Chapter 3. Making More than a Spectacle of Themselves
A March 20, 1913 article in The New York Times announced an event that would, in the reporter’s opinion, have long-term historical significance for the American woman suffrage movement and the future of the film industry: “In the year 2013 the world will know that the suffragists of 1913 could make five good suffrage speeches in five minutes. Suffragists went to the Edison Studios yesterday morning to act and talk before the moving and talking picture machine. … The meeting began at the sound of the cocoanut [sic]—a couple of cocoanut [sic] shells clapped together—and each time the women came out on time in their minute speeches. What interested the moving picture men in charge of the work was that, while the women kept to the time limit, their speeches were so far impromptu that they never gave them twice alike.”1
Only a little over two weeks later, the Edison kinetophone, Votes for Women, premiered in the Fifth Avenue vaudeville theater where it once again was identified as a generator of historical significance. The headline in Variety read: “The Last of ‘The Talkers’ With This Week’s Series: ‘Suffragette’ Subject Hooted, Jeered and Hissed Wherever Shown. Only Instance of Rowdyism at Fifth Avenue Created by ‘Edison Talking Picture’ Monday.” The suffragette kinetophone did more than just generate rowdyism at the theaters where it was screened. It also, according to the article, was a critical component in the pending downfall of the 1910s experiment...
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