Romeo Juliet Mask Assignment Of Benefits

Juliet, I Prosume? or Shakespeare and the Social Network

Kirk Hendershott-Kraetzer, Olivet College


Abstract | In Her Own Words | Juliet: Young, Beautiful, and Polyracial | Sexual Juliet | Oh, What a Lonely Girl | What a Change is Here | A Digital Collective Juliet? | We Shall Know Her by her Name, Shall We? Or, Juliet, I Prosume? | Appendix 1. Transcribed Romeo and Juliet Facebook page assignment for Middle School Language Arts students | Notes | References


Abstract

Though it may come as little surprise that Juliet is a popular character on Facebook, it may surprise how popular she is: in late 2013, there were at least 3,500 of her populating the social media platform. This essay inquires into what is being said about Juliet on Facebook. How is she being represented? Are there patterns to be found? If so, what might those patterns suggest about whether scholarly understandings of the character are shared in the broader culture? Like the sheer number of Facebook Juliets, the answers to these questions are surprising. Although some Juliets on Facebook may be phoned-in, disengaged, or just plain silly, even their silliness reveals individual account holders who are engaged in some way with Shakespeare and reveals how those account holders have come to understand him and his works. Through a complex intersection of negotiation, resistance, and prosumption, we see not just reconfigurations of the character Juliet, but a reconfiguration of Juliet as what Leisha Jones calls the "digital collective subject" (2011, 448), as well as a reconfiguration of Juliet's relationship with the world. This process happens not through the actions of an individual (like Shakespeare) but through the actions of thousands of individuals operating independently of each other; at the same time, many of these individuals are remaking themselves and others as Juliet. Facebook Juliet participates in Romeo and Juliet's already-long history of adaptation as well as in long-established debates over what constitutes the essential, authentic Shakespeare; she demonstrates new ways of thinking about the character Juliet, including ways in which individuals relate to authorities of various stripes and relate Juliet to themselves; she reveals the workings of a variety of aspects of our culture; and she models how to think about identity, identity construction, even reality itself in a social media world.



My bounty is as boundless as the sea, / My love as deep; the more I give to thee, / The more I have, for both are infinite. — Romeo and Juliet 2.2.134-35


Non so chi sono, non so cosa diventerò. — "Juliet"


In its role as a love story, Romeo and Juliet is foundational in Western culture, so easily eclipsing its own textual foundations in mythology and Western European and Classical literature that when I am giving public talks on the play, often before theatrical performances, many of the people I meet are surprised to learn that the text did not spring, Athena-like, from the head of its creator, whole and entire.1 Similarly, it is arguable that Juliet — as Shakespeare's most easily-recognized female lead — is foundational to our culture's understanding of girls, girls-becoming-women, of young women in love, and so on. As Jennifer Hulbert notes in "'Adolescence, Thy Name is Ophelia!': The Ophelia-ization of the Contemporary Teenage Girl" (2006), there are a variety of reasons for Juliet's centrality: "Juliet, as one half of Western drama's most glamorous couple, wins that title [most famous teenage girl] hands-down"; "too well adjusted to be an apt depiction of a girl who is too much put upon," she is "bold," a "strong . . . force," "a key inciter of the play's action. Her downfall is largely the fault of her own choices" and she "makes a conscious decision" to end her own life (2006, 202). In fact, aside from the romance and the (hot) male actors who often play Romeo in film versions, the popularity of Juliet among teenage girls might also be ascribed, at least in part, to this positive reading of her character. Juliet is a strong teenage girl who lives in a society that seeks to bend her to its conventions. She, however, defies both conventions and her parents (2006, 219 n. 9). Hulbert casts Juliet as a muscular resistor, defiant in the face of overwhelming authority, and in strong contrast to characters such as the "too much put upon," "pathetic" Ophelia (2006, 202).2 While I find this to be both an attractive and accurate reading, Hulbert overlooks one of Juliet's key strengths. Juliet is a deliberate re-maker: she resists, but her resistance is not simply a reflex, a teenagery rejection of authority. Juliet rejects her family in favor of a new identity, exchanging, as it were, a "dearest cousin for a dearer lord" (Romeo and Juliet 3.2.66). Juliet is active, purposeful resistant agent who choses to refashion herself in a better model.

It was in this sense of Juliet as an active agent who is also a contested center and who is herself at the center of an interrelated set of contests (between church and state, between state and family, between families, between love and family, between lover and family, and so on), that I turned to social media, in particular Facebook, to see how the struggle over Juliet is being played out: What is being said about her? How is she being represented? Are there patterns to be found? If so, what might those patterns suggest about whether scholarly understandings of the character are shared in the broader culture? The implications of what I found surprised me. Through a complex intersection of negotiation, resistance, and prosumption, we see not just a variety of reconfigurations of the character Juliet, for instance, along the lines of what Leisha Jones has called the "digital collective subject" (2011, 448), but a reconfiguration of Juliet's relationship with the world. This reconfiguration is happening not through the actions of an individual artist (much as Shakespeare refashioned Juliet when he appropriated her) but by the actions of thousands of individuals operating independently of each other; at the same time, many of these individuals are remaking themselves and others (whom they have already used in their remaking of Juliet) as Juliet. Facebook Juliet participates in Romeo and Juliet's already-long history of adaptation, as well as in long-established debates over what constitutes the essential, authentic Shakespeare; she demonstrates new ways of thinking about the character Juliet, including ways in which individuals relate to authorities of various stripes, as well as relate Juliet to themselves; she reveals the workings of a variety of aspects of our culture; and she models how to think about identity, identity construction, even reality itself in a social media world.

