Satire in Andrew Stanton’s “WALL-E”

Produced by Andrew Stanton in 2008, “Wall-e” features earth in the 29th century, but environmental neglect has turned the earth into a garbage filled wasteland. With the earth being uninhabitable, the mega-corporation Buy-N-Large (BnL) has evacuated the whole earth’s population to live on giant star-liners in space. Of all the robotic trash compactors left by BnL to clean up, only one remains operational: a Waste Allocation Load-Lifter (Earth Class), or WALL-E. One day, another robot called EVE comes to earth in search of plant life. WALL-E shows EVE the living plant that he found, and they eventually take it back to the mother-ship, the Axiom, and the ship brings all of the humans back to earth. During the credits, humans and robots are shown learning to farm, fish, and build, turning the planet into a paradise, and WALL-E’s plant is shown to have grown into a mighty tree.

Most of the satire that we see in “WALL-E” is exaggerated scenarios. We see the the whole earth is literally just a pile of garbage, and instead of trying to fix it humans left robots to clean it for them. Since humans have allowed robots to takeover work for them, we see all humans have all become overweight and need to be carried around instead of walking on their own. WALL-E was meant to show how our modern ways of living aren’t sustainable for our planet and that our continued laziness towards this situation will only lead to more trouble, but unfortunately as each day passes, this type of future gets more and more possible.

The Mask That We Call Comedy.

What more could Elle Woods want? Life has been nothing but easy for her, challenges are foreign to the young spunky blonde. The missing key to her perfect life is boyfriend Warner Huntington III, he just won’t propose. Woods lack of substance when it comes to her personality is the reason for this. In hopes of changing her mind she finds herself enrolled in one of the top ranked law schools, Harvard University. The experience helps her to defy the stereotype of a sorority-sister valley girl while staying true to herself although, does the film really capture the right message?

Director Robert Luketic builds off of the early 2000s stereotype of the “dumb blonde” as it fails to enhance reality to its fullest. It acts as a mask to underlying issues like gender inequality, sexual harassment and even abusive relationships. As main character Elle Woods defys the most typical form of this stereotype she doesn’t completely break through it. As much as her intelligence is presented it is also undermined just as often. For example, she won one of her court case by having intense knowledge of last year’s shoe trends, along with being an expert in post-perm hair care. Yes, she won the case but not in the traditional way which doesn’t really grasp the full effect.

Starting as early as the opening scenes gender rolls are put to use as seen in most current American films as we see arbitrary body shots of Woods. These shots also include stereotypical feminine actions such as brushing her hair, shaving her already perfect legs, engaging in Cosmopolitan, applying makeup, and (most alarming) getting catcalled by a bunch of men in a car, and smiling in their direction. What does this teach the younger generation? Elles intelligence is addressed throughout the film but that’s the only thing that separates her from the stereotype which is problematic. Not only this but unrealistic expectations makes this never ending cycle really hard to break since Woods social and economic status also played a major role in what she had to overcome.

Breaking down the comedy aspect of why women have become targets of such classification can be tied to various reasons. One perception is that humor is a tool used to facilitate work by lightening the mood, making difficult problems seem less extreme while also encouraging positive attitudes and healthy interactions. A second perception is that humor is disruptive — a distraction from the seriousness of work while demonstrating less commitment to work. Jokes including those about dumb blondes project the greater anxiety of men afraid of a threat to their social position. These fears are nothing new as losing masculine power could be traced all along the history of gender relations and numerous prejudices. Stereotypes of women include not only lower levels of achievement, but also the expectation of increased family responsibilities. Because it is so difficult to dedicate time to both work and family responsibilities, this has led to the perception that women are less dedicated to work causing society to view them in a humorous way.

In conclusion as much as we want to believe Woods represents that step in the right direction for image of women it really just masks it, like the rest of the world. Although its a step in the right direction there is still more that can be done to ensure and protect women so they are no longer the laughing stock of society.

A Lesson in Harmony

As an educator, one of the questions I get asked most frequently is “How can I play this without people thinking I’m bad?” Today I’m going to show you how to fix simple music so that you may play it without being embarrassed of yourself.

Let’s start with the classic method book melody “Ode to Joy”

Gross. Hal Leonard needs to fire whoever wrote this garbage.

But don’t worry, we’re going to fix it. Here it is again with some spice

Wait actually,

That’s better. A good rule of thumb is that any time you can do something, you should do it.  Otherwise, how will people know that you can?

Now I know what everyone is probably thinking: “The common practice period is over, wake up and smell the jazz chords”, well you’re right. So was I actually. Just because triads were good enough for Bach doesn’t mean they’re good.  Duke Ellington said it best: “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got those jazz chords.”

