always a "cardinal principle" of the BBC's employment procedures that "political ideas and affiliations are irrelevant [until they] begin to feed and affect [a person's] work."(40) But what constitutes "political ideas" is relative.
Second, Greene was known for hiring and firing a series of top administrators based on their 'communist' sympathies (Cologne Intendant Burghardt and political commentator Karl von Schnitzler, among others) while allegedly allowing many former Nazis to remain for want of other 'reliable' personnel.(41) Greene maintained British authority through his careful choice of personnel who would carry out reeducation of the Germans as defined by the English.(42) But what constituted 'correct' British values were class and cultural traditions, not an overt political point of view.
Although the Germans remain nostalgic for the 'independent' status of broadcasting in the early days of Greene, those liberal British ideals should be regarded, as Tom Streeter points out, as "more a calculated illusion than a reality."(43) In his dissertation on Greene's work, Michael Tracey unwittingly reproduces the subtle elitism built into the British concept of broadcasting when he bemoans German broadcasting after Greene's departure:
"There were no liberal traditions, no public-school trained, well-meaning, intelligent public servants whose commitment is to a sense of the totality rather than the partiality of things. There were none of the symbolic and emotional continuities without which the model, British society and culture, would itself collapse into chaos. In Britain the position of the BBC was accepted as an amusing, not overly consequential indulgence in tolerance and democracy by a self-assured ruling class."(44)
Greene left a West German broadcast system where powerful administrators, producers, and programming decisions were insulated because of their status as 'educated' employees of public broadcasting. Perhaps the best example of this tradition is the choice of Klaus von Bismarck - great nephew of the nineteenth-century 'Iron Chancellor' Otto von Bismarck to head Westdeutscher Rundfunk in its most controversial days during the 1960s and 1970s when the station produced its most radical programming and supported Fassbinder's work. Given the missionary zeal of the origin of West German broadcasting and the independence of its patriarchal management, a broadcast station was able to distance itself not only from direct government control, but also from the public's programming preferences. The role of this top-down management style was further strengthened by Greene's second major influence: the ARD constitution.
The Definition of 'Democratic' Programming in the West German Broadcasting Constitutions
The political power of the German broadcasting system in the 197Os - the richest and most powerful in Western Europe - was responsible for orchestrating almost all of the explicitly German television and film production in that period. The German system encompassed two networks (ARD and ZDF) and a regional third network devoted to explicitly local educa-tional issues. The German system is still funded publicly through a monthly television tax payable to the post office -a system similar to that of the BBC. The ARD was made up of eleven locally administered regional stations that contributed all the programming in proportion to the amount of income from viewer fees. The Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen network (ZDF), on the other hand, was a national network that broadcast continuously to all of Germany. Only in the past decade, with the rise of new technology such as cable and satellite, has the ARD and ZDF hold on German television begun to weaken. This exceptionally long domination of the airwaves by West German public television stems from the reeducational role that German television was mandated to play.
In the initial construction of West German broadcasting, the Allies translated their sense of broadcast democracy structurally based on regional and geographical differences stemming from the occupational zone system. Although the British wanted a centralized model, American paranoia over the possible resurgence of government influence over broadcasting (and commerce) in postfascist Germany prevailed at Potsdam in 1945. The original stations established in the three zones at the beginning of the occupation remained separate.(45) And with the division of the all-powerful British NWDR into Sender Freies Berlin (SFB), WDR in Cologne, and NDR Hamburg in 1953, the first German network evolved into its present decentralized nine-station system by the late 1950s.(46)
In the early 1950s these stations set up a loose confederation called the Arbeitsgemein-schaft der öffentlich-rechtlichen Rundfunkanstalten der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (ARD). The original ARD structure was outlined by the leading figures at the British NWDR in 1950.(47) The network's title translates roughly as "the joint association of public corporations for broadcasting in the Federal Republic of Germany."(48) The stations simply 'agreed' to broadcast together. Based on a common license fee, each station broadcast its own regional programming until eight o'clock in the evening. After that, the different ARD stations broadcast common programs that were provided to each station in proportion to its income.
The Basic Law of 1949, which established the federal constitutional parameters of broadcasting, is important for this study for two reasons. First, it laid out the basis for freedom of expression for the support of controversial programming (such as Fassbinder's) in Article 5:
Everyone shall have the right freely to express and disseminate his opinion by speech, writing and pictures and freely to inform himself from generally accessible sources. Freedom of the press and freedom of reporting by means of broadcasts and films are guaranteed. There shall be no censorship.
And second, with the exception of this one statement, the law made no reference to who or what is 'responsible' in broadcasting. Since the individual lands (Länder) were given the prerogative to create any legislation that did not infringe on the constitutional rights of the Basic Law, they and their individual broadcast stations chose how 'democratic pluralism' was to be defined. This distinction became important in that the lands differ measurably in their politics. Westdeutscher Rundfunk (Fassbinder's patron station) represents a social-democratic land and therefore can have more radical programming. In the 1960s and 1970s, WDR was known as Rotfunk (red broadcasting).
Further, the British were able to exercise extensive influence over the course of broadcast constitutional law. Their role exceeded that of the other Allies for two reasons. First, the British zone's power came from sheer size: it extended from the Danish border to the industrial center of Germany, the Ruhr valley. More importantly, this area contained the largest population. Sheer numbers gave the British more authority than the economically and politically stronger Americans. As a result, the British zone's NWDR, with 3.5 million license holders, in 1948 ranked as the third-largest broadcasting organization in Europe after the BBC and Radio Diffusion Franaise.(49)
Second, the British wrote (in 1947) the first NWDR broadcast constitution, which served as a prototype for the other stations. With a characteristically English sensibility, they built democratic pluralism into the NWDR constitution through a political and cultural spectrum of administrators, not through the programming. The originators of this concept (primarily Greene and Adolf Grimm) established a series of representative governing councils to ensure diversity of opinion, distance broadcasting from state interference, and make the station answerable to 'public' opinion. Not surprisingly, their model was the BBC.(50)
To counter imbalances, a system of proportional representation (Proporz) was created throughout the three tiers to stem partisan politics in the stations of each Land. The remedy apportioned the representation on the broadcasting council of each station according to the elected percentages that the political parties held in the Land's parliament. This form of 'democratic' broadcast management engendered a whole set of problems: first, the intervention of the political parties into broadcasting ran counter to its founding principle that broadcasting should be independent of the state; second, even though the council was constructed around an unusual democratic impulse of drawing citizens from the community (from churches, unions, and arts management), these groups were highly select, established, and ultimately safe; and finally, as even Williams points out, these public representatives were drawn from the bourgeoisie or upper classes: "They will all be leaders in their particular areas of activity, and this presupposes a certain level of education and, possibly, of income."(51) In other words, plurality resulted in a highly select broadcast governance group.
In the absence of commercial broadcasting's reliance on profitability and audience size (the lowest common denominators) to validate programming decisions, West German television has substituted a 'public' educational system. Programming decisions are not broad-based, but are arrived at through class-based and political party affiliations. The individuals who are appointed to these boards, and most particularly the program producers, become paramount. WDR selected left-leaning intellectuals to be its powerful television film producers, and their tastes were central to the rise of New German Cinema in the 1960s and 1970s.
On this level, West German broadcasting lived up to the hierarchical model of the BBC: a public broadcasting system that generally allows for diverse points of view, but whose form and content remain resolutely defined by an educated elite who disseminate their cultural competence with little regard for class and educational differences. German television has taken its educational mandate with even greater missionary zeal than the 'benevolent' cultural authority of the BBC in Britain. But it is the British influence in those years of reeducation that created the current contradictory mixture of public medium and high culture.
The German Intellectual Reception of Popular Mass-Produced Culture
For all their integration of German intellectuals into the reeducation process, the British were nevertheless stymied by German pessimism about the social reception of mass media, and in particular the American and Nazi mass cultures. Hostile, century-long debates about the popular status of low-grade, mass-produced fiction, or Schund (trash), shifted in the first part of the twentieth century into a discussion of the then newly popular phenomenon of film.
German expressionist artists - the last major gasp of German romanticism- reacted in horror to the mass production of visual images. Franz Pfemfert decried the popularity of film in the first issue of the expressionist journal Die Aktion: "Edison is the slaughterer's cry of a culture murdering era. The battle cry of non-culture."(52) Censorial debate about the ill effects of 'low' but popular forms led to growing dissatisfaction in the German working class. American mass culture was often seen as more 'liberating' in that it emanated from broad and accessible nineteenth-century theatrical melodrama traditions. 'Movies' (Kino) stood as a radical challenge to the 'refined' Wilhelmian literature that dominated late nineteenth-century German culture. According to Anton Kaes, by the 1920s the introduction of American film as a mass medium had cut into the educated bourgeoisie's 'intellectual leadership' as books and literature lost their prestige. He argues:
"This new traditionless mass public was skeptical about a culture which was associated with edification and instruction and which presumed a classical education. It turned instead to the products of industrial mass culture, most imported from America, to satisfy the need for distraction."(53)
The cultural leaders of the German bourgeoisie, seeing mass-produced popular culture as a threat to their hold on culture, attempted to legislate against the production of 'popular' literature through censorship laws in 1874 and 1913.(54) Still, the cinema survived as a refuge for popular culture and outlasted the Nazis' denigration of the 'outsider' influence of film and their own propagandist use of it under the Reichsfilmkammer. When television appeared in 1950, the educated middle class once again attempted to reassert its power to define culture as the new electronic medium became the latest form of popular mass media that they mistrusted.
Coming from a different political and intellectual point of view, the influential Marxist theorists of the Frankfurt school exhibited a similar prejudice against mass-produced popular culture. The mass media were seen as contributing to the 'massification' of the German people; the resulting deindividualized anonymity was pivotal in the rise of national socialism. The 1947 publication of Siegfried Kracauer's influential From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological History of the German Film increased the postwar German educated middle class's distrust of the mass media as a vehicle for positive political and intellectual change.(55)
In his Freudian-Marxist study, Kracauer argues that because of its mass exhibition form, the cinema had a specific utility for creating a mass disposition, or in his words "a collective mentality." But in Kracauer's view, it was the middle class that led to the rise of fascism through its domination of German ideology in the 1920s, and since it controlled Germany as well as the film industry in the Weimar period, the bourgeoisie was able to disseminate its ideas and neuroses in visual and narrative motifs. Collectively, it created the unified consciousness or mass sensibility that led to the rise of Hitler and fascism: "In pre-Nazi Germany, middle class penchants penetrated all strata," a situation that resulted in "the nationwide appeal of the German film - a cinema firmly rooted in middle-class mentality."(56) From the expressive art films to the mass entertainment films, Weimar film should be read as the state of mind of all Germans who "acted as if under the influence of a terrific shock which upset normal relations between their outer and inner existence."(57) The mass medium of film stood as both an instigator and a sign of a fascist mentality.
