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This entire week I have been thinking about what we (the notes) mean when we call the '60s a "disruptive decade" and that the musicals were disruptive. I like words and the use of the word "disruptive" intrigued me. The word literally means "causing or tending to cause disruption;innovative or groundbreaking" Some synonyms are rowdy,unruly, disorderly, wild, undisciplined. Some antonyms are calm, well behaved, well mannered, appropriate, peaceful. But this isn't English class.

When we began the 1960s on Monday, I found this word a curious one to use. I knew the studio system was engaged in steeper decline.  I knew television had sealed the deal as far as competition with motion pictures was concerned. I knew the Production Code was buckling under with increased lack of power,control and relevance. I knew studio executives were either dying or losing power (and relevance). I knew the studios were mining the teenage market with their stars with people like Sandra Dee; and with that ideas,examples and meaning of what it mean to be "a star" were changing with the demographic shifts. And I knew none of these things and more were just bracketed to the 1960s. These changes, declines, loss of relevance, impermanence, and even deaths began in the 1950s, if not earlier.

I always considered the '60s and evolution (some may say a devolution) of what was already happening in years prior. So that what we see/saw in the 1960s  was just a natural evolution of what typically happens in life. Things change. New ideas and new technologies come in. New modes of thought and new tastes. I didn't see these things as necessarily disruptive; rather evolutionary. But then I began questioning why the use of that specific  word was used in the context of the changes the movie industry (paralleling society at large) and not evolution. 

Because the industry did evolve over time. What "Hollywood" (both the actual,physical place of the industry and the concept) was or meant in 1918 was completely different by 1928, which was different by 1948, which was different in 1968 and so forth to 2018. A whole century of change has occurred and the breadth and knowledge of this is stunning. The common refrain from scholars, film historians, business experts etc. always come back to "adapt or die". This is true and there are countless of examples of successful adaptations and extinctions. But these are also disruptions. 

Change is scary. Change causes anxiety because what comes next is unknown. Change causes upset. Change has consequences. But people eventually get used to it,get over it, learn to accommodate it, and adapt their business to it (or not). People don't like change because we seek comfort and familiar patters. Change by nature is disruptive. Thus, evolution is always disrupting something.  Changes destroy what was once safe and known. Change pumps fresh blood into old systems. Change nurtures new ideas. We need both a measure of stability and disruption;so in life, so in industry. The 60s, like every decade prior to that, caused disruptions in what/whom appealed to audiences, what/whom executives had to cater too, what content was seemed appropriate for audiences, how businesses were run, and what could be considered a musical. Stability and comfort doesn't last for long. For the time that these "understandings" last and are agreed upon by both audiences and the industry (filmmakers and the execs), everyone is pleased and  placated. Things are good. For the time that lasts, for ever how long it is, that is what/how it is. Until the next wave of change comes crashing down and things are thrown out of wack in the clash of turbulence and undertow.

 

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First, thank you for weaving together all these ideas under one umbrella! Second, I finally got around to listening to Monday’s podcast (the optional one that pairs with that day’s lecture notes), where Dr. Edwards makes a fascinating point about genre:

“The musicals are being disrupted because there’s no longer this single idea of what the musical may or may not be. . . . I start to see and feel experimentation here. I start to feel that after we saw the 30s, 40s, and 50s play out, what ends up happening frequently in the evolution of any genre, is we’re now back into an experimental era. That after a classical high point, a kind of modernist play, a kind of desire to either go more baroque or to go more avant-garde or to just play with the forms, which happens in almost every genre, historically. . . . Part of the inexhaustibility of genre in general is that very time a genre hits a high point, it can come back in for reinvention and re-envision.” (Richard Edwards, lecture podcast 6/25)

What I’m getting from this is that the cultural and political disruption of the 60s (the questioning of traditional authorities and orthodoxies--which is always present, yes, but there was surely an upsurge in the 60s and 70s, reaching a sort of critical mass) coincided with this specific moment in the genre--when artists were experimenting within the form, and thus fragmenting it. So we’re fragmenting into different types of musical, some of which appeal to niche audiences, but some still going for a broad audience (trying to evolve the classic Hollywood musical into something even bigger and better, hence the comparison to a baroque style).

