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DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #8 (From CABIN IN THE SKY)

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  1. What do you notice about the way the scene is directed as Petunia goes to Joe’s bedside and as we cut to her outside hanging laundry? What does this tell us about her relationship, and the connection to the song? Depicts a loving wife who is happy because her man is going to be well again. This she attributes to the Lord. Inside he is in bed outside he’s getting better and sitting up and she is able go about her chores.
  2. How would the song change if it was a woman singing about her child? Does the cultural meaning change? How? I don’t know..you got me on this question.
  3. What other thoughts do you have about this film, the issues of black Americans during WWII, and this film’s importance in this era? It shows African-Americans living in a very basic home,but happy home.

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What do you notice about the way the scene is directed as Petunia goes to Joe’s bedside and as we cut to her outside hanging laundry? What does this tell us about her relationship, and the connection to the song?

The scene is directed to showcase the love for her husband, showcasing the happiness she feels to live beside him. The song also makes this connection, which brings the importance of having a companion. 

How would the song change if it was a woman singing about her child? Does the cultural meaning change? How? I’m not sure the song and the meaning would have changed if the scene was related to a child and not a husband. The whole idea behind this particular scene is probably to show love through companionship, relationship and family. 

What other thoughts do you have about this film, the issues of black Americans during WWII, and this film’s importance in this era? I think that it’s always great to think outside the box and call attention to styles and art craft that sometimes is overlooked and overshadowed by big names or regular and exclusive titles. The WWII era was a sensitive one and I think showcasing the simple lifestyle of black Americans was also a great way to show how important feelings are compared to consumerism. 

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Petunia is always there for Joe; we see that when she rushes to his bedside and when she tends to him outside, putting him in the shade while she collects the laundry. However, I  believe that is the song were directed to a child it would be portrayed the same as it is obvious that Petunia will always be there for the ones she loves.

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1. The way the scene is directed implies that Petunia has been taking care of Joe for a period of time, willing to comfort and care for him. The scene shows that she's devoted to the relationship.

2. The nurturing mood of the song wouldn't change at all, but it would reflect a more motherly type of love rather than the one that Petunia and Joe share as a couple.

3. I haven't been able to see the whole movie yet, but it does put a spotlight on African American performers at the time, from what I've seen. 

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1) That no matter what, in good times or in bad, she loves her husband.

2) It would be a more maternal song instead of a love song. 

3) I imagine it was a very important movie for the particular time period. 

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I'm late to the party (I was out of town) but I'm glad to be back and catching up! 

I loved seeing Petunia really bloom as the film transitioned from her singing at Little Joe's bedside to singing in the yard while doing laundry. She is downright jubilant to be doing the laundry for herself and her husband, even though "sometimes the cabin's gloomy and the table's bare." It's pretty outdated, but that acceptance of proper roles and devotion to your spouse is what the world expected at the time - especially at the time, with the world at war. You fulfilled your role happily. 

I can see some stereotypes, both of women and of African-Americans, in the clip (and I'm sure they're throughout the movie, which I haven't gotten a chance to watch yet), but I am struck by the fact that there was a film in 1943 (four years after "Gone With the Wind," for context) that featured black characters who weren't maids, slaves, or other stereotypes. It's not perfect, but for its time, it's impressive. I expect that there were African-Americans who were starved enough for representation on the big screen that "Cabin in the Sky," imperfect though it was, felt like a step forward. 

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1. What do you notice about the way the scene is directed as Petunia goes to Joe’s bedside and as we cut to her outside hanging laundry? What does this tell us about her relationship, and the connection to the song?

Petunia is kneeling at Joe's bedside and crooning to him in a nurturing mothering fashion, the context of the song is one of unconditional love.  Cut to her executing the menial tasks of laundry day, and the love and devotion are still there as she continues singing to the recovering Little Joe.  Despite all of her husband's foibles and a life of drudgery and little pleasure, Petunia is overjoyed to have had her prayers answered; "he's alive!" and she is content and happy.


