Williams spends a great deal of chapter one discussing the importance of distinguishing melodrama from realism as she explains that “melodrama is neither archaic nor excessive but a perpetually modernizing form that can neither be clearly opposed to the norms of the “classical” nor to the norms of realism” (12). She makes it clear that melodrama is “perpetually modernizing” and constantly adapting to social moral dilemmas. What social issues do you think the melodrama of the mid-20th century would address in our current society?
On pages 98 and 99, Williams makes a note of the melodrama seen in The Birth of a Nation and comments on how she believes that it “generated racial controversies that altered the way white Americans felt about blacks” (98) and that it made the black man into “an object of white fear and loathing” (99). Williams spoke on this point earlier in the chapter when she speaks about how melodrama is the “primary way in which mainstream American culture has dealt with the moral dilemma of having first enslaved and then withheld equal rights to generations of African Americans” (44). What aspects of these comments do you think are still present in movies and television today?
In Mickey’s Mellderdrama, towards the end there is a scene showing the struggle between dogs and a cat while the dogs, or the “bloodthirsty blood hounds” chase an African American woman who is trying to escape. What do you think the creator was trying to represent in this scene?