Oh yeah, also you have to end on the sharp eleven. Every time. Now we’re getting somewhere. But anyone can modulate to the subdominant. Big deal. Sure it sounds good, but if we’re going to impress people outside the nursing home gig, we need to do something a little more hip.

That’s more like it. However, it’s not art until we break the confines of functional western harmony. And it’s not intellectual until the harmony can’t fit on the page. Let’s try something a little more nonfunctional.

Ah yes. Now were getting somewhere. But in order to truly express ourselves with total harmonic freedom (the only aspect of music that matters) we simply need more notes. We need more clusters. We need more syncopation. We need a half-swung quintupletey drum track.

We have transcended. Now this is music. The general public will be so impressed they won’t even know what to say. But their silence speaks volumes. The less people enjoy it, the more sophisticated it is.

Another classic fixed. No need to thank me. Tune in next time to hear me improve our national anthem.

Ryan Michaud (PhD) has been educating the masses online for 45 years. A brilliant author, teacher, and scholar, he is a such an intellectual that he still has less than 1,000 listens on all of his music.

Satire in Jordan Peele’s “Get Out”

Jordan Peele’s 2017 thriller, “Get Out” features a black photographer named Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), and his white girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), who both go up to Rose’s parents house for a weekend. Rose’s parents start acting weird as soon as they meet Chris, which is assumed to be because Rose’s family aren’t used to interracial relationships and are trying their best to get used to it. As the movie progresses, we get to see a much more shocking reality that we could’ve imagined.

Later in the film, Chris meets all of Rose’s family friends and neighbors, who ask him lots of uncomfortable questions or say things like “black is in fashion”. This is when the satire starts to become clear. Later, we learn that Rose’s family have been putting white people’s brains into black people’s bodies, keeping black consciousness buried deep within “the sunken place”. This means that when white consciousness takes over the black body, the original mind is still aware, but helpless to stop the invasion. Two people essentially live in one body as a conquered territory. Jordan Peele is not only saying that Chris’s body has been declared less valuable by White America, but now he’s literally taking away Chris’s right to control his own body.

Comedy Allows Compassion

Comedy is the easiest way to the heart of the viewer, a horror movie may need minutes of an empty hallway with suspenseful music to build up a scare, and a drama may need an hour to entice the viewer and get the excited for a climactic scene. However comedy can make its impact in a single line, getting a laugh out of the audience before even diving into the deep story that also exists. One of the main aspects of Aristotle’s definition of a comedy lies in the “hero”, or main character. This main character must be likeable to the audience, allowing them to relate things going on in their life to the character and to root for them. Aristotle also includes in his definition that the character experiences a “rise in fortune”, or happy ending. This makes sense, as a comedy provides laughs, and positive energy to the audience, while allowing the audience to connect themselves to the protagonist, therefore the main character will always end the comedy on top. 

My favorite comedy of all time is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, I watched it repeatedly as a kid on days home sick from school or in long car rides. This movie is about an extremely likeable central protagonist, Ferris, who skips school and has a day of fun in the city with two of his close friends. This movie breaks the fourth wall on many occasions, with Ferris delivering monologues facing the camera as he gets ready for his day on the town. The central idea of these monologues is consistent with the theme of this movie, as he states “If you don’t stop and look around every once in a while, you might let life pass you by”. 

We learn this lesson through Ferris as we follow him on his day of adventure and ultimately no consequences, which breaks up the repetitive nature of our days at school or work. If you are not able to immediately picture yourself abandoning all responsibility and just having fun, Ferris’ best friend Cameron relates to you more. He at first denies all of Ferris’ requests to let him borrow his dad’s Ferrari and join him in the city, but he eventually goes with and has a great time, and gets the strength to stand up to his unloving father. Before Cameron finally agrees to go with, he sits in his room cursing and pacing, thinking of the options, this is relatable to the audience who may be anxious or just nervous about risk taking. However the audience feels like they are going along with Cameron and Ferris on their exciting day in the city, and gets to enjoy the excitement firsthand.  By allowing us to see this day from multiple perspectives, and connect ourselves to the characters, and in the end are reminded of the lesson that if you don’t take time to enjoy life, you can get caught up in the same routine. 

Bojack Horseman and Depression

The Netflix Original TV Show Bojack Horseman appears to be a funny, lighthearted comedy, like Family Guy, or The Simpsons. However, it dives into extremely deep and real subject matter such as depression, addiction, and love. The main character in this show is a former Hollywood Star, and current B-List actor, who struggles with depression, resorts to substance abuse, and feels isolated. 

