Exposing Societal Issues in the Film “Tootsie”

The 1982 film “Tootsie” directed by Sydney Pollack, starring Dustin Hoffman and Jessica Lange, is a comedy that touches on many different societal issues such as gender roles and stereotypes, workplace harassment, empathy and compassion, and the pursuit of fame and success. The movie follows a struggling actor named Michael Dorsey, who disguises himself as a woman named Dorothy Michaels to get a job on a soap opera. During this excursion, Michael is faced with the sad reality of how women are treated in American society, but more specifically the entertainment industry.

First off, “Tootsie” challenges traditional gender roles and stereotypes. Michael’s experience as a woman exposes him to the discrimination and sexism that women face in society, including being judged by their appearance and not their talents. The film also demonstrates how gender roles are enforced and how they limit individuals’ opportunities and potential. Another societal issue addressed in this film is workplace harassment. The prevalence of sexual harassment and how it is often dismissed or ignored is portrayed many times throughout the film. The character of Julie, played by Teri Garr, faces harassment from her boss and the issue is only resolved when Michael/Dorothy speaks up. 

“Tootsie” also highlights the importance of empathy and compassion. Through Michael’s experience as Dorothy, he learns to understand the struggles and challenges that women face in society. This helps him become a better person and gain a better understanding of how privileged he is as a white man. He uses the soap opera as a way to make statements regarding the issues previously mentioned and ends up becoming a major influence as Dorothy. He uses his power to make the world a better place, although people are not exactly happy when they discover that he is actually a man. The film also critiques the entertainment industry and the pursuit of fame and success. Michael’s desperation to land a job drives him to deceive others and himself, leading to complications and consequences that could have been avoided if the industry was a little more forgiving and considerate. 

Overall, “Tootsie” offers a humorous and thought-provoking commentary on various societal issues, encouraging the audience to reflect on their values and beliefs. 

Your Canvas is Empty? Paint With Pain, Lovely Artist, Paint Your Pain.

There is something to be said about those who demand respect but do not give it. Respect isn’t necessarily a transactional term, but in this specific scenario, it should be. Janina explicitly states that she does not want to be called Janina; it’s not clear what she wants to be called, just that Janina is not a good fit for her. She believes that names should be like epithets, an expression or representation of the person that they are designated to. However, she does not respect the personal agency of other people, assigning them “names” based on their most apparent characteristics. While this example is not apparently egregious, a closer look exposes Janina for who she really is, or rather, what she identifies as. Janina believes she is an Ubermensch, a person with extraordinary abilities and the authority to use them at their own discretion. The Ubermensch is not confined by laws, morality, or any karmic system, for they are above any external repercussions. The Ubermensch is decisive in mind, actions, and resolve; however, they are their greatest enemy. Punishment is not inflicted via an external source; the Ubermensch punishes themselves.

A great example is Raskolnikov from Crime and Punishment, a character similar to Janina. Raskolnikov is an impoverished university student from St.Petersburg who believes himself to be, similarly to Janina, an Ubermensch. However, they neither explicitly say they are Ubermenschs; their actions speak otherwise. The Ubermensch should be known as a title or label for a phenomenon or repeated pattern in history; it is not the actual condition but a label for it. Janina doesn’t feel remorse for killing the hunters; she is relatively unfazed, only showing great emotion when confronted with her crime. Either due to thematic or intentional choices, Janina spends very little time thinking about the killers of her dogs. While it can be assumed she thinks about them a great deal, she has demonstrated the capacity to express normal emotions and behaviors when she murders those men. P.258 “I didn’t stop to think about it. I was sure I had killed him, and it seemed quite all right. I had no pangs of conscience. I only felt great relief.” P.261 “Once again, I felt nothing but relief.” Then, with the foxes, “I wish I could forget what I saw there. Weeping, I tried to open the cages and chase out the foxes.” She feels more emotions for the animals than she does for the men. This invites the reader to think about why? P.245 “But I don’t want us to reject them, as you put it. It’s just that I refuse to let anyone encourage children to do evil things or teach them hypocrisy. Glorifying killing is evil. It’s as simple as that.” This inconsistency brings to mind the concept of the Ubermensch. This idea of the Ubermensch is defined loosely in Crime and Punishment by the main character Raskolnikov. He says that an ordinary man has to live in submission and has no right to transgress the law because he is ordinary. On the contrary, extraordinary men have the right to commit any crime and transgress the law. They are extraordinary because they are men with the gift or talent to utter a New Word. Janina, in a way, punishes herself via her illness (which I believe is a cause of repressed emotions having a physical manifestation) as opposed to any punishment via usual avenues such as the police. She expresses her ability to transgress the law without repercussions by doing so. She also shows her free and complete agency over herself, even if that control is used to punish herself.

