Vertical Integration Discussion


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1. Write a short paragraph that contains the following contents:

One 150-word statement and/or question related to at least one of the following key terms: Vertical integration; Major and minor studios; Division of labor; Production Code of Ethics

One 150-word statement and/or question responding to at least one of the following screenings: 1. Clip: Modern Times 2. Clip: Dance, Girl, Dance (1940)3. Clip: Now Voyage4. Gold Diggers of 1933; If you choose to write about this film, you can search some clips on YouTube to see.

Here is the post 1 that you need to reply:

Vertical integration is a fascinating idea as it relates to the global super powers that major Hollywood studios had. If one was to look in a modern context, streaming platforms now have more control over distribution and viewing of films. They also can fund different projects, just like how MGM or Universal would in their golden age. Netflix can control production and distribution and streaming, while Hollywood films are growing less and less popular. Cinema as an industry goes through various phases, and I don’t think that Hollywood films are as big as they used to be. With Netflix and Hulu and other streaming platforms, viewers are able to appreciate and watch content from all over the world (think Squid Game which was huge) and give more recognition to voices that Hollywood has traditionally neglected. The age of Hollywood is largely coming to a close, and while they will still produce films, streaming platforms have become bigger than ever with COVID.

The films we watched were extremely different in essentially every way, but they contained some similarities in thematic content. Gold Diggers of 1933 was a film that contained a structured narrative plot with characters, while Meshes of the Afternoon is a film that is heavily experimental without dialogue or plot or characters. Both films deal with the societal perception of women, as well provide a perspective that isn’t heavily masculine or overly macho. Gold Diggers of 1933 was a film made by men and it can show in much of the film. Women are still portrayed as materialistic, wasteful and selfish during the Great Depression. While the film humanizes these women, it still persists various stereotypes and perpetuates a plethora of harmful ideologies revolving around women. Meshes of the Afternoon, on the other hand, is a poignant story that explores a woman’s subconscious. She is largely vulnerable to the man in her life, and she attempts to break free. This perspective is a far more engaging proto feminist one, as the film was actually made by a woman. Both films made steps toward a new representation of women, especially for the times.

Narrative clarity is an idea that is traditionally employed in cinema. Since silent films used intertitles to deliver exposition to the viewer, filmmakers have done everything they can to make sure the audience understands what is happening in the story of the film. Maya Deren sought to completely demolish all preconceived notions of narrative clarity in her experimental short film Meshes of the Afternoon. There is no narrative driving the story of the film, and no dialogue driving the characters or anything. Instead, she uses images and sound to explore the inner subconscious of the woman. This results in a far more layered and complex psychodrama, relying purely on sound and images.

Post 2:

The Production Code of Ethics had some elements of itself as early as 1922 and would be revised in 1930. It would be a set of regulations that would promote moral standards and would do this by monitoring the script and completed stage of a film. What interests me is what the general principles written in the Code of Ethics is and even how films responded to the regulation. From week‘s reading of the Code of Ethics there was a lot of emphasis on making sure no one imitates the actions shown on screen. To make sure that people of all ages could witness the products, and that it was at a standard that would positively influence society. This would enforce the idea of the image of Hollywood being accessible and appropriate for all audiences. This would be done by getting rid of violent images, any positive promotion of evil actions, and reducing the amount of sex and profanity on display. A lot of films would adhere to this but also find ways to get around it. I thought that with so many different restrictions that future films might not be able to express any of those ideas that they could use before the code. There still existed ways for films to get around the code, there was a heavy identification of sex to smoking. It expresses a creativity of filmmakers to get around the codes and also showcases an ability to create a new type of image to adapt to its circumstances. The Production Code of Ethics would create regulations for the moral good and would restrict many aspects of filmmaking in order to promote a general good image and its interesting to see how future films adapted to the codes and tried to get around it.

The two screenings we watched were very different in my comprehension of them. The Gold Diggers of 1933 was very straightforward in its plot, consistenting of a dual-plot structure that was easy to follow when compared to the surrealist Meshes of the Afternoon. Meshes of the Afternoon in particular was confusing for me because it didn’t follow the typical continuity editing that helps the audience have a comprehension of the narrative. There were many instances where space was confusing and not consistent. The character would move, objects would shift rapidly, and space was constantly moving without a clear cut pattern. Instead of one narrative being crafted for the viewer, it’s up to the viewer to derive meaning. In my own interpretation the shifting of the key to the knife, to the key, could mean that a key to salvation in that person’s eye is death. The multiple versions of themself appearing could be the different possibilities of what could have been. That is how I can view the screening but each of those symbols could mean something different to someone else. The key to the knife could be related because they are both sharp, or objects used everyday. Even the multiple people could be representative of different parts of herself. Unlike the techniques of storytelling used in The Gold Diggers of 1933, Meshes of the Afternoon does not have a clear plot structure to it and the editing serves to confuse and give the audience a feeling of a dreamlike surrealist image. It’s that difference that’s interesting in what films can give an experience to the audience and how differing techniques can serve their own respective purposes.

One of the main things I noticed in the screening of The Gold Diggers of 1933 when thinking back are all the instances when it would have broken the Production Code of Ethics. Because the screening was before the enforcement of the code there were a lot of elements that would not have been able to slide if it came out a couple years afterwards. Nudity, or even the implication of it would not be permitted but was shown multiple times within this film. One of the most explicit examples is when you can see the silhouette of the women undressing behind a curtain which is specifically mentioned as not allowed within the code. “Scenes of passion” is another one of the criteria mentioned in the code. This was broken by the multiple instances of long embrace between the characters, and even moments where they kissed multiple times in the same scene. “The treatment of bedrooms must be governed by good taste and delicacy”, a specific example of this is when they trick the brother into thinking he did something due to him waking up in the bed and not remembering what he did. This does not adhere to the main principles laid out in the code “sympathy of the audience should never be thrown to the side of crime, wrong-doing, evil or sin.”. One of the main events happening in the film is Trixie enticing a rich man to use his money on her for the sake of false love, a move of seduction, which promotes a wrongdoing the code is meant to try and prevent. Had this film been made later its use of implying nudity, scenes of passion, misuses of the bedroom, and promoting a wrong-doing would prevent this from ever being made under the guidelines of the Production Code of Ethics.