The obvious irony of this show is that while it appears to be set in a completely different dimension on the surface, with talking animals and humans coexisting, the emotions and struggles of the characters are the same as ones we may all face at some point in our lives. These dramatic, realistic dilemmas that we may even relate to are offset by frequent puns or jokes that may be over the top or remind you that this is taking place in a fictional world. The main dilemma of this show is not the fact that Bojack was an A-list actor and is now taking small roles, but it is how he is facing mental illness in a way that is extremely realistic and honest. It shows him at his highest and lowest points, but always reinforces that mental health is not something that is completely reliant on success, and aspects of your childhood will shape you as an adult. 

The main lesson that I think the creator wants us to take from this show is that mental health cannot be bought, or found through drugs, alcohol, or sex. Depression, especially in the case of Bojack, is a chemical imbalance in the brain and will still be present even in times of success, love, or substance induced euphoria. We can take the main characters attempts to use unhealthy outlets to cure his unhappiness as lessons that this is not a viable solution.

SNL ¨Subsitute Teacher¨

The SNL skit ¨Subsitute Teacher¨ is about how substitute teachers always come into the classroom with the goal to be able to relate to a class of young teens. And by relating to them the teacher uses hip hop to connect to the students to understand the music of the orchestra. The plan that he comes up with does not work since there have been many teachers just like him who come into the class to build connections with he students using the exact same method that makes all the kids embrace by him resulting in him being kicked out the class.

The comedy behind the skit is that older people always treat younger people as if they are from two different worlds as if when they were there age people did not do the same towards them. The skit also shows how it combines all young teens to be interested in rap music as if we all were based on one set of styles. The skit also makes fun of the idea that any substitute teacher is trying to be the person that changes the ideology of a group of trouble kids for the better through there own likes to get them to see a bigger picture. The skit also makes a mockery of the quiet student and how they are to themselves but in the skit, the student that seemed quiet was more embarrassed by the teacher than anything else. The skit uses comedy to bring up situations that all high school students deal with but in a more comedic manner that puts a smile on the audiences face to not just make them laugh but to also show that everyone has had a similar situation in there lives as well no matter the age and makes the awkward moment of a teacher and student relationship more relatable and normal.

Rachel and Nick Defy the Bounds of Class

The movie Crazy Rich Asians is a perfect example of a rising-in-status comedy. While it is light-hearted and humorous it also has some much deeper moments and fulfilling character development. As Rachel and Nick come from their own very different worlds and fall in love, a point is made about how people from differing social classes and families can form a connection.

At the beginning of this movie, Rachel is an American economics professor who is dating Nick in the United States. She comes from a middle to low class family and her father does not seem to be in the picture. Later in the movie, she discovers that her boyfriend, Nick, actually comes from an extremely wealthy dynasty in Singapore. Through meeting all of the ridiculous members of his prestigious family, Rachel rises to a seemingly wealthier status and ponders whether she is cut out for this lifestyle.

The humor in this movie is very well utilized. The funny moments are mainly present in the dialogue of Rachel’s best friend (played by Akwafina) and her family. By inserting this humor into a plot and group of characters that weren’t the main one, the movie has laughable moments, while also maintaining the gravity and depth of the main conflict. When I watched this, I loved how I was able to feel with Rachel and Nick during one scene and quickly transition into hysterical laughter during the next one. 

The ending is, of course, a happy one. Nick and Rachel are engaged and Rachel has found peace with most of the members of Nick’s family. Along with this, she resolves to stick-it-out in Nick’s lifestyle as long as she can be with Nick. While Rachel rises in status in terms of class, she also rises in her love for Nick, and in an overall understanding of herself and her values.

Stefon: An Unexpected Love Story for the Ages

We have all heard of SNL. The long running late night comedy show has been running for about four decades and offers comedy in many forms such as satire, sketches, news updates, and more. One of the most popular story lines, however, is that of a guest star on weekend update: Stefon.

When Seth Meyers hosted Weekend Update, Stefon came on as a guide to New York City, offering crazy tourist advice covering parties, activities, and food. But Stefon became way more than just a side character, as the skit went on to receive multiple reiterations and formed into a full blown story.

Dramatic Comedy as applied to Aristotle’s definition (at the least) is a meaningful art form because it allows us to see humanity in exaggerated circumstances, and it is open enough to shape to what society wants. Stefon is an extremely exaggerated character, pointing out the almost absurd hipster customs and lifestyles of certain New Yorkers, as well as mocking the way they talk and dress. But despite the completely ridiculous satirical sketches, the audience started to become very connected to Stefon as a character, specifically when it came to his relationship with Seth Meyers. As the seasons went on, people watching the show recognized a flirtatious attitude forming between Stefon and Seth Meyers. Noticing this, the skits started to shape towards that potential romance. And in the pair, the audience members found a story to hold on to. Stefon as a concept is funny on his own, with the talents of Bill Hader and the writing of John Mulaney supporting the character, but he is also very human. And, what started as just a characterization, turned into a comic hero, with the story reflecting what society wanted.

