Although it began as a local slapdash effort to advertise the independent exchanges in Chicago in 1911, Photoplay became the nation's leading movie fan magazine. At first it copied Motion Picture Story, founded earlier to publicize the films of the monopolistic Motion Picture Patents Company, in publishing literary storyized versions of film releases. Adapting the middlebrow conventions of its rival to overcome disrepute and near bankruptcy, Photoplay had already spotlighted the players in its early issues. Indeed, it established the format for publicity stories about iconic female personalities, especially those in exciting cliff-hanging serials who were idolized by lower-class female fans. It also published serialized romance fiction that featured daring, unconventional modern heroines. A magazine that stimulated readers without economic and cultural capital to daydream about glamour and buy fetishized goods, Photoplay constructed stardom as a basis of consumer capitalism.

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