To Janina, moral and ethical hypocrisy matters are nothing in the face of a purpose. She lends herself to her ideas, divorcing herself from any accountability and guilt (supposedly). This is where Janina becomes more than just a person, but something resembling a thought experiment. Throughout the book, we, the reader, are exposed to many elements likely foreign to us, such as living entirely alone in the woods, complex astrology, and many different types of soliloquy and poetry. In the beginning, all of these concepts are foreign and divergent from what we are used to, and we look at them with wary, skeptical eyes. But as we live with Janina and follow her throughout 200+ pages, we begin to warm up to these ideas, not necessarily accepting them but just coming to understand them more. However, the end of the book and its subsequent reveal change the framing of this socialization.

Janina does not want to be called Janina; she explicitly states so. However, you will notice that nearly everyone who has finished the books calls her Janina. Whenever I wrote or talked about Drive Your Plow before the reveal, I referred to her as narrator. I respected her wishes as someone I was living with, sharing the same headspace, and learning about. I refer to her as Janina now because of what she has done and what she represents. No matter the ideological purity, righteousness, or moral piety, murder in such a way is not tolerable. There is something to be said about how the only alternative, the bureaucracy/police/law, was heavily biased against Janina. How this avenue for change had been tried and tested with no results, and how, if real change were to be made, it would take decades. Violence in pursuit of an otherwise unobtainable goal is a grey area and something one should not resort to. What is good and wrong is not defined by you but by others around you. Every action incurs a reaction, and humans respond to that act accordingly. We are pack animals by nature; we have a base instinct to be liked and to have more people in our “circle.” The reason for this is that in pre-historic times larger groups of humans were the ones to survive, and the same is true today. You alter your behavior constantly based on what others around you like or dislike; good and evil are not absolute truths. The moral grey encompasses much of our lives and is something we deal with all of the time; however, to each his one, everyone has a different perspective and views. Humans can be loosely defined as an intricately woven web of past experiences, cerebral processes, and imagination. As humans, we can never truly relate to one another, but we must try to sympathize with the plights of others. This is what Tokarczuk invites us to do. She invites us to think, weigh the options, and to consider the following:

  • Is violence for a cause justifiable?
  • Is violence justifiable at all?
  • What do you do when all options have been exhausted?
  • Are divergent ideologies acceptable?
  • How does one deal with repressed emotions?
  • How should one cope with their own biases?
  • Is a tortured artist a better artist?
  • Etc, etc.

But, the most important question presented by Tokarczuck to the reader is Janina. When viewed through the final few chapters, Janina is more of a concept than a person. She invites the reader to question the very fabric of people and whether their past experiences justify their actions. She makes the reader critical of the people she wrote about and the concepts they represent.

Motif of Animals

“Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead” by Olga Tokarczuk is a complex novel with many themes and motifs, including the motif of animals. The protagonist, Janina Duszejko, is a retired engineer who lives in a remote village in Poland, where she becomes obsessed with the deaths of several hunters. Throughout the novel, animals play an important role as they are seen as both victims and symbols.

One of the central motifs of the novel is the relationship between humans and animals. Janina is a vegetarian who loves animals and believes that they have souls and deserve respect. She is also deeply critical of hunting and the mistreatment of animals. Her views are contrasted with those of the hunters in the novel, who see animals as nothing more than targets and trophies.

The animals in the novel are also symbolic. Janina sees them as messengers, and they often appear to her in dreams and visions. For example, the deer that appears in her dreams represents freedom and escape from the constraints of human society. Similarly, the hare that she finds dead in her yard represents vulnerability and the cycle of life and death.