Kracauer's film theories exerted a strong influence on the postwar writings of Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, who had returned to West Germany in the 1950s from exile in America. Kracauer's critical view of the film industry's complicity in the rise of fascism augmented the critical theory of the 'culture industry' in Horkheimer and Adorno's 1944 study Dialectic of Enlightenment (58) In fact, their theories of mass culture were first published in West Germany in 1958 in Film 58 and later in the pages of the leading film journal of the 1950s, Filmkritik.(59)
German left-leaning sociological analysis of the mass media was universally pessimistic after Nazi use of film and radio as vehicles for fascist ideology. Thomas Elsaesser argues that this cultural negativism was particularly strong among all the Frankfurt school members who had emigrated to America. For them, however, the problem lay with how easily film lent itself to melodramatic content and moved political issues from the socioeconomic into the emotional realm. These émigrés "regarded the emphasis on psychological and emotional conflict in mass-cultural products itself as a typically bourgeois and petit-bourgeois displacement of political and social problems and anxieties."(60) The German intelligentsia - on both sides of the political spectrum- viewed mass culture as an assault on German individualism. The optimism expressed by Walter Benjamin as he heralded the revolutionary potential of mass-produced film remained a rare exception to general distrust of mass media. This pessimism only grew when mass culture extended its hold on the German working classes by entering their homes in the guise of television.
German television became the newest focal point for the persistent German intellectual bias against the mass media's political potential. The analysis of television's role in German society continued in a highly speculative sociopsychological vein about the mass media's reification of the thinking 'individual'. The medium was commonly typed as either 'auraless' or 'enslaving'.(61) One writer (ironically, the future head of the second television network) typified the general distrust of television when he wrote in 1951 that "the flickering restlessness fills our vision with billions of images, most of which are seen by a few viewers. As a result, our vision is also turned inward. It irritates the unrest in us when there is nothing more happening; the majority of us cannot bear to be alone because our imagi-nations are dead."(62)
His discussion of television's specific influence depended on an analysis of content and reception without any mention of form.
Such skepticism - bordering on an expressionist nightmare - has pervaded political, aesthetic, and psychological discussions of German television throughout its nearly forty-year history. As a result, German television has lived a constant legitimization crisis as it has sought to prove that it can an medium of democratic individualism as well as of aesthetic merit. The history of the television drama, or Fernsehspiel, results from the intertwining of two contradictory views of fascism and the mass media: the Allied positivist view of broadcasting as a constructive instrument of German reeducation and a German liberal-to-Marxist intellectual tradition of distrusting the media's ability to create the individualism of democratic thought.
Competition for the West German Film Viewer: West German Television Comes of Age
The problem of reconciling these two conflicting attitudes about television was not an issue until West German television began to be taken seriously as a potentially influential mass medium in the late 1940s.(63) At first the Germans seemed to be hesitant about the new medium. In 1957 only 6 percent of German households - and 76 percent of American house-holds - had television sets.(64) The general lack of consumer goods in the still recovering postwar German economy partially accounts for this disparity. After 1957 the numbers grew relatively rapidly, increasing a million yearly until the 1970s, when licenses for television sets reached the saturation point.(65)
In these early years of German broadcasting, when Fassbinder and his counterculture generation were children, film and television competed as furiously as they did in America. The beginning of network broadcasting in 1954 and the phenomenal growth of television licenses after 1957 created a corresponding need for programs to fill the schedule. Given the limited funds resulting from a small viewership, television producers preferred to show films previously proven to be popular to fill their schedules. ARD was showing eighty films per year by 1959-60, when German television was broadcasting only four hours and fifty-three minutes per day. Only one-fourth of these films were of German origin.(66) Since at the same time a record number of film theaters (577) failed, the weakening commercial film industry could not help but perceive television as a major competitor. Television was vying for the cinemagoer's leisure time as well as patronage. In the beginning, the American-dominated film industry reacted angrily to the growing economic threat of television and proclaimed polemically through SPIO, its trade organization, in the early 1950s: "Not one meter of film for German television."(67) Film distributors and exhibitors chose to ignore the possibility that German television could strengthen film economics and refused to rent films to the emerging stations.(68)
In 1956 the West German film industry began a steady decline in attendance, while in 1957 television reached its first benchmark: one million viewers. In the years between 1956 and 1964, film attendance would drop from 800 million to 300 million while television viewership would increase from 1.5 million to 10 million.(69) The writing was on the wall, but the waning industry responded not with competitive strategies, but with demands for federal subsidy. In the face of television competition, the American film industry experimented with competitive technological innovations such as wide-screen processes, 3-D films, and drive-in theaters, whereas the German industry responded passively. The commercial filmmakers wanted what was to become their ultimate downfall as a competitive industry: television must pay for the profits that, as a state-run agency, it took from the private (or quasi-private, given its dependence on state aid by the mid-1950s) film industry. This demand was made even before West Germany had a second network.
Fernsehspiele and Adaptations in the Adenauer Era: The Production of High Culture in the Face of a Waning Film Industry
While the German film industry was producing the infamous 'quota quickies' of the 1950s and 1960s, German television was creating a new filmic form - Fernsehspiel, the major indigenous genre of West Germany. Instead of the American diet of weekly sitcoms and hour-long dramas, West German television has depended on one- to two- hour made-for-TV movies as its central fictional form. The high-culture connotations of these 'television dramas' were perpetuated by the fact that they were produced under the stewardship of some of Germany's most renowned intellectuals. In the early 1950s, influenced by the BBC tradition, NWDR had attracted all the antifascist intellectuals and artists it could. According to Richard Collins and Vincent Porter, NWDR's broadcast of "the readings of poetry, new German prose, radio drama and programmes on the other artistic events and happenings" became not only a "focus" but a central "source of patronage" for young postwar artists and intellectuals.(70)
The British attempted to reconcile the growing conflict between the Allied view of the positivist use and the German distrust of the mass medium even before the medium was turned over to the Germans. Their answer was to produce established culture written by canonized authors whose work at some level highlighted the individual as opposed to the mass. In March 1951 NWDR, produced the first Fernsehspiel, Goethe's Prelude in The Theater (Vorspiel auf dem Theater).(71) Comparisons of the German television drama with the first live American television drama, Requiem for a Heavyweight (1956), illustrates a significant difference in literary pretensions.
Constrained by the 'live' three-electronic-camera setup of early television technology, German producers chose to produce stagy adaptations, particularly from the theater, in the 1950s. Taking on the classical Hollywood narrational procedures, West German television producers taped their works as filmed theater. They strove for clarity of space and time based on the logic of narrative continuity; a limited number of shifts in time and space made for less editing. The introduction of magnetic videotape in 1957 allowed the Fernsehspiel to move technically and formally one step closer to the sophisticated editing and camera movement of film, but it was still dependent on a protagonist and a clear cause and effect logic associated with Hollywood narrational practice.
In terms of subject matter, such freedom did not spur the production of original made-for-TV films. What distinguishes German television even up to today (although decreasingly so) is dependence on the adaptation of well-known literary works for its made-for-TV films. Through this form, Fassbinder as well as most of what we know as New German Cinema would gain public recognition. The primary mission of German public television was to be 'educational', and filming these works offered television's mass audience complex literary works made accessible by classical Hollywood methods.
Appropriately enough, the first West German Fernsehspiel was an adaptation of a play by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, perhaps Germany's most canonized literary figure. Television drama served as the medium to expose the 'mass' of Germans to the liberal cultural values of canonized literature. If a cultural pluralist democracy did exist on television, it was found in the diversity of individual authors represented. In 1953 E. M. Berger, then the leading producer of made-for-TV films, expressed the official position of NWDR as follows:
"It is good to recall that the dramaturgy of the theater and film, not to mention that of radio, is still not too old. Fortunately, television at first followed the theory of these media quite purposefully, before it strove to develop its own unique forms[...]. With the strengthening perimeters of television, television like film will have to fall back on the firmly established area of theater."(72)
A look at the actual number of Fernsehspiel productions in the 1950s reveals how much this conservative bias toward "established" forms had taken hold. Of the 564 Fernsehspiele produced from 1951 to 1959, 81 percent (459) were adaptations. Of these adaptations, nearly 80 percent came from theater, 13 percent from novels (or other non-theater sources), and 6 percent from radio plays (Hörspiele).
Like Fassbinder's work, these television adaptations were based on the literature of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (most particularly, the literature of the 1920s). Not surprisingly, the adaptations were credited to the literary authors as their artistic source; rarely was either the television adapter or the television director mentioned.(73) Some of the German language playwrights produced most commonly were Gerhart Hauptmann, Arthur Schnitzler, Ferdinand Bruckner, and Carl Zuckmayer. The major writers of non-theatrical works were Stefan Zweig, Franz Kafka, Franz Werfel, and Ernst Penzoldt. The lion's share of foreign works came, again not surprisingly, from the Allied countries. Although the overwhelming majority of the adaptations emanated from the sanctioned literary canon, some of the more left-leaning stations (particularly NWDR) did attempt a limited number of popular productions of comedies (Lustspiele) and works by what are known as the 'boulevard authors' (Boulevard-Autoren) such as Curt Goetz, who wrote popular sex comedies.(74)
Beyond the German theatrical tradition of middle-class edification (Bildungsbürgertum) in theater, there are other economic, technological, and political reasons for the predominance of adaptations in the 1950s. Beyond the ease of the stage productions, adaptations were less expensive to produce than original films. By using canonized literary sources that had already gained an audience, television had a tried and true basis for potential broadcasting success. Original television films, on the other hand, had the unpredictable variable of audience reception. But these economic arguments belie the political influence of the Adenauer years and the cold war. One of the major television taboos of this period was discussion of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany).(75) By producing only authors from the literary canon, television avoided political problems in two ways. First, it did not have to legitimize its choice; history had already canonized these authors. Second, producing works by 'classic' writers avoided not only contemporary cold war issues, but also depiction of the still highly sensitive Nazi period.
The Creation of a Native German Televisual Form: The Original Fernsehspiel
Only when established writers began to accept television's potential for depicting contemporary reality did the Fernsehspiel lose its dependence on adaptation. In 1961 some of Germany's best-known literary authors (Heinrich Böll, Günter Grass, and Martin Walser) - Gruppe 47 - met to discuss the difficulties of independent authors (freie Schriftsteller) in postwar West Germany and the possibilities for writing truly original Fernsehspiele within a state-controlled medium.(76) A slow consensus evolved: What differentiated the television play from fiction was television's journalistic engagement with contemporary 'reality' (Realität). But the visual form this realism was to take never was developed.
In the ensuing thirty years this discourse on the television's inherent 'realism' has taken a number of thematic turns, but strong agreement that the virtue of the made-for-TV film lies its photographic realism has remained. If any other medium influenced this discussion, it was photojournalism. It is no coincidence that interest in the critical documentary came after the West German Constitutional Court established television's paramount political importance.
Additionally, one must point to the growing liberalization of West Germany and its media after the Der Spiegel affair of 1962. The federal government under Chancellor Konrad Adenauer had illegally seized the records of West Germany's major news magazine, Der Spiegel, after the magazine published information that Adenauer perceived as "top secret."(77) Along with the government's misuse of power over the Länder in the case of the creation of a second network, such authoritarian abuses prompted Adenauer's resignation in October 1963.(6578 The end of Adenauer's rule symbolized the end of capitulation to American political and economic demands. The media took on a somewhat oppositional role, signaling a growing political liberalization and even rising nationalism in the early 1960s in West Germany. These changes led directly to the resurgence of the left by the mid-1960s - a political climate that no one could have imagined when the Allied occupation armies rolled into a defeated post-Nazi Germany.