What is so cool about this “dramatic comedy”, is that the story was never set in stone, perhaps because it was never really supposed to be a full story. But, as the sketch went on, and the people responded, a story was created out of it. Because of this, a very real very natural romantic comedy was formed out of almost nothing. And what is also wonderful about this example is the writers/actors ran with it. The comedic form is very open, and allows for these kinds of spur of the moment twists and changes. Stefon could have just stayed a simple side character, but instead turned into a whole character with a love interest and, (spoilers) in the end, a husband. When Bill Hader left the show, the writers concluded the skit the way it had built up until that point, with a dramatic episode ending in the marriage of Stefon and Seth.

Why We Need Comedians Like Wanda Sykes…and More Inclusive Specials

While I was thinking of different movies and shows to choose from, I realized that a lot of my favorite humor has come from stand-up specials and old SNL sketches this past year (and they are about the same length as movies at this point so I consider that long-form). As Netflix and Amazon have been making a more conscious effort to include original stand-ups from womxn and people of color, I’ve watched a lot of them. The comedy realm is yet another world, profession, and space in Hollywood that has become dominated by white cis males over the years. While most people can recognize comedic veterans like Robin Williams, Will Ferrell, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, and Colin Jost, a lot would struggle to put a face to names like Chelsea Handler, Tiffany Haddish, Aidy Bryant, Wanda Sykes, Ali Wong, Iliza Shlesinger, Lily Singh, Samantha Bee, Ilana Glazer…and while the list could go on forever. In this sense, I think comedy is one of the most powerful mediums in understanding the human condition. While there is still a long way to go in giving representation to everyone, it gives a voice and a stage to people who might not get one otherwise. We get to hear- and most importantly laugh at- experiences specific to genders/races that are different from us. And stand-up specials adhere to the definition of comedy because they are a form of reflection after a life-changing event where the comedian is a better person afterwards.

Given the current political climate, many comedians have used their shows as a chance to speak out against injustices. They use careful humor as a way to shed light on political issues and encourage people to vote (i.e Ilana Glazer in “The Planet is Burning, and Dave Chapelle in Sticks and Stones). But my favorite example from this past year is Wanda Sykes in her special “Not Normal”. Sykes- a regular on Curb Your Enthusiasm- has spent a lot of her career commenting on politics. She was even the first African American womxn to host the Correspondents Association dinner. Her pushback against Trump is smart, funny, and increasingly relevant. She educates her viewers, and shares a point of view we rarely see in comedy, let alone in Hollywood. As a female of color and a part of the LGBTQ+ community, Sykes has shown how important it is to use a platform of fame wisely and what we can learn from it. This is why we need comedy and it’s also why we need representation; we need to learn about experiences that are different from ours and have alternative outlets of educating ourselves. And we need someone with a platform to call out corrupt politicians like Trump, and humor is a great way to do that.

“Love Actually” as a Treatment for Society

2003’s “Love Actually” is a heartwarming romantic comedy revolving around many British characters of various social and economic groups during the holidays. With how wide of a net it casts romantically, it has something for everyone to slightly relate to. The movie follows roughly nine subplots all seamlessly intertwined with one another without barging in, but for the sake of understanding the importance of comedy, the plots to follow are between Harry and Karen.

Harry, played by Alan Rickman, is a high ranking director of a design agency and happily married to Karen, played by Emma Thompson. Karen stays at home to look after their children while Harry works in the office. A new secretary named Mia (played by Heike Makatsch) is hired at the office, and immediately begins to show attention to Harry. Throughout this plot, Harry grows increasingly more fond of Mia and begins to have an affair with her, despite having a wife and children. His wife catches on during Christmas where she expected to receive a necklace that she found in Harry’s jacket, but instead receives a CD. She soon finds out about the affair, but decides to think of her kids and stay with Harry. The reason why this plot is so significant is because it uses comedy to normalize familial trauma and difficulties. By using comedy, Love Actually, removes the stigma from the conversation of divorce and infidelity. It starts a conversation by not putting the conflict between Harry and Karen in a dark depressive tone, but instead a comedically tragic one. Comedy, in general, but specifically in this case, is necessary for society because it helps us process and eventually accept pain. While this comedy isn’t necessarily trying to make us laugh, it does take a slightly lighter tone to the sometimes heartbreaking truths of reality.

