Thursday, April 22, 2010

Reality TV: The New Society

I am not sure about a modern “Edith Wharton” author, but in modern medial there are hordes of television shows that capture the same emotion and style of Wharton. Shows such as Gossip Girl, Sex in the City, and even Desperate House Wives are just a handful of examples. The attraction to these shows is that they expose the “dark side” of society, a seemingly flawless hyper-reality. Shows about people with money often reveal characters that are very put together and have everything on the outside, but turning inside reveals depression, anger, and bitterness.
The reflection of Wharton’s writings in popular media is almost laughable. Something that was extremely scandalous and shocking during the nineteen-hundreds is viewed as normal and expected today. The connection between society back then and now is very similar. Everyone wants to be in the select few to be considered “society” but the rules and constraints are still in place. They are extremely different, but what you own and how much money you have is still the driving factor.
In my research about The Age of Innocence I discovered that Gossip Girl had an episode entitled “The Age of Dissonance” where a theatrical production of The Age of Innocence was put on by the characters. In this case there is so much connection to Wharton that they styled the show after her writings. The creation of magical women who are beautiful and seemingly have everything in the world, and yet are not happy, is very appealing and allows a person to become lost in the drama of the story.
I personally question the effects this type of media has on society. I feel that the majority of the time people with money do not act like the women living the “Sex in the City” life, drinking cosmopolitans, having promiscuous relationships, and ignoring the responsibilities of life to go shopping. It creates a false reality (interesting in a world of “reality TV) where the extreme becomes normal.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Gerber and Twain

The Book that I used for my PrĂ©cis is called Mark Twain by John C. Gerber. A known historian on the subject of Mark Twain, Gerber has edited several revisions of Twain’s works such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I looked at a chapter in his book about the adventures Twain went on himself and how they influenced his writings. It did not directly correlate to Puddi’nhead Wilson, but I did find it very interesting in Twain’s travels through the American West and how much he desired travel.
Gerber relates Twain’s travels through the American West and the different groups he ran into on the way. He had several interactions with Native Americans and even made a stop off in Salt Lake City to visit the Mormons living in the area. Gerber also said that although his travels were true, in his writings some of the stories were fabricated to entice buyers to purchace his travel books. I found the use of the source interesting. It showed that Twain was not satisfied with only writing the stories, he needed to live them. Learning the information about the fabrications has opened my eyes to the validity of Twain’s works, I wonder how much was made up for sensationalism and how much actually happened. I plan on using this source again for my paper; I am interesting in the influences of Mark Twain. Although Twain was not directly influenced for Puddi’nhead Wilson by his western travels he was fascinated in science and new ideas, which were inspired by his other travels. I hope to find out more about these inspirations and hopefully find this influences for the use of fingerprinting in Puddi’nhead Wilson.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Silent Perfection

I enjoyed watching Greed today. I have always been intrigued by early film and the techniques they employed to convey emotion and meaning. Watching a silent movie is like reading the writings of William Shakespeare, it is extremely difficult to grasp the meaning if you have not done it very much. Our society has been corrupted with “instant gratification” in regards to movies. We expect explosions a quick plot line, and even plotlines that are complicated have a standard of keeping up the interest of the audience. Instead of action and dialogue actors used Melodrama.
Melodrama is the term most people associate with a silent films. The over acting and extreme facial expressions often get a comedic reaction to modern audiences, but it is important to remember that melodrama is how emotion was conveyed. Norris wrote McTeague in the fashion of a melodrama. His characters are at the extremes of the spectrum, Mac with his larger than life frame and Trina with her innocents. The beauty of classic film is that you have to wait and stay active in the story. Greed did a wonderful job of connecting to McTeague, in my opinion better than a modern film could.
I have considered, however, if there was a movie made in the last twenty years that would compare to the plot line of Greed. Any ideas?