Brittany Ashley

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  1. I have not seen any criticism about the stage show, so I can't really answer that
  2. I haven't seen the movie in a while but I guess its the whole fact that there is a white woman singing about "becoming" Native American when actual Native Americans were marginalized in real life and weren't fully or legitimately represented in popculture/media without being stereotyped or were totally ignored.
  3. I have heard many people cite Annie Get Your Gun for the number where Betty Hutton sings about becoming a Native American.
  4. Exactly. Which is why I never understood when people label or paint the entire decade and the culture as one of conformity and repression. Granted, those elements did exist in society but there are many examples from music to film to art to literature that contradicts this. That challenged the culture or people's assumptions of what the decade was like.
  5. I haven't begun this week's 1950s lecture but even when I saw the headlines for the week about American Exceptionalism I thought "hmmm" I don't know if that was totally true. Maybe I was thinking about movies and genres broadly not just musicals. But even then I knew that labeling the themes or images/perceptions of a particular genre as American exceptionalism might be misleading. I know they aren't musicals but Johnny Guitar and High Noon use the western genre/old West setting as a metaphor for the McCarthy/blacklist situation but their messaging and the perspective the director took in presenting it are different. Yet both films deal with the same topic and are from the same decade. Yet they couldn't be more opposite in their view point. I know this version of Show Boat! Great example and Oklahoma. I know there was music and Rita Hayworth sings in Miss Sadie Thompson but I don't know if its counted as a musical. Anyway, she is raped by a minister and out of the previous two versions of that story,this one is more obvious and explicit about that. Your mention of Laurie's almost rape in Oklahoma made me think of that movie. There's also the entire "Sobbin Women" song and number in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
  6. This is true. With anything there will be difference of opinion. However,that doesn't negate the fact that both McDaniel and Baskett were criticized for their performances and decisions to take roles in Gone With the Wind and Song of the South respectively. I would suggest looking into that because there was debate and controversy among people within the African American community over both films and the performances. I agree with you that things definitely have shades of gray and there are various sides to any issue. But it does sound like you are dismissing valid criticisms many people within the community made at the time. Critique has to be considered too. And I find it condescending, if not insulting, to just sum up racial discussions being annoying. It is very dismissive and doesn't take into consideration the feelings of others. And its a very entitled attitude to only think of yourself when giving your opinion about racial discussion.Yes the topic of "Race" will always be emotional and sensitive because race and issues surrounding it affect individuals deeply. I don't understand how you can be so flippant about that reality, even if you are not affected emotionally by it. And dismissing human emotion is a poor suggestion for engaging or beginning any serious conversation regarding race and history. Race has always been a polarizing subject because of the way race and racism has been used either to privilege or oppress groups of people. The very fact there was legal and literal separation between black and white people for decades speaks to this. This isn't my opinion but rather the hard truth of history. Acknowledge that for what it is.So this isn't anything new which is why I disagree with your use of the word "become". Before any solutions can be made, you (the general you) need to understand fully why there is/was a race problem in the first place and place concepts and reality in their historical accuracy. You don't have to agree, however don't just dismiss someone's emotion because you feel they're not being objective enough for your liking. Listen to them with empathy first. By the way, I fail to see how sensitivity regarding race and discussing it, is (and is perceived to be) a negative thing. I agree with you that the individual consumer has the right to decide whether they want to watch something and form their own opinion on it. And since you brought up the Production Code, the movie studios censored the films themselves and circulated internal industry censorship guidelines themselves so that outside forces couldn't dictate the content. They figured that if there was mounting backlash from customers and the government getting involved then they would be better off doing it themselves. They were trying to protect their investments and control their own product and protect their corporate reputation because they still needed people to buy from them. If the industry did not change the content of movies, then profits would have been affected negatively which was happening. Same thing with Disney. The company understands the force of the market and what they could lose profit by wise releasing it because they know the reaction it would receive. Consumers drive the culture as well as decide what to accept or reject. Businesses have to follow the demands of their customers so they can survive. With SOTS its not about enforcing any code. Because like with the studios of the '30s, they're trying to stay in business and not do anything that could affect their wallets. Its the nature of business whether you agree/like it or not. Besides, as far as Disney goes, they're branding themselves as a company which prides itself in progressive values, diversity and inclusion. They're not stupid. The current executives know very well the history and the criticisms that have been lobbed at Disney movies over the years not just about racial stereotyping but gender roles (the princess stuff). They see this is the mood of the culture and what customers and Disney fans want and have come to expect from the company. Recent movies like Coco and Moana are culturally sensitive depictions of Mexican and Polynesian culture and heritage respectively. Frozen isn't the traditional fairytale romance of olden days and Elsa is seen as a feminist role model for little girls. Zootopia is an allegory about prejudice and racial (in)tolerance using animals to appeal to kids but with subject matter that appeals to adults. All four films were major hits, critical faves and Oscar nominated in their years. Disney knows where their bread is buttered. My point is a company that wants to brand themselves as culturally aware because fans demand products that reflect their values precisely because the same company has faced criticism in how people were represented, ignored or portrayed is not going to do anything that affects their profits.Being seen as going backwards (which releasing SOTS will be seen that way) will affect them negatively Releasing SOTS now would seem hypocritical and the controversy alone is something they want to avoid. Think like an executive of a billion dollar corporation, not just yourself with your personal views. Again,I agree that adults have the right to decide what they want to watch and have the intelligence to form their own opinions. But you're not taking into consideration the nature of business in your arguments.
