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1 Lecture 02: Back When Ethnic Was Funny The Goldbergs (CBS 1949-56) Amos ‘n” Andy (CBS, 1951-53 ) The Beulah Show (CBS, 1950-53)

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Presentation on theme: "1 Lecture 02: Back When Ethnic Was Funny The Goldbergs (CBS 1949-56) Amos ‘n” Andy (CBS, 1951-53 ) The Beulah Show (CBS, 1950-53)"— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Lecture 02: Back When Ethnic Was Funny The Goldbergs (CBS ) Amos ‘n” Andy (CBS, ) The Beulah Show (CBS, )

2 Lesson 02 Agenda Last Time on FMS 300… What is an Ethnicom? –Form & Function –THEORETICAL TERM ALERT The Meaning of Memory –Why Reset US Cultural Mindset? –How Did TV Help Out? The Rise & Fall of the Ethnicom Let’s Watch Some TV! –Beulah, Amos ‘n’ Andy, The Goldbergs/Molly –Pre-Suburban Madonna: Ladies with Chutzpah 2 Life with Luigi (CBS, )Life of Riley (Dumont, ; NBC )

3 3 Section 1: Last Time on FMS 300: Insert Image Here Add Image Caption w/ Credits Here

4 4 Highlights: Why Study Television and Cultural Studies? –Cultural Artifact, Industrial Product, Creative Pursuit –Reflects & Refracts American Popular Consciousness Radio Sets Trajectory TV –1948: Industry, Politics, Culture –Television: first and foremost, a commercial medium.

5 5 Section 2 What is an Ethnicom? Mama (CBS, )

6 6 Form An Ethnicom* is a situation comedy that: –Provides specific performances of class, race and ethnicity –Based on radio programs that were proven successes (or spin-offs from them). Similar to Kitchen Sink Comedies like The Honeymooners (which foregrounds class rather than ethnicity or race), these urban domestic comedies are usually based in the home (minimal number of setups).

7 7 Function An Ethnicom provides: –Varying directives on striving for a piece of the American Dream for different populations rooted in specifically coded performances of class, race and ethnicity coming. –In other words, these programs supplied social instruction for those outside of the desirable “norm”: “how-to-guide” for middle- classness.

8 THEORETICAL TERM ALERT Culture: a whole social process, in which men and women define and shape their lives. Ideology: is a set of aims and ideas that directs one's goals, expectations, and actions. An ideology can be a comprehensive vision, a way of looking at things (as in common sense, philosophical, political and/or social terms), a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to all members of this society (a 'received consciousness' or product of socialization). Who was the desired and desirable audience? 8

9 9 THEORETICAL TERM ALERT Cultural Hegemony: Antonio Gramsci’s concept which contends that a culturally-diverse society can be ruled or dominated, by one of its social classes. A key element in this dominance of one social group (i.e. the ruling class) over all others is the notion that the ideologies of the ruling class come to be seen as the norm and perceived to serve—and include—everyone when only those in the dominant group actually benefit.

10 10 THEORETICAL TERM ALERT Since these norms are seen as common sense, and natural and, even those who are considered Other and are excluded from the ideological and economic comforts by dominant ideology to the dominant group still buy into the beliefs systems—sometimes with more vigor than those for whom inclusion is a given.

11 11 Section 3 The Meaning of Memory (and How To Change It)

12 Why Reset US Cultural Mindset? “Meaning of Memory”--George Lipsitz* –Employs German sociologist and philosopher, Jürgen Habermas’ concept of legitimation crisis. –Historically, without the internalized values (read: work ethic/fiscal prudence), which could restrain consumer demands while reinforcing the ethic of work, capitalism could not flourish. –However, the crisis occurs when the legitimacy of those values come into conflict with the growth of the capitalist economy and consumer culture. 12

13 13 Responding to the Crisis Learning to Consume: When you have only been taught to conserve, ration and save, how do you learn to CONSUME?

14 14 The medium remains an ideal tool for tweaking the national collective social memory. How Did TV Help Out? Television always has the ability to help rewrite how we think of the past and the present—and the past in the present.

