Any theme from the book
Media, Popular Culture and the American Century
The book Media, Popular Culture and the American Century is an undeniably interesting book that is rich with the history of a vital aspect of America’s character: “Lights, fame, prestige and to sum it all Hollywood.” Some have the idea that the book does not address the issues that the title and part of the introduction talk about, but that is not a debate that we will engage in today. It involves American jazz, music, film, television acting and such things that may entail the presence of an icon on a screen entertaining his or her audience. The development of these facets is shown in the book systematically. They are expressed in the form of essays with a detailed elaboration of the events that took place and at times the effects that they birthed.
Some parts of the book are the likes of Cinema and Americanization, Americans at the Margin, American Dreams or American Nightmares, America Goes Digital and at the end we have Rethinking American Studies. All these are parts of one piece of literature so full of life and vibrancies oozing with a history that has –whether we like it or not- influenced our present day lives. The likes of slang are explained here in such simplicity as to grasp and understand the cause and meaning of use. However, I will major on one theme. The theme that I will look at is that of Americans at the Margins. It is where we can be able to see the various transformations of the American culture and how it came about. We see various ideologies stripped while others were erected in firmness. We see the picture of society painted in film and film painting society as well.
You Only Live Once present a repetition of crime as desire. These are witnessed in Sylvia Sydney 1930 to 1937 films that she co-starred with Henry Fonda. It showed the gangster banditry of the thirties and in this was such fascination aroused among the audience that it was viewed from 1930 to 1937. The film showcased kidnappings, murders, and bank robberies. It was a bloody film with Parker and Barrow being killed in a spray of bullets engaged by the law enforcement. They were killed in their car after they had been chased by the police for a long time. The film shows defiance and rebellion against the authorities that many of the viewers championed and cheered. Such films are what got to an addiction point of having to watch it repetitively not missing a new release. Many noirs have seen the war on American streets, murders using machine guns and grenades. Invasions using tear gas and grenades not to mention the threats that are declared as all these things take place.
Lang is an example of an icon that can ring in our minds when we consider film noir in this context. There is a presentation of twisted characters as this. They seem to endure great tortures and insanities without breaking. They seem to hold great pain yet showing no sign of suffering to the point they seem to be immune to it. Hostility, helplessness, and isolations have been sensitized by this film. The term film noir was used earlier and as made by Borde and Chaumeton entails judgments that have unfamiliar features especially in detective films that were from Hollywood. These features were visual and narrative at the same time. However, this term emerged after the Second World War when the Parisian critics were met with American detective films. All this took place in the 1940s, and things were changing and various industries were transforming yet others forming.
In the 1950s and early 1960s, films such as Pretty Boy Floyd, Mad Dog Coll, Machine Gun Kelly, Legs Diamond, Ma Barker, Baby Face Nelson and a few more were gangster movies that showed at the time. They were coherent and distinctive in their gangster features. It was now a trend that the films made at this time would be of this kind, not all but a big percentage. A thesis by Marc Vernet has him claim that the films here had “no real validity” and that they were “without any foundation but a rhetorical one.” Such statements were very profound statements as there was now a thirst for definition.
As we soon see, the majority of gangsters used in the films that follow are displayed as people with a disorder. They show acts of cruelty portrayed in the films are as a result of the disorders that are presented though the damage done is either the same or escalated. The psychopathic personalities lead to crime. However, these people were now called punks. The term was used for deviants and though the films produced here were now considered a production cycle. These events are what have led to our society’s view of substandard material when it comes to film. There are all extremes involved in this industry and what is discussed here is the basis of what we see today. The impact of the early life and development is seen very clearly in our present age, and this is not a matter that we can easily change, it would require a great deal of decisiveness and focus not to mention a strong-willed manpower to further the change.
The last aspect that I will briefly look into is that of rights on screen. Rights were things that were being fought for in the early age. It meant that they were not so familiar but with time they got an audience that helped further and spread them. The rights talked about here were civil rights. The first black president of the United States of America; Barak Obama is a clear example of the civil rights that are said to be on screen. In YouTube, there are numerous videos with this man on them and one involves a speech that declares a dream. Martin Luther King made one of a similar kind, but not many believed it. It was one of inspiration and great vision that today we have a black president heading the U.S.
King’s August 4th, 1968 “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech stirred up many hearts. He had gone to encourage those on strike in Memphis. They were not to give up yet this word “I’ve been to the mountaintop” are what remain to date. Barak Obama is believed to have fulfilled the prophecy and at this time a black president in power merely brings a flashback.
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