2. How would the song change if it was a woman singing about her child? Does the cultural meaning change? How?   don't know that it would, but perhaps it's because I can recall seeing/hearing Judy Garland singing it to her son, Joey, on her TV show.  Moreover I feel the way Ethel Water's presents the song does not particularly denote a romantic relationship, just the happiness that can be found in loving someone.   There is just the one moment in which she drapes Joe's shirt sleeves about her as if being held by him, but that is an action not the lyric, replace that with her picking up a ball cap or remove it and she could still be singing about a child.


3. What other thoughts do you have about this film?  There seemed to be themes of nationalism similar to those expressed in the musicals viewed earlier in the week.  For example: the scene starts with two obviously concerned woman sitting and waiting, waiting to see if the wounded man will recover; this might be symbolic of all who were waiting for the return of their loved ones during World War II.  Then as the scene progresses Petunia is shown taking laundry off the line, this may have also been more symbolism; despite living in a nation fraught with difficulties and uncertainties brought about by war daily life went on with a sense of normalcy.  And there's even a connection to the depression era in that the scene is set in a simple country cottage, the couple is not exactly poverty-stricken but Petunia sings sometimes the "cabin's gloomy and the table's bare" nevertheless she is able to find happiness in the simple things and her devotion to her wastrel Joe. 

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1.  I think Petunia's moving from the Bedroom to the Yard shows How Happy she is for her life.  Bedroom was a smaller confined space and NOT very Bright.  On the Other hand, the yard to hang laundry is Open Bright Space to Interact with Fresh Air, Neighbours/Friends.  Sure, Little Joe was Still on the Bed in Bedroom, now he's Also in the Yard to enjoy Open Bright Space to interact with Petunia, Fresh Air, and People in his New/Re-born Life!

2.  A Mother singing about her child, instead of a Wife singing about her husband?!  Well, it would only change from Romantic Love to Motherly Love, which is considered Timeless!  Sure, her acting may involve more physical movements, e.g. patting that child's head, tugging child's blanket or shirt, feeding the food or adding more food to the plate or bowl ... depending on how old this child is, maybe also picking up the toys after this child, or even paying with her child.

3.  I guess it was supposed to promote the Black people's life during that era.  But, it also Created or Instil Stereotype(s).  THIS, actually goes to all other films with just Caucasians, Too!

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1. The song does an excellent job at highlighting Petunia's warmth and innate sense of nurturing. Her unconditional love for her husband is what fuels her to create a perpetual nest of cozy domesticity, even in the face of certain hardship and struggle. We see her finding delight in taking laundry off the line, but it's not the mere task she revels in; it's what that task represents. She will take pleasure in doing the laundry for the rest of her life, if it means the shirts worn by the man she loves so dearly - one of which she embraces as if embracing Joe himself - are among it.

2. I feel as if this song in its original state is just so clearly a romantic love song, that there would have to be a few extensive lyric changes before it could truly work in conveying a mother and child reunion. The concept of unconditional love through happiness and sorrow can certainly translate, but lines such as, "Then he kiss me and it's Christmas everywhere" might prove a little dicier.

3. While watching the movie, even though there is certainly a progression in how black Americans are portrayed since Hallelujah, I still found it difficult at times to turn off my 2018 lens. For sure, there are efforts to not paint the characters with overt stereotypes re: people of colour, I felt like this was only achieved  by keeping most real details about many of the characters' lives purposely vague and not specifically fleshed out. While it's great that the negative stereotypes are left out, I wanted to know more: who is Petunia, aside from certainly being a good, loving woman? Aside from her husband's gambling problem, what is their exact financial situation? Do/ did they have any children? What about Lilly? How did Georgia come to be in her situation? My only possible reasoning for leaving out specifics was that, as pointed out in the lectures, movies like Cabin in the Sky were made to feel thematically universal, as the country was looking to unite past racial lines during WWII. Drawing the characters out too minutely might have interfered with the allegorical nature of the story, thus reducing its effectiveness.