15 Why Norton and Alice Want a TV and why Sapphire wants a Dining Room Table Lipsitz explains how ethnicoms (The Goldbergs, Mama and Amos ‘n’ Andy) illustrate one of television’s directives in post-war America: The Embourgeosiement of the Working Class This is the process by which the blue-collar, ethnic, apartment dwellers learn the values of suburbia and consumerism. Thus, with consumption comes the promise of social mobility, the ability to be like the other nuclear suburban families (conformity) without fear of exclusion, discrimination or persecution (containment). 15

16 Towards Consumer Culture What to Do? –Erase the impulses of rationing, saving, making due inscribed during the Great Depression & WWII –Replace them with the desire and “duty” to consume in the fifties (and beyond). 16

17 We Can Buy It! “For Americans to accept the new world of the fifties consumerism, they had to break with the past.” --George Lipsitz 17

18 18 Rise & Fall of the Ethnicom Cultural Hegemony & Televisual Reception –Programming histories (and cancellations) correspond to shifts in network strategies and/or “public taste.” –Impact of Red Scare Politics on Ethnic Comedy Life with Luigi (CBS, )

19 Section 4: Let’s Watch Some TV! 19 Download Reading/Screening Sheet 2 from Learning Tasks Shooting Amos ‘n’ Andy (1951)

20 For Your Viewing Pleasure: The Beulah Show From The Background (Fibber McGee & Molly) to the “Big House” (her own show as the happy mammy) The 3 Beulahs (Two Bills & Two Orioles) The Lack of Controversy over Beulah Pause Lecture & Watch 20 Ethel Waters as Beulah #1 (ABC, ) Beulah 2 (Hattie McDaniel) and Oriole (Ruby Dandridge) (1952) Oriole (Ruby Dandridge) and Beulah #3 (Louise Beavers) ( )

21 21 In The Episode Post-War Mammy –Everybody Wants A “Beulah” –Questions of Verisimilitude: “She loves her white chilluns” –Recognizing “Your Place” on the food chain Cultural [Mis]Appropriation –Bill, Beulah & Donnie’s Hipster Cred No Big for NAACP –She’s Not Doing Day Work in Harlem –Class, Class, Crass (Let’s talk of Oriole)

22 For More Viewing Pleasure: The Amos ‘n’ Andy Show From “Dialect Humor” to Performative Blackface Blatz Sponsorship NAACP Protest Multiple Audiences, Multiple Readings Pause Lecture & Watch 22 Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll, above with hopefuls vying for parts in the Black-cast TV Show and, below, as their radio character alter egos, Amos and Andy. The hard working Amos ( Alvin Childress ) and the hardly working Andy (Spencer Williams) in The Amos ‘n’ Andy Show (CBS, )

23 In The Episode Social Mobility –Consumerism –Whose Harlem Was This? –Whose High Culture Is it Anyway? Kingfish & Andy –Tim Moore: The “Star” of the Show –And What of Amos? 23

24 24 And finally… The Goldbergs Getrude Berg: Star & Show- runner In The Bronx:The Goldbergs Tale of Two “Jakes ” Pause Lecture & Watch The Goldbergs with Philip Loeb as Jake (left) Molly with Robert H. Harris as Jake (right) Molly and Uncle David (Menasha Skulnik) in The Goldbergs. Gertrude Berg and all of scripts that she penned for The Goldbergs.

25 25 In The Episode Teaching About Danger –Generational Wisdom –(Uncle David, Molly &Rosalie) –Leather Jackets & Dungarees=J.D. Consumerism –My Life, My Broadloom –Education: the way to “Good Life” Containment –Gaps & Fissures in the Suburban Shell –Happy Endings…Sort of

26 26 The Real Punch of the 3 C’s The Three C’s –Consumerism –Conformity –Containment QUESTION: How do the 3 C’s relate To Cultural Hegemony?

27 27 Alice & Ralph –Companionate Marriage –The Shrew & The Schlub –Questions of Consumption Sapphire & Kingfish –Companionate Marriage –The Shrew & The Sambo? –Questions of Mobility Pre-Suburban Madonna: Ladies with Chutzpah

28 28 Not Just Class, Not Just Race, Not Just Gender Socio-historical Baggage for Working Class Women Class, Race & the urban space Alice & Sapphire: Class & Agency

29 29 Final Thoughts How are race, ethnicity, class and gender represented in sitcoms today? These shows had varying degrees of popularity with mass audiences in the age of the Big Three. Which comedies on TV achieve that today? Are they showing folks who are not middle or upper middle class? Again, think about how this lesson could relate to what shows you might want to write about.

30 30 End of Lecture 02 Next Lecture: Constructing Femininity in the Post War Era Rocky & Martha in The Martha Raye Show (NBC, ) Ricky & Lucy in I Love Lucy (CBS, )


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