Tuesday, February 4, 2014

In-class Response to 1 Question (Sorry couldn't get to the other!)

Response to Ajay's question:

1. In the opening anecdote of the Williams text, Harriet Beecher Stowe cries at the sight of a marble monument. After being informed she had been swayed by melodrama, she "reconsidered her tears" but still defended the artist's right to break usual conventions and create such a work. Does melodrama have a place in the world of art as Stowe thought, or is it only through ironic use that "transcends the melodrama itself" that it can even be considered successful?

Williams suggests that melodrama does have a place in the world of art. It has a place as a powerful, perpetually evolving genre, and shouldn’t be considered “successful” or “good” only when used ironically. The term “melodrama” has been disreputed as what “vulgar, naive audiences of yesteryear thrilled to” and not what “sophisticated” modern audiences should be appreciative of (Williams 11). Melodrama was also first affiliated with working class audiences and not the with the well-to-do, who were averse to melodrama’s "aesthetic aberrations" (Singer, 147). This poor reputation is why the strength of films that incorporate melodrama are so often questioned.  What needs to be understood is that melodrama is truly a genre encompassing nearly all popular moving pictures pictures today. It is an “an evolving mode of storytelling crucial to the establishment of moral good” that is no longer entirely black and white. As it has evolved, melodrama has become much more complex and "gray". I thus do not believe a film must "transcend melodrama" to be successful. It is the film's utilization of melodrama that can make it successful in the first place. 

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