Through the lens of the animal world, the novel questions the value systems of human society and explores the consequences of our actions on the natural world.

White Women Tears

In the funny fake commercial called “Entitled White Women’s tears”, viewers see the harsh reality of how some white women take no ownership over their actions. The phrase, “white women tears” is essentially how white women can’t own up to their privilege of being white, as they are part of an oppressed group, being women. There’s also a stereotype that white women’s tears will get them out of any situation. If they are confronted with any unethical acts that they got away with because of their privilege, they can simply cry and now society must feel bad for them, excusing them from their actions. In our society, people of color, especially women, face immense challenges in their day to day. When white women are confronted with this uncomfortable environment that they often create, they feel attacked, and the “white women tears” come out. This leads to them taking no accountability for the actions they make. This commercial is a satirical play on this and while it’s hilarious, it brings attention to this issue. 

At the beginning of the commercial, the narrator introduces the audience (white women) to a solution to always being the victim in every situation. That solution is a bottle of Entitled White Women’s Tears. After introducing the product, the camera pans to a “real life customer “, Cindy (an absolute Becky) who talks about how before Entitled White Women’s Tears, she had to actually listen to women of color when they spoke about real issues and even had to change her racist behavior when asked. But now, with Entitled White Women’s Tears, she can tell women of color how they should be “approaching their own activism” and take their concerns as a personal attack when she’s getting called out for her behavior. The commercial shows a woman of color explaining her concerns with Cindy’s behavior and instead of addressing the issue, Cindy cries and calls the woman of color “mean” as well as showing the men who overhear the conversation asking the woman of color to leave the room for making Cindy cry. Unfortunately, this is very accurate, as women of color talking about their experiences are always looked down on and viewed as overly emotional. Oftentimes, Black women can be painted as “angry Black women” when they talk about their frustrations with oppression or show any emotion at all, yet white women can hear the horrors women of color face and make it about themselves. The next “real-life customer” we see is Amy (a total Karen) who talks about how she used to exhibit “socially acceptable behavior” but thanks to Entitled White Women’s Tears, she realized her time is more valuable than everyone else’s. She’s now able to abuse service staff and is seen calling the police even when she’s the one at fault. We see too many examples in real life of white women calling the police specifically on young Black men because they “looked suspicious” doing simple acts such as walking in their own neighborhood. Later, the commercial offers an in-depth explanation of what Entitled White Women’s Tears offers to customers, including Most Advanced Privilege Properties and Princess Syndrome, so white women can “weaponize crying whenever and wherever”. And a special mention is that Entitled White Women’s Tears is bottled in the “fear of a power dynamic that has rendered white women prone to legitimate criticism”. Many white women cannot admit that they systematically hold more privilege and power than women of color. So, when being criticized for participating in oppressive acts, they deny it because they don’t want to believe that they are a part of this power dynamic. This mindset is extremely dangerous. The commercial ends with telling white women to buy the product and never let someone hold them accountable for bad behavior again. The way the commercial was made is a way to show white women how ridiculous they sound when they act as the white women in the commercials do. This may just be good acting, but these things do happen. I think with a commercial like this, when the target audience is reached, it is hoped that they can reflect on how silly the women in the commercial look to ensure that they don’t act like this themselves.

Comedy over Tragedy is Tragic

On a normal given day and I am looking for something to watch, usually my first thought goes to comedy. A romantic comedy because it is a feel good movie that doesn’t require me to think very much which for a lot of people is okay. Comedy keeps people stranger to the realities of the real world. Comedy teaches nothing but those who watch it stay happy and their mind is not taught to think any differently.

 I do understand, it is fun to stay in your own little bubble staying completely oblivious to anything else. There are many who believe that this is perfectly normal and fine. However, after believing this for so long I now beg to differ. 

Comedy doesn’t challenge the mind and therefore we never grow. With a tragedy we are forced to think about our lives and they force us to dig deeper than any comedy ever could. There is so much more depth and more layers compared to comedy which is very one dimensional. Comedy drags down the impact of the story. According to Aristotle he explains that, tragedy handles topics that are serious and important where comedy focuses mainly on human “weaknesses and foibles.”

