Censorship, The Gangster Genre and Film Noir in Hollywood & American Film

Co-authored by: Christie Bednarz, Megan Banning & Scott Ceurvels

INTRODUCTION

Throughout American history, genre has played a crucial role in the progression of the film industry. The gangster genre grew in popularity throughout the 1930’s.  Due to genre’s alarming popularity, many censorship boards felt the pressure to regulate the content broadcasted in the gangster style.  Outside social influences such as the Great Depression and the Post-Prohibition era caused community unrest with new values and morals.  The bitter honesty associated with the gangster genre instilled fear among many of the censorship boards, which caused the dire need for stricter and more unified censorship fronts.  As time continued and the gangster film faced harsher regulations, other sub genres inspired by the gangster film, such as film noir, budded in the film industry. Film noir in particular incorporated similar components of displaced feelings regarding the societal aftermath following World War II, as well as other opinions about social commentary, and both exhibit similar visual styles. The gangster film had already gained a foothold in society; however, due to the increasing censorship, was forced to branch out, ultimately creating and popularizing film noir. This paper will explore the disorganization and chaos of pre code Hollywood, situating and explaining the problems within the popular 1932 film, Scarface. Following this, there will be an analysis of how the gangster film transitioned into film noir, which will be done first by understanding the post code era. Once this era has been explained, A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) will be used to further demonstrate the transition from gangster to noir, and how censorship caused this alteration. The final goal of this paper is to connect all of the information presented in order to show the censorship of the gangster genre ultimately led to the short lived popularity of film noir.

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Chicano Art and its Relevance to the Modern Feminist Movement

Chicano art is the art of the people. It is passionate, it is political. The art symbolizes empowerment through embracing homeland culture, the place where Latinos come from and identify with. Beginning to come to light in the late 60’s, Chicano art responded to Second Wave feminism and drew inspiration from Civil Rights and United Farm Workers movements. However, Chicanos could not completely identify with Second Wave feminism because it mostly focused on white, middle class, cisgendered women. Because of the ideals in question, Chicano art better falls under Third Wave feminism.

Read the rest of my essay here.

National Pride, Race and Sex

Lock her up. Let’s Make America great again. I’m going to build a wall. Obama created ISIS. The Republican Party offers America Donald Trump as their presidential nominee for the 2016 Election, ultimately causing internal splits within the political party. Citizens and government officials are disgusted by his illogical rhetoric and careless political incorrectness. He has demonstrated an inability to lead the United States in a sufficient manner through his approach to speeches, debates, business, and relationships. And yet, he has been granted the presidential nomination, and maintains a powerful network of supporters throughout America. Why is that? Let’s break it down. Trump’s campaign relies heavily on two things: the fear of the American people, and the national pride of the American people.

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REVIEW: Tomboy (2011)

The French independent film Tomboy (2011) follows a ten year old girl named Laure who has questioned gender her entire life, and always desired to fit in with the boys. Tomboy challenges whether gender is something we are born with or rather something that we are socially conditioned to understand, with a further exploration of navigating being so young and questioning gender identity.

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REVIEW: Ted Talk, “How to Overcome Your Biases”

The TED Talk I am reviewing can be watched here.

A brief introduction:

Certain arguments in Myer’s Ted Talk are lacking and approached incorrectly. Although she did make some strong points later on, how she presents some points at the start of the video is contradictive to the purpose of the talk. The Ted Talk by Verna Myers, “How to Overcome Our Biases: Walk Towards Them” was a seventeen minute video in which Myers discussed some examples of modern day racism and how to change our views on it. The talk started out with a powerful story where Myers tells how she was listening to an audio book in which blacks were painted negatively, and when she switched to the radio she heard about Ferguson. She explains that the light in which blacks are placed has not changed, but the context of the light has over the years. This is a powerful statement to begin with and it gave the viewer something to think about and reflect upon throughout her talk. However, I felt that the argument that the video was attempting to make, that we need to confront our biases in order to change them, was rather weak.

Read the rest of my essay here.

Artistic Identities in Modern Latin American Art History

A brief introduction:

The cultural value of art in the Latin American narrative changes throughout the eras. For example, art in the modern era takes on the role of a scientific image, a devotional supplement, an internal reflection, a unifying element or a political statement. Which particular role is most prominent at a given time is influenced by the historical and social context in which it lies. The role of the artist is directly correlated to the role of art in a specific period. For example, the artist’s role in society shifts from the documentarian, to the creative genius, to the social critic as rules and demands for creative expression are altered by changing historical and social contexts of the 19th and 20th centuries. While the Latin American artist narrative extends over an expansive period of time, this paper will focus specifically on the late 1800’s to the mid-1920’s.

Click here to read my entire essay.

Redefining the Boundaries of Latin American Art

A brief introduction:

In Mari Carmen Ramirez’s essay, “Beyond the Fantastic” (1992), she begins by claiming that art exhibitions are privileged vehicles for the representation of individual and collective identities. Bringing together works produced by artists, both as individuals and members of a specific communities, allows viewers to see how the groups in question visually construct their image. Ramirez argues the current (as of 1992) curatorial model, one where only one or two curators work together to create an exhibit, is no longer sufficient. It creates too many problems, which Ramirez explains more carefully in her essay: exoticization, homogenization, distorted images created by outsiders, perpetuation of stereotypes and monolithically framed exhibits.

Curators must take the extra steps to ensure accurate narratives of Latino/a artists are portrayed. These steps include understanding and overcoming internalized and institutionalized racism that causes American curators (and the public) to see Latin American artists as requiring legitimization by the United States in order to be relevant. This will help curators to identify Latin America as an independent, pluralistic group of countries that does not need to be compared to the United States in order to be legitimized in terms of culture, art and internal structure.

In fact, some argue that the United States and Latin America are not so different in their layers of history- they both were created and structured by colonization. Difference comes about once the United States claims a colonizing role, while Latin American countries do not. When this is considered, there is no real reason the United States should be considered in any way ‘better’ or ‘more advanced’ than Latin America. The United States’s need to legitimize Latin America in relation to the U.S. is merely a result of  neo-colonial mindsets and a long standing history of racism and elitism, despite Latin America’s ability to be viable in its own respect. It is only when compared to Euro-centric ideals that Latin America’s credibility is questioned.

Click here to read my entire essay.

Click here to read Mari Carmen Ramirez’s essay, “Beyond the Fantastic” (1992).