The everyday quality of television became an attractive vehicle for the rising interest in socially conscious drama and political change. In his history of the Fernsehspiel, Knut Hickethier argues that the growing 'critical realism' in made-for-TV films was a result of an increasing awareness in German television of "how to form artistically the realism which is handled daily in the other program forms of this medium."(79) Martin Walser, writing in 1959, concurred: "One cannot find formal laws for television. It belongs to reality. Like a business street, a plane, or a newspaper, its primary aim is to transport us into the interior nature of reality."(80) Egon Monk, director of NDR's film and television film department (Film und Fernsehspiel Abteilung), created an influential series in the early 1960s based on the average German's existence during the Nazi period. This series was famed for its documentary portrayal of 'everyday life' (Alltag). Of this growing interest in the critical docudrama view of Fernsehspiele, Monk would later argue that the political engagement of television films in the 1960s was a 'prerequisite' for television production in order "to shake the trust in the correctness of the directives of those in power at that time, and to convince our viewers it is better to doubt twice than accept something once on faith."(81)
This journalistic view of Fernsehspiele was still in operation in 1970s criticism when Fassbinder made the majority of his television films. Influential critic Hans Blumenberg proclaimed in Die Zeit in 1978 that television was a "journalistic not an artistic medium." Ultimately, according to Blumenberg, there are two basic forms of made-for-TV films: the literary adaptation and the theme film, which he argued dealt with "socially relevant present-day problems." Fassbinder's television work supports this claim in that he primarily produced adaptations, with an excursion into a series of melodramas about repression in the West German bourgeois family. Blumenberg argued further that television can take up "present social problems under which we suffer [...] in a much more direct, exact, expansive and realistic manner than the cinema film."(82) This prejudice toward television as a journalistic, 'realistic' medium resulted from the evolution of one of German television's central fictional genres of the 1960s and the early 1970s - the socially conscious docudrama. But once again, the actual form, style, and narrational process of the docudramas never developed. Somehow the reliance on contemporary reality presupposed a certain heretofore unarticulated 'objective' form. From the perspective of recent Anglo-American film criticism, the German docudrama's form aligns with the classical Hollywood film. Only the content - contemporary German culture - made the docudrama German form.
By 1960, the two major networks began to make a concerted effort to search for authors (Autoren ) who would write exclusively for television. Yet these authors remained only scriptwriters; they did not direct their made-for-TV films, nor, on the whole, did they have any background in television or film production. This emphasis on the written process of television film portrays a major bias toward not only the imposed literary basis of television film, but also the perceived importance of the word over the visual portion of the work in this early period of production. Even though original television films began to increase, adaptations dominated the television screen until 1970, when they dropped for the first time to less than half (41.6 percent) of all made-for-TV films.(83)
Although such well-known Autoren as Christian Geissler, Franz Hiesel, Günter Herburger, Manfred Bieler, and Dieter Waldmann all wrote original television scripts, there still remained a distinction between those who were 'true' writers (Schriftsteller) and those who wrote as a 'job' (Autoren). The evolving 1960s television concept of authorial drama production (Autorendramaturgie) reveals the degree to which authors participated in early 1960s television films, even though they came out of the written media and did riot see television as a technologically and formally different medium. The so-called objective techniques of Hollywood classical films and filmed theater remained the vehicle for their scripts. Although in the 1960s the number of original television films (Autorenfilme) did increase to 720 from 105 in the 1950s, only 22 percent came from 'known' literary authors.
Ultimately, the period also saw a tremendous growth in made-for-TV - from 548 in the 1950s to 2,070 in the 1960s.(84) The Fernsehspiel had become West Germany's major indigenous televisual form. It rivaled the feature film for audience attention by 1968 as the film industry sank into its last and final crisis. In that year, 434 films premiered in German cinemas while 277 feature films and 211 made-for-TV films were broadcast.(85) By 1968 the television and film industries were antagonistic rivals not only as similar audiovisual media, but also as media that produced and exhibited rival narrative forms off filmmaking.
But still, these battling filmmaking industries had strong content and formal differences, mainly as a result of television's preoccupation with legitimating itself through the sanctioned world of literature, but also of television's economic dependence on inexpensive videotape production. It would take outside forces - the rise of the French auteur theory and independent filmmaking in West Germany - to create the necessary discourse and freelance labor pool for television to support a truly filmic, not theatrical, form.
The Influence of the Auteur Theory and the Oberhausen Manifesto on the German Fernsehspiele
To understand Rainer Werner Fassbinder's success as an Autor, one needs to separate the German concept from its French counterpart, the auteur. The centrality of 'authors' (Autoren) in the television production of filmic art was established long before the auteur theory appeared in the late 1950s. Nevertheless, the precedent of the French New Wave (1959-64) and the rhetorical emphasis that it placed on film as a specific art form separate from and equal to literature exerted a strong influence on the late-budding German independent film movement.
In France, as early as 1948 Alexandre Astruc had proclaimed the specificity of cinema:
"The cinema is quite simply becoming a means of expression, just as all the arts have been before it, and in particular painting and the novel. After having been successfully a fairground theatre, or a means of preserving the images of an era, it is gradually becoming a language. By language, I mean a form in which and by which an artist can express his thoughts, however abstract they may be, or translate his obsessions exactly as he does in the contemporary essay or novel. That is why I would like to call this new age of cinema the age of camera-stylo."(86)
As a declaration of artistic independence, Astruc's plea for film as a form of individual expression became the basis of the auteur theory in the Cahiers du Cinéma in the mid-fifties. In 1954 Franois Truffaut attacked the French film industry's dependence on adaptation and literary canon in Cahiers du Cinéma, arguing in the usual polemical style of the French New Wave:
"I consider an adaptation of value only when written by a man of the cinema. Aurenche and Bost are essentially literary men and I reproach them here for being contemptuous of the cinema by underestimating it."(87)
And Jean-Luc Godard admonished the French film establishment with even greater vituperation:
"Your camera movements are ugly because your subjects are bad, your casts act badly because your scripts are worthless; in a word, you do riot create cinema because you no longer know what it is."(88)
Combining filmmaking and criticism, these writer/directors of the budding French New Wave championed certain directors-auteurs who by sheer strength of their personality were able to put their expressive stamp on the products of commercial film industries. This emphasis on a form of expressive individualism in filmmaking that is able to shine through the anonymous nature of a mass medium is the unifying theory throughout the various Cahier auteur writings. It was the approach that was most attractive to German television producers in search of a telefilmic art.
The more problematic issue was the unwillingness of young West German filmmakers is represented by the Oberhausen group, to work with the film industry or even the burgeoning public television system, which they perceived as an interfering, bureaucratic extension of the state. The Oberhausen Manifesto demanded total independence from government and industrial interference in filmmaking. On one hand, the German filmmakers were fascinated with the French interest in individual expression. As German author Wolfgang Köppen put it, "In France one hands the poet the camera."(89) But unlike the French New Wave directors, the Oberhausen group did not see the possibility of their conception of the 'art' film being realized in a commercial world, let alone in a mass medium such as television. German film historian Andreas Meyer concurs that these young German filmmakers had none of the dedication to 'popular' film that the French critics at Cahiers du Cinéma had: "In contrast, economics, capital, box office, old producers, old lines of business, old film, etc. would be exorcised; totemic curses were also directed against the public's sentimental needs, which did not correspond to their own [the 'directors']." Meyer argues that the filmmakers 'mistrusted' the German public for their lowbrow tastes. "The 'Young filmmakers'," he writes, "wanted to become authors [Autoren], publicists, messengers, prophets (similarities can be found to the virulent student movement five years later). Films should originate as diaries, poems, personal reflections, and private obsessions."(90)
Even the official history of the Kuratorium junger deutscher Film argues that the Oberhausen Manifesto's claims to economic independence were rather unusual given the period:
"The Autor film was henceforth to make history [...]. The fundamental principle [...] was that the filmmaker should have autonomy in giving shape to his film ideas without having to take legal or financial risks. He was to retain control over the direction and the entire production process including the commercial exploitation of his film. This concept was clear, but in the situation of the German film at the time, highly unorthodox."(91)
Alexander Kluge, the central author of the Oberhausen Manifesto, exerted the greatest influence on this generation of young filmmakers. Kluge was a filmmaker in his own right and an outspoken theoretician for the rising generation of filmmakers in the mid- I 960s. Although Kluge's filmic method was openly Brechtian - fusing Marxist theory and a formal challenge to convention he never denied the complexity of his work and that of the other New German filmmakers for the 'average' German spectator. But more than that of the other independent films by the Oberhausen signatories, the difficulty of his films has always been posed as a form of ideological and aesthetic opposition to the domination of American capitalist culture in the guise of Hollywood filmmaking.
In his theoretical writings, Kluge attributed Germanys problems of flimic identity to his country's assimilation of the more popular international formal conventions of Hollywood films. In his collaborative work with Michael Dost and Florian Hopf, Kluge responded to problems of New German film's failure within Germany by asking: "Should German cinema refine itself into an abstract, finally self-anihilating, international standard, or could it succeed in developing its own particular, language-bound basis of production and reception in our own country"(92) Kluge's search for an explicitly German cinema with its nationalist rhetoric played comfortably into the growing nationalist mandate of German television in the late 1960s.
Yet for all Kluge's attempts to infuse this voting generation of filmmakers with political awareness, their main concern was self-expression. Their anticapitalisim stemmed more from their interest in an anti-industrial form of filmmaking, as opposed to the mass culture present in the guise of a foreign intruder-Hollywood. Günter Rohrbach, a television executive producer for Fassbinder in the 1970s, surmises that the French New Wave had a strong influence on these early filmmakers' desire for "film as an expression of personal experience, feeling, and attitude." He argues that film for them "was a different type of literature. In the Autorenfilm, the director rightly has absolute control; it is his idea which becomes the film, his script, his characters. He is the creator. The formula or concept - 'a film by ...' - is quite legitimate here." In Rohrbach's eyes the Oberhausen Manifesto was ultimately a declaration for "the ominous position of the film Autor."(93)
Given this emphasis on directorial control, the burgeoning bureaucratic world of television seemed too foreign and inhospitable a haven at that time for a preindustrial romantic outlook on the creative process. The federal government acquiesced to the Oberhausen demands with the creation in 1965 of the Kuratorium junger deutscher Film, an independent funding agency; the action testifies to the growing recognition that independent art film culture was gaining by the mid-1960s. By 1967, the first Kuratorium generation of young German filmmakers or what has since been labeled 'young German film' produced a significant number of independent films.
But German public television was changing. A 1963 federal Constitutional Court decision mandated ideological balance to be carried out through 'democratic pluralism' at the programming level. The court argued that broadcasting must provide a forum for "all socially relevant groups"(94) on all forms of television programming. It allowed WDR's Film und Fernsehspiel (film and television play) department to extend the mandate to fictional programming.