Tragedy displays a complex understanding and introduces moral error through to transformation in a way that comedy cannot achieve and will not even attempt to.

HBO Velma: Satire and self-awareness done WRONG

We all have fond memories of Scooby Doo and the Gang solving mysteries together, no matter which era or rebirth they went through when you discovered them, its likely you had a few laughs thanks to shaggy and Scooby. In the past year, HBO decided to release a new Scoob-Gang themed show, ‘Velma‘.

This new version of Velma, Shaggy, Fred, and Daphne were very different compared to their previous iterations. HBO Velma changes the races of 3 out of the four main characters and removes Scooby completely. However, these alone didn’t mean a fiery end for the show, what did destroy it? It’s poor comedy and attempt at satire.

When trying to create a good version of satire, you need to have a proper understand of the subject of which you are creating said satire. HBO Velma makes no attempt to do this. HBO Velma doesn’t create any of the Scooby Doo characters as actual characters but more as reflections of modern society and in the case of Velma herself; Mindy. HBO Velma has no respect for the franchise and the characterization of any of its subjects. If you removed the name of Velma and the appearance of any of the other characters, you’d never know that it had anything to do with the Mystery Gang.

The worst part is that it could have been a good show, not great but passable at the very least. HBO Velma tries a meta-satire approach to its comedy, but ends up falling flat due to its lack of respect for itself. Had it attempted to be more focused on taking its usual unmasking of villains and flipping it into a more interesting approach, or more focused on becoming a satire of itself rather than society as a whole it might have been more well received. It does try to attempt this, but its so poorly done you barely notice that it even did so.

To summarize; do not bother watching HBO´s Velma. It fails not only as a comedy in the simplest ways but especially as a satire. It doesn´t treat any of the Mystery Gang with respect, tries too hard to be meta at the expense of the plot, and generally is unfunny. Save yourself and go watch Mystery Incorporated or any of the older Scooby Doo shows.

Visual Comedy in the 20’s

Dramatic comedy has evolved over the years to adjust to society’s type of humor. What we refer to as comedy today has a lot to do with how characters in film or tv combine elements of drama and comedy and it usually depicts incidents in which a character ultimately triumphs over adversity. This clip from the silent film, “The Lions Cage” shows english comic actor, Charlie Chaplin in a circus. Although the film is silent the feelings of the characters are conveyed through different aspects such as hand gestures, facial expressions, musical effects and subtitles. I can tell by watching this clip that the purpose is to amuse those watching by putting a character in a difficult situation and observing his actions as he tries to get out of the situation. To me the facial expressions and body language of Chaplin is what really bring out the comedic aspect to the situation. Not only can people find humor in the setting of the movie but also in how the character moves around and acts within the setting. I can also infer that people find humor in the suffering of others. Not in an evil kind of way but in joking manner where the character is obviously acting out the “normal”.

Although this movie was made for audiences in the 1920’s this kind of humor continues to entertain people in the present day. This is because it is human nature to find humor in such situations where another person overcomes a challenge. Although comedy is a lot about making people laugh, it is also about telling a story using different aspects and factors for entertainment. I believe comedy is a meaningful form of art because is inclusive. I think it would be wrong to see comedy as not meaningful or standardized because it incorporates many different forms of expression and it varies throughout time and culture to reflect the feelings and humor of many audiences.

Unique Storytelling and Dramatic Comedy

Aristotle explains that dramatic comedy is meaningful because it allows us to see the human condition in a new light. It points out our flaws and teaches us that these flaws are what make us human. The aspect of comedy provides an optimistic outlook on the world despite its realism. This perspective gives us the ability to better deal with the challenges we face in life. 

Dramatic Comedies allow the audience to explore important themes and issues with the aspect of humor. By having comedic relief viewers have an engaging and relatable way to deal with complex problems. It can find ways to give new perspectives to different social issues, personal struggles, cultural differences, etc. 

