Cultural Criticism Example



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Cultural Criticism Example

  • Introduction
    • Interest Arousing Opening
      • American views toward death as represented on the screen generally fall into two categories:
        • Death is a natural process occurring in the cycle of life
        • Death (in America) is often violent and related to the evils that percolate through the American scene

Cultural Criticism Example

  • Rationale
    • The study of how death is portrayed in American film and television may provide useful insights into how we over-represent the depiction of violence in American society

Cultural Criticism Example

Cultural Criticism Example

  • Cultural Criticism Preview
    • Movies often portray specific cultures within our society, providing unnatural and unrealistic portrayals of those groups
    • In the movie Witness we can illustrate this through an examination of the portrayal of two distinct social groups

Cultural Criticism Example

  • Body - overview of the text being analyzed
    • Witness - (from Maltin) *** D; Peter Wier
    • Harrison Ford, Kelly McGillis, Josef Sommer
    • “A big-city cop on the lam hides out on an Amish farm, where he and a young widow are attracted to each other. Entertaining film is marred by jarring shifts in tone, especially towards the end”

Cultural Criticism Example

  • Explain the critical approach
    • “Critics like Maltin failed to recognize that the shifts in tone in the movie are accomplished for the purpose of allowing the audience to contrast two different factions within society. One faction that depreciates the concept of using violence and the other that celebrates the use of violence. It is this shift in tone that makes the comparison striking for the viewer” (Messere)

Cultural Criticism Example

  • Explain the critical approach
    • If a culture is a social group of meanings then we identify and define two distinct sets of meanings about violence in American society
    • The movie will show that members of the respective groups are complicitous in their subjugation of meaning systems

Cultural Criticism Example

  • Develop ideas embedded in the essay’s thesis
    • Evidence
      • Opening scene - pastoral nature of Amish life is starkly contrasted with American society as it is portrayed in American police drama
      • The boy discovers a duality in the nature of death
        • Amish (and religious) Peaceful and ‘god-like’
        • Police (and urban) Violent and uncontrolled

Cultural Criticism Example

  • More evidence
    • Harrison Fords retreat to the Amish community brings this disparate part (urban violence) of American society to Amish life
    • Amish life has impact on Ford at the same time

Cultural Criticism Example

  • Cultural Criticism Example
    • The love interest that develops in Witness is less of a love story and more of an example of how the two cultures are separated in ways that passion cannot overcome

Cultural Criticism Example

  • Cultural Criticism Example
    • The boy illustrates the confusion society has the way police drama identify and portray good and evil
      • Is Ford ‘good’ despite the fact that he uses violence in ways that are abhorrent to the Amish?
      • Are the Amish ‘good’ even though they choose to withdraw and not participate in society, perhaps making it better?

Cultural Criticism Example

  • Conclusion
    • Witness is a film that was misunderstood by the critics who misjudged its change in mood
      • The film was an attempt to portray these disparate parts within our society to illustrate how violence permeates our portrayal of police stories
      • The film makes a definite statement about the nature of violence in American cinematography

Cultural Criticism Example



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