Given the predominance of American mainstream television and film programming on German television, this federal decision for balance allowed television producers, especially at Westdeutscher Rundfunk, to counterprogram these 'dominant ideology' programs with works of nondominant or independent filmmakers. By 1977, 47.3 percent of the films shown on West German television were of American origin(95) WDR's bold decision was to produce and program German films that revealed a form of personal expression as a counterweight to the highly popular but anonymous mass entertainment programs such as Bonanza, Dallas and Father Knows Best and the countless Hollywood film classics that filled the West German airwaves in the 1960s and 1970s.(96) Here, the ideological distinctions became even more controversial when it was public moneys that funded the less popular German films and Fernsehspiele.
Indeed, the court's decision signified the increasing West German awareness of the political and cultural importance of television. It resulted in an evolving contradiction that pervaded the growing sense of visual nationalism in the German public television system of the 1960s and 197Os: difference in textual complexity in what was televised as native 'German' programs and as 'non-German' (most usually American) fictional programs. The spectrum of relevant voices enforced the already accepted use of known authors through adaptation or individual expressivity as a form of 'democratic' programming. In the end, German television had been given a difficult state mandate to produce individualist films on a mass medium. It has translated into the state's support of the 'relevant voices' of young German individualists of the Oberhausen Manifesto and the Autoren of New German Cinema - even when the films did not have broad appeal.
West German Television and the Rise of an 'Alternative' Film Culture
Given the growing centrality of German television in the production, finance, and exhibition of German film, how ca one speak of Fassbinder as an independent filmmaker? There was no such thing as a truly independent film as demanded b the Oberhausen Manifesto, except possibly through the Kuratorium's support. There was an endless maze of tax shelters, prizes, and state subsidies at the federal and state level. In 1967 the government enacted the Film Promotion Act (Filmförderungsgesetz) - the mainstay of government subsidization - which awarded approximately $37,000 to 65 films in 1969.(97)
A filmmaker could put together a number of these sources, produce a film, and distribute it under his or her production company, as Fassbinder did through antiteater-X-film and later Tango Films. Since Fassbinder created low-budget films as an extension of his theater group in the late 1960s and 1970s, he was able to finance his films privately and through his actorsâ working for a percentage of the profits. Of Fassbinderâs first twenty films, he sub-mitted only the screenplay to Effi Briest (1974) - his critically acclaimed 'refined' adaptation of Theodor Fontane's novel - to the state subsidy board. In the late 1960s these films could be exhibited in the independent art cinemas and university film clubs without television intervention.
It was no accident that in 1968, during the height of the antiwar movement, the govern-ment shifted financial support for independent film from the Kuratorium, a semi-autonomous institution, to the state film funding board and public television - both quasi governmental regulatory bodies. Without funding from the Kuratorium, young German filmmakers felt that their only chance at substantial financing was to exploit the author-oriented made-for-TV films.(98)
Both the growing West German television industry and the film industry were hit by the economic recession of 1966-67. The number of Fernsehspiele declined from 1967 onward, dropping from 248 in 1967 to 211 in 1968, the most drastic one-year decline of their history. On the other hand, the percentage of Originalfernsehspiele increased and continued to do so until the 1973-74 season.(99) During this time of extreme West German financial crisis, public television was aided by its ability to use freelance or independent filmmakers for its less pretentious in-house productions. Fassbinder's early television work revolved around commissioned studio tapings of productions from the Action Theater / antiteater. He directed videotaped versions of The Coffeehouse (Das Kaffeehaus, 1970) for WDR and Bremen Freedom (Bremer Freiheit, 1972) and Nora Helmer (1973) for Saarlaendischer Rundfunk.
By conceiving of these films within the institution of state television and then having them produced by independent filmmakers, television officials were able to create an aura of multiple points of view while retaining tight control of what was produced. According to Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen's legal advisor, freelance workers were "the means of guaranteeing the principle laid down in its broadcasting charters, that socially relevant groups and their varying shades of opinion shall receive due expression in varying ways." But they also represented an economic savings as "an efficient reservoir, well capable of self renewal, which can be called upon whenever, to meet varying requirements, it is desired to screen to programmes of a particular color."(100)
Television producers all too willingly labeled (or mislabeled) these freelance laborers as artists (Autoren) in order to mask television's essentially exploitative relationship with them. For their part, the young German filmmakers were desperate for financing in a country without a viable film industry. The producers argued that the lack of economic guarantees allowed these artists the necessary distance for their creative 'freedom'.(101) By the end of the 1960s television was slowly increasing its role not only in the production of film, but also in those films that were considered 'high art' by creating artistic oeuvres through repeated support of freelance artists.
By the late 1960s cinema culture had found its friendliest institutional supporters in the highly educated and cultured West German television producers. In 1970 Frieda Grafe and Enno Patalas argued that television had become the home of "the premier theaters", the "studio theaters", and the "film clubs". Looking back on the 1960s, they pointed to the "educated" German television film programmers as the catalyst for film art culture in West Germany in that they "would demonstrate some measure of film form consciousness and the capacity to differentiate in their productions."(102)
But not all television stations were capable of supporting a filmmaker beyond one film or through a series of films or the necessary oeuvre that defined an Autor, nor were many stations able to foot the production costs necessary to produce a feature film. The two central producing television agencies of New German Cinema were Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF) in Mainz and the ARD's Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR) in Cologne. ZDF and WDR were the German equivalents of the major American film studios because they financed, coproduced, or distributed almost all of West Germany's feature films of the 1970s. Between them, they 'created' the Fassbinder film seen by the broad West German public.
Westdeutscher Rundfunk stands as Fassbinder's central producing institution. For WDR he produced eight Fernsehspiele or Fernsehfilme.(103) As the richest and most radical station in the ARD representing a social-democratic land, WDR was able to insulate itself from much of the controversy surrounding Fassbinder's television work. In general, WDR served as a lightning rod that attracted the most radical and experimental directors of the New German Cinema. If ZDF was responsible for development of Kluge's and Herzog's careers, WDR was responsible for Fassbinder's and Wim Wender's.(104)
Burdened with the huge need for programming for both the First Network Program (WDR) and its regional Third Program or channel (Westdeutsches Fernsehen, or WDR, which was created in 1965), WDR's Film und Fernsehspiel Abteilung (film and television drama department) became a central production house for German fictional film and television programming in the mid-1960s. Under the benevolent social-democratic authority of Intendant Klaus von Bismarck and Dr. Hans-Geert Falkenberg, head of cultural programming, the department carried on the British high-culture tradition of center-to-left cultural programming even in its support of Fassbinder.
While ZDF used film critics as producers, WDR's film dramaturges (Redakteuren) came from producing made-for-TV plays, movies, or German theater.(105) As a result, WDR's film and drama department did not develop the concept, which was given to the filmmaker to produce. Rather, the producers at WDR, like patrons in the high arts, treated the film-makers as already established Autoren and encouraged them to develop their own ideas.
This unusual sensibility emanated from the department's now famous head, Dr. Günter Rohrbach (now director of the huge film studio Bavaria Atelier). Rohrbach differed from his predecessors (such as Egon Monk) in that he was not a practitioner but rather a manager who wanted to attract authors and directors and provide them with patronage, not direction. It is no coincidence that Rohrbach's ideas came at a time when West Germany was developing not only its first generation of independent filmmakers, but also a cultural revolution in the irreverent and politicized atmosphere of the late sixties.
Rohrbach had the economic foresight to blur the distinction between Fernsehspiel and Film. For him, the difference between the two was only technical - a difference in transmission. To improve the quality of WDR's television film output, he concentrated film financing on three well-made films a year. At the same time, he upgraded the quality of the Fernsehspiele by decreasing their number and by hiring film directors to work on videotape with higher production values such as Fassbinder's taped versions of his antiteater work. Rohrbach and fellow WDR producer Günther Witte argued that the collective effort of their television co-workers at the time was to "return the trust in the German film market through quality to the public." As a result, WDR began to move toward using film in the 1970s; Fassbinder's 1972 worker series, Eight Hours Are Not a Day, was shot on sixteen-millimeter film.
More centrally, Rohrbach gathered together well-educated and left-leaning producers or dramaturges (Redakteuren) to administer WDR's dramatic work. (106) Peter Märthesheimer, a television drama producer, was assigned to Fassbinder as his WDR producer beginning with The Niklashaus Trip in 1970 and ending with Berlin Alexanderplatz in 1980. Märthesheimer attained his doctorate at the University of Frankfurt studying sociology under members of the Frankfurt school in the 1960s. He coproduced and cowrote with Pea Fröhlich and Fassbinder The Marriage of Maria Braun (Die Ehe der Maria Braun, 1978) - a WDR coproduction. The Märthesheimer/ Fröhlich team also cowrote the two other films of Fassbinder's trilogy chronicling postwar Germany: Lola (1981) and Veronika Voss (Die Sehnsucht der Veronika Voss, 1981). Märtheshimer was also responsible for the highly controversial 1979 German broadcast of the American series Holocaust, which helped revive the debate about German responsibility for the Holocaust. (107) His written defenses of his history of controversial television productions area a fascinating hybrid of academic thinking, left-wing politics, and managerial logic - a far cry from the American model of television producer as deal maker. (109)
Märthesheimer and the other Redakteuren acted as unusually enlightened business agents whose job it was to find and employ independent Autoren and Regisseure and insulate them from the bureaucratic problems endemic to noncommercial and state-run television. Through his WDR-inspired process of establishing relatively unknown filmmakers through ongoing financial support and national exposure, television was able to create a group of 'known' Autoren.
Although I will argue in chapter 5 that Fassbinder's work offered a formal challenge on some levels, his television work was pronouncedly more dependent on Hollywood narrative forms than his independent work at this time. He functioned as a popularizer of high culture, whether it was adapting canonized works or his own plays from Action Theater and antiteater. His work for television was constrained by limited budgets, the clear logic of cause and effect continuity editing, and adaptation.
Fassbinder's engagement with the 'everyday reality' of middle-class Germans distinguishes his work for WDR more than his adaptations. WDR produced his Fernsehspiel studies of the repressive nature of the German bourgeois family: Martha (1973), Fear of Fear (Angst vor der Angst, 1975), and I Only Want You to Love Me (Ich will doch nur, daß Ihr mich liebt, 1976). WDR supported a number of filmmakers willing to work in this docudrama genre of the Fernsehspiel, including less stellar but now well-known 'politicized' Autoren of the then mounting phenomenon of New German Cinema: Wolfgang Menge, Reinhard Hauff, Helma Sanders, Peer Raben, Volker Vogeler, Rosa von Praunheim, Peter Zadek, Chris Ziewer, and Erika Runge, to name a few. Nevertheless, these films still remained few (with the look of television stamped on them) and noncompetitive. It would take a financial investment way beyond WDR's, let alone West German television's, capability to create the international phenomenon of New German Cinema (Neue Deutsches Kino) in the 1970s.