The movie Parasite is a good example of how dramatic comedy can be meaningful. Parasite is a South Korean movie that tackles themes of class struggle, social inequality, and the consequences of poverty. Parasite is an effective dramatic comedy with sharp writing and the subtle use of humor to create a powerful social commentary. Despite addressing serious issues, the film never feels heavy. The story’s comedic elements help to relieve tension and make the characters more relatable. The movie’s success as a dramatic comedy comes from the blend of different genres smoothly and its ability to talk about serious topics while staying entertaining and engaging.

The genre of dramatic comedy can help to process what we’re taking in in a positive way. Humor is one of the most common and powerful coping mechanisms that people use, using this we can address serious issues without feeling overwhelmed by the context. The use of comedy with drama makes challenging topics more approachable, engaging, and meaningful to audiences who view them.

The Element of Satire in Get Out

The movie Get Out was director Jordan Peele’s debut film; it immediately put him into high status in the directorial world, winning him an Academy award for best original screenplay, and for good cause. The film follows Chris, a black man who is going to meet Rose’s, his white girlfriend’s, family for the first time. Throughout this movie we see an amazing craftiness of the racism that exists beneath the surfaces of white America.

Hypnotizing is the main way throughout the movie that Rose’s family hides their true intentions under the mask of being proactive in race issues. Rose’s mother, Missy, uses hypnotism to keep various black people in a mental spell, working for her, portraying it to the outside world as them willingly working for her. She does this hypnotizing through tea, an unassumingly harmless activity, something that is done to be welcoming and social. 

The tea in the movie plays a huge role, having the ability to give Chris and the other mind controlled servants the feeling of falling and being trapped. The imagery in the movie, Chris falling from reality into a dark place, underlines the families true intentions to keep him suppressed. While this is happening the words, “you’ll live in a sunken place” are used. In the movie, this sunken place is a state where people are unable to be in control of their own actions, also hinting at the push back on going forward in racial issues. In the end of this scene, Chris closes his eyes, alluding to the things that black people in society cannot see and do not know because of the history and education being held away. 

Throughout the movie we see the support of two narratives within the satire, both of racial issues in America, accompanied with a clever and effective criticism of our society. As well as, a satire of what a horror movie is in general down to the movie being titled Get Out. The satire in the movie is not targeted at outward racism but more so the self approving white liberal mindset, causing viewers to put deeper thought into some of the things they do and why exactly they’re doing them.

Mrs. Doubtfire Comedy

The classic 1993 comedy starring Robin Williams is the epitome of Aristotle’s definition of comedy. Robin Wiliams’s character, Daniel, is the protagonist and devises an elaborate plan with his brother to be able to see his children with whom he has little access to. He dresses as an older lady, complete with prosthetics and dentures and convinces his ex-wife to hire him as a nanny. His nanny persona is accompanied by the name “Mrs. Doubtfire,” and with the help of his experiences as “Mrs. Doubtfire” he becomes a better man and parent. His plan goes up in flames when both “Mrs. Doubtfire” and his true self have to be in the same place at the same time. 

Aside from ridiculous moments and offbeat scenes, the plot follows Aristotle’s definition of comedy through the fall and rise of the protagonist. Daniel’s unfortunate circumstances allow the audience to garner sympathy for his situation. It is clear Daniel is going through a rough patch, and with the help of his brother his fortune appears to look up as he is able to deceive his ex-wife and spend time with his children. However this is unsustainable, and his true identity is revealed which leads to the fall of Daniel once again. The movie concludes with Daniel regaining his fortune and making amends with his family. Mrs. Doubtfire reveals the pain of divorce and the differing gender roles of families. 

Legally Blonde: Romantic Comedy?

Legally Blonde is a beloved movie about a young woman who is dumped by her boyfriend because he is going to Harvard Law and does not want her to drag him down. Instead of moping, the heroine Elle Woods turns her anger and works hard to get into the same school as him. Once attending Harvard Law, she is rarely taken seriously because of her looks and the way she dresses, but she ends up winning a case using her knowledge of a perm.

This movie is often regarded as a romantic comedy, because Elle ends up falling in love with a recent graduate named Emmett, however, I believe that it should not be classified as a romantic comedy. From the beginning, far greater weight is placed on her platonic relationships like those with her sorority sisters. Throughout the entire movie, her friends seem to be the only ones who do not doubt her. One of her female professors tells her to not give up, and it once again shows women supporting other women, and not her seeking out validation from her ex boyfriend or current love interest.

