Monday, January 27, 2014

3 Questions-- Also I call answering Katrina's questions.

1. We have seen from the Communist Manifesto, and from the controversial race issues dealing with Tom and anti-Tom sentiment during the turn of the century that Williams discusses, that melodrama is a highly polarizing medium. Williams, and Singer however also point out the ways in which it is a unifier-- as in American culture post- Birth of a Nation. Do you think that melodrama is more inclined to cause one or the other of these things? Are both equally important and necessary extremities i.e. "two sides of the same coin" as Williams put it to cause social change?

2. Is Disney's comic portrayal of Uncle Tom's Cabin really just some of the Anti-Tom reactionism that Williams discusses?

3. How does the rescue/escape motif found in melodramas that Williams discusses still play a role in today's popular culture?


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  2. 1. I think that it is possible for Melodrama to be both simultaneously unifying and polarizing, but it has to do this by having separate effects in the context of individuals as well as in the context of groups. In the context of individuals it guides them to form a group with other individuals like them. A classic example of this is when the Communist Manifesto incentives the members of the working class to "unite!" Melodrama, once it is able to establish either the group that the target audience is organized into or the group that target audience is told to oppose, uses the polarization of an "us vs. them" mantra there making it possible to both unify on the level of individuals and polarize on the level of groups.

    2. In my opinion, the Disney film is not as blatant or cruel in its racism as the Anti-Tom novels or Birth of a Nation but it still attempts to undermine the legitimacy of the racial progress that was brought by Uncle Tom's Cabin. The movie explicitly depicts how the story of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" is a cheaply produced show and ultimately is a facade. In addition, the audience shown as rowdy and easily manipulated even though the characters on stage are clearly actors in a performance. I wouldn't say that the film's primary goal isn't directly a call for discrimination against African Americans, but instead an indirect attack on social progress by making the (for the time) racially progressive Uncle Tom's Cabin illegitimate.

    3. The rescue/ escape motif plays a role in modern media chiefly because it is a motif that still has substantial pull on today's audiences. Rescue and escape have been a part of most action block busters for the past several decades. Rescue and escape may be one of the oldest tricks in the book when it comes to engaging an audience but it has constantly proven itself to be effective when employed correctly, regardless of when it occurs.


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