Hack #3: Acculturation

iceland viking clap

Icelandic Viking Clap (Photo Source: https://unofficialnetworks.com/2018/06/23/icelands-viking-clap-is-the-most-intimidating-chant-in-sports/)

french viking clap

French Viking Clap (Photo Source: https://ftw.usatoday.com/2016/07/france-fans-steal-iceland-viking-chant-euro-2016)

Acculturation is the process of “taking up of something [from another culture] and making it one’s own” (Root, 70). This process has occurred in many different societies for many years, and still exists in modern society to this day.

For example, the famous “Viking clap” performed by fans of the Icelandic national soccer team during the 2016 UEFA European tournament (June 10-July 10 in France) was copied most famously by fans of the French national soccer team in the same tournament (UEFA.com). Being a fan of international soccer and someone who watched this very tournament live, I can attest to the infectious vibes brought into the stadium from thousands of supporters coming together to do a celebration in unison.

The stealing of the Icelandic Viking clap celebration is a form of acculturation in that the French took up something from the Icelandic culture (the Viking Clap) and made it their own by using it to celebrate their own team’s victory, as described in the words of Root (Root, 70).

#acculturation #vikingclap #Iceland #France

Early American Cinema Project

nosferatu poster

Link to Movie: https://sdsu.kanopy.com/video/nosferatu-0

In showing the ignorant financial behavior of Americans during the 1920’s, the German horror film Nosferatu, directed by F.W. Murnau, Enrico Dieckmann and Albin Grau, and screenplay by Henrik Galeen, starring Max Schreck and Greta Schroder, shows how American culture encourages people to blindly follow the American Dream.

Initially, the film is a foreshadowing to Americans of the dire financial situation to come to them (The Great Depression) because of the portrayal of a young man, Thomas Hutter, ignoring the advice of all those around him to not go to Count Orlok’s castle. Hutter represents Americans spending frivolously, unaware of the financial bubble created by buying items on credit in the Roaring Twenties that “previously [were] only available for cash” (Sternheimer 57). Those warning him represent the Germans, who by the 1920’s had experienced their own financial destruction due to trade blockades and reparations they had to pay because of the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I.

The movie goes even further to imply how the credit bubble being formed in the 1920’s is being caused by excess spending and increased independence of many women. During the 1920’s, there was propaganda warning men against gold diggers, such as “A 1927 Motion Picture Classic Article, ‘The Seven Ages of a Gold-Digger,’ [which] portrays women as materialistic from birth to old age” (Sternheimer 68). In addition, “fan magazine articles warned of the dangers of being too independent” (Sternheimer 68). These types of advertisements implied that the more financial independence women gained, the more money they would spend. To add, Nosferatu’s appearance, specifically his long fingers, represent how certain female’s, specifically gold diggers’, can snatch money away from unsuspecting young men, such as Hutter. Nosferatu’s ability to suck blood out of his victims represents how too much female financial independence will lead to the financial stability being sucked out of the American economy. And the fact that men and women are shown as victims of Nosferatu demonstrates how an impending financial collapse would affect all Americans.

Since the frivolous spending of females is a result of the booming economy and the values of the American Dream that encourage social mobility, it is implied that American culture leads people to blindly spend money in pursuit of becoming rich and gaining higher social status.

And even though “the press reported extensively on Nosferatu and its premiere […] there was also occasional criticism that the technical perfection and clarity of the images did not fit the horror theme” (Wikipedia). To add, the production company for the film, Prana Film, “declared bankruptcy after Stoker’s estate, acting for his widow, Florence Stoker, sued for copyright infringement and won” causing the court to order the burning of all copies of the film (Wikipedia). This criticism and lawsuit inhibited the effect of the film, therefore discouraging the message about the American Dream from being sent to a significant number of Americans. As a result, the Great Depression occurred and Americans had to learn the hard way that good economic times do not last forever.

Bibliography

  1. History.com Staff. “Treaty of Versailles.” History.com, A+E Networks, 2009, http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-i/treaty-of-versailles.
  2. “Nosferatu.” Wikipedia, 8 September 2002, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nosferatu#Reception_and_legacy.
  3. Sternheimer, Karen. Celebrity Culture and the American Dream. New York, Routledge, 2015.

Hack #2: Film Bodies

Hum 370 Hack #2

Photo Source: https://www.quora.com/Why-did-Norman-Bates-kill-Marion-in-the-shower-in-Psycho-1960

The film “Psycho” by Alfred Hitchcock (released June 16, 1960) portrays the female body different from the male body. This is apparent in how Marion Crane and Milton Arbogast are murdered in the film.

Marion Crane (played by Janet Leigh) is murdered while taking a shower. Her naked body is exposed to the camera, with a zoomed in shot at her torso (an often sexualized portion of the female form) during the elongated stabbing scene. Meanwhile, Milton Arbogast (played by Martin Balsam) is murdered fully clothed, as he reaches the top of the stairs of Mrs. Bates’ house, in a quicker murder scene.

While it makes for a coherent plot for Ms. Crane to be murdered before Mr. Arbogast, considering Arbogast is investigating Crane’s murder, Ms. Crane could have simply been murdered in her motel room instead of in the motel room shower. It would have not changed the plot or storyline at all for her to be killed fully clothed. This shows the sexualization of the human form in horror movies, even in earlier horror movies such as “Psycho.” As said by Linda Williams in her work “Film Bodies: Gender, Genre and Excess,” “Janet Leigh in the shower in Psycho is a familiar example of a transition to a more sexually explicit form of the tortured and terrorized woman” (Williams 5).

Hack #1: “Othering” in the Circus

hum-370-hack-1Photo source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-37305050

Those “Othered” in the circus were mainly those who did not adhere to the American identity. This is because, as stated in “Encountering the Other,” “They [American intellectuals] found it impossible to think and write about American identity without also thinking and writing about its negative image, or everything that it was not” (Said 66).

What the American identity was not, also known at the “Other,” “may be marked by differences in race, gender, class, religion, ethnicity, or a combination of cultural categories” (Said 66). These differences included those who crossed gender lines (i.e. men wearing makeup, women growing beards) and those who were not classified as civilized whites (i.e. “savage” Native Americans). Even animals from exotic lands, such as elephants and leopards, were “Othered.”

The “Others” were categorized in such a way based on their physical appearance. From the Native Americans who did not wear anything resembling the clothing of the “civilized” Europeans to the foreign animals who nowhere near resembled cattle or chickens stood out easily. As a result, they were ostracized through categorization into the “Other” category, as to help distinguish what it meant to be American. An example of this is “‘Jolly Dolly Dimples’” who said “‘My fat is my kingdom, my riches […] I’ve never been broke since I struck the show business’” (Davis 26).

And even though the era of the circus has come to an end, there are still aspects of the circus that remain in our society, such as the use of unique physical attributes for money. For example, many in the circus were “appreciated” for their physical attributes by paying patrons, whether it was a woman growing a beard or a man wearing makeup and dressing as a clown. The same is seen in sports, especially when players are drafted into professional sports leagues. During such events, analysts commonly refer to players based on their athleticism, overwhelming size, or speed. Their weight and height is often listed as well. And these attributes determine if a player is paid millions to continuously express them. Going on the lines of using others for money, exploitation of animals for money remains in our society as well. From dogs bred with certain desired attributes and displayed in dog shows and horses being trained with a whip to race, to animals being tested to assure drugs can be used on humans, animal exploitation remains as significant a part of American society and culture as it was with circus culture with elephants and other animals.

#circus #othering #modernsociety #Americanidentity