Elle is an unapologetically hyper feminine character who ends up succeeding in her career based off her knowledge of all things girly. I believe this movie serves to show young girls with big aspirations that their gender presentation should not hold them back or make them deserve any less respect. She remains undefinable and unable to push into stereotypes throughout the whole movie, despite many other characters attempts to, which is why I believe that this movie is a comedy, but not a romantic comedy.

Comedic Elements in Rango

A chameleon (voiced by Johnny Depp) who lived as a family pet finds himself in an identity crisis. Rango is stranded in the middle of the desert and tries to adapt to his new environment. When he accidentally discovers a small town called Dirt, he goes through a turning point in his life where he is destined to become the town’s sheriff.

Rango is able to slip into his role as a heroic gunslinger thanks to his profession as an actor. A chameleon is an odd choice for an animated hero. Rango’s certainly a long way from the limited cast of cats, dogs, and other fuzzy critters that dominate the cartoon landscape. But he looks downright mundane next to the rest of the cast.

the townspeople who join Rango’s posse include a gap-toothed horned toad named Waffles, and the mariachi band that narrates Rango’s adventure is burrowing owls. Since the animals are too small to raise cattle, they yoke their carts to wild pigs called peccaries. A particular scene in the movie is when Waffles (one of the townspeople) describes the mystery of the town’s drought as, “A puzzle — like a great big mammogram!” And on a similar medical note, Doc, the posse’s rabbit physician, snaps on a latex glove to ask if anyone’s ready for a checkup, implying he has something proctological in mind.

No Darkness Without Light

Comedy is important as an art form because it serves to counter tragedy by showing the rise of a normal person, even if their new position doesn’t seem better at first glance. One work that embodies this idea is Raise the Red Lantern. In the movie Raise the Red Lantern, the viewer follows Songlian as she marries into a wealthy family, and eventually falls out of favor. As the story progresses, Songlian begins to exercise more agency, culminating in her being labeled as “mad” before being made into a servant.

In reality, Songlian’s downfall is actually her triumph, as being made into a servant actually gave her more agency than she had as the Fourth Mistress. This was previously seen in the story with Songlian’s servant, Yan’er, who exercised agency by violating traditions at will. The way that she rises above her previous position is by rejecting the power structures she was trapped in by exercising agency.

Raise the Red Lantern is not a comedy because it is about a person being more fulfilled in a materialistic sense, it is a comedy because it is about a person breaking free from the systems of power that they are trapped in through their own actions.

Real World Critiques in Campy Sci-Fi Horror

M3GAN is the surprising 2022 horror hit about the creation of an extremely lifelike artificial intelligence doll as a children’s toy but quickly turns bloody when M3GAN proves too intelligent, even for her creators.

When M3GAN is created by inventor, Gemma, she’s meant to be a children’s toy but the effects that attachment to a robot instead of a human caregiver have on a child’s brain quickly becomes clear when Katie, Gemma’s recently orphaned niece, becomes dangerously attached to M3GAN. She grows increasingly stubborn and attached, eventually refusing to do anything if M3GAN isn’t with her. Though, not only is the level of attachment dangerous but the actual technology itself. To make a long story short, M3GAN becomes a homicidal maniac with industrial strength and must be torn apart piece by piece in the end.

So what’s the reality of M3GAN and does it actually mean anything? Short answer: yes.

While the movie does have its fair share of cheap jumpscares and lines clearly delivered as fan service, the witty comedy actually serves a great point about our usage of technology, as do other similar sci-fi comedies. M3GAN is all good fun when she starts backflipping and dancing before committing a heinous murder (seriously though, I screamed out loud in the theater) but she’s a great critique about how we rely so heavily on technology and give it to children while we don’t even fully understand it or its effects. Technology is becoming increasingly prevalent in our everyday lives and the effects that it has on an underdeveloped are still being discovered. But we know this much: it’s not good.

