Introductory Blog Post
Hello everyone. My name is David Jackson. I am an LPS student who is wrapping up my time here at Penn with an Africana Studies major.
From the time that I was a kid, I have always loved old movies. Especially from the 30’s and 40’s. I would spend my childhood weekends sitting in my room watching Shirley Temple movies on my battered Philco television. From Shirley Temple, I graduated to Mae West, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, sitting up for Friday night’s late late show. My old black and white Philco had awful reception, many times I saw more snow than I did Mae West.
The great thing about film studies classes is that I learn that there are reasons that I am attached to these films that go deeper than visual enjoyment. For example, I learned from Professor Bogle’s class on African Americans in film that the double entendre and the hip swaying walk and bawdy attitude that Mae West performed in her films was an imitation of the behaviors of black women from 1930’s speakeasies. The tap dancing that I enjoyed watching Shirley Temple perform was taught to her by Bill Bojangles Robinson, who many times played a supporting role to Temple in those films.
These classes allow me to deconstruct film to find tropes that signify many of the cultural markers of the growth of our society. The great thing about this is that people like myself, who have traditionally been relegated to a marginal place in American society are able to see that we have been an intregal component in the shaping of all aspects of our society. Just as important as this is the fact that deconstructing these films does not make watching them any less enjoyable, but allows for a more informed and thorough enjoyment of one of the most imaginative creations of American culture that identifies our country all over the world.