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Tinseltown is a slang term for Hollywood, a district in the city of Los Angeles that has become famous as the cradle of the American film industry. Because of Hollywood's association with the film industry, the district has become almost a magical place for some Americans, who romanticize both the region and the people who live there. The term is also used to describe films, often scathingly, to dismiss them as shallow.
The original meaning of “Tinseltown” is not complementary. People have used the word “tinsel” since the 1600s to describe something that is showy or even gaudy, but ultimately worthless. When people used this term to refer to Hollywood in the 1970s, they obviously meant to cast aspersions on the film industry and the people who powered it. The implication is that Hollywood is all celebrities and glitter, but no real substance.
The history of Hollywood was originally agricultural. Orange groves and fields of other crops existed there until the early 20th century, when film makers first began to exploit the district for its friendly population and vacant lots, ideally suited to filming. By World War I, Hollywood had become the powerhouse of the nascent film industry in the United States, and many studios continue to have their headquarters there.
Hollywood has a number of landmarks relating to the film industry, from historic studios and theaters to the well known Hollywood Walk of Fame. Many films premiere in Hollywood, often at the historic TCL Chinese Theatre (formerly known as Grauman's Chinese Theatre). The district also houses many prominent figures in the film industry, who enjoy living close to the glamor of the area; some visitors to the region enjoy taking tours which point out the homes of famous movie stars.
The first known written use of “Tinseltown” appeared in 1975, as the film industry was undergoing a major shift. Films were getting more daring, more filmmakers were entering the business, and the colossal studio system that had dominated Hollywood had collapsed. Oddly enough, many critically acclaimed and still beloved films emerged from Hollywood in the 1970s, belying the idea that the industry was producing a gaudy but valueless product. This era, for example, marked the begin of the rise of independent film, and of well known movie makers like Francis Ford Coppola, Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, and George Lucas.