The Television Fassbinder (1970-76)
Although Fassbinder continued to produce a number of independent films under the production company titles antiteater, antiteater-X-film, and later Tango Films, the majority of his films were done for West German television.(110) Why is this institutional distinction important? The made-for-TV movies were marketed for and shown to a broad prime time German audience who had limited knowledge of the conventions of the art cinema, but as taxpayers had a vested interest in public television productions. The question then becomes, How could a member of an anarchist leftist theater troupe whose explosive productions were closely associated with the disruptive student movement become the darling of state television? Obviously, the answer is not simple.
On one level, by 1970 Fassbinder fit television's needs. He was a recognized Autor coming out of West Germany's all-important (albeit leftist) theater community. He and his troupe had produced many of the canonized works of the German theater. Many of his films were first produced as plays as part of the Action Theater and antiteater. Given the tight nature of the collective's work method, Fassbinder could rapidly produce inexpensive films. He had demonstrated this in the past. Therefore, he fit comfortably into the constraints of the low-budget production method of the made-for-TV movie.
On the other hand, Fassbinder's recognition as an Autor was built around a lack of orthodoxy, whether it was his excessive dramatic style, his notorious personal life, or the outrageousness of his productions. The more important question then becomes, How did Fassbinder's television sponsors contain the explosive potential of both the Autor's unorthodox style and his life? The answer lies in analyzing the division between the works that Fassbinder made as an independent art cinema filmmaker and those he did for television.
For television, Fassbinder's excessive style was channeled into what has been described as 'melodramatizing' or popularizing two television genres: the classic adaptation and the socially critical made-for-TV play. Working from literary sources in the beginning of the decade, Fassbinder adapted canonical literary works. His political and iconoclastic 'living theater' style was scaled down and promoted as a method of broadening the appeal of these high-art works. Fassbinder added a veneer of melodrama to his adaptations, creating what could be seen as the Hollywoodization of German high culture.
For the broad West German television viewership, Fassbinder's early works were promoted primarily under the name of and by the reputation of the original author. Although the initial films he producer were 'original' to Fassbinder (Warum läuft Herr R. amok?, 1970, and Rio das Mortes 1970), he soon setlled into producing a series of adaptations (Carlo Goldoni's Das Kaffeehaus, 1970, Marieluise Fleisser's Pionier in Ingolstadt, 1970, and Franz Xaver Kroetz's Wildwechsel, 1972).
What is most significant is the scant publicity these televised prime time works engendered. While the national popular press was alive with discussion of Fassbinder's less seen nontelevision films such as prizewinning Katzelmacher (1969) and his continued work with antiteater, these adaptations were simply announced in the television listings as, for example "Rainer Werner Fassbinder's adaptation of Carlo Goldoni's Das Kaffeehaus."(111) In other words, the authorship of these adaptations, altered as they were from the original, was not included in the public appraisal of Fassbinder's 'creative genius'.
The articles did, however, provide evidence of the mounting theme of diversity and productivity as signs of Fassbinder's uniqueness. The headline of an April 1970 article on Fassbinder in West Germany's most read magazine, Hör zu, openly displays this equation: "The Revolutionary with a Heart: He produces for three. He makes film, television, theater. He calls himself a 'revolutionary'. He does not love just one - Rainer Werner Fassbinder is a Unique Person [Unikum]."(102)
Simultaneously, a whole other Fassbinder existed in the independent German film world: the confessional Fassbinder. His works for the more select art house circuit were markedly different; they were original and idiosyncratic. This stylistic code has been aptly described by film academic Eric Rentschler, who speaks of Fassbinder's "appropriation of the melodrama and his codes (expressive lighting, theatrical tableaux, garish decor with narrow interiors, mirror reflections, heavily enunciated music at crucial junctures)."(113) But what Rentschler and others do not describe was how this authorial code was conditioned by and functioned differently within the two media. In his privately funded films, Fassbinder used his melodramatic style to question the larger issue of the reliability of the auteur / Autor as an expressive individual.
Fassbinder's amazing career in two very different institutions - the mass medium of West German television and the high-culture world of the art cinema circuit - was built around a delicate balancing act between Fassbinder the producer of popularized classics and socially conscious family melodrama and Fassbinder the confessional Autor. In one of his few statements on his television work during this period, the director underlined the self-consciousness of the division between his work in television and in theater and film: "Solely in television is it different [from film and theater productions]. There one interacts with a varied public. And I find at the moment that it is better to tell people something."(114)
Eight Hours Are Not a Day: Fassbinder and the Social Critical Television Genre
In 1972 - 73 Fassbinder came to the attention of a broad West German television audience with the Westdeutscher Rundfunk production of his worker's series Eight Hours Are Not a Day (Acht Stunden sind kein Tag). Collins and Porter's study of the genre of worker's films chronicles the political furor created by anticapitalist films, and particularly Fassbinder's popular contribution.(115) What they did not analyze is the degree to which Fassbinder's original contribution was a departure from his cycle of literary adaptations for television. Because of its unprecedented scope (five episodes totaling seven hours and forty minutes; only Berlin Alexanderplatz exceeded it in length), the series became a center of public attention. More importantly, it was an unprecedented marriage of the popular German middle-class genre (the family series) and a larger leftist experiment in worker's rights associated with the educational ideals of the Third Channel.
Although Fassbinder was chosen to direct this series based on his reputation as a leftist, the decision was also based on his ability to popularize bourgeois genres - the family series - a choice that the producing television station emphasized. Peter Märthesheimer, Fassbinder's television producer, wrote a long intellectual explanation of the series objective entitled "The Occupation of a Bourgeois Genre." Appearing in Fernsehen und Bildung, the article attempted to legitimize the series for German intelligentsia based not on Fassbinder's fame as an Autor but on the importance of using the conventions of middle-class fiction for working-class inspiration. Märthesheimer wrote:
"They [the protagonists] only become so striking because the forms of expression which formerly belonged to the bourgeois an d petit bourgeois milieu, are in Eight Hours introduced for the first time into the proletarian milieu, and with these forms stories are told in a completely different way. This transplantation has two advantages - one of aesthetic effect: how the characters behaved was very striking, 'distanciated' against the given background; the other of ideology: the apparent unlimited scope for the action and behavior which bourgeois culture allows its heroes in the novel [in] the theater and even in the family series, addicted to eclecticism and the cult of the private, offers an effective lever to make problematic the established, regimented and constrained working class milieu."(116)
What is significant here is how Märthesheimer uses 'bourgeois culture' genres to legitimatize the form and content of the Fassbinder series. Previously, Fassbinder's work for public television had been promoted as adaptations of established literary works of the educated middle class. But here, in a curious turnaround, when Fassbinder produced an original and political television film his creative role and political reputation receded into the background. The central issue became the right of working-class culture to be exhibited via the same forms used for bourgeois culture. In a sense, the discourse of Fassbinder's popularizing established literature remained the same. Now, however, it was the form and content of those traditions that were being translated. Fassbinder's skill, then, lay in being a consummate craftsman translating a middle-class genre to a working-class milieu.
Discussion about the appropriation of a bourgeois form by a working class genre continued in the popular press. In an article in Konkret entitled "Is the Proletarian Wave Coming?" Fassbinder argued:
"One can use any genre to put across a message, whether you want to introduce a new sensitivity or political content. Family series are what Germans like watching. That way you create a potential audience for the first half hour. You're over the hill then if people havenât turned off. Then such and such a family comes regularly into their homes and they can do what the characters can do."(117)
As Collins and Porter point out, the producers clearly planned to use "a familiar compromised genre as a vehicle for raising political consciousness of the German working class TV audience, through the audience's identification with the characters and the actions of an 'occupied' family series."(118)
In fact one of the most common strains in the critical discussion of the worker film was what an abrupt switch the style and content of the series was for Fassbinder, who had heretofore worked only on classical adaptations for German television and on his own privately produced films.(119)
Moreover, in one article Fassbinder was challenged for his lack of appropriateness for a working-class narrative because of his 'autobiographical background' as a child of the middle class ( and therefore alien to the lower class). In response, he agreed:
"Ah yes, I don't really know what it is really like. I just have my idea of it. And I have worker friends and when I have written up my ideas I give them the text so they can read it and discuss it with me. Then I alter the text until they finally say - yeah, it's like that near enough."(120)
Fassbinder's response differs from that of a German Autor in the degree to which the content and form of the series do not conform to his "cultivation" (Bildung) nor to his other works. At best, Fassbinder's reputation as a popular filmmaker with leftist sympathies corresponded to the seriesâ sense. The conservative backlash highlighted that side of Fassbinder.(121) Yet another example of how Fassbinder's role as an established Autor receded into the background can be found in the academic / professional journal Kirche und Rundfunk: in a long article entitled "Eight Hours Is a Long Day" Fassbinder's participation is mentioned in one line.(122) Again, the article echoes the theme of Fassbinder as the popularizer of established forms, or in this case the popularizer of another class's experience.
Although Eight Hours Are Not a Day was widely seen (41 to 45 percent of the German audience) and popular (60 percent of that audience rated it "good" to "very good"), the series was still politically controversial. For the cultural representatives of the middle class, the political moment in the production of Eight Hours came not with the choice of Fassbinder, a known radical, but rather in the WDR production of an Arbeiterfilm devoted to working-class entertainment and activism. Aesthetically, it was attacked in Die Zeit as Fassbinder's "stylistic mishmash".(123)
But the main thunder came from the established institutions of both the right and the left, which attacked the series for a political naïveté about how the workplace functions. On another level, the problem was presented as the inability of the producers to distinguish between fiction and reality. The major criticism lodged against Fassbinder was that he had "a notion of political activity that does not go beyond the realms of private experience into the traditional areas of political struggle and debate."(124) The debate over Eight Hours had more to do with the application of middle-class conventions of goal-oriented protagonists to a working-class milieu - a potentially explosive concept for the middle-class individuals who ran the various governing boards of Westdeutscher Rundfunk. According to Collins and Porter, the governing board (Rundfunkrat) did not cancel the series, but imposed strict guidelines on Fassbinder: he could produce future episodes only if he took into account the criticism against the first five. Seeing the new restrictions as "too daunting", Fassbinder withdrew from the series. Since WDR saw the film as 'authored' by Fassbinder, the discontinued it, arguing that they would have a credibility problem without him.(125) By 1973, because of the notoriety associated with directing the working-class series and the corresponding public interest in his class origins. Fassbinder was a well-known figure in the German mass media-world. He went on to produce three shorter Fernsehspiele within a social critical genre: Like a Bird on the Wire (Wie ein Vogel auf dem Draht, 1974), Fear of Fear (Angst vor der Angst, 1975) and I Only Want You to Love Me (Ich will doch nur, daß Ihr mich liebt, 1975/76). Yet the correlation between Fassbinder's life and his work for television continued to grow with the production of these 'original' works. In an official television publication, Märthesheimer interviewed Fassbinder in 1976 and asked him whether the themes of matricide and denied love in I Only Want You to Love Me were autobiographical. He responded: "Yes, that is true in a certain sense. It is the case that all my films have also something very personal to do with my life."(126) There was a growing relationship between Fassbinder's television work and his life, but the overt political nature of his television films was continually denied in favor of the theme of emotional exploitation.