I will say that I did like how all of the leaders in the community were portrayed as black; not only with the Reverend acting as a spiritual leader, but Joe's boss at the mill (I think it was a mill? This is another detail I would have liked). Even though he is a very minor character, audiences in 1943 got to see a black man on-screen doing well enough to run a business successful enough to gainfully employ other people in his community which, at the time, would not have been very common, though still possible. It's representation that, in a time where black actors were relegated to playing criminals and maids, was (and is) extremely important.

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When the sings cuts from her singing to Joe then to sorting out the wash just shows a role in the family as the one who takes care of everyone and holds everything together.

I think I would have found the song and her performance more endearing if she were singing to a child. Her facial expressions and devotion to him seem somewhat based on fantasy than reality. Most women dealing with a husband who has an addiction like gambling and always putting the family's stability in danger would be bitter, angry, and resentful but Petunia is singing like he is the most precious thing on earth. It is unrealistic and yet it is sweet but it would have been sweeter if she were singing those words to a child instead.

I wish films in the 1940's depicted what life was really like for people of color not just in the rural parts of America but urban parts too. I know society wasn't ready for all that and we get to see more honesty in films that have people of color in it as the decades move forward but it would have been nice to have at least one.

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The scene is directly focused on her since she is singing. Besides that, in the laundry scene the camera follows her to show her role to her husband: to take care of him at his bedside when he is ill and to do his laundry. This idea solidifies the notion of how the woman belongs in the household. The song would change if she had been singing about a child. They would have filmed the woman singing as she is sending the child off to work on the farm. The cultural meaning changes because not many African Americans were going to school so the child would not be filmed going to school. 

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The scene at the bedside she is happy and relieved that her love is going to be alright. She is expressing her love and he is her life as well. She is happy doing laundry with him nearby, it makes her chores seem light with the love she feels. Nothing could detract from her happiness.

If the woman was singing about her love for her child, it still would be complete happiness but more happiness for the child not with as it is for a spouse. You are in love with your spouse and you want to feel secure. With your child, you love that child unconditionally and want your child to feel secure.

I find it strange that Louis B. Mayer thought he assisted to add a sense of unity to minorities who were enlisted at the time. Although serving in the military, Special African American units were formed, and African Americans, Japanese American and Jewish soldiers still suffered discrimination and abuse. It was important to let African Americans see images on the screen that refected them, and nice for the studios for the movies ticket sales but it did not necessarily help break down prejudice or discrimination in the Military.

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The shift in this clip from the bedside to the laundry emphasizes the role she has.  She loves her husband and the role of "house"wife.  Clearly, she is starry eyed and in love and her "duties" as a wife add to her happiness in this role.  While it may be stereotypical to depict a black woman doing laundry, her joy in being married to the man she loves would be the way many film wives of this time would be portrayed.   If she were singing about a child, the emphasis would be love of a  different nature--motherly..less giddy.

  I have been out-of-town, so I was not able to watch the movie Cabin in the Sky, but it is DVRed.  Having seen this clip I am anxious to watch the whole film.   

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I really wish Ethel Waters had been able to work more in movies.  She was a natural, gifted actress.  For me, the scene is about relief and her abiding love for her deeply flawed husband.  As the angel stands watch over the couple, she sings about her relief that Joe's still alive; later, in the sunny yard, as she takes down the laundry, the song becomes a celebration.  The sun is shining, Joe is smiling (and close by), and her heart is bursting with love and happiness.  There's no scolding or holding back her feelings.  She has forgiven his philandering and gambling.  She admits he isn't perfect and that their lives are hard at times, but as long as she can endure it with Joe, she knows they'll be okay.  Life goes on.

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1. I think t portrayed her sadness because the room is dark and he is covered up. After she realizes he isn't going to die, they move the scene outside where he is sitting and she is doing laundry. Things are back to normal and they are in the light again. She feels a weight has been lifted from her, because he is recovering and because she has told him how she feels about him.