  7. Sunset Blvd Singing in the Rain Casablanca
  8. I went to Splash Mountain at Disneyland a couple of years ago. It didn't make sense to me either. I wondered if the average rider would know what the theme refers to or even if they did, whether they cared or not. I would have thought Disney would have taken down the ride by now since the movie source is deemed controversial and isn't available so the average Disney customer wouldn't even be able to make the connection. They're in the process of tearing down old rides and areas of the park right now in order to put in more modern rides to connect with the more recent films. Its affecting Fantasyland as a whole with their classic traditional rides and Splash Mountain is sort of between Adventureland and Fantasyland-the more traditional areas of the park. They could remove it (and from Disney World too) and it wouldn't make a difference except the ride itself being an iconic and still extremely popular ride like It's a Small World. Not because of the content of the source material. Granted, earlier this year or sometime last year, Disney announced they were removing scenarios and characters from Pirate's of the Caribbean- the wenches being sold I believe sue to heighten gender stereotype awareness and the #MeToo era awareness on sexual assault. Now, the inclusion of these scenes and characters make sense historically and I never connected it to the larger contemporary cultural movements or climate. But Disney is a corporation concerned first with money and if their customers are beginning to question images and come to new conclusions on gender in their media/culture and wish to complain/boycott, Disney will follow the money and get rid of the offense. I'm guessing not enough people have complained about Splash Mountain because the source isn't even spoken of available to the wider audience. Much less the Harris stories Song of the South is based on. I don't know if younger fans even know "Zippide Doo Dah" either. I would be careful about saying this and going down this line of thinking. When you say "were not originally considered offensive" you have to remember that the movie companies didn't take into consideration the feelings of minorities. So you have to ask, to whom were the movies considered not offensive too? Because what a white audience perceived as innocent (you used this word above) or fun or harmless (if they were even thinking in any terms of racial sensitivity) would most likely have been totally different from what a black audience perceived about images, depictions, etc. I doubt the average white audience member in the 1940s didn't even think on terms of offensiveness/racist because they probably didn't see a problem with it, they could have believed in the stereotypes themselves, or if they even thought something was stereotypical, simply didn't care. A corporation like Disney or any other major movie corporation of the era both consumed stereotypical and/or racist imagery in media as well as perpetuated it in their media/film output. You even posted a photograph of African American picketers protesting the movie outside of the movie theater. They apparently found the movie offensive. The movie was definitely deemed controversial and offensive then by African Americans.
  9. TCM doesn't really play many FOX movies so I haven't really seen much of their musicals. I like Alexander's Ragtime Band and Tin Pan Alley. Alice Faye is a joy!
  10. Thanks! The 1950s did have multiple personalities, as you said. Seems like this is the decade the total film going audience began to split into true demographics (the teen movies and teen culture). Socially aware dramas, film noir, westerns, musicals and more. All these different genres speak to different aspects of the decade. That's why you can't really accurately list a set of movies that defined a decade because you miss alot and you can't really categorize the human experience that way. You laid it out perfectly. Civil rights/race, the Black list and McCarthyism, understanding the war, consumerism, film noir. A lot of different and interesting factors going on. Those are great films you listed. I agree! When we get to that decade next week it will be interesting to see how those dramas relate (or don't) to the musicals.
