Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Answer to Katrina's Questions

1. According to the literature that we've seen, I would say that Singer's definition does not hold true in all cases. In fact, Linda Williams gives a much more detailed account of all of the "key features" of melodrama that do not necessarily completely reconcile with Ben Singer's definition. Melodrama does always seem to interact and come from modernity, but I am sure that there are some soap operas that are considered "melodrama" that don't deal with much more than petty alliances and love triangles--although I suppose this could be seen as a cry for the demoralizing effect "modernity" has on society. At any rate, after Williams discusses her "key aspects" of melodrama, she then goes on to state that not all of the features are in every melodrama, "nor do these five key features exhaust the definition of melodrama" (42). Again, I don't think melodrama necessarily has to deal with urbanization or class mobility in all cases, but I certainly do think that Singer is right in noting that it comes from a sort of anxiety arising in the social psyche in reaction to modernity. I think Williams puts it best when she says, "at its deepest level melodrama is thus an expression of feeling toward a time that passes too fast" (35). Although issues like class mobility and urbanization may be key aspects of today's contemporary "modernity," modernity could encompass different features in the present, but I think there'd still be melodrama arising from that longing for the past.

2. This is a loaded question. It is also a very subjective question. It reminds me of when I was listening to Obama's SOTU address in 2012. I remember him saying something along the lines of "We have killed Osama bin Laden...!" and then a long pause while everyone cheered. For some reason, that cheering unsettled me, and that fact that Obama knew that that statement would unify a somewhat polarized nation--politically speaking--also unsettled me even more deeply. In my opinion any violence should not be considered "moral good." No matter what crime or atrocity a person commits against a person or several million people in some cases, stooping to violence against that person in the name of "revenge" is also stooping to a moral wrong. If I may borrow from Dr. Seuss, " a person is a person, no matter how..." bad. Of course, I feel quite alone in feeling this way. If the majority public did not believe in a melodramatic sort of "revenge" as a proper course of action, Obama would not have said what he did. Then of course, what do you do with all the villains of the world? We must figure out a way to stick to our moral integrity. Much can be learned from Dr. Martin Luther King's and Gandhi's practices of nonviolence.

3. I actually don't think that this cartoon was intended for a young audience at all. Or if it had been, and the comedy had not been included, it would have completely gone over a child's head. I think the comedic representation of Uncle Tom's Cabin was more geared toward adults as Anti-Tom propaganda--essentially making a mockery of all that Uncle Tom is. The cartoon was published in 1933, just six years after The Birth of a Nation, and just four years after the market crash. Comedy, particularly comedy that sort of satirized social issues, would have been an incredibly popular form of escapism at the time. Thus, I don't think that the comedy employed would have had anything to do with it being appropriate for children to watch. Even if the comedy had not been included, children probably would have already been enculturated into the Tom; anti-Tom duality in the existing society.

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