Screen stories enact and express moral codes, moral codes that audiences can accept, reject or even ignore in the name of entertainment. It Happened One Night (Capra 1934) and Get Out (Peele 2017) offer perspectives on how different eras negotiate moral codes within a context of heterosexual romance. In IHON, a working class newspaper reporter meets a wealthy heiress on a cross-country bus ride and converts her to his way of life. In Get Out, an African-American photographer meets the wealthy family of his white girlfriend and barely retains his identity. Although vastly different in terms of affect, genre, and narrative, both films resonated in American culture in part because of their moral politics revolving around masculinity, class, and race. This talk will show how both films negotiate moral values to embody as well as transcend their historical moments. We will consider IHON and Get Out against a background that considers how scrutiny of movie content has gone from local to national, from explicit to implicit, and how moral codes that were once enforced by industry are now scrutinized on social media.
Pete Porter is Visiting Scholar at University of Amsterdam and Chair and Professor of Theatre and Film at Eastern Washington University. He also serves as Film Review Editor for Society & Animals. He is currently working on the manuscript Moving Animals: Screening the Nonhuman in the Age of Bioinclusivity, which explores how motion pictures of the 21st century are fulfilling their promise of affording more inclusive understandings of nonhuman nature. His publications include “Engaging the Animal in the Moving Image” in Society & Animals, “Teaching Animal Movies” in Teaching the Animal: Human-Animal Studies across the Disciplines, and “It’s a Complicated Case: on the Modest Menippeanism of The Big Lebowski” in Lebowski 101.
Date and place:
May 9, 2018
HS 10, 12-13:00