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Malcolm, Martin, and Mookie: American Dreaming in Do the Right Thing

By Mr. Jason Eslick, English Faculty

Malcolm, Martin, and Mookie: American Dreaming in Do the Right Thing

Spike Lee’s 1989 film Do the Right Thing can be read as a realistic study of American Dreaming. Through its depiction of the hottest day of the year in a Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, the film argues that the American Dream ceases to provide meaning if it is seen as limited only to a privileged set of the American population, and that this trend becomes markedly clear when discussing American concepts of race and class. As James Baldwin writes: “…we Americans, of whatever color, do not dare examine [the American Dream] and are far from having made it a reality. There are too many things we do not wish to know about ourselves” (Baldwin)

This reluctance or inability to adequately explore and examine the American Dream is arguably part of Do the Right Thing’s social force, and the film’s conclusion underscores what is at stake in confronting it. Do the Right Thing allows the viewer to examine the questions of racial privilege that underpin the film’s conflicts.  At the end, however, we are not sure what “Right” means, as the darker aspects of a cultural reality cause a crisis of definition. As Jim Cullen notes about the American Dream, “…ambiguity is the very source of its mythic power, nowhere more so than among those striving for, but unsure whether they will reach, their goals” (Cullen). Indeed, the things that Baldwin implies we do not wish to recognize about ourselves as a community and as a country become laid bare.

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Post-Apocalyptic Literature Discussion Posts

By CJ Schumacher, Lucy Zheng, Stephanie Moon, and Robby Harper, VI Form

Post-Apocalyptic Literature Discussion Posts

Editor’s Note: This explanation is about “E-Portfolio and/or Discussion” posts in Ms. Hultin’s VI Form elective, The Dystopian Flood: Post-Apocalyptic Literature–“Posts are due every week or two weeks. Posts must be typed, relatively error-free, and published on your Google Sites E-portfolio or Canvas discussion page. Each post should be a minimum of 300 words. Occasionally, E-portfolio assignments will have more specific instructions. In these assignments, your answer should explore and analyze the material from class. E-portfolio posts are thoughtful, but informal responses that demonstrate your thinking on a topic.”

CJ

Robots are either created to serve humans or to emulate them. They are meant to either be companions or house maids. In “Robbie,” Robbie is created to serve, but he ends up proving that despite his lack of human characteristics; he is equally human in terms of human connection. After being thrown away by the Weston family, he risks his life to save Gloria, his only friend. Just because Robbie cannot talk does not mean he is unable to form human connections or have emotions. Ex Machina tells a different tale. Ava is the closest thing to artificial intelligence and is built to be the next evolution of the human race. However, her own genius is what keeps her from forming human connection. She is too smart to see forming an emotional connection as important. Ava manipulates Caleb into feeling as if he is forming a real connection with her. She gets him to tell her personal things about himself and shows him interest and care, which in turn gets Caleb to fall for the idea that he and Ava have a genuine connection. However, Ava abuses Caleb’s trust and uses him to help her escape and subsequently kill her creator. She leaves Caleb locked away, desperately picking up the broken pieces of his heart. In this story, Ava abuses the human need for connection for her own benefit. (more…)

Delinquency: It Comes from Within (Rebel without a Cause Juxtaposed with Cycle of Outrage)

By Matt Walsh, VI Form

 

Delinquency: It Comes from Within (Rebel without a Cause Juxtaposed with Cycle of Outrage)

Although its production was fraught with promiscuity, Nicholas Ray’s Rebel Without a Cause promotes a moralistic Cold War agenda. Protagonist Jim Stark, portrayed by James Dean, is a new kid in town with a history of delinquency. Because his parents struggle to exert authority over Jim and are quick to forgive him for his wrongdoing, Jim, albeit well-intentioned, finds himself associated with a group of delinquents. Included in the group is Judy, a sixteen-year-old girl whose misbehavior is driven by her father’s reluctance to reciprocate her love for him. Jim also develops a friendship with Plato, whose absent parents make him the most delinquent of the three protagonists. Rebel Without a Cause blames their misbehavior on their lack of emotional connection with their respective parents, and likewise, James Gilbert’s 1986 book A Cycle of Outrage suggests that many Americans viewed a stable domestic setting as the panacea for all forms of juvenile delinquency. Nonetheless, the film Rebel Without a Cause suggests that only emotional connections between children and parents can curb the epidemic of juvenile delinquency whereas A Cycle of Outrage suggests that the public viewed delinquency as an epidemic that originated outside of the family. (more…)

A Tale of Three Species: The Man, the Woman, and the Communist in ‘Some Like It Hot’

By Lulu Eastman, VI Form

 

A Tale of Three Species: The Man, the Woman, and the Communist in ‘Some Like It Hot’

The 1950s were a time of deep cultural turmoil in the United States. In the era of the Cold War and the Red Scare, an environment of tension and confusion emerged due to uncertainty in the home and society as a whole. The Cold War era, clouded by an intense and deeply ingrained fear of communism, had Americans desperately seeking a standard of comfort or normalcy to turn to, and they found it in gender roles. Unease cornered women into their positions as housewives, and men were solidified as the family providers. Some Like It Hot, a 1959 film, was released amid a time of tension in American society, when gender roles and family life were strongly influenced by a Cold War-induced climate of fear and conformity. (more…)

Blade Runner: A Bipolar Fantasy

By Mo Liu, VI Form

Blade Runner: A Bipolar Fantasy

Introduction

Blade-Runner-LB-685x1024When Ridley Scott released his original Blade Runner in June 1982, the United States had just arrived at another peak of tension with the Soviet Union. Ronald Reagan had recently become President, and he denounced the policy of detente that previously dominated the U.S. foreign relations approach and wanted to re-establish the United States’ fierce international appearance. Reagan devised an ambitious plan to actively contain communism that historians would later refer to as “Reagan’s Second Cold War,” in which he called for an overt attempt to destruct the Soviet Union. After a short time-out, Americans once again found themselves in the war of tug with the Soviets, watching out for Soviet spies and waiting for the siren to alarm them of an approaching nuclear warhead. (more…)

Memory of The Civil War Through Film

By Isabelle Titcomb, VI Form
Memory of The Civil War Through Film

The History Fellowship class began the unit studying the memorialization of the American Civil War. This unit ended with a final project that investigates a specific example of Civil War memorialization and its impact on society. I decided to explore the memorialization of American slavery and the Civil War by comparing the political and social undertones of the film Gone With The Wind (1939) and the film 12 Years A Slave (2013).

Please access the video by clicking to this Google Drive file.

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