November 14, 2004

The Lure of melodrama

I enjoyed Belasco’s “Girl of the Golden West” for the same reason I used to love watching “The Brady Bunch”. It’s light, artificial and has a happy ending. I have become so accustomed to more cynical approaches, I fully expected for Johnson to be strung up and hung right in front of Girl. How refreshing that she easily talked them out of it and went off with the man she loved! I can easily understand the appeal of this type of genre to audiences. This kind of literature is a wonderful escape and does not require much of the person absorbing it; sort of like watching Entertainment Tonight instead of Channel 13.
I could handle the cheery optimism and good/bad, male/female stereotypes, but what I found a bit irritating was the prevalence of racial stereotypes. The Native Americans say “ugh and um” a lot. Billy Jackrabbit is described as “a full-blooded Indian, lazy, shifty, and beady eyed” who steals drinks whenever he gets the chance. He has a child out of wedlock with Wowkle who is described as “a lax, uncorseted, voluptuous type of squaw” and “utterly unreliable and without any ideas of morality.” I guess that was the prevailing thought at that time but it’s hard to read in this era. These shows were probably the only exposure to Native Americans many people in the East had and one of the reasons this unflattering image lasted for such a long time. Our views of ourselves and our world are so influenced by our shows, movies etc.

Posted by LindaFondrk at November 14, 2004 06:12 PM

I'm quite possibly The Brady Bunch's BIGGEST fan. :-P I soooo should have been a child of the 60s and 70s. ;)

Posted by: Renee at November 14, 2004 11:21 PM

OK Renee, the important question is: Who did you identify (or want to be like) more with...Marcia, Jan or Cindy? I identified with Jan, but I secretly wanted to be Marcia! I'm still more like Jan, but I'm at peace with that now. Linda

Posted by: LindaFondrk at November 15, 2004 07:11 AM
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