2. I think some of the words might have to change, like when she sings about him kissing her. I think the sentiment would be similar because she is speaking about her deep connection with him and how her world revolves around him, much like it does with your children. If they are alright, then you are too.

3. I think it was important to have movies with an all black cast, especially in roles that let them shine and not be stereotyped. This movie portrays them as the same as everyone else, maybe their problems are different, with his gambling problem, but the dynamic of a strong marriage and what happens when problems arise is the same.

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  1. What do you notice about the way the scene is directed as Petunia goes to Joe’s bedside and as we cut to her outside hanging laundry? What does this tell us about her relationship, and the connection to the song?
    She is called to his bedside and is instantly jubilant as she realizes that he is alive and is doing well after being shot.  She says not to call the doctor but to call everyone to let them know the news!  Like all illnesses, and hardships, we are exuberant and exultant initially and then we still need to move on with our lives.  While we still are happy that the person is doing well, time cannot, does not stop, so we need to continue to move forward.  She is glad that he is in the chair as she is doing her laundry outside and continues to sing her happiness.
  2. How would the song change if it was a woman singing about her child? Does the cultural meaning change? How?
    I suppose the words would change, but the movement would still be the same - moving through our day to day.  I think with a child you may be more weepy and happy at the same time.  I don't see how the cultural meaning would change if it were a child.  Happiness is a thing everyone feels.
  3. What other thoughts do you have about this film, the issues of black Americans during WWII, and this film’s importance in this era?
    I can see that this is definitely a period piece with a caveat to certain notions about black people.  I see that it is a time-capsule and something that perhaps broke down barriers during it's time.  

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1. The way this scene is directed demonstrates that while Petunia and Joe may not live a lavish lifestyle, they place importance on the simple things in life like their love for each other. It also shows that Petunia is a devoting and doting wife and despite Joe's ways, she still loves him.

2. It would seem odd if a happy song like this was sung to a child that had just gotten shot. A mother would be horrified and devastated to have a child severely wounded. 

3. I think this film is incredibly important in breaking out of the African American stereotypes typically portrayed on film and showing that African Americans are more than just servants, slaves, or comedic relief. At a time when African Americans were fighting for equality in the military during WW2, this film is a push for equal representation on screen and reflects the push for equal representation in all branches of the military. 

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  1. What do you notice about the way the scene is directed as Petunia goes to Joe’s bedside and as we cut to her outside hanging laundry? What does this tell us about her relationship, and the connection to the song?

As the scene opens we hear music as Petunia rushes to Little Joe's side, and gives praise to the lord, asking Lily to tell the Reverend and all the folks that Little Joe is alright.  As she begins her song, the lights shine on her smiling face, while she caresses LJ's hand. She sings the song with a playfulness, even she is singing about the hard times.

The camera jumps to the General and we see him smile and fade out of view providing a sense of of hope and redemption.  As Petunia lays her head on the pillow next to LJ, and he gives her all she need from him when he places his hand over hers.

Before the lyric is reprised, Petunia is outside and the sun is shining, she glides her hands over the laundry, gently crooning as she takes in the wash.  Her hair is not covered by a scarf, which makes her seem light and breezy, even though the the song is sadly sweet.  

  1. How would the song change if it was a woman singing about her child? Does the cultural meaning change? How?

This song could be sung to a child.  The implications of unconditional love crosses all cultures.  This is a song of devotion, dedication and it is sung sincerely.

  1. What other thoughts do you have about this film, the issues of black Americans during WWII, and this film’s importance in this era?

Hollywood musicals could not exist with out the influence of black Americans input, and many white folks there knew they were not represented.  The producers new that there were enough black performers whose names were plenty big enough to draw the white audience as well as the black audiences.  The military was swooping up any able bodied male.  Although there was stereotypical characters in the film that were easy to mark, but the Petunia is like Lady Liberty, there for good.