So what does this say about comedy as a whole? M3GAN falls in line with many other comedy movies; it’s stupid and humorous on the surface but when you actually tap into it’s subtext, it’s quite meaningful and sometimes more than tragedy, for example. I think the ability to entertain an audience with a creepy little girl robot while also conveying a message about our societal culture surrounding technology and parenthood is quite admirable.

But back to the main question: is comedy meaningful? Yeah. Why wouldn’t it be?

The Impact of Comedy in Forrest Gump

The movie Forrest Gump is a light-hearted comedy that many people are familiar with. What many people don’t see is how the comedy in the movie is used to enhance our understanding of the world.

Aristotle defines a good comedy as “a story of the rise in fortune of a sympathetic central character.” This movie definitely fits this definition as the main character, Forrest Gump, goes through a very unexpected yet remarkable life journey. Even though it is a comedy, there are various life lessons within the movie that show the importance of comedy when discovering larger meanings in life.

One commonly known part of the movie is Forrest Gump running. When I first watched it, I definitely found it comedic to see him start sprinting after he gets his heart broken. He continues to run for an extremely long period of time but within his journey, he explores the world, learns about himself, and grows as the main character in the film.

The unrealistic parts of the movie are what make it truly a good comedy, while it still comes across as a meaningful piece of film. Through comedy, many other larger themes are explored in Forrest Gump such as love, family, optimism, and being appreciative of life.

Meaningful Comedy in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Aristotle believes that in order for a comedic work to have meaning, the protagonist should have a rise in fortune, while a tragedy should do the opposite. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel fits both of these criteria perfectly. In 1958, Miriam “Midge” Maisel had the perfect life. She had a great husband, two beautiful kids, a spacious apartment in New York, and a high social status. However, after finding out her husband is cheating on her with his secretary, she gets extremely intoxicated and ends up finding a hidden talent for stand-up comedy. After getting discovered and working hard to hone her act, she ends up getting discovered and becomes the opening act for a famous singer. 

While this show is meaningful because it meets the terms that Arstole has set up, I believe it is special for a whole different reason. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel teaches women that there is meaning in life besides men and they can be successful without them. After telling her parents what happened, Midge is blamed for her husband’s actions and is told to go win him back because she will be nothing without him. They tell her to put on a sexy dress and makeup so she can win him back. While she was scared about her husband leaving and what everyone around her was telling her, she did not go back. Even when her husband came back to apologize to her, she did not accept it. She had faith in herself and used it to fuel her comedy.

In today’s society, there is more of a push for women to be independent. There is still some pushback from men saying that women will be nothing without them. However, we are seeing the opposite. More and more women are becoming successful without men backing them up or supporting them. Midge seemingly lost everything that was important to her. However, she got something better out of it. She gained faith in herself and the ability to be her own person, not a wife or a mother. 

10 Things I Hate About You

10 Things I Hate About You is a classic romantic comedy set in Tacoma, Washington. The film stars Julia Stiles as Kat Stratford and Heath Ledger who plays Patrick Verona. Kat is adverse to mostly anyone and anything, including her sister, Bianca Stratford, who is the complete opposite of her. A new student, Cameron, is enamored with Bianca, however, her father has a strict rule on dating (unless Kat has a boyfriend she is not allowed to date), which is where Patrick comes into play. Patrick has girls falling at his feet with his bad-boy air and Australian accent, but these (of course) do not appeal to Kat. The movie is centered around a plan Cameron has, where he would pay Patrick to date Kat, to ultimately date Bianca.

According to Aristotle, “A comedy is a story of the rise in fortune of a sympathetic central character.” In this movie, that character would be Kat, her mother is no longer in the picture and she’s struggling to find her identity, not to mention the overwhelming decision about where she’s attending college in the fall, which her father is of no help. If that’s not enough, Joey, a boy from Kat’s past is trying to get with Bianca, which leads to the central conflict in the story. At the prom, Kat learns that Patrick was paid to date her, resulting in their “break up.” The movie title is from the title of the poem that Kat writes for her English class about Patrick, who is also a student in the class; the scene ends with her in tears and rushing out of the classroom. In the final scene, Patrick gifts Kat her dream guitar and confesses he’s fallen in love with her. This ending is representative of a romantic comedy as, “The… two sympathetic and well-matched lovers are united or reconciled.”