So my question is: is this coinciding of events a true coincidence? Did it just so happen that the musical genre reached a maturation/saturation point at this historical moment? Are other genres experiencing the same thing--or perhaps the same thing to a different degree? (Part of me thinks other genres might be “disrupted” less, since other genres already had more time to mature--not needing to wait around for sound technology. But part of me thinks the musical genre should be “disrupted” less, thanks to the fact that it’s such a specific sort of beast. That is, its conventions are so well-defined that it makes for a surprising amount of continuity.) But maybe both are true. The “more disruption” fits the experimenters, things we might barely recognize as a musical (but we could have fun arguing about it), and the “less disruption” fits the creators who are trying to evolve the already-great thing that we all recognize as a Hollywood musical. And in both groups we have people using this weird and wild and oddly-specific form (the musical) to tell a greater diversity of stories--about people that old Hollywood marginalized or overlooked. And that's the best kind of disruption I can imagine.

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16 hours ago, Brittany Ashley said:

This entire week I have been thinking about what we (the notes) mean when we call the 60s a disruptive decade and that the musicals were disruptive. I like words and the use of the word "disruptive" intrigued me. The word literally means "causing or tending to cause disruption;innovative or groundbreaking" Some synonyms are rowdy,unruly, disorderly, wild, undisciplined. Some antonyms are calm, well behaved, well mannered, appropriate, peaceful. But this isn't English class.

When we began the 1960s on Monday I found this word a curious one to use. I knew the studio system was engaged in steeper decline.  I knew television had sealed the deal as far as competition with motion pictures was concerned. I knew the Production Code was buckling under with increased lack of power,control and relevance. I know studio executives themselves were either dying or losing power (and relevance). I knew the studios were mining the teenage market with their stars with people like Sandra Dee; and with that ideas,examples and meaning of what it mean to be "a star" were changing with the demographic changes. And I knew none of these things and more were just bracketed to the 1960s. These changes, declines, loss of relevance, impermanence, and even deaths began in the 1950s, if not earlier.

I always considered the 60s and evolution (some may say a devolution) of what was already happening in years prior. So that what we see/saw in the 1960s  was just a natural evolution of what typically happens in life. Things change. New ideas and new technologies come in. New modes of thought and new tastes. I didn't see these things as necessarily disruptive; rather evolutionary. But then I began questioning why the use of that specific  word was used in the context of the changes the movie industry (paralleling society at large) and not evolution. 

Because the industry did evolve over time. What "Hollywood" (both the actual,physical place of the industry and the concept) was or meant in 1918 was completely different by 1928. Which was different by 1948, which was different in 1968 and so forth to 2018. A whole century of change has occurred and the breadth and knowledge of this is stunning. The common refrain from scholars, film historians, business experts etc always comes back to "adapt or die". This is true and there are countless of examples of successful adaptations and extinctions. But these are also disruptions. 

Change is scary. Change causes anxiety because what comes next is unknown. Change causes upset. Change has consequences. But people eventually get used to it,get over it, learn to accommodate it, and adapt their business to it (or not). People don't like change because we seek comfort and familiar patters. Change by nature is disruptive. Thus, evolution is always disrupting something.  Changes destroy what was once safe and known. Change pumps fresh blood into old systems. Change nurtures new ideas. We need both a measure of stability and disruption;so in life, so in industry. The 60s, like every decade prior to that, caused disruptions in what/whom appealed to audiences, what/whom executives had to cater too, content was seemed appropriate for audiences, how businesses were run, and what could be considered a musical. Stability and comfort doesn't last for long. For the time that these "understandings" last and are agreed upon by both audiences and the industry (filmmakers and the execs), everyone is pleased and  placated. Things are good. For the time that lasts, for ever how long it is, that is what/how it is. Until the next wave of change comes crashing down and things are thrown out of wack in the clash of turbulence and undertow.