  11. I hope I didn't give off the impression I am naive or ignorant about American history and the racism that existed in Hollywood, the wider society and the fact it exists in our systems (and Hollywood) today. I don't know if thats how I came across in my earlier posts but I apologize if I did. You are right that I shouldn't get caught up with blackface scenes or think thats the most stand out thing in the total film, if such a musical number exists in the movie. I do try to look at the whole thing objectively but yeah, I do see what you're saying. I have read the Bogle bio on Dorothy Dandridge and I remember reading a history of black Hollywood by Bogle but don't know if that is the same book you referred too. I think it is though. And I have the DD tv movie DVD. Are there any contemporary or other scholars/film historians besides Bogle who write or have written about black people in films? I thought about the question you asked about why white audiences demand racism and racist stereotypes in movies, even light hearted musicals. My thought was they wanted images that reinforced a sense of white supremacy,images/depictions that would have made them comfortable about their place in the social hierarchy, and wanted that reinforcement to be on display in the media they consumed for themselves as well as any black person who may have been watching the same thing. And if it was something like a fun musical, then maybe they wanted that reinforcement to come thru the medium of songs and lyrics. It was a genre of film so I wouldn't suppose they wanted any genre left off the hook so to speak in where stereotypical imagery can/should come from.
  12. I was getting caught up on Good News this morning. I've never seen or heard of this movie before this class and I really enjoyed it.I was on the look out for the themes and ideals we learned about this week and how it relates to the post war optimistic spirit. What a movie centered around college/youth, friendship and romance says about what American culture was feeling at the time. The war was over, the US won and people were feeling good and happy and had bright futures ahead of them. I also thought about the other post war phenomenon film noir and what those themes and stories dealing with murder/crime, corruption, sour relationships between and men,violence, angst, anger, hopelessness etc also said about what American culture and society was and apparently was feeling at the time. And since both Good News and my second favorite film noir after Double Indemnity is Out of the Past were released in the same year 1947, I couldn't but contrast what either film "said about" or spoke to people that year. I also remember something I heard Eddie Mueller say on Noir Alley last year that the year 1947 had an explosion of psychological/mental illness and murder themed plots. Symbolizing what soldiers felt upon returning home after the war- the fact they killed people and wanted to forget that fact (High Wall with Robert Taylor). So- Where OOTP is cynical GN is hopeful Where OOTP shows death GN shoes life Where OOTP is literally dark and filmed in black and white, GN is filmed in glorious and beautiful Technicolor Where OOTP involves detectives getting reeled back into a seedy underworld of corruption and greed, GN involves attractive college students singing and dancing in the malt shop and being positive about their relationships Where OOTP has lines about about gutters and guns GN has lines about school dances and football games Where OOTP has illicit affairs and an implied by the Code sex scene GN features wholesome couples and chaste romantic kissing And so forth. Film noir tells me there was social disruption, cold heartedness and unease following the Second World War but the musicals tell me there was hope and excitement about living and that "people have more fun than anyone" (Rita Hayworth in Down to Earth also from 1947). American cities could be sites of isolation and confusion (Joan Crawford's early scenes in Possessed, again from '47) but they could also be sites of wonder and amusement (the whole plot of On the Town). Its so fascinating to me to reflect on the stark differences and contrasts of the types of movies Hollywood made after WW2. The fact that there were so many different elements and how they processed the war that went into people's feelings about where society/the culture was at present and where it could be headed in the future. Its a very nuanced thing to consider when analyzing the different genres that were popular at this specific time in history.