Satire in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

When I was thinking about this project and the piece of work I would pick, I thought of all the really good comedies i’ve seen. And instantly, I thought of the Oscar-nominated, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. And the more I thought about it, this film has many different satirical elements that make the movie so good. For starters, Tarantino really employs the use of parody in his movie. The entire film is set in the 60s and he pays homage to his favorite spaghetti western movies by having his actors almost mock the feelings of the actors in the time. For starters, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character has been rumored to be based off a ton of different actors from the 60s. His constant outbursts and breakdowns shed light on how hard a changing industry can be on an actor.

SPOILER ALERT:

But probably the most apparent use of Satire is the ending with the Manson family. Tarantino is known to rewrite history in some of his movies and that is exactly what he did involving the tragic murder that took place in Hollywood 50 years ago. At the end of the film, three of Charles Manson’s cult members came to murder Sharon Tate and a few of her friends because Charles Manson had a problem with the person who owned the house before them. But before they could get to Tate (like they did in real life), Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) violently murdered all three of them. Booth having his dog maul one and bashing the head of the other into a brick wall, and Dalton blow torching the third person. This whole situation is very hyperbolic considering they could have easily hurt them and called the police. But the point of this scene is to show how this tragedy could have ended in a completely different way. By making the death of these three murderers so gruesome and overdramatic, he is giving respect to Sharon Tate and he’s showing that if more people paid attention to suspicious people like that, things like this wouldn’t happen.

Jojo Rabbit – A Nazi-Mocking Satire

Jojo Rabbit is a 2019 American movie that takes comedic drama to an unexpected place: Nazi Germany. Its protagonist, Jojo, is a young boy coming of age during World War II. His thoughts are revealed during conversations with his imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler. As a devoted German youth, he reveres Adolf, creating an imaginary version of his hero which is fanciful and absurd. Ultimately, when Jojo learns that his mother has been hiding a Jewish girl in their wall and is a member of the resistance, he has to come to terms with his allegiance to his country and the family he loves.

Aristotle defines comedy as a story of the rise in fortune of a sympathetic character, which in this case is Jojo. He is a young naive boy, blindly devoted to the Hitler of his imagination; his confidante who he leans on for advice and guidance. JoJo’s Hitler dances, jokes around and is lighthearted. When Jojo joins the Nazi Youth he realizes the imagined version of his hero is not the reality. He sees firsthand the brutality of the war and treatment of the Jews. At the same time, he forms a relationship with the teenage Jewish girl Elsa whom his mother has been hiding. He asks her to reveal her “Jew secrets” so he can write a book to please the Nazi leader Klenzendorf. While listening to her story he grows to like her, breaking down the Jewish stereotypes he has been taught. So, Jojo’s rise in fortune is not the monetary kind, but the enhancement of his moral character and perspective.

Jojo Rabbit encompasses every type of comedy. It is farcical in the way it depicts Hitler as a zany, comically absurd character. It is a romantic comedy with a budding relationship with likable young characters, who seem made for each other. It has strong elements of satirical comedy, in Jojo’s youthful admiration of Hitler as a superstar and in its portrayal of Nazis. It is clearly a black comedy that invites us to laugh at events that are horrifying and grotesque.

Jojo Rabbit is a meaningful dramatic comedy that enhances our understanding of a brutal time in history. It shows a different take on the Nazi youth mindset, and their blind devotion to Hitler. It also delves into the dark conscience of a child trying to make sense of his world, when everything is not as it seems and Hitler is not the hero he believed. Comedy makes the subject more palpable and easy to absorb. It juxtaposes the brutality of war, with the innocence of youth, through a comedic lens.

Why The Interview Got Cancelled because of Too Much Satire

The movie, The Interview with actors James Franco and Seth Rogan is a comedic action movie about how secluded North Korea is, and what happens when two outsiders enter the country. Two American men go to North Korea to meet the leader, Kim Jong Un. As you all know, North Korea is a very secure country, no one is allowed in or out. However, in this movie, Kim Jong Un in a big fan of Franco’s and Rogan’s character’s television show. He loves it so much, they are invited to North Korea, which is very strange, but exciting for the United States to get some insight on the country and the dictatorship of North Korea.

Currently, it is kind of unknown how North Korea runs as a country, but in this movie the satire really shows how we stereotypically think. Hyperbole is often used by over stepping boundaries that are a risk to be said throughout the film. There is a lot of exaggeration throughout the movie, but the world doesn’t know much about North Korea, some of it could be true. Regardless, the movie is not afraid to use humor and exaggeration to make the film as real and raw as possible.

The humor used in this movie is not carefully placed at all. The actors have no filter, hence why this movie got cancelled. It was too dirty and mean that people were threatening attacks on movie theaters that played the movie and it was also nicknamed “the movie of terrorism.”