Separating out the actual politics of Fassbinder's personal life from the quasi-political theme of sexual exploitation became necessary for state television's spokespeople. By the mid-seventies they had become increasingly nervous about their support of anything smacked of politics, given the change in political climate brought on by the rise of terrorism and the resulting Tendezwende. As a result, from 1976 to 1980 West German television produced only two Fassbinder works after six years of at least two a year. Both adaptations (Oskar Maria von Graf's Bolwieser, 1976-77, and Women of New York, 1977 adapted from Clare Boothe Luce's The Women) were produced without much publicity or critical notice.
By 1975 the distance that television had been able to maintain between the Autor and Fassbinder the individual began to break down as Fassbinder and the success of his independent confessional feature films became a constant issue in all West German dailies. In addition, he had gained a reputation as a representative of German culture in that he had won every major West German prize and state subsidy.(127) West German television (particularly Westdeutscher Rundfunk) still wanted to produce Fassbinder's work. By the late 1970s, as a recognized feature film Autor, Fassbinder could dictate his choice of materials; he was no longer constrained by the need to produce the works of other authors.
Still, Westdeutscher Rundfunk canceled two major television programs with Fassbinder during this period. In 1977 they canceled his adaptation of Gustav Freytag's Credit and Debit (Soll und Haben), a canonical nineteenth-century German novel about a Jewish merchant. Two years earlier his aborted theatrical production on the postwar Frankfurt building speculation, The Garbage, the City and the Dead (Die Müll, die Stadt und der Tod), had been branded "anti-Semitic" by the Mass West German press, although it was supported by the cultural press.(128) The television station thought this history would make it too difficult for the planned 1977 television adaptation of another text about Jews by Fassbinder.
In 1978 the station pulled out of producing The Third Generation (Die dritte Generation) because of its theme of terrorism and Fassbinder's connection to the Baader / Meinhof terrorist group. Fassbinder published a rebuttal to WDR's withdrawal in the widely read liberal daily Frankfurter Rundschau.
"Reality, everyone seemed to agree, was the province of television, which is unfortunately a public institution and as such committed to balance approach to reality - or is it a balancing act, an undiscriminating pluralistic approach, in which anything and everything has legal rights, especially the legal system?"(129)
For all Fassbinder's growing tabloid frame by 1978, German public television was able to ride out the crises by either not producing or pulling out of Fassbinder's more personal and political works or deflecting Fassbinder's biography away from the productions. Television maintained his high-culture status as the producer of the work of other Autoren, yet he was also a figure of popular culture whose sensational life was melodramaticized in the popular press. Fassbinder was able to be ordinary as a representative German Autor and extraordinary as a star/personality.
When Fassbinder's Berlin Alexanderplatz premiered on West German television in 1980, the West German populace knew the television Fassbinder for melodramatic adaptations of other author's works. They also had access to news accounts of his life stemming from his autobiographical films. But these worlds had remained relatively separate because Fassbinder's television works were not his films or Autorenfilme. The art cinema and television spheres had been separated by the institutional split in the production of independent film in West Germany in the 1970s. When Fassbinder produced West German television's biggest production to date, an adaptation of Alfred Döblin's Berlin Alexanderplatz, and declared "I am Biberkopf" (the protagonist), the two separate worlds collided. The result was the biggest West German media controversy since the airing of the American series Holocaust. The airing of Berlin Alexanderplatz represented the meeting of high culture and popular culture: Fassbinder's life as a melodrama.
The Fassbinder legend began to force the West German public to question what Foucault describes as "the legal and institutional systems that circumscribe, determine and articulate" authorship. By embroiling the content of his films so closely with his own life, Fassbinder exploited, questioned and fell victim to the mechanics of the bourgeois construction of aesthetic individualism. Indeed, to be a legend a director must be in the impossible position of being ultimately knowable as a popular star yet ultimately unknowable or removed as an author anointed by the middle class. Perhaps it is the taboo nature of his exploration of the context of aesthetic authority that led Fassbinder to christen his work 'incest film'.
1. Richard Caves: American Industry: Structure, Conduct, Performance. Englewood Cliffs 1964, pp.55; Paul A. Sammuelson: Economics: An Introductory Analysis, 7. Auflage. New York 1967, pp.139-154.
2. In fact, Gustav Stolpe wrote in the preface to his influential economic history of Germany in 1940 (before the Aliied occupation) that "it is an economic, not a political history that is told here. The account of Germany's economic history probably reveals, however, a much closer interrelation between politics and economics than that of any other great European nation." Gustav Stolper, Karl Hauser, Knut Borchardt: The German Economy 1870 to the Present. New York 1967, p.323.
3. Nicos Poulantzas: Fascism and Dictatorship. London 1974.
4. Paul Sweezy: Theory of Capitalist Development. New York 1942, p.293.
5. Ephraim Nimni: "Marxism and Nationalism". In: M. Shaw (ed.): Marxist Sociology Revisited. London 1985, pp.101-102.
6. Dyer and Vincendeau: Popular European Cinema, p.7.
7. Roland Barthes: Image - Music - Text. London 1977, p.145.
8. John Caughie: Theories of Authorship. London 1981, p.2.
9. Thomas Elsaesser: New German Cinema: A History. New Brunswick 1989, p.43.
10. Jan Dawson: "A Labyrinth of Subsidies: The Origins of the New German Cinema." In: Sight and Sound, Winter 1980/1981, p.15.
11. Ibid., p.19.
12. Elsaesser: New German Cinema, p.43.
13. See Sheila Johnson: "The Author as Public Institution." In: Screen 32/33 (Autumn/Winter 1979/1980, pp.67-78.
14. Elsaesser: New German Cinema, p.40.
15. Pierre Bourdieu: Distinction: A Social Judgemend of Taste. Camebridge 1984, p.68.
17. Joint Chiefs of Staff Directive (JCS 1067) issued on October 31, 1945, reprinted in James K. Pollack: Germany under Occupation: Illustrative Materials and Documents. Ann Abor 1947, p.78.
18. The Morgenthau plan adopted by the American zone as stated in the major governing statement of the immediate period after the German surrender promoted a theory of "collective guilt". The directive instructed the Aliied to tell the Germans that they "cannot escape responsibility" for what they brought on themselves. The American forces were in those first month "to take no steps looking towards the economic rehabilitation of Germany or designed to maintain or strengthen the German economy." See Pollack: Germany under Occupation,pp.100-115.
19. Nicholas Pronay: "To Stamp Out the Whole Tradition ...". Introduction to Nicholas Pronay and Keith Wilson (eds.): The Political Re-education of Germany and Her Allies.London 1985, pp.1-2.
20. The journal is Functional Program, Information Control, Office of Military Government U.S. Zone, part 2, Feburary 22, 1946. The reference comes from William Arthur Rugh: The Politics of Broadcasting after World War Two. New York 1967, p.11.
21. This American sensibility is exemplified in the Universum Film Aktiengesellschaft (UFA) holding company law of 1949, by which the Americans dissolved the giant media conglomerate, disposing of motion picture property "in a manner best calculated to foster a sound, democratic and privately-owned motion picture industry in Germany organized so as to preclude excessive concentration of economic power." A more modern version of this correlation is expressed by Arthur M Okun: "The economist sees the competitive market and pricing mechanism as a particularly efficient way of expression of individual choice [...]. Free choice and competition expressed through purchaising and selling decisions of individual competitors often have a remarkable property of yielding results tha cannot be improved on by public action." (Political Economy of Prosperity. Washington, D.C. 1970, pp.5-6).
22. David Childs and Jeffrey Johnson:West Germany: Politics and Society. London 1981, p.148. William Rugh argues that broadcasting was not commercialized because of the lack of multiple frequencies necessary for competition and "the lack of anythingto advertise in 1948." ("Politics of Broadcasting", p.20.). Athough this seems a more likely explanation of the lack of private enterprise involved with early German boadcasting than Childs and Johnson's, I found no other corroboration of this position.
23. Hans Bausch: Rundfunkpolitik nach 1945: Erster Teil: 1945-1962. Munich 1980, pp.24-45.
24. Michael Balfour: "In Retrospect: Britain's Policy of 'Re-education'." In: Nicholas Pronay and Keith Wilson (eds.): The Political Re-education of Germany, p.147.
25. Secretary of State George Marshall's speech is quoted in Germany 1947-1949: The Story in Documents. department of State Publication no. 3556. Washington D.C. 1950, p.154.
26. It should be mentioned that the English reeducation prgram slowly became motivated in some circles by an anticommunist fear similar to the Americans'. In 1948 the British regional commissioner for North Rhine Westphalia, General Sir Brian Robertson, argued that "it was clear [...] that unless the German people were helped to transform the conditions then existing into a situation which would provide a bearable if modest standard of living it would be impossible to prevent the spread of communism through the whole country." (quoted in: Michael Tracey: The Illusive Ideal: An Essay on Hugh Greene and the Creation of Broadcasting in the Federal Republic of Germany. Dissertation Univ. of Leicester 1984, p.25).
27. John M. MacKenzie: Propaganda and Empire: The Manipulation of British Public Opinion 1880-1960. Manchester 1984, pp.67-95.
28. Pronay: "To Stamp Out the Whole Tradition", pp.8-9.
29. Ibid., p.8.
30. Arthur Williams: Broadcasting and Democracy in West Germany. Philadelphia 1976, p.3.
31. Asa Briggs: The Birth of Broadcasting: The History of Broadcasting in the United Kingdom, 2 vols. London 1961, vol.2: pp.37-106
32. Sidney W. Head: Broadcasting in America, 4th ed. Boston 1982, p.5.
33. Briggs, Birth of Broadcasting, p.261.
34. Although the British did excert more influence on the course of West German broad-casting, the Americans had a profound influence in shaping Bayerischer Rundfunk (BR), which was to become th virulently anticommunist and conservative station in the ARD. See Barbara Mettler: Demokratisierung und Kalter Krieg: Zur amerikanischen Informations- und Rundfunkpolitik in Westdeutschland 1945-1949. Berlin 1975.
35. Because the papers from this period by law could not be opened for examination for thirty years, they are only now coming to the surface for academic scrunity. Pronay: "To Stamp Out the Whole Tradtion", pp.16-23.
36. Ibid., pp.8-9.
37. Tracey: Illusive Deal, p.40. It was, however, the task of the BBC's German Service to carry out the corrective or missionary service by substituting 'democratic' culture for authorian Nazi 'propaganda'. Bishop wrote that they must install "cultural programmes using every means provided by radio technique to reflect to the German audience the literature, art, scholarship, music, theatre, film and science of the outside [...]. Talks and discussions were intended to reintroduce Germans to the values and traditions of western Christian civilization, and to correct past German distortions of the facts of history." (Tracey: "Illusive Deal", p.41).
38. To be more exact, the constitution was written for the Hamburg station NWDR, which functioned as the central broadcast station for the British zone and later was partitioned into the Hamburg NDR (Norddeutscher Rundfunk) and Cologne's WDR (Westdeutscher Rundfunk), producer of the majority of Fassbinder's television work.
