Thursday, December 18, 2014

Passionate Politics in Bachelder's U.S.!

  1. Use Passionate Politics to analyze Bachelder's relationship to US! foregrounding key concepts form chapters you read (Ch 1 & 2)
Bachelder's relationship with U.S.! is centered around his hope to create a "shared focus of attention" (p. 28) on the ever-changing political atmosphere in the United States. Bachelder's entire story is somewhat nostalgic, as he discusses the decline of the radical left in the United States. Although much of his book is quite satirical, Bachelder attempts to resurrect the extreme nature and methods of political figures like Sinclair. In my opinion, the purpose of the novel is not to highlight the wonders of Upton Sinclair, but rather to praise those who criticize the harsh capitalistic society we live in. He does so by choosing one specific politician, Upton Sinclair (who is actually well known for his dry sense of humor), and resurrects him, over and over again. "All movements which have any track record of sustained experience learn how to dramatize their ritualistic activities so that they mobilize a larger penumbra of support." (p. 31) And that's exactly what Bachelder does. He most literally brings Sinclair back from the dead, dramatizing his resurrection and disgust of the jarring differences between Sinclair's society of the early 20th century and modern day capitalistic society. "Social movements are awash in emotions. Anger, fear, envy, guilt, pity, shame, awe, passion, and other feelings play a part in the formation of social movements." (p. 58) Bachelder expresses each of these emotions in his story about Sinclair. But instead of using his "movement" to rile up support for Sinclair's beloved socialism, Bachelder attempts to disseminate his personal love for radical politics. 

2.  Describe three modes of satire/parody used by Bachelder in US! in loving fashion about Upton that you think would be useful for your tactical media project. Draft one form of parody
    • On page 67, Bachelder creates a fake English class with a "visiting professor," Upton Sinclair. Sinclair's course objectives include using "journalistic techniques and sexual repression to write socially engaged, morally outraged fiction with unambiguous endings." Bachelder pokes fun at Sinclair's outdated forms of propaganda and literature. I could have used a technique similar to this one in my campaign to end anonymous hate speech by inserting an older and seemingly wiser man or woman into the Emory culture. We as students could then watch his/her reactions to the hate speech on campus, and, god-willing, he/she would have some words of wisdom.
    • On page 26, Bachelder writes a poem that imagines "that he wins in '34." Bachelder is describing a world in which Sinclair won the 1934 presidential election. He writes that there would no longer be a rich and a poor, but rather everyone will be content and "celebrating through the night." This is an example of Bachelder's satire, as he pokes fun at the socialist ideals. I could integrate this into my project by creating a video in which there was no longer a “cool” or “uncool,” or a “socially acceptable” and “not socially acceptable.” The culture at the school would be extremely welcoming, yet at times almost creepy. The video would show that there is no easy way to fix the culture of campus, and constant kind words is impossible. But I would note that there does need to be a more conscious effort into being welcoming to all demographics on campus.
    • On page 35, Bachelder writes a letter to his "son," Albert, describing the socialist society that would exist given Sinclair had his way. He explains that the people are rioting in the streets, and they "do not stop at banning books; they must burn them as well." (p. 35) He also criticizes alcohol and women, making fun of Sinclair's outdated ideals. I could create a video in which each demographic on campus always holds true to their stereotype. The video would be absolutely ridiculous, and would show the stupid nature of the anonymous generalizations about Emory students.
    • My form of parody would involve Emory students walking around with offensive Yik Yaks (that pertain to their demographics) printed out and posted onto their shirts. By doing so, students highlight the public, dangerous, and constant nature of Yik Yak posts. The back of their shirts would then read, “End the hate,” in an attempt to publicly denounce the hate speech.


    1. I really liked the way you compared U.S.! with Passionate. One of the interesting things you pointed at was that Bachelder does not try to praise "the wonders of Upton Sinclair" but he is rather trying to praise anti-capitalistic ideas. Also, I certainly believe that the reason behind Sinclair's recurring resurrections is evoking certain emotional responses--the ones you pointed to--which help the reader realize the drastic changes between Sinclair's era and today's capitalistic society. The only thing I was kind of unsure about was when you wrote about the poem on page 26 and how you said Bachelder is trying to "poke fun at the socialist ideals." I personally think Bachelder certainly does use satire in this poem but his purpose is not to poke fun at socialist ideas but to rather poke fun at capitalism and the capitalistic idea of having different social classes and the unfair distribution of wealth. I also think if you wanted to incorporate this in your video, instead of making it creepy, you could actually make fun of the idea of having "cool" and "uncool" kids--because honestly as someone who comes from a different country this is one of the most ridiculous things I've seen in the American educational facilities--and show the advantages of having everyone as socially acceptable and how that can lead to a warm and welcoming environment for everyone.

    2. I think that the choices you made with regards to satire in US! are great choices because they show how satire can be used to make a point. The last two choices show how you can criticize something with satire without doing so directly. I especially like how you would choose to implement these ideas into your tactical media project because I think that it would be very successful and make a huge statement.


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