Roman Holiday: A Roman-tic Comedy

Image result for roman holiday

INCLUDES SPOILERS
Roman Holiday, directed by William Wyler, is possibly one of the best romantic comedies of the twentieth century. The film stars Audrey Hepburn as the touring European royal, Princess Ann. Her co-star, Gregory Peck, plays the American reporter, Joe Bradley. While on her tour of Rome, Princess Ann essentially has a mental break down about the “wholesome” values that she is forced to adhere to, as well as the tiresome schedule that she must follow day in and day out. Running away from the palace, Princess Ann runs into an American journalist that is desperate for a fresh story. In order to capture the princesses scandalous story without her knowledge, Joe pretends to be chemical salesmen. Princess Ann spends her Roman Holiday, smoking her first cigarette, eating gelato, cutting off her luscious hair, and crashing a Vespa. All the while, Joe begins to fall in love with the princess’s energetic spirit and begins to feel hesitant about leaking her story.

One of the key elements of Aristotle’s view of a comedy, is that it must be a story of the rise of fortune for a sympathetic central character. In the case of Roman Holiday, both of the central characters experience this. Though Princess Ann lives a seemingly lavish life, on the inside, she struggles with the pressures of conformity. By spending time with Joe, Princess Ann is exposed to the simple pleasures of life. By the end of the film, Hepburn’s character has gained a more worldly view and has a newly hopeful outlook on life. Joe Bradley undergoes a similar transformation. At the start of the film, Joe is in dire need of a scandalous newspaper story that will elevate his reputation and get him out of debt. Just before Joe is about to leak this exposing piece of journalism, he realizes that his emerging love for Princess Ann is worth much more. Though he does not rise in fame or status in the eyes of his fellow reporters, the audience can perceive that Joe is ultimately appeased and proud of his decision.

Unlike the traditional Shakespearean comedy, this particular film does not end with marriage or a relationship of any sort. This peculiar and heart-wrenching ending adds to the nuance and the brilliance of the comedy. The ending does not fit the typical cliche format of many popular romantic comedies. The realism of the ending provides unique a substantive quality to the story line. In essence, the director does not prioritize the romantic story line over Princess Ann’s sense of duty and responsibility to her position. Joe’s character even has respect for Ann’s choice to return to the crown, and resume her duties. This mutual recognition and acknowledgment for one another, makes the film even more valuable. And though the audience is left disappointed that their relationship does not succeed, the film leaves the audience with an image of a healthy relationship in mind. In many ways, Princess Ann’s return to the throne provides a feminist undertone. Instead of completely falling for her “prince charming”, Ann dutifully sacrifices her relationship, and returns home.

Not all aspects of this comedy surround romance though. What makes this film even more unique, is that it integrates comedy into dramatic, emotional, and action-packed scenes. Earlier in the film, Joe was forced to go to comedic measures to get the, accidentally-over medicated, Princess back home. When one of the members of the royal guard attempted to take Princess Ann back to the palace, Hepburn’s character retaliates by smashing a guitar over his head. These small and quirky scenes may not add to a larger theme about society, but they do provide an unparalleled level of entertainment.

A Romantic Comedy That Is About More Than Romantic Love

Amélie is a romantic comedy filmed in over 80 Parisian locations by acclaimed director Jean-Pierre Jeunet. The film captures the charm and mystery of Paris, and is also a true aristotelian comedy.

Amélie Poulain, the comic hero, is the only child of a doctor and a schoolteacher. When Amélie was a child, the only physical contact she had with her severe, reserved father was a monthly medical checkup. When Amélie was six, he decided that she had a serious heart defect, when in actuality, her heart would beat faster because she was so nervous of the rare contact with her father. He decided that because of her hard condition, she had to be home-schooled by her anxious, overreacting mother. Because she was so isolated from other children, Amélie developed a vivid imagination and became relatively comfortable with her solitude and with entertaining herself. The lives of her and her father take a turn for the worse, however, when her mother was fatally crushed by a suicidal tourist who jumped off of the roof of Notre Dame. Her father became severely depressed, and Amélie received even less affection and attention. 

One day, Amélie discovers a small box behind a wall in her bathroom that contains pictures and toys from the owner’s childhood. Amélie finds the box’s owner to return it and decides that if he is touched, she will devote her life to acts of kindness. When Amélie returns the box tears up about his childhood memories, and Amélie discovers that her act had inspired him to visit his estranged daughter and meet his grandson for the first time. 

Amélie encourages her father to travel for the first time by stealing his treasured garden gnome and giving it to her stewardess friend, who takes pictures of it all over the world. Amélie anonymously sends the pictures to her father, inspiring him to travel. Amélie helps a co-worker at the cafe, whose ex-boyfriend possessively spies on her all day, by  setting the ex-boyfriend up with another co-worker. Amélie steals her concierge’s letters from her deceased husband and creates a new letter in which he apologizes to his wife for his unfaithfulness. Amélie also avenges a friend by pranking his boss who constantly insults him. 