 

So well said...I totally agree. And then in terms of story aren’t most musicals disruptive?

You’ve got the story interupted by song not just music to highlight what’s happening on the screen.

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12 hours ago, Kate Mz said:

What I’m getting from this is that the cultural and political disruption of the 60s (the questioning of traditional authorities and orthodoxies--which is always present, yes, but there was surely an upsurge in the 60s and 70s, reaching a sort of critical mass) coincided with this specific moment in the genre--when artists were experimenting within the form, and thus fragmenting it.

Absolutely! You really lay this out really well. "Critical Mass" is a great word to use because that is exactly what happened. Musicals and the creatives involved in them were experimenting, questioning the old ways of doing things, testing new innovations. Just like the youth were doing at the time and reshaping and re-framing their world.When we look back, it does seem like this decade in particular matches seamlessly genre and the larger social, political, and cultural context it exists in. 

 

12 hours ago, Kate Mz said:

So my question is: is this coinciding of events a true coincidence? Did it just so happen that the musical genre reached a maturation/saturation point at this historical moment? Are other genres experiencing the same thing--or perhaps the same thing to a different degree? (Part of me thinks other genres might be “disrupted” less, since other genres already had more time to mature--not needing to wait around for sound technology

Great question you posed. I would have to think about it some more but I would say the arts don't exist in a vacuum. Artists are influenced by the times and the tenor of their times and their art is impacted by it. But the times are also influenced by the art and the reaction to it. So its a bit of both ? This cycle (I don't know if thats the best word to use). I don't really see it as coincidental but the art and the times feeding off each other.

I can't think of any other genres honestly. Because when I look at the "industry" and where it is it seems still dominated by certain specific genres ie the superhero/intellectual property films. However, there have been exceptions. I'm not a fan of this genre or know much about it but I would consider the movie Get Out a disruption in the horror genre. The movie centers around racism and racial issues but was a commercial and critical hit. The screenplay was nominated for an Oscar (I don't remember if it won).The movie  uses the horror genre to expose with and the nuance of race but balances it with humor. It makes you think but keeps you entertained. 

As far as musicals, its a genre that is open for disruption as new creatives come in and are given opportunities. We are at a place now in society where we are taking (slowly but surely) voices of marginalized groups seriously and are wanting to see different groups represented in musicals. Its not very recent but Dreamgirls from 2006 is based off Motown/The Supremes and was a successful hit. Hairspray from 2007 tackles race and integration in a story set in the 1960s. This was a hit as well. So here we are a decade later, I can see more examples of this sort of disruption becoming more frequent and expected. We briefly spoke about Disney and animated musicals. Moana (2016) and Coco (2017) are very recent examples of movies that are culturally respectful (Polynesian and Mexican respectfully), authentic and well researched but are accessible to audiences outside of those cultures. Both films were commercial and critical hits and were nominated for Oscars in their years. 

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2 hours ago, Brittany Ashley said:

I would consider the movie Get Out a disruption in the horror genre. The movie centers around racism and racial issues but was a commercial and critical hit.

Great point! And one of Jordan Peele's influences was Night of the Living Dead (1968) which was a big disruptor in its own time--both for its story and because the hero was a black man. (Confession, though: I rely on friends to educate me and tell me which horror movies are worth my while because I have a hard time watching them. I need to really psych myself up. What's funny is that I'm perfectly willing, even happy, to go through the psychological tension if I consider the genre "suspense" or "thriller" or "science fiction." Darn those genre labels, they really mess with my mind!)

Back to defining disruption. Maybe a more practical way to look at it is to pick a film (any film) and ask: could this film have been made, could this story have been told, 10 years earlier? 5 years earlier? 1 year? Not just could anyone have dreamed up the story, but would anyone have fronted the money for this kind of story? How would it have met or disrupted audience expectations? What sort of risk were the creators taking? I look at Cabaret (1972) and I can’t imagine it being made much earlier, despite the fact that it’s inspired by a book from 1939 (shout out, Christopher Isherwood!). Sure, the Production Code wouldn’t have allowed it (it ended in 1968), but would the culture/audiences/a viable studio have been ready any sooner? It gives me goose bumps to think how Cabaret is about this explosion and flourishing of culture that is about to get brutally suppressed, and that the story needed to wait around and simmer and morph for a few decades--for a time when artists were free to be a bit explosive themselves--before anyone could imagine it as the truly weird thing it would become.