  13. I haven't seen Holiday Inn nearly a decade and I forgot she was in the movie. I don't remember much about the movie and plot in general besides the blackface (because those sorts of things tend stick out in my memory because of what it is)and Bing Crosby singing Easter Parade only because of the Easter Parade movie connection. I don't know if you're implying that my not remembering Louise Beavers and how she was depicted in the movie means I don't care about the treatment of black women in these movies or I don't think about that or that I don't think about how they must have felt because that is something I always think about and notice. I can't really decipher your tone so I don't know if you're calling me out or not. Like I said, I only saw the movie once or twice many years ago so I wouldn't remember every detail or character in this movie. That doesn't mean I want/wanted to ignore Louise Beavers deliberately if that's what you were trying to say. I'm black myself and I so I definitely wouldn't ignore or not focus on condescending and insulting depictions of black women on purpose. I honestly did not remember her being in the film. Just like I cannot and don't remember every single white person or detail that was ever in a movie. And as far as credits go, yes the placement of the names of black performers (if they're credited at all) is something I absolutely do take note of and am aware of. For the record I always liked Louise Beavers and always felt she got the stereotypical roles and had to them more than Hattie McDaniel did. So she has always been the main black actress that I would wonder about her feelings and what she had gone through. Granted, perhaps I have just happen to see/know of more movies with LB in them than HMD. I've only seen McDaniel criticized for Gone With the Wind. I've never seen/heard her criticized her for her part in In This Our Life for example.
  14. Honestly, this is what interested me about the blackface in this movie. Because really, the usage of blackface differed from movie to movie which was always curious to analyze. It was used in context the individual story. And while the inclusion the blackface scene is problematic and cringe worthy, Linda's comments before hand offend and bothered me more than that- “For a month and a half I’ve been dreaming how pretty I was going to look tonight. Well, here is my punishment for thinking so well of myself.” I have heard similar offhand comments made by white characters about (white) beauty vs (black) ugliness and there wasn't a blackface musical number involved (Footlight Parade). Anyway, I have not seen HI in years but the whole number is something you can't forget...and the 4th of July number that follows. I do remember there being "sexy" chorus girls in short skirts and shaking around. This part stuck out to me the most. The chorus girls were in blackface but their makeup was not the typical, traditional blackface makeup Bing Crosby wore. The makeup was lighter, giving them a more bronze (and in the world of blackface) a more "natural" look. I remember thinking, whoa there is something going on here that needs to be talked about. The message/image that black women can only be deemed desirable and sexy (the short skirts on the dancers) if they are lighter complexioned, certainly not straight up black which is innately ugly,weird and comical and what the point of blackface was meant to portray. This isn't the first movie/blackface scene that I've seen this. In Babes in Arms, Judy Garland performs both in traditional minstrelsy with the exaggerated makeup,costuming hair and later on in lighter complexioned makeup, silky Mary Pickford-esque ringlets and a nice, feminine dress at the close the number (I think she even carries a parasol). The year before (Everybody Sing) she had a similar blackface as the one in HI where her character was in fully blackface to disguise herself in order to audition for a show. She sings the gospel hymn "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" and her song makes a lot of references to Uncle Tom's Cabin.
  15. Thanks for the article, I read that. While I do think that diversity (to an extent, lets be real) did factor into films in the 1940s and that the inclusion (again to an extent) was part of a larger American/patriotic identity is true, it has to be said that there were many instances of the same old same old. The Abraham number in HI is the perfect example. Granted this course is very abbreviated and you do need to spend more than a week delving into the themes. It was have been nice to have included mention of this scene as to how diversity and equality were not the case in films. The ways black Americans were still marginalized in the movies as in real life even though there was a push for more positive representation of minorities and cultural awareness. Because just like in real life, the armed forces were still deeply segregated and oppressive just like all facets of American society at that time. Yet-and this is where the nuance comes in-black Americans and other minorities did contribute and were patriotic and there was a greater feeling of unity and togetherness. I'm not saying this week has sugarcoated things, but perhaps there is more nuance and circumstances that existed than we have the time to dive into. Speaking of Irving Berlin, the film This is the Army includes blackface too. But, that movie was based on Irving Berlin's real WW1 experience where he was involved in a production number in a show that the soldiers appear in blackface and so there is blackface in it. As they march off the stage and into the aisles, the audience realizes they are actually marching off to the war. This same instance is played in Alexander's Ragtime Band from 1938 which is loosely based on Berlin.The movie's take on this is interesting because the real blackface number wasn't actually filmed and doesn't happen in the movie but you can see some actors in blackface briefly milling around backstage behind Tyrone Power who waits in the wings but the focus is not on them. Its as if you would have had to know about Irving Berlin and his WW1 career to know about the blackface. For what its worth, I know he wrote a an anti-lynching song in the early '30s for a Broadway show As Thousands Cheer (its musical numbers and plot linked together stories ripped from the headlines or what we would call "trending topics" today). The song was called "Suppertime" and was basically about a black family realizing and grappling with the fact the father had been lynched.

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