One day at the train station, Amélie sees Nino Quincampoix, a young man who finds delight in reconstructing torn-up pictures found underneath photo booths. Nino drops one of his photo albums in the station, and Amélie decides to return the album, but wants to meet him so she sets up clues for him to bring them together. Her efforts to woe him consume most of the film and she does not end up with him until the very end because they are both rather shy and idealistic. The film ends with the narrator prompting the audience to observe the remarkable things in life that occur every moment.

Amélie is not only about romantic love, Amélie believes in finding love in simple, everyday pleasures and helps other characters do that. Through her humorous interactions with others, Amélie demonstrates that love and amusement can be found in everything, including the seemingly insignificant aspects of life. Amélie is the truest example of an aristotelian comedy because with Amélie’s help, every character advances from a low place to a high place. The interest she takes in the lives of others is what allows each and every character to thrive. The film Amélie advocates for both romantic love and a love of and an appreciation for everyday things, contributing to the idea that even in a romantic comedy, comic success does not have to be romantic love.

Comedies Change Lives

Comedy is one of my favorite forms of media, whether it be in books, movies, television shows or stand up specials on Netflix, I will always look forward to watching a comedy far more than a drama. However, I have to admit, I have still always seen comedies as less important and profound than tragedies because of the grand reputation that dramas have for speaking on tough issues. Dramas are often moving, and really make the audience think, whereas I have always thought of comedies as an escape from reality rather than something of a magnifying glass. However, this unit on comedy has made me reconsider my ideas about the purpose of comedy.

According to Aristotle, a comedy is a story of the rise in fortune of a sympathetic central character. One of my favorite television shows, Brooklyn Nine-Nine follows this formula, but also adds to it. Brooklyn Nine-Nine stars Andy Samberg as the childish New York City cop, Jake Peralta. The entire series does not necessarily focus on Jake’s rise monetarily, or status wise, but focuses on his character, and its development. From the start of the show, Jake is established as a loveable, but immature character with daddy issues. Throughout the show, with the help of the other characters in the show, he is able to mature as a person and become a better cop. His rise in fortune occurs when the 99th precinct in which Jake is working gets a new captain, Captain Holt, who is very uptight and strict to contrast with Jake. Throughout the show, Holt’s strictness helps Jake mature and become a better cop. Jake’s rise in fortune is the introduction of Holt, which helps him gain what he wants, which is to be a better cop.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine perfectly represents comedy’s importance to literature and media, hence it’s importance in helping us understand our world. Where someone may be turned off by a movie exploring the trials and tribulations of being gay, they may be more inclined to watch a comedic tv series. Brooklyn Nine-Nine stars two openly LGBT characters. Not only is the comedic aspect of their lives as LGBT people explored, the more serious and tough parts of their lives as LGBT people are also explored. Because most people like to laugh, it is one thing that attracts most everyone to comedies, it really expands the bounds of exploration within comedies, and how it can explore issues such as that Brooklyn Nine-Nine explores. Whether it’s through satire or plain old slapstick comedy, it is much easier to sneak in representation and conversations about real issues into a piece of comedic media because those serious discussions are offset by the comedy, which is what makes these shows so attractive in the first place. Thus, because of its wider appeal, comedy might just have even more impact on people’s ideas about the world because of its more subtle ways of unpacking such issues. With these conversations that shows such as Brooklyn Nine-Nine are having about race issues and LGBT issues, it could truly change someone’s perspective on these issues, and quite possibly change lives.

 

Be kind!


As defined by Aristotle, a comedy is the story of the rise in fortune of a sympathetic central character. 

Cady Heron, the “central character”, or protagonist, is a classic example of a comic hero. She isn’t necessarily the most liked person by other characters in the movie or by viewers, but she does display a “minimal level of personal charm” and sometimes sparks sympathy from the viewer. Cady moved to the Illinois suburbs after living and being educated in Africa for many years. She starts to attend high school and faces all the typical stereotypes of high schoolers, including facing some very mean girls. The characters that embody the basic high schooler stereotypes (jocks, nerds, popular kids, etc.) are “ordinary people ” at heart, or at least that’s what the director aimed for them to be. Although these characters might have some relatable qualities, I have never met anyone who is outrageous and obnoxious as most of the characters in this movie.  These ordinary people allow the viewer to compare and contrast the actions/words of the main characters and see them in a different light.