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1.What do you notice about the way the scene is directed as Petunia goes to Joe’s bedside and as we cut to her outside hanging laundry? What does this tell us about her relationship, and the connection to the song?

This scene begins in shadow, and Petunia is despondent. Once Joe calls her, the entire mood of the scene changes. The scene is lighter, both in feel and in actual light, as Petunia goes through her song. She sings like a giddy school girl, happy in the knowledge that, for all his faults, her Joe is going to be okay. This tells us that Joe is her world, and to her life is not worth living without him.

2. How would the song change if it was a woman singing about her child? Does the cultural meaning change? How?

If a woman were singing this song about her child, the mood would shift entirely. I don’t think it would be such a lighthearted and flirtatious song, but would be sung more gravely and with reverence. I don’t think the cultural meaning would necessarily change. The  song would always be about “Joe” making the singer happy, but the unconditional love of a child and the happiness that child brings to its mother is inherently different than the love of a husband. 

3. What other thoughts do you have about this film, the issues of black Americans during WWII, and this film’s importance in this era?

i can see how this film would have been meant to bridge the gap in race relations and in acceptance towards African Americans, but it still is very much a product of its time based on the stereotypes that are perpetuated. However, even taking that into account, I think that this film may have given the 1940s viewer an important insight into the lives of African Americans that may not have been known or even considered at the time. 

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Petunia is at Joe’s bedside for the first half of the song Happiness is a Thing Called Joe. It is filmed using a close up shot to emphasise the relationship between Petunia and Joe. The focus is on Petunia. Her deep love for her husband is displayed through her facial expressions. She is smiling not just with her mouth but with her eyes as well. When the number transitions to an outdoor setting, Petunia is taking washing off the line while her husband is sitting in a chair, relaxing and recuperating. Petunia’s role as a wife is clearly defined – she is displaying care, affection and support towards her husband whilst doing the house work. The whole number is really sensitively performed and shows that Petunia is there for her husband through thick and thin.

I think it would be performed in a very similar way if she was singing about her child. A woman wants the best for both her husband and child. She will display tenderness and compassion as both a mother and wife.

This film would have been a game-changer for movie audiences in the 1940s. It would have encouraged the public to view culture and humanity from wider perspective.  

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What do you notice about the way the scene is directed as Petunia goes to Joe’s bedside and as we cut to her outside hanging laundry? What does this tell us about her relationship, and the connection to the song?

The entire clip shows Petunia's faith in God and how much she loves her husband. The cut to the laundry hanging scene tells of her dedication to the household - she doesn't mind the chores so long as her husband loves her. She's happy with life. From having been heartbroken she goes to being happy - God answered her prayers and her husband is going to be all right.

How would the song change if it was a woman singing about her child? Does the cultural meaning change? How?

If she was singing about a child, she would portray her emotions as more caring and nurturing, not as flirtatious as in this number.

What other thoughts do you have about this film, the issues of black Americans during WWII, and this film’s importance in this era?

I think with this film, with an all African American cast, they wanted to portray a sense of unity. During WWII everyone had to stick together and by highlighting issues such as love and death, people could connect to one another despite race. By the time this movie was made, blackface was still an acceptable form of entertainment and even if the cast of the film was African American, the men behind the camera were all white. Black people were still limited (still is to this day) in terms of career choices and life. But still, I think this film was a major inspiration to black audiences simply because their cultural (albeit stereotypical) was made into a film.

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1. What do you notice about the way the scene is directed as Petunia goes to Joe’s bedside and as we cut to her outside hanging laundry? What does this tell us about her relationship, and the connection to the song?