Kat and Patrick coming back together at the end represent the power of vulnerability, the acceptance of differences and a valuable character strength: forgiveness. Stiles plays a strong female lead, who acts according to how she wishes and does not back down to other males in the movie, although viewers learn that she was once heavily influenced by her peers and society’s expectations. Now, Kat has broken out of that shell and despite Patrick only being interested in her for the money at the beginning, he never criticized or judged her character or interests, unlike others in the film. Many people can relate to the ups and downs that Kat and Patrick face in the film, whether it be their relationship or the personal discoveries and challenges they experience.

While this film is not necessarily realistic, a romantic comedy is not meant to be. The ending is always supposed to be a happily ever after, which this one definitely is. When people choose to watch this genre, they are not looking for a tragedy or mirror of real life, but rather a feel-good ending.

The Impact of Comedy in Aggretsuko

Aggretsuko is a Japanese animated comedy (available on Netflix) centered around a 25 year old girl named Retsuko (the “Comic Hero”), who grows tired of her boring office job and hostile boss as she struggles to balance the responsibilities of adulthood. Throughout the 5 seasons of the show, there is a common theme centered on the idea and ugly truth about capitalism and how difficult it is to merely provide for even a simple lifestyle in today’s environment.

Retsuko is commonly getting into rough situations, such as needing to repay the debt for accidentally backing into someone’s car while parking, being overworked by her boss and given an excessive amount of paperwork to complete in little time, struggling to afford proper food due to her shortage of money after making too many online purchases, more. While these events are portrayed in a comedic light, the show does so in a way that doesn’t necessarily undermine or brush off these common struggles that many people today face, but it’s able to present it in a way that’s relatable and something that people can learn to laugh about instead of so much letting it ruin the joys we have in life. This can help the audience feel more seen and lifted up rather than succumbing to the harsh reality of how to sustain a decent lifestyle in today’s society, and through seeing the characters learn to manage and work through their struggles, they can learn to apply those skills to their own lives and well-being.

Family Guy and Taking Comedy to the Extreme

Since 1999, Seth McFarlane has led one of the most iconic cartoons in television history. Family Guy takes place in the fictional town of Quahog, Rhode Island. The main cast includes a stereotypical American family with an idiotic dad, a rich high-pitched mom, a neglected daughter, a self-conscious son, and a talking baby and dog. From the outside, the show already seems to have a lot going on. Still, every episode feels original with different jokes and lessons, and while the show misses sometimes, it has a very strong legacy in the entertainment industry.

What makes Family Guy so special is the absurdity and randomness of its content. The show is known best for using cutaways that extend metaphors or jokes. The cutaways typically occur after one of the characters says, “This is just like/even worse/even better than that time..” A joke featuring a historical character/event, celebrity, or pop culture is shown on the screen. Family Guy’s cutaways are by far the most popular aspect of the show, with thousands of cutaway compilations all around the internet. The jokes can feel random to many, but the product of Family Guy has always attracted a specific audience.

Still, the jokes can be taken the wrong way at times. Family Guy has had a history of making racial, gender, sexual, and religious jokes, and the results have not always been the prettiest. As society continues to get softer, Family Guy is canceled much more often. Sometimes, people just find the jokes not funny, claiming they’re “cheap and low effort” and “appealing to 14-year-olds.” The jokes sometimes don’t age very well, and some question, “Is this even comedy, or is it just a slew of offensive marks?”

Despite all the negativity and controversy surrounding Family Guy’s products, the comedy has, in a way, saved the show. The rise of YouTube in the last 15 years and TikTok in the last 5 years has shone a light on Family Guy. Family Guy has reached quite literally every corner of the internet. “Family Guy Racist Moments”, “Family Guy Offensive Moments”, and “Family Guy Funny Asian Jokes.” The internet has feasted on every second of Family Guy’s content, and the show’s popularity has risen to levels it previously had never been at.

Overall, Family Guy has remained one of the most popular shows in entertainment, and whatever jokes they end up making will reach a certain audience. From Donald Trump’s animated baby hands to Tiny Tom Cruise, the use of satire and offense has brought Family Guy to a genre of its own.