In my opinion, Mean Girls touches on multiple different types of comedy, including farce, romantic comedy, and satirical comedy. I think that, in some sense, this movie is making fun of the ridiculous stereotypes that high schoolers feed into and how popularity is shown to be so much better than it actually is. The movie also has a romantic aspect of it, as Cady has a big crush on Aaron Samuels, one of the most handsome, popular guys at the school. Even though I have watched this movie hundreds of times (probably) and can recite all of the lines, I never truly understood that Mark Waters (the director) was trying to prove a point about human nature. Waters is using exaggerated versions of normal teenagers to show that being mean and feeding into stereotypes and materialism gets you NOWHERE, and kindness can go such a long way.

When I took a deeper look into analyzing this film, everything became clear. This movie, although funny and entertaining, wasn’t only made for pure enjoyment or humor, it was made to show that our generation is getting quite ridiculous in terms of social expectations and actions. If everyone chose kindness instead of cruelty and backstabbing in the movie then all of the characters would have gone a lot farther and achieved a lot more (yes, I know it’s necessary for the plot).

“Groundhog Day” — A Less Conventional Comedy

“Groundhog Day,” directed by Harold Ramis, is the story of a cynical newscaster, Phil Connors, who lives in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where Groundhog Day festivities occur every year. After reporting on the groundhog, Phil goes to bed and wakes up again to Groundhog Day. His repeated Groundhog Day helps him to have a different perspective on his life and gives him a chance to make a better impression on his co-host, Rita. The main plot of the movie follows Phil as he tries to have the perfect day with Rita.

While “Groundhog Day” could be dismissed as a light-hearted romantic comedy, I think that this would be a very shallow look at this movie. On the surface, it may just seem to be a movie about when the guy gets the girl. I believe that one of the most important parts of this movie is the character development of Phil. He transitions from an unlikeable character to a very sympathetic character by the end of the film. In this way, “Groundhog Day” strays a little from the traditional comedy path. Aristotle’s definition describes a comedy as the rise of a sympathetic central character. “Groundhog Day” adds a layer to this definition, and takes an unsympathetic central character and makes him extremely likeable to the audience. Although this does not strictly follow the formal definition, I think that this progression makes the movie even more of a comedy. Not only is there a happy ending, but the fact that a sour character was able to change makes the movie overall more meaningful for an audience.

In this same way, this less conventional comedy sheds light on human nature. While some may think that a person’s character cannot be changed, I think this movie illustrates that a person can change for the better. After being a man a haughty and egotistical man, Phil eventually begins to shed his egotistical exterior, and works toward improving his life and those around him. Only after he chooses to use his life to love himself and those around them is he set free from the endless loop. This shows that anyone can change for the better, but also has a deeper meaning. I think that his loop and cycle could also represent any type of struggle someone is going through, and the way he dug himself out of his hole was through kindness and selflessness. I think this that message is incredibly important, and the fact that it can be delivered through what seems to be a light-hearted comedy is even more impressive and powerful. Giving people this important and uplifting message while also making them laugh makes this comedy a meaningful art form.

The Blues Brothers: A Comedy

The Blues Brothers, starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, is a hilarious farce comedy that takes place in 1980 Chicago, Illinois. Belushi plays an ex-convict, Jake Blues, while Aykroyd plays his brother, Elwood Blues– the two of them are on a mission to save the old Catholic orphanage that they grew up in. However, in order to do so, they must get their old R&B band back together to raise the money.

Both Belushi and Aykroyd were popular comedians of their time and were both part of the SNL cast during the 1970s. The Blues Brothers uses a variety of satire, farce, and other comedic strategies to enhance the plot of the movie. The countless reckless car chases and the crude humor used. There’s a particular scene that I think is hilarious– when they go back to visit “The Penguin”, who is the nun that took care of them when they were younger. As they enter the orphanage, the doors open and close on their own as they walk towards The Penguin’s room. The Penguin tells them to sit down so they squeeze into these old desk-chairs that are made for kids as she tells them the bad news about how the orphanage is getting sold. They proceed to swear as she proceeds to smack them back and forth with a ruler while swearing. Aykroyd runs down the stairs and Belushi tumbles down still stuck in the desk. It’s a lot funnier when you watch it, trust me.

I think The Blues Brothers is hilariously well done and I recommend it to people who like older films as well as just anyone in general.

While it is really funny, I don’t really think that farce and similar types of comedy enhances our understanding of the world. I think that farce and more “goofy” comedy is created for people’s pleasure rather than enhancing our understanding of the world and how it works. In this sense, I think Aristotle would basically consider this meaningless. However, I do think that it’s still a great movie even if it didn’t make my understanding of people and the world better. Maybe it could make people know what not to do? Who knows. At least to my understanding, it didn’t really have any meaningful intellectual impact. But it is funny 🙂