The scene shows how distraught Petunia is, thinking her husband is dying. Hearing her call for him, she flies to his bedside, kneeling down and thanking God he has been spared as she breaks into song. No matter his faults, she is married and that is her husband, whom she is thankful for his love and his person still being there with her.  Even when times are difficult, as long as she has him that's all she needs and she is happy being his person. When we see her still caring for him, making sure to move him into the shade while she works and keeps a dutiful eye on him, we see her happy to be doing so.  She is also happy to be tending to not only his health but the house that they have built.  The song is an ode to how happy she makes him, and how happy she is being his wife and all that that entails.  I rather like the message -- husband and wife tending a home together.  The song and scene tell us that this is right and just, and how things are supposed to be especially when we see how happy she is compared to how fretful and sad she was at the beginning of the clip. 

2. How would the song change if it was a woman singing about her child? Does the cultural meaning change? How?

The words would be different while still being about a love, but a different type.  Where as a child should get unending love because that person came from her body, is a part of her, the husband she is choosing to be with him. She has made a vow and is upholding it happily, through sickness and in health, for richer or poorer.  A wife is supposed to be dutiful and caring, all things soft in the home which offers a safe haven from the world for him.  That's part of the love she sings about, and he gives his love and offers her shelter and strength from the bad outside their home.  The relationship between a child and mother is important, but not the basis of the American Dream -- Growing up, getting married and having your own home.  

3. What other thoughts do you have about this film, the issues of black Americans during WWII, and this film’s importance in this era?

I know many cite racism and stereotypes, but as a minority, I don't see it that way.  I see it as knocking away the possible fear and stereotypes of the time actually, showing African Americans as just like anyone else at that time who is living in a little farm house -- living simply and loving whole heartedly with the same feelings, fears, hopes and dreams as the rest of us in that time period.  It's doubly important when you think of Blacks signing up just like the rest of the country to fight for the War at that time.

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In the scene where Petunia changes from Little Joe's bedside to the clothesline exhibits to me that life goes on now that Joe has recovered.  She is full of life and love and I just adore the way she exuberates her happiness with his shirt arms wrapped around her.  What a beautiful voice!  I just loved this movie.

If Petunia were singing about her child instead of Joe I'm sure the words would be different.  Love for a child is different from that of a spouse.  And I'm sure she probably wouldn't have left her baby's bedside.

I think that the films importance to this era must have been not an easy one for MGM because of the huge step in the filming of an all African-American cast.  But truth so say, the singing and dancing that the black community brought to film and stage have outweighed so many other ethnic groups throughout the years.  (as noted in your clip of the Nicholas Brothers, Michael Jackson, etc. too many to list)

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1.  The focus in the first part of the scene is on Petunia's face, which is highly expressive. It conveys a deep love for her husband, in spite of all his foibles.  The dark background allows the viewer to focus on that face, without distraction.  There are some minor sidelights-the one that caught my attention was where Little Joe rubs Petunia's hand as she's singing, signifying that he appreciates her love and shares it.  When we move to the laundry scene, the song remains the same, Little Joe is watching in appreciation again, but the background is light.  The whole scene projects the ideal that Petunia loves Little Joe in darkness and light.

2.  I'm of the opinion that the scene would have been completely different if a child was involved.  There was a palpable lightness in Petunia's singing, which I don't believe would have been present.  A mother's love is a whole different and much deeper kind of love.

3.  The 40s were not exactly prime-time for African-Americans, so having a movie that cast a positive viewpoint of African-Americans was an important start.  The film also left us with the impression that life was the same for all races and ethnicities, a bold concept for its time.

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1. I notice that Petunia's life revolves around her husband, she loves him dearly and is devoted to him. She doesn't have anything without him. Joe is literally her happiness. Even doing mundane things like laundry give her a sense of purpose and pleasure because it makes Joe happy giving her purpose. 

2. I don't think the song meaning would change too much, and I can definitely see how it could fit in for a child. For some people their children are their purpose and happiness. I could see how some of the lyrics could be expressed by a devoted parent.

3. This movie finally sheds some light on the African American community, it showed we all share the same values. It was also a mainstream movie that showcased top notch talent from the African American community that wasn't previously showcased in mainstream movies. 

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