39. Tracey: "Illusive Ideal", p.2.
40. Ibid., p.86.
41. Ibid., pp.57-58.
42. Greene never hesitated in exercising his authority to select and keep broadcast personnel. Greene's administration at NWDR was racked with controversy over his hiring or firing of 'suspected' communists and ex-Nazis. Many of these personnel changes were highly controversial in that charges were not substantiated. Michael Tracey's glowing biography serves unwittingly to reveal the capriciousness of Greene's decisions in the name of British upper class propriety; see Michael Tracey: A Variety of Lives: A Biography of Sir Hugh Greene. London 1983.
43. Thomas Streeter: "German Broadcasting and the Legacy of the Allied Occupation", seminar paper Univ. of Illinois, p.23.
44. Tracey: "Illusive Ideal", p.136.
45. The American zone was by far the most decentralized with four institutions: Radio Frankfurt, Radio München, Radio Stuttgart, and Radio Bremen. The British and French zones were centralized into one station each. NWDR, based in Hamburg, covered all of the huge British zone; Südwestfunk in Baden-Bade covered the much smaller French zone.
46. The six broadcast institutions of ARD or the First Network, which correspond with Land boundaries, are: Bayerischer Rundfunk (Bavaria), Hessischer Rundfunk (Hesse), Radio Bremen (Bremen), Saarländischer Rundfunk (Saar), Westdeutscher Rundfunk (North Rhineland-Westphalia), and Sender Freies Berlin (West Berlin). Norddeutscher Rundfunk (Hamburg) serves three lands - Hamburg, Lower Saxony, and Schleswig Holstein; Südwestfunk serves the Rhineland-Palatinate and part of Baden Württemberg; and the Süddeutscher Rundfunk serves the remaining part of Baden Württemberg.
47. A. Williams: Broadcasting and Democracy, pp.17-18.
48. Arthur Williams takes apart the phrasing of the consortium's title in order to reveal how carefully chosen the words are. In particular, Williams argues that Arbeitsgemeinschaft can "simply mean a 'study group', but more often than not means some form of joint association formed to achieve a common objective with the only link between the members and the achievement of the objective." In addition, the political choice of öffentlich-rechtlich puts the emphasis "on their status as independent, sovereign bodies; [...] the aim they share of providing the public with free broadcasting service, free of any predominant political or commercial interests." (Broadcasting and Democracy, pp.15-16).
49. Accoding to Tracey, NWDR's main stations were located in Hamburg, Cologne, and Berlin. The Hamburg station provided 60 percent of the programming between 6:00 a.m. and 1:00 a.m., the Cologne station 25 percent, and the Berlin station 12 to 15 percent. When Hugh Greene left, the station had 2.000 employees ("Illusive Ideal", p.63). Hans Bausch estimates a much larger NWDR audience: over 5 million listeners. He argues that over 53 percent of all broadcast listeners were in the British zone as opposed to 23 percent in the American zone and 10 percent in the French zone (Rundfunkpolitik nach 1945, p.19).
50. Tracey: "Illusive Ideal", p.64. The series of station governance boards was run by representatives of the stations and the community. The NWDR control structure had three levels: the Broadcasting Council (Hauptausschuß, later to become the Rundfunkrat), the Administrative Council (Verwaltungsrat), and the director-general (intendant). The Broadcasting Council's sixteen members came from established West German society: the Länder presidents, the central judiciary, the educational system, the Catholic and Lutheran churches, the trade unions, the lournalist union, theater management, the musical academy, and the trade association board. The council in turn elected the Rundfunkrat, the nonrepresentational, but most powerful and independent, tier of control, which administered the station's daily business and programming decisions and appointed the director-general. Of the West German television stations, all but two had instituted these three tiers of control by the 1970s. Other 'socially relevant' groups were represented on at least the Rundfunkrat.
51 A. Williams: Broadcasting and Democracy, p.102.
52. Anton Kaes: "Literary Intellectuals and the Cinema: Charting a Controversy (1909-1929)." In: New German Critique 40, Winter 1987, p.16.
53. Ibid., p.23.
54. Robin Lenman: "Mass Culture and the State in Germany, 1900-1926". In: R. J. Bullen et al. (eds.): Ideas into Politics: Aspects of European History 1880-1950. London 1984, pp.51-59.
55. Originally published in english by Princeton University Press in 1947.
56. Siegfried Kracauer: From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological History of the German Film. Princeton 1947, pp.8-9.
57. Ibid., p.71.
58. Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno: "The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception." Dialectic of Enlightenment. New York 1987, pp.120-167. In relation to Kracauer's influence on Adorno and Horkheimer, John Gay has documented the postwar intellectual interchange between these influential critics in "The Extraterritorial Life of Siegfried Kracauer." In: Salmagundi 31/32, Fall/Winter 1975/1976, pp.42-66. Thomas Elsaesser has also referred to the relationship in "Film History and Visual Pleasure: Weimar Cinema." In: Patrica Mellencamp and Philip Rosen (eds.): Cinema Histories / Cinema Practices. Frederick, Md. 1984, p.67.
59. Andreas Meyer: "Bausteine zu einer Situationsanalyse des bundesdeutschen Kinos: No. 2 Gremien-Kinos." In: medium, 11 November 1977, p.16.
60. Elsaesser: "Film History and Visual Pleasure: Weimar Cinema." In: Patrica Mellencamp and Philip Rosen (eds.): Cinema Histories / Cinema Practices, p.60.
61. Heinz Ungureit: "Ein aufsässiges Spiel-Fernsehen." In: Joachim Denhardt and Daniela Hartmann (eds): Schöne neue Fernsehwelt. Utopien der Macher. Munich 1984, p.77.
62. Karls Holzamer: "Vor- und Nachdenkliches über Fernsehen." In: Rufer und Hörer 5, 1951, p.386.
63. The former British station NWDR, was the first German television station to begin broadcasting, in November of 1950. The broadcast ran intermittently until Christmas 1952, when NWDR initiated the first regular program. The first ARD network program carried in common did not start until November 1954.
64. The German statistics comes from ZDF Jahrbuch 1974, 50, and the American statistics from Frederic Stuart's "The Effects of Television on the Motion Picture Industry: 1948-1960." In: Gorham Kindem (ed.): American Movie Industry. Carbondale 1982, p.266.
65. Knut Hickethier: Das Fernsehspiel der Bundesrepublik: Themen, Form, Struktur, Theorie und Geschichte. Stuttgart 1980, p.17.
66. Dieter Stolte: "Trotz aller Unterschiede: Kino und Fernsehen sind aufeinander angewiesen." In: Filmförderung 1974-1979: Der deutsche Film und das Fernsehen. Frankfurt 1980, p.9.
67. Klau Keller: "Kino und Fernsehen - Keine Alternativmedien - Aber Konkurrenzmedien." In: Funk Korrespondenz 13 no.28, March 1979, p.1.
68. Werner Hess: "Warnung vor unrealistischen Wünschen der Filmwirtschaft." In: Kirche und Rundfunk 58, July 24, 1976, p.3. Yet the studios and production companies welcomed television as a financially strong business partner. The 1957 jump in television licenses resulted in more capital for film personnel and studios. The late 1950s and early 1960s brought the first series of significant changes in the balance between the film and and television industries. In 1957 the ARD and UFA created the first production agreement between the two industries to film three television films in Studio Eight of the old UFA Bavarian studio. By 1959 WDR and SDR (Süddeutscher Rundfunk) had bought the studio, turning into Bavaria Atelier GmbH, yet 60 percent of its use was still devoted to German feature film production in these early years. In 1958 Hamburg's NDR and Cologne's WDR created a film production collective filming in Hamburg's Real Film studios. By 1960 NDR had bought the film studio, making it a commercial subsidiary, Real-Film GmbH. And in 1962 the Berlin Senate attempted to get Sender Freies Berlin, an ARD station and the second channel, to buy the bankrupt remaining Berlin studios.
69. Hickethier: Das Fernsehspiel der Bundesrepublik.
70. Richard Collins and Vincent Porter: WDR and the Arbeiterfilm. London 1981, p.32.
71. Werner Waldmann: Das deutsche Fernsehspiel: Ein systematischer Überblick. Wiesbaden 1977, p.4.
72. E.M. Berger: "Daramturgie des Fernsehens." In: Fernsehstudio 1, 1953, p.18. Quoted in Hickethier: Das Fernsehspiel der Bundesrepublik, p.80.
73. There are some important exceptions to this rule, including the work of NDR producer Egon Monk, who was influenced by Bertold Brecht and produced some of the most politically controversial television films (e.g. Schlachtvieh) of the Adenauer era. See Egon Netenjakob: "Der Fernsehfilm ist -Film" In: Film und Fernsehen 7, July 1970, p.35. And Knut Hickethier: "Das Fernsehspiel in der Adenauer Ära." TV-Courier / Dokumentation 2, January 19, 1981, p.7.
74. Hickethier: Das Fernsehspiel der Bundesrepublik, pp.160-162.
75. Hickethier: "Das Fernsehspiel in der Adenauer Ära," pp.7-8.
76. Eric Rentschler argues that Group 47 represented an example to the Oberhausen group of artists who met collectively to discuss and lobby for their political rights. In fact, there was a meeting between the two groups that ended in a fiasco, neither side understanding the other. See Eric Rentschler: New German Film in the Course of Time. Bedford Hills, N.Y. 1984, pp.32-33
77. John Standford: The Mass Media of German-Speaking Countries. London 1976, and Jürgen Seifert (ed.): Die Spiegel-Affäre, 2 vols. Freiburg 1966.
78. Seifert: Die Spiegel-Affäre, p.44.
79. Hickethier: Das Fernsehspiel der Bundesrepublik, p.224.
80. Quoted in Hans C. Blumenberg: "Bildschirm contra Leinwand." In: Die Zeit 24, June 23, 1978, p.28.
81. Egon Monk: "Parteinahme als Notwendigkeit." In. epd 17, no. 30, April 1966, p.1.
82. Blumenberg: "Bildschirm contra Leinwand," p.28.
83. Another example of the growing acceptance of the cultural importance of television was the willingness of West Germany's most renowned writers (Group 47) such as Schnurre, Böll, and Andersch to allow television to adapt their work.
84. Hickethier: Das Fernsehspiel der Bundesrepublik, p.71.
85. The data on feature films in West Germany comes from Elisabeth Berg and Bernward Frank: Film und Fernsehen: Ergebnisse einer Repräsentativerhebung 1978. Mainz 1979, pp.20,25. The Fernsehspiel statistic is from Hickethier, Das Fernsehspiel der Bundes-reppublik, p.74.
86. Alexandre Astruc: "The Birth of New Avant-garde: la camera stylo." In: Peter Graham (ed.): The New Wave. London 1968, pp.17-23.
87. Quoted in David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson: Film Art: An Introduction, 2nd ed. New York 1986, p.373. Emphasis is original.
89. Hickethier: Das Fernsehspiel der Bundesrepublik, p.227.
90. Meyer: "Bausteine zu einer Situationsanalyse," p.17.
91. Quoted by Sheila Johnston in "The Author as Public Institution: The 'New' Cinema in the Federal Republic of Germany." In: Screen 32/33 (Autumn/Winter 1979/1980, p.68.
92. Michael Dost, Florian Hopf and Alexander Kluge: Filmwirtschaft in der BRD und in Europa: Götterdämmerung in Raten. Munich 1973, p.129.