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I'm loving this discussion - thank you. I think the histories of film genres are at least loosely parallel. The Production Code would cut across many types of film, for example. Protesting against authority or focus on youth culture in the 1960s would show up in dramas, noir, romantic comedies, musicals, what have you. I think one theme for a course might be to take one of these periods and examine what's happening across several genres.  A little bit harder, perhaps, for TCM programming, especially in the later decades where TCM doesn't own so many of the relevant titles. 

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9 hours ago, ameliajc said:

I'm loving this discussion - thank you. I think the histories of film genres are at least loosely parallel. The Production Code would cut across many types of film, for example. Protesting against authority or focus on youth culture in the 1960s would show up in dramas, noir, romantic comedies, musicals, what have you.

Great point! I posed something like this in the 1940s lectures. The criss cross of genres at express what people apparently were feeling about their times. I contrasted musicals and film noir. Totally different genres expressing different sentiments but co-exist never the less. It would be the same story for the 60s and how art parallels the times. 

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9 hours ago, Kate Mz said:

Back to defining disruption. Maybe a more practical way to look at it is to pick a film (any film) and ask: could this film have been made, could this story have been told, 10 years earlier? 5 years earlier? 1 year? Not just could anyone have dreamed up the story, but would anyone have fronted the money for this kind of story?

I think this is a really interesting proposition. Any movie is a product of its era and how good or bad that is gets judged by the contemporary time (unfairly or not). I read this and my first thought was Rose Marie which we talked about very early on. I can't see any of the Nelson Eddy and Jeanette Macdonald movies being made in any other time than what they were-mid to late 30s. Their operatic singing and the specific type of musical the and y made was wildly popular but fell out of favor and today people seem to have strong opinions about them, the movies or just can't relate. Those musicals were a product of the Code (something which I actually don't have a seething hatred for) and could have only been made in that context.  Those musicals were a product of the 1930s and could have only been made in that context and &tc. Those musicals were the product of the studio they were made at (MGM) and could have only been produced at that place. Their musicals definitely couldn't have been made during the pre-Code era or their earlier years of the decade and by the 40s, they began flopping as audiences were ready to move on from that formula. 

I guess it also dovetails into the concept of timelessness and what makes art timeless or not. What appealed to mass audiences 80 years ago and what worked decades ago won't now. 

10 hours ago, Kate Mz said:

I look at Cabaret (1972) and I can’t imagine it being made much earlier, despite the fact that it’s inspired by a book from 1939 (shout out, Christopher Isherwood!). Sure, the Production Code wouldn’t have allowed it (it ended in 1968), but would the culture/audiences/a viable studio have been ready any sooner? It gives me goose bumps to think how Cabaret is about this explosion and flourishing of culture that is about to get brutally suppressed, and that the story needed to wait around and simmer and morph for a few decades--for a time when artists were free to be a bit explosive themselves--before anyone could imagine it as the truly weird thing it would become.

Cabaret I haven't seen in many years but it left an impression on me and you make some excellent points in referring to it. Thats an interesting question-even tho the Code ended in '68 would audiences been receptive or ready for that type of thing? Hard to say. I definitely don't see it being made in 1960 eventhouh there were artists and individuals and creatives willing to push the envelope and question traditions and bring marginalized groups to the forefront. I can't think of any other time than the late 60s and early 70s that the film could have spoken directly to. Cabaret is of its era in terms of the issues it was speaking to to a 1970s audience and when it was made but I can watch it in 2018 and still "get it". A lot of it is very relevant to today because some issues that were relevant  to the 70s are happening today. Even the issues of the 1930s the movie brings up are relevant to today.

