883 Slices
Medium 9780861966899

Chapter 13 Marina Dahlquist, Teaching citizenship via celluloid

Abel, Richard John Libbey Publishing ePub

In the summer of 1910, Francis Oliver, the Chief of the Bureau of Licenses in New York City, conducted a study of moving picture theaters and concluded: “the motion picture theaters which were just now being condemned by a great many people, [are] a potent factor in the education of the foreign element and therefore an advantage to the city”.1 Challenging misgivings that moving pictures suggested “bad” ideas, he further claimed “that many foreigners who could neither read nor write were enabled through the proper kind of pictures to get a good working idea of the customs of this their adopted country”.2 A month earlier, Reverend W.H. Jackson had arrived at a similar assessment in a reflection on the universal nature of moving pictures: “The ear may comprehend but one language; descendants of Hebrew, Greek, Latin and Teutonic races may sit side by side and together read in the universal language of the eye the selfsame subject”.3

This celebration of moving pictures as a universal language, as a form of “visual Esperanto”, was, as Miriam Hansen and others have argued, in vogue during the transitional period.4 The perennial example from the mid 1910s is, of course, Vachel Lindsay’s discussion about hieroglyphics and moving picture Esperanto.5 Moving pictures were overall considered to facilitate cross-cultural communication between people belonging to different nationalities and speaking different languages. The conviction that the new visual medium was superior to written language was prevalent. Prominent figures from Thomas Edison to D. W. Griffith predicted a glorious future for moving pictures as the successor to books in schools and libraries.6 This alleged universal nature of film incurred considerable pedagogical clout and prospects for social uplift. Moving pictures were not only valued as a form of universal language, but as Rev. Jackson declared: “It requires no education to look at a picture, but looking at the moving picture is educational”.7

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253356772

5 Inequality Is Old News

Harri Englund Indiana University Press ePub

Wayilesi yakwanu, “the radio from your place,” an editor of Nkhani Zam’maboma remarked to me one day when the BBC World Service blared in the newsroom. Before I could think of a response, the editor went on to state that even white people should have a program like Nkhani Zam’maboma. “White people also misbehave” (azungunso amapalamula), she asserted, making them seem comparable to the Malaŵian figures of authority whose deceptive appearances made the headlines on Nkhani Zam’maboma. Listening to his colleague’s comments, another editor of the program concurred with the view that white people, for all their superiority in wealth and education, should also be exposed as liars and adulterers. But he asked me if witchcraft (ufiti) existed where I came from. My answer that it did not exist in the same way as in Malaŵi confirmed the idea he already had about witchcraft and science as the defining domains of Africa and Europe, respectively.1 After a pause, however, the editor recalled that even white people could adopt Malaŵian ways, to the extent that a white priest had joined the gule wamkulu secret society, an incident that the editor said had been reported on Nkhani Zam’maboma.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253002952

9 Roland Barthes, Mojado, in Brownface: Chisme-laced Snapshots Documenting the Preposterous and Factlaced Claim That the Postmodern Was Born along the Borders of the Río Grande River William Anthony Nericcio

Aldama, Arturo J. ePub

WILLIAM ANTHONY NERICCIO

The editors have asked that I add a prolegomena to the forehead or face of this essay, and I am happy to do so. Way back in the day (old skool grad school days, when this son of la frontera was kidnapped by the Ivy League and whisked away to freeze his nalgas off in Ithaca, New York), I was a big fan of Roland Barthes—I thrilled to the jouissance of the pleasures of the text, read and reread the dispatches in Mythologies, etc. etc. Long story short, I escaped the wicked pirates of Cornell, got a job at the University of Connecticut, jumped ship to Califas and SDSU and, my first year there (1991, shh shh!) I wrote an in-house grant proposal and was awarded five hundred smackeroos to purchase my first 35 mm camera. The rest, as they say, is history. What follows are the theorylaced meditations of a Chicano on crack Kodak, a Mexicameran-American (that’s me in the center there to the right of Edward James Olmos; Barthes’s there to the right of me, or at least his photoshopped ghost is); I am utterly responsible for the contents of this rasquache semiotic whatsit and beg you reward the editors of this collection for allowing it to appear in these pages.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253010773

11 Skits Strung Together: Performance, Narrative, and the Sketch Comedy Aesthetic in SNL Films

Ron Becker Indiana University Press ePub

NICK MARX

Popular press coverage of Saturday Night Live commonly refers to the program as the “graduate school” of comedy.1 Performers such as Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Mike Myers, David Spade, Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, Tina Fey, Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler, and Kristen Wiig have all honed their skills in comedic performance and developed their star personas on SNL before moving on to the higher-profile platform of feature films. While the show has produced some of the top box office draws of the last thirty years, some film critics tend to see the influence of SNL as a nuisance on the big screen. They lament the tendency of SNL alumni to play “the same character[s] seen on SNL,2 or question whether this performative mode can “carry a whole movie.”3 Others see an ill fit between SNL’s short-form comedic sensibility and the structural demands of feature-length film narratives. Reviewers noted of Ferrell’s Anchorman (2004), for example, that it felt “like an extended skit stretched and stretched”4 or like “loosely strung-together SNL skits”;5 of Fey and Poehler’s Baby Mama (2008) that it “plays out like a very long and very mediocre sketch on SNL”;6 and of Sandler’s Jack and Jill (2011) that the actor appears “caught in an abysmal Saturday Night Live sketch.”7

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253018069

Introduction: Recent Changes in the Representation of Sex and Politics in American Cinema

Siegel, Carol Indiana University Press ePub

THIS BOOK BEGAN several years ago when I was asked via a telephone political poll, “Do you identify as a liberal or a conservative?” I was shocked by the pollster’s annoyed response when I said, “neither—I’m a radical.” He informed me that he could not continue the survey unless I chose one or the other position. Subsequent calls during voting seasons have led me to realize that I no longer have a position within the American political spectrum that is recognized by those who analyze Americans’ investments in politics. Relying entirely on call screening to avoid being polled seemed one way for me to deal with how much this unsettled me. Because my politics lean much more toward the collectivist than the individualist, which is part of what “radical” means to me, writing a book to clarify what radicalism might mean in my field, cinema studies, seemed a better way to go. And in any case, I am not just a radical; I am a sex radical, a position that generates even more confusion, not just when trying to have my opinions included in political polls but also when trying to explain the reasons I value some films more than others for reasons directly determined by my politics. However, the point of this book is not to make me personally more politically comprehensible, but rather to bring a new perspective to the ways politics that are left of center relate to cinematic representations of sexuality. I am particularly interested in articulating what it means for a film to be pro-sex and at the same time supportive of gender and sexual equality, which is precisely what the term “sex radical cinema” means to me and to many other feminist, gender, and queer studies scholars.

See All Chapters

See All Slices