93. Günter Rohrbach: "Die verhängnisvolle Macht der Regisseure." In: ARD Fernsehspiel 3, 1983, p.320.
94. A. Williams: Broadcasting and Democracy,p.29. The Court specified how these 'socially relevant groups' were to be represented: "Article 5 of the Basic Law does, however, require that this modern instrument for the formation of opinion should surrender neither to the state nor to any one group in society. The promoters of broadcasting programmes must, therefore, be so organized that all relevant forces have an influence in the organs of control and a fair hearing in the overall programme which guarantee a minimum balance in content, impartiality and mutual respect. This can be secured only if these organizational and material principles are made generally binding by law." (A. Williams, ibid., p.30)
95. Elisabeth Berg und Bernward Frank: Film und Fernsehen: Ergebnisse einer Repräsentativerehbung 1978, p.26.
96. Imported foreign television programs made up about 5 to 8 percent of West German public television in the 1980s, but American television programs were some of the most popular; Dallas and Dynasty (known as Der Denver Clan), German television tends to program American television series such as Sesame Street, Hart to Hart, Lassie, and Donna Reed Show for the late afternoon to early evening. The lion's share of American culture comes from the showing of American feature films.
97. Under the new law, direct film subsidization gave way to an entertainment tax (Filmgroschen) of ten pfennig or five cents per ticket. This tax amounted to an operating budget of $2.25 million a year. In 1969 the board awarded 65 films approximately 150,000 deutsche marks ($37,000). Of the 65 films, 42 were counted as purely German films and 23 were co-productions with other European Community countries. This subsidy law, for all ist contradictions and industry support, has remained until the present as the mainstay of direct governmental film support for independent filmmaking in Germany.
The result of the 1967 act was a noticeable growth in production: new production profits jumped from 38,780,000 to 50.540,000 marks in 1968; 72 films were made in 1967, 110 in 1969, and an all-time record 112 in 1971. But subsidized productions in the years directly following passage of the act were the traditional litany of German cheap thrillers and sex films ('report films'). The seemingly small (by industry standards) grants encouraged commercial producers to go for low-budget 'quickies' and short-term profits rather than more financially risky films.
98. In the 1960s, according to Gunther Witte, head of WDR's Fernsehspiel department in 1981, "the most talented and experienced filmmakers of our land worked for our programs. Moreover, we knew that new German film had found a home with us. However, this seeming identity between television and film could not last forever." (Gunther Witte: "Crux mit dem Kino: Szenen einer Ehe zwischen zwei Medien." In: WDR Print, December 1981, p.5).
99. Hickethier: Das Fernsehspiel der Bundesrepublik, p.233.
100. Ernest W. Fuhr: "On the Legal Position of Freelance Workers in Broadcasting Organizations in the Federal Republic of Germany." In: European Broadcasting Union 5, September 1978, p.39.
101. Quoted in Johnston: "The Author as Public Institution," p.77.
102. Frida Graefe and Enno Patalas: "Warum wir das beste Fernsehen und den schlechtesten Film haben." In: Filmkritik 12, 1970, p.473.
103. Warum läuft Herr R. amok? ( Why does Mr. R. run Amok?, 1970), Das Kaffeehaus ( The Coffeehouse, 1970), Die Niklashauser Fahrt ( The Niklashaus Trip, 1970), Pioniere in Ingolstadt ( The Pioneers of Ingolstadt, 1970), Acht Stunden sind kein Tag ( Eight Hours are Not a Day, 1972), Bremer Freiheit ( Bremen Freedom, 1972), Welt am Draht ( World on a Wire, 1973), and Martha (1973).
104 Wenders produced his first two feature films as WDR Fernsehspiele: Die Angst des Tormanns beim Elfmeter (The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick, 1971) and Der scharlachrote Buchstabe ( The Scarlet Letter, 1972).
105. Redaktuere translates more closely as 'editors', which again reveals historical and cultural differences: the film business is closer to its literay origins than the American 'producer' which emphasizes the industrial origins of the cultural object.
106. Falkenberg, director of cultural programming at WDR, studied at Göttingen, Zurich and Havard before receiving his doctorate. Günter Rohrbach had studied with Jürgen Habermas at Bonn University where he received his doctorate.
107. See Andreas Huyssen's essay: "The Politics of Identification: Holocaust and West German Drama." In: Huyssen: After the Great Divide: Modernism, Mass Culture, Postmodernism. Bloomington 1986, pp.94-114.
108. Examples of Märthesheimer's essays and responses in English can be found in Collins and Porter: WDR and the Arbeiterfilm, pp.143-152, and in Huyssen: "The Politics of Identification: Holocaust and West German Drama," p.9.
109. For a discussion of this change in political climate in West Germany in the early 1970s, see Jack Zipes: "From the Berufsverbot to Terrorism." In: Telos 34, Winter 1977/1978, pp.136-137.
110. My criterion for describing a Fassbinder film as a television film or theater film is based on where the film preniered.
111. This survey of the popular press in 1970 is culled from "Der Aussenseiter mit Herz." In: Hör zu, April 16, 1970, p.24; "Statt der 'Ware' - wahre Kunst machen." In: Hör zu, June 27, 1970, p.10; "Mit 24 der größte Macher." In: Hör zu, June 27, 1970, pp.113-115; and "Der kleine Rebell hat ausgesorgt ... Schnellfilmer Rainer Werner Fassbinder und seine Erfolge." In: Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, July 4, 1970, p.10. For analysis of the 'culture press', I am using Wolf Donner: "Der Boss und sein Team," pp.9-10; "Das Gangster-Spiel." In: Film und Fernsehen 8, no.7, July 1970, pp.14-15; and Ekehard Pluta: "Die Sachen sind so, wie sie sind. Versuch über fünf Filme des Rainer Werner Fassbinders." In: Film und Fernsehen 8, no.12, December 1970, pp.15-19.
112. "Aussenseiter mit Herz," p.24.
113. Eric Rentschler: New German Film in the Course of Time. Bedford Hills, N.Y. 1984, p.84.
114. "'Früher wollte ich immer nur drehen'." In: Aachener Nachrichten 19, May 1971, p.5. Fassbinder also did a series of radio adaptations in 1970-71: Goethes Iphigenie and Ganz in Weiss (an eighteenth-century work). Oddly, in an interview abaut the adaptation of Iphigenie, he contrasts his position on the depersonalized nature of work in television to the intimacy of radio production. In radio adaptations, he argued, "Authors [Autoren] should always realise their own work. Direction and scriptwriting are the same thing for the radio play." ("Das Hörspiel hat Zunkunft." In: Kölnische Rundschau, April 30, 1971 p.5).
115. Vincent Collins and Richard Porter: WDR and the Arbeiterfilm: Fassbinder, Ziewer and Others. London 1981, pp.1-174.
116. Peter Märthesheimer: "Die Okkupation des bürgerlichen Genres." In: Fernsehen und Bildung13, 1974, p.23. The translation of this article is from Collins and Porter: WDR and the Arbeiterfilm, p.149.
117. W. Röhl: "Kommt die Proletwelle?CIn: Konkret 13, 1973, p.17. This section of the interview is translated in Collins and Porter: WDR and the Arbeiterfilm, p.52.
118. Collins and Porter: WDR and the Arbeiterfilm, p.52.
119. "Genie aus Zufall." In: Stuttgarter Zeitung, October 27, 1972, p.23; "Rainer Werner Fassbinder - der kleine vermaledeite Teufel aus der Hosentasche." In: Kölnische Rundschau, December 19, 1972, p.15; and "schön populär." In: Der Spiegel 44, 1972, p.177. Collins and Porter declare that Eight Hours was a noticeable break from Fassbinder's previous 'film' work, which "hithero centered around his own autobiography and emotional economy." ( WDR and the Arbeiterfilm, p.53). But what they overlook is that the series fitted comfortably with Fassbinder's work as a television adaptor or a director who comfortably suppress their 'artistic vision' to adapt others' works or forms for a broad audience.
120. Röhl: "Kommt die Proletwelle?" p.34.
121. A postition paper put out by a conservative watchdog group for the Christian Democratic Party (CDU) in 1975 surveyed all the 'radical' WDR productions. In discussing the Arbeiterfilme ("a series pregnant with class conflict"), the report isolated Fassbinder's statements about political film and the radical nature of the WDR staff. Ist interest lay not so much in Fassbinder, but in proving the leftist sympathies of the station as demonstrated their support of Fassbinder and the series ("Dokumente zu Sendungen des WDR". Cologne 1975, pp.1-56).
122. Wolfgang Ruf: "Acht Stunden ist ein langer Tag." In: Kirche und Rundfunk 79, November 20, 1974, p.6.
123. Wolf Donner: "Idyllen eines TV Juros." In: Die Zeit, December 23, 1972, p.22.
124. W. Gast and Gerhard R. Kaiser: "Kritik der Fernsehspiele. Das Beispiel von Fassbinders Acht Stunden sind kein Tag." In: Jörg Drews (ed.): Literatur, Medien, Kritik. Heidelberg 1977. This article is translated in Collins and Porter: WDR and the Arbeiterfilm, p.109.
125. Collins and Porter: WDR and the Arbeiterfilm, p.110.
126. Peter Märthesheimer: " Ich will doch nur, daß ihr mich liebt. Aus einem Gespräch mit Rainer Werner Fssbinder." In: Fernsehspiele. Cologne 1976, pp.152-153.
127. The state moneys as compared to the film cost that Fassbinder received for films between 1970 and 1975 are: State award Film cost Katzelmacher 250,000 DM 80,000 DM Warum läuft Herr R. amo k 250,000 DM 135,000 DM Der Händler der vier Jahreszeiten 450,000 DM 178,000 DM Effi Briest 260,000 DM 750,000 DM Die bitteren Tränen der Petra von Kan 200,000 DM 325,000 DM
128. This Fassbinder play has caused continued controversy as a result of ist analysis of the growth of postwar building speculation in Frankfurt and the role that Jews played. Most problematic has been the play's potential stereotype of the rich Jew. Die Welt, West Germany's most popular daily, reacted to the play with an article with the subheadline "How Rainer Werner Fassbinder Came Under Suspicion for Anti-Semitism." The newspaper argues that Fassbinder's tendencies towards melodramatic figures and comic book clichés produced an anti-Semitic image of the postwar Jew in Germany ("Ungeschichtlich ins Ungeschick." In: Die Welt, March 27, 1976, p.12). Wolfgang Limmer of the liberal Der Spiegel concluded that the play was not about hating the Jews, but "his general hate of humanity" ("Wem schrei ich um Hilfe?" In: Der Spiegel 41, 1976, p.236).
129. Rainer Werner Fassbinder: "The Third Generation." In: Michael Töteberg and Leo Lessing (eds.): Anarchy of the Imagination. Baltimore 1992, p.128. Yet Fassbinder also denied that the film was a political statement. He argued for a much more ambigous definition of 'political': " The Third Generation is not a so-called political film, except in the sense that film is political." See "documentation." In: Tony Rayns (ed.) Fassbinder. London 1979, p.119.