But then again, going back to Nelson Eddy and Jeanette Macdonald right quick, there isn't anything in those movies that can speak to a 2018 audience or that would appeal to a 21st Century audience. I personally am a fan of them and their movies and like/appreciate them for what they are(were), but those are movies that are right for that era and can't transcend it.

So maybe this all comes down to the content of a film and its storyline? Its message? 

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I'm a little bit behind watching the musical,so my family and I are watching Beach Party right now actually. I am fascinated by it, having only seen Beach Blanket Bingo. I can also see why it would have been considered disruptive. The teenagers are still clean cut by today's standards for sure, but there is an openness to their sexuality that I believe hadn't really been seen before. The dancing they do is also way different than say, Fred and Ginger. I can't imagine that pair gyrating in the same way that Frankie and Annette do. What I can see is how someone like LB Mayer or Jack Warner would think this type of film might represent a major change in their old and glamorous Hollywood. It was certainly different...campy, "wild" (again, not necessarily by today's standards), and full of youthful energy.

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9 hours ago, lpetiti said:

I'm a little bit behind watching the musical,so my family and I are watching Beach Party right now actually. I am fascinated by it, having only seen Beach Blanket Bingo. I can also see why it would have been considered disruptive. The teenagers are still clean cut by today's standards for sure, but there is an openness to their sexuality that I believe hadn't really been seen before. The dancing they do is also way different than say, Fred and Ginger. I can't imagine that pair gyrating in the same way that Frankie and Annette do. What I can see is how someone like LB Mayer or Jack Warner would think this type of film might represent a major change in their old and glamorous Hollywood. It was certainly different...campy, "wild" (again, not necessarily by today's standards), and full of youthful energy.

I have not seen the Beach films...I have BP recorded on DVR but haven't gotten around to it yet. But with this class I am more interested (I used to just skip over this movie when it would air; corny title). But judging from your comment and the blurb about this film, I'd say it is pretty disruptive for the reasons you listed. I know that there were movies exploring teen sexuality - A Summer Place with Sandra Dee and Troy Donahue which was a couple years before the beach movies that involved this theme. But you raise some excellent points. The teens in movies I can think of from the old studio days did not engage in sex or have that as a major theme in the films. I don't know the Warner's equivalent to the Andy Hardy series was but I watch those films now and think how Mayer/MGM wanted to represent idealized teenage life. Adolescent reality, in any generation, is not Andy Hardy. This may be campy now but back in the early 60s, I imagine there being some controversy.

Speaking of which, the fact Annette Funicello being in it. I am a little bit familiar with  her work for Disney and I am curious as to see how, if and to what extent she shed her America's Sweetheart persona she had with Disney for these movies. 

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On 6/30/2018 at 10:38 AM, Brittany Ashley said:

I'm not a fan of this genre or know much about it but I would consider the movie Get Out a disruption in the horror genre. The movie centers around racism and racial issues but was a commercial and critical hit. The screenplay was nominated for an Oscar (I don't remember if it won).

It did win.  I was so happy for Jordan Peele.  The movie was amazing.  I learned so much from all the conversations around it.  

 

On 6/30/2018 at 10:38 AM, Brittany Ashley said:

Moana (2016) and Coco (2017) are very recent examples of movies that are culturally respectful (Polynesian and Mexican respectfully), authentic and well researched but are accessible to audiences outside of those cultures. Both films were commercial and critical hits and were nominated for Oscars in their years. 

I don't know much about the background of Moana, but I do know that the developers of Coco were initially strongly criticized when Disney's lawyers actually tried to trademark the phrase "Dia de los Muertos" (!).  But the director/creator, who is white, seized the opportunity to bring members of the Latinx community into the process, and the resulting film has been highly praised.  I haven't had a chance to see it yet, but it's on Netflix right now, so I plan to do so.

