Essay on Pleasantville - Change
1449 WordsApr 8th, 20116 Pages
The movie ‘‘Pleasantville’’, written, produced and directed by Gary Ross, approaches a period in America’s history which subsequent generations idealise as a better and more stable society. He portrays this time period of the 1950s as a time when people and life were less complicated; a time when everyone knew their place in society. However, as the film ironically shows, this was a time when people were more ignorant, racist and most certainly sexist. Ross demolishes this illusion of the great 1950s American society by showing how its defects are gradually changed from black and white to colour. Ross shows that ‘change is inevitable’ once a catalyst for change is added to the ordered life of “Pleasantville”. Once David and Mary-Sue begin…show more content…
Throughout the romantic scene between Skip and Mary-Sue, the viewer notices that Jennifer, as her ‘Pleasantville’ character, Mary-Sue, is the original catalyst of change within “Pleasantville”. Without her intervention change would not have been inevitable in “Pleasantville”. This intervention, however, was not a one-way process. The viewer also can note that Jennifer originally hated “Pleasantville” but grew to accept it. This is clearly shown in the scene “From the Tree of Knowledge” (01:10:00), where Jennifer puts on the coat, a symbol of “Pleasantville’s” old fashion dress. Supposedly because of the chill from the coming storm, she willingly puts on what she originally first stated she would never wear. This act was the initiator of her changing attitudes. Further by putting on glasses that symbolize “nerdiness”, reading a book and rejecting an offer to go out because she “has to study’, Jennifer shows that ‘Pleasantville’ is changing her into Mary-Sue. The arrival for the first time of a thunderstorm and rain to ‘Pleasantville’ is a symbolic technique by director Ross to imply that those who embraced change had their former selves “washed away.” So Mary-Sue, Bill and many of the teenagers become “coloured” people after the storm. They become different people no longer “normal” residents of “Pleasantville.”
Bud is the second catalyst of change, yet most of the time when he does inflict change upon ‘‘Pleasantville’’ he does so
It happened slowly at first, then suddenly political satire was everywhere. I don't know when exactly the turning point was. It might have been 8 years of Bushisms that provided the kindle for the fire. Or maybe the absurdity of the 2008 election cycle was the turning point, when an SNL skit discredited a Vice Presidential candidate in the eyes of an entire generation.
New medium, new format
But I think it was the internet that did it. Think about it, with the onset of the internet, it became harder to capture our attention and when we did give someone our attention we quickly moved on. So the "talking heads" and "pundits" designed for TV and for a previous generation just couldn't keep up with the cat gif that was just below them on our Facebook feed.
But humor, humor we could stop for. If we saw a clip of Stewart and a clip of Amanpour talking about the war in Iraq we would go for Stewart. For starters, it was probably going to be shorter. It was also going to be funny. Perhaps, we would tell ourselves we would go back to get the "real reporting" from Amanpour but, really, that rarely happened.
Political satire, which existed for as long as politics existed, had finally found the medium for which to shine. As "old media" withered away, so too did the serious commentary they spurred.
Satire becomes news
The shift reached an inflection point in 2012, during another presidential election year, when satire became more popular and more trusted than regular news among millennials (those below the age of 35). And the shift wasn't just in the US. Political satire exploded in the Middle East after the Arab Spring, most famously personified by Bassem Youssef.
Perhaps one measure of how popular satire has become is how dangerous it can be to be a satirist in certain countries...
'The John Oliver effect'
It was 2015 (on some level also an election year as we get ready for 2016) that saw satire break into public discourse via "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver." The show, which started off as a Jon Stewart spin-off, quickly emerged into something much more powerful. FIFA, civil forfeiture, net neutrality etc. He was having a real, tangible effect on the world. TIME magazine found it so powerful it dubbed it the "John Oliver effect."
For years, Jon Stewart could hide behind the fact that he was a comedian, which gave him certain leeway in what he covered and how he covered.
Perhaps it is a sign of the maturity of political satire that we do not afford John Oliver that same luxury.
-Tewfik Casis, Daily Pnut Editor-in-Chief
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