Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Answers to Chelsea's Questions

  1. Sentimentality in art and literature didn’t appeal to the elite classes because they recognized it as highly melodramatic. Elitists thought this melodramatic art and literature was excessive and manipulative of one’s emotions, and thus deemed it distasteful. This distaste was rooted in the elitist belief that melodrama was vulgar and unaesthetic. Elite classes also disliked the lower classes often represented by the victim heroes of melodramas, and thus took a negative view of art and literature that reflected melodramatic sentiment.                                                                   
  2. I believe that melodramatic themes and tones have transcended to recent Disney release not because they are designed for the non-elite (I feel that the appeal of recent Disney films is targeted to families, not just children), but because melodrama has been so popularized by the hallmarks of modernity. All audiences share fears of uncertainty and change. Like Singer said, melodrama gives people faith in moral justice and that forces of good with always triumph over evil. I think melodrama's popularity is also rooted in American culture, which is about freedom, mobility and working hard to achieve your goals. The obstacles preventing one from attaining these goals in America can be deemed "forces of evil". Melodrama is thus a way for people to transport themselves to a world in which these forces of evil will never prevail.
  3. Melodrama coalesced in France in the 1800s as a result of a the French Revolution, which "transfigured the theatrical landscape” (Singer). It wasn’t until after the revolution that melodrama became legally permissible in theaters, and it thrived because its ideologies well reflected the revolutionary shift in political power occurring in France at the time. Melodrama suited the struggle of the bourgeoisie against the feudal aristocrats, as well as the psychosocial transition into post-feudal, uncertain world of modernity. American melodrama can be distinguished from the melodrama that coalesced in France in a couple of ways. For example, despite being victim heroes and champions political change, the bourgeoisie in France in the 1800s actually dismissed melodrama on account of its vulgarity. American melodrama, on the contrary, was first embraced by the victimized working classes and dismissed by the elite classes. Moreover, much of American melodrama has been a way for mainstream American culture to deal with the “moral dilemma of having first enslaved then withheld equal rights” (Williams) to African Americans. Thus, American melodrama has developed into much more than the relatively simple genre that emerged after the French revolution. 

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