This first article talks about the Coco controversy:  http://www.businessinsider.com/coco-authenticity-director-did-something-never-done-before-on-pixar-movie-2017-11

And here's a piece from The New Yorker praising the results and talking about how it's a necessary movie for our times:  https://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/coco-a-story-about-borders-and-love-is-a-definitive-movie-for-this-moment

 

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It's too simple to say that all films reflect their time. There is another factor, and that is the patterns in the way new technology is adopted. It's pretty typical that, at first, people don't quite know what the potentials and capabilities of the new technology might be, so they work with it in the way that they have worked in other mediums. A classic example is in photography. The first photographs tried to imitate oil paintings, including posing people in historical type scenarios to take the picture. Many early photographs really reflect more accurately a time that has already had its heyday and is actually passing. As cameras developed and could take pictures more quickly, it became clear that cameras were capable of capturing movement and more impromptu scenes in unplanned situations -- stretching the camera technology and finding its unique abilities. Cameras began to participate more directly in the currents of the time.  I think that could also apply to the evolution of the Movie Musical. One big temptation is to simply film a Broadway stage play, which they did all the time -- but then they discover (quickly, it would seem) that movies can use more than one camera, layers of sound, post-production, etc. They adopted already-established art forms, like operetta and cabaret. But then they learn that films require different types of acting and sound can be miked, etc. I think that films can pick up on the feeling of an era -- the Zeitgeist, we might call it. But because of the time it takes to make a film, or just the isolation of Hollywood types, there might be a lag between when an idea or mood appears in America and when it is captured on film. I think that's why Indy films are more progressive, or more often the source of new ideas and approaches. But what must be said is that films are definitely of their time, no matter what exact confluence of technology / idea / talent is available. And when something is perfectly encapsulated in a blockbuster movie, it not only reflects the time period, but influences it also. So, I would say that every film reflects its time, but not all provide equally valuable information. Some are just doing same-old-same-old and could have been made in any time while others are the true "time capsules" that we cherish for their insight and trend-setting.

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36 minutes ago, Languorous Lass said:

I don't know much about the background of Moana, but I do know that the developers of Coco were initially strongly criticized when Disney's lawyers actually tried to trademark the phrase "Dia de los Muertos" (!).  But the director/creator, who is white, seized the opportunity to bring members of the Latinx community into the process, and the resulting film has been highly praised.  I haven't had a chance to see it yet, but it's on Netflix right now, so I plan to do so.

This first article talks about the Coco controversy:  http://www.businessinsider.com/coco-authenticity-director-did-something-never-done-before-on-pixar-movie-2017-11

And here's a piece from The New Yorker praising the results and talking about how it's a necessary movie for our times:  https://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/coco-a-story-about-borders-and-love-is-a-definitive-movie-for-this-moment

 

This is interesting thank you. I know for Moana they set up a special research group (don't remember ehat its called) taking from anthropology, historians, Polynesian scholars, learners in that community etc to make it a real authentic film. There was criticism from Lilo and Stitch from the Polynesian/Hawaiian community so when planning Moana, Disney's team set this research and development group up. LAS was in 2003 and the world has changed as far as representation for non-white and historically marginalized peoples and calls for authentic diverse stories from different cultural communities.  I liked both movies but I'm not Polynesian so I can't really comment on their critiques as far as stereotypes and representation goes (that was one of their issues with the earlier film). I commend the company for doing that. 

I wasn't aware of any Coco controversies but that makes sense the production ran into some. But I am glad that Disney saught input from the Latinx and specifically Mexican community like they did with Moana.I asked my Mexicana friend if she liked the movie and if she felt it represented her culture authentically and she said she felt it did and was happy Disney chose Dia De Los Muertos to center a story around. Tahnks for the articles! I will read them when I get some time!

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Suggesting that disruption in movie musicals COINCIDED with the social and cultural zeitgeist of the 1960s is laughable and gives musicals far too important a role.  Movies were REACTING to the social upheavals of the era and, since the film industry always focuses on current trends and rock had replaced Broadway as the cultural soundtrack, we got The Beatles.  My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, Funny Girl and Oliver all received criticism for being old-fashioned and musicals were considered passe by then, despite those films being huge successes.  Sorry, but this whole idea about musicals being 'disruptive' is rewriting film history to the fanciful flights of Vanessa Ament.  The disruption HAPPENED to movie musicals which, by the middle of the '70s, were dead in the water.  The movie musical was not part of the disruption, it was the victim of it.  That is a fact.

