Film, from Victorianism to what now?

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In Lary May's "Screening out the Past", the article mentioned about the emphasis of "Victorianism" that Griffith placed in his film works, particularly "The Birth of a Nation".

During that Progressive Era (late 1890 to 1920), sexual revolution were happening rapidly in big cities. Prostitution, pre-marital and extramarital sexual behavior were everywhere. From the passage, "In river boats or shanty towns, men could find prostitutes, and thereby unleash their lusts far from Victorian homes." (pp 69). As Griffith worked his way in becoming a film director, he went to New York searching for a better future, which backfired until he "decided to reform the motion picture industry." Through his strong Methodist family tradition upbringing, he used film to bring out the Victorianism and Christian spirit that were disappearing amongst people during that time. His main intention was to bring back and convey to the audiences the essence of "American Victorianism".

He wanted everything that's in relation with himself to have a connection with his ideal Victorianism and his film works and actions really live up to his word. In May's article, she mentioned about Griffith's secret marriage to a motion picture actress as well as the pending divorce (pp 70). Griffith did this because he lived strictly by the Victorianism rule where the man is supposed to be the only breadwinner and the woman should not be working at all but taking care of the households matter. Furthermore, divorce was a social taboo as according to Methodist tradition. In Griffith's professional life, he even dismissed an actor portraying Christ because the actor was related to immoral sexual behavior. This showed how serious Griffith is in following the Victorianism tradition.

Over the course of his career, he had successfully use films to show to the audiences about the "correct" way of life (Victorianism, healthy sexual behavior) as well as providing educated entertainment to people, and it was very well received by the people of that era. But, when we look at our current film works, why do we see the exact opposite? Majority of the contemporary movies that we have now depict sexual immorality (pre- or extra-marital behavior), and yet audiences enjoy it very much. My question is, what triggers this change? And how does capitalism play a role here?


Manliness, Civilization and Fashion

In Bederman's work "Remaking Manhood", he chose an African American man, Jack Johnson and other white males to display the manhood, manliness, masculinity and racial differences of the American society. How the quality of manliness is necessary in the society. He wanted to point out that during the 1990s era, the measure of power, be it socially or physically are closely associated with gender as well races.

Enstad's article, "Fashioning Political Identities" mentioned about the different classes of women in the early 1900s. How working-class women tried to define themselves as "ladies" through fashion despite their poor wages, as well as the reasons why those better-fashioned immigrants could give them better fortune in terms of job and social status. In her work, she also wrote about the shirtwaist strike conducted by more than 20,000 shirtwaist workers and what the labor historians and the public viewed their actions as.

How successful do you think the working women in trying to increase their cultural value, interpellation, and changing other people's perception on them "Working women were hailed by people in various positions in the culture in different ways: as coarse, degraded women in need of uplift ... undeserving the title "American." (pp763) through fashion and strikes? You may also relate to the contemporary issues and effect.

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