Browsing Faculty of Arts and Media by Publisher "Midrash"
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IntroductionThis introduction proposes the argument that during the First World War entertainments , media and popular culture used the war to attract audiences and readers - five propositions are introduced. The first is this. Entertainment as a topic for study is not trivial, inconsequential or irrelevant. To understand any culture look at what its members do for their entertainment. This includes looking at such things as, in 1914, jokes and humour, songs and music, drama and plays, cartoons and caricatures, films and animation, fiction and gossip, photographs and illustrations, advertising and posters, and newspapers and magazines. This proposition will be discussed in more detail once the other four propositions have been stated. The second position is this. The core activities that are taken as entertainment, such as the cinema, books, music and newspapers, are surrounded by the institutions, industries and crafts which bring the entertainments to the marketplace. The third position is the recognition people read, sing, watch, listen and laugh not just for leisure but also when doing work and other activities. Entertainment does not always have to be separate from the workplace or from time doing work-based tasks; it can be incorporated into most aspects of life. The fourth position follows on from longstanding debates about hierarchical schemes of entertainment regarding differentiated cultural value. Notions of high culture and low culture, popular culture and elite culture are overworked dichotomies that distract attention from the entertainment under study, as a thing in itself, and lead to prejudice against one of the classes of entertainment on the scale. If classical music performances are elitist, exclusionist and class-based it does not entail they are ‘bad' and things should be otherwise. It is not the music or musicians that are excluding anyone. It is the instructional arrangements that bring such performances to the marketplace, a lack of education provided about the value of the experience and, possibly, snobbishness of some audiences. The fifth proposition is entertainment is about audience experience. This can take multiple forms for the same audience of an entertainment. Bosshart and Macconi (1998) include the following in a list of possible experiences an audience member can take from consuming a particular media - obtaining relaxation, being distracted, seeing something different to the norm, seeking excitement or a thrill, wanting to laugh, sharing the joy and enjoying a place.
Mrs Miniver (1942): Moral Identity and Creation of the OtherIn Chapter 2 Christopher Hart (University of Chester, UK) takes a popular wartime film, Mrs. Miniver (1942) and analyses it from a Simmelian (derived from the work of Georg Simmel) frame of reference. Taking the assumption that Mrs. Miniver is a ‘why we fight’ film, Hart looks closely at this categorization to make visible for analysis the essentially moral messages in the narrative. Through a detailed examination of several social forms including, value exchange, time and temporality, Americanisation, and conflict Hart argues that categorizing Mrs. Miniver as a ‘why we fight’ film is overtly simplistic and misses the purpose of the film and its director William Wyler. Mrs. Miniver is, Hart argues, a narrative about the future of civilization. Mrs. Miniver was aimed at the American audience, some of who when the film was being made, were advocating isolationism. Mrs. Miniver presents the Americans with a moral choice between supporting the moral choice already made by the British not to capitulate to the ‘evil of Nazism’ or to do nothing and allow Nazism to establish itself as a world order. On 7th December, 1941 with the Japanese attack on Pearle Harbor this moral choice was largely lost and Mrs. Miniver became, regardless of its widespread popularity, classified as a why we fight film.
Remember Scarborough Re-Active Propaganda as Natural EthicsIn chapter 2 Christopher Hart’s ‘Remember Scarborough. Re-Active Propaganda as Natural Ethics’ takes a popular and often reproduced poster called ‘remember Scarborough’ to propose the use of moral philosophy to recover the deeper meaning this and similar posters would have had following the German naval bombardments of towns on the North East English coast in December 1916. Hart asks, How did the official propaganda published following the bombardment of towns on the North East Coast of England, in December 1914, express deeply held moral outrage, and as such represented a real morality and not mistreatment of truth? At the core of his argument is that the poster ‘Remember Scarborough’ is not naïve propaganda or an exaggeration. Surveying the reasons given by the German high command and reporting of the bombardments in German newspapers, Hart argues there was no strategic justification for the attacks. Turning to deviancy theory and moral philosophy Hart proposes that the bombardments were an action of a German Navy, humiliated in a previous sea battle. They had to gain face with their high command and the German public that despite their attempts to justify the attacks, they expressed disregard for the Hague Convention (1906) and turned to revenge as a tactic, and as such, abandoned any claim to morality. The words and the images on the poster ‘Remember Scarborough’ are, according to Hart, much more than a call to arms; they express deeply held outrage that the attacks were an assault on humanity.