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1 hour ago, Click5 said:

Suggesting that disruption in movie musicals COINCIDED with the social and cultural zeitgeist of the 1960s is laughable and gives musicals far too important a role.  Movies were REACTING to the social upheavals of the era

Couldn't it be both though? Musicals and art/movies in general reacting to the times but are being affected by the times as well.

Also, how were the Beatles considered old fashioned? I have never heard that they were considered old fashioned.

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Thanks for this conversation, all! First, I just want to reiterate what Click5 is saying, that it was Broadway that was considered old-fashioned, not The Beatles:

3 hours ago, Click5 said:

since the film industry always focuses on current trends and rock had replaced Broadway as the cultural soundtrack, we got The Beatles.

Also: I completely agree that the upheavals of the 60s-70s caused the disruption in musicals, not the other way around. What I was trying to ask is: how did the degree and nature of that disruption differ for musicals as compared to other genres? Musicals were experiencing a sort of passing-of-the-torch from the first generation of its creators (exemplified by the Freed Unit), and this is surely a critical moment for any genre. (Granted, this is a bit of an artificial distinction, since we've already gone through several "generations" of stars. Now it's not just Fred Astaire who's aging out, it's Gene Kelly too. Still, there was a fair amount of continuity, from the 30s to 50s, in terms of big producers, studio heads, decision-makers.) So, musicals were experiencing this generational shift at the same time as studio power was dissolving at the same time as Broadway was losing influence at the same time as the turbulence of the 60s. If sound technology had been developed, say, 20 years earlier (or 20 years later: how weird would that be?), the genre would have been in a different place in 1960. (Ugh, just kick me if I’m being too hypothetical.) Maybe I’m making too much of musicals as distinct from other genres, since the Golden Age of Hollywood was a Golden Age across genres. Still, the fact that, for musicals, this passing-of-the-torch happened at an already-explosive social moment surely made it less a passing-of-the-torch and more (even more than it would otherwise have been) a throwing-of-a-grenade.

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Yes, Kate Mz.  You not only got what I meant, you spelled it out more succinctly than I did.  While every genre of film was being rethought in the light of the cultural zeitgeist, I think that musicals were the squarest peg in that round hole.  Keep in mind, the Production Code of 1934 ended in 1967, and the lack of such censorship brought a new realism to films.  Musicals had almost exclusively been 'family' entertainment, certainly more wholesome than any other genres besides children's films and animation.  The new realism in film meant that musicals were instantly passe unless they changed significantly, but the audience that liked musicals didn't want that change, and the audience that wanted that change didn't seem to like musicals.  And the auteurs coming from the first generation of film school graduates (Coppola, Scorcese, Friedkin, Bogdonavich) were not inclined toward the fantasy of musicals.  When Scorcese and Bogdonavich tried musicals later in the '70's, their post-modern sensibilities caused a disconnect and their films failed abysmally.  I think musicals got it the worst in this period because the cultural shift was so abrupt, extreme and all encompassing.  If you think of it, four of the Oscar-winning Best Pictures in the 1960's were musicals.  By 1975, musicals had almost disappeared from the landscape.

I must add that I do not like the word 'disruptive' to describe the film musical ... any film musical.  The disruption was coming from society, changing social norms and changing values.  Movies, including musicals, were mostly just trying to keep up.  They weren't trying to change or disrupt anything because the film industry is first and foremost a business that has to accurately gauge what an audience wants for their films to succeed.  Some films, particularly dramas, were absolutely pushing the envelope but musicals were not.  Attempts in musicals to keep up after the mid-to-late '60's mostly failed.  The ones that didn't ('Fiddler' and 'Cabaret' come to mind) had unusual or non-traditional source material to begin with and were able to keep up, but they didn't disrupt anything.  'Disruptive' is a superimposed concept that's been applied to musicals in this course, but I completely disagree with that conceit.  Disruption didn't come from the film musical, it hit it like a tidal wave and almost killed it.

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