Ok, first of all. There are a lot of Juliets on Facebook. A lot. In March 2013, my first "Search for people, places, and things" using the two keywords "Juliet" and "Capulet" revealed at least 117 of her. Of these, two were "Interest" pages (one for "Juliet Capulet," one for "Juliet capulet").3 Otherwise, Juliet was a
  • "Fictional Character" (25 pages)
  • "Public Figure" (9 pages)
  • "Actor/Director" (7 pages)
  • "Community" or "Community Page" (67 pages)
  • "Artist" (2 pages)
  • "Writer" (1 page)
  • "Teacher" (1 page)
  • "Monarch" (1 page)
A mere two Juliet Capulets were actual people, or they were according to Facebook's conventions: you could "friend" them.4 One had eight followers, 165 friends, and was very well travelled. The other "Worked at Montague Industrial," "Studied at the University of Verona," graduated from the Liceo Scientifico Girolamo Fracastoro (class of 1910), and, regarding relationships, commented that "It's complicated." She had two friends (Lena Pollich and Kelsey Sullivan) ("Juliet Capulet [1]" 2011). As interesting as the variety of "Juliet Capulet" accounts and pages were, matters became intriguing once I moved beyond that nomination. Broadening the search parameters, I found at least twenty-three Julie Capulets, twenty-five Julia Capulets, thirty-six Juliette Capulets, seven Julieta Capulets, and a Juliett Capulet. Unlike the prevalence of Pages for "Juliet Capulet," all but two of the "Juli* Capulet" hits were personal accounts: they could be friended.

In November and December of 2013, Facebook's upgraded search feature returned a substantively different set of results when performing the same two-keyword "Juliet Capulet" search. There were more Juliets. Many, many more. Now, results are divided into six categories — All Results, People, Pages, Groups, Apps, and Events — rather than one aggregate results page, and the hits on each page differ. Although Juliet Capulets who are People might appear in the "All Results" set, their pages do not appear in the Pages results, for example. However, while there are visibly more Juliets, Facebook does not always make all of the Juliets visible. When typing in search terms, a prompt to "See more results for 'juliet capulet'" appears at the bottom of the pull-down menu that appears, but the results queue stops expanding at 100 hits. Although a "more results" icon appears at the bottom of the queue after the 100th hit and a progress bar activates when that icon is clicked, the queue not only refuses to expand but the more results icon also disappears, suggesting that there are only 100 Juliet Capulets to find. However, the "See more results" results are not so simple as returning 100 different people, pages, groups, apps and events from a single search. In the Juliet Capulet search, fifteen "People" do not appear in the "All Results" page, which makes sense: space must be made for Pages, groups, and the like. However, nine "People" appeared in the "All Results" results but not in the "People" results: the "actual" Juliet Capulet results, then, seemed to number 109, with possibly many more who did not make the cut. And who might not have made that cut? Juliets who aren't very active. Facebook's algorithm appears not to approve of them. Juliet Capulet (1) and Juliet Capulet (3) appeared in neither the All Results nor the People queues: though their accounts were still active (at least as of 15 December 2013), neither had updated her account since early 2011 (11 April and 17 March, respectively).

This discrepancy suggests that more Juliets await just offstage, which is, in fact, the case. Another option on the search feature's pull-down is "Find all people named 'juliet capulet'" (see figure 1).
Figure 1. Screenshot of search for 'juliet capulet'
Click "Find all people," and Facebook reports that there are "More Than 1,000 People" with the words "Juliet" and "Capulet" in their names. Clicking at the bottom of the scroll bar on the right side of the browser window prompts Facebook to report that it is "Loading more results," and twenty minutes' worth of clicking at a rate of about one click every two seconds still doesn't get to the end of the list. An overview of these searches reveals 2,695 Juliet Capulets for a search that is incomplete. And unlike the March search, almost all of these Juliets can be friended: so far as Facebook is concerned, they are real people.5

Not only are the new search results more fulsome, but the two-keyword "Juliet Capulet" search is more specific since the upgrade. The algorithm performs a generally accurate keyword search when "Find[ing] all people": it usually returns pages with the words "Juliet" and "Capulet" in their names, including what Facebook describes as "alternate name[s]," "another name you're known by," such as a nickname, a title, a professional name, or maiden name ("What alternate" 2013; see also "How do I display" 2013). Alternate names appear in parentheses, such as Juliet Capulet (Alexis Sanders) ("Juliet Capulet [7]" 2010); Farzana Toro (Juliet Capulet) ("Farzana" 2013); and Parisa Juliet (Capulet) ("Parisa" 2013).6 Similarly, hyphenates such as Juliet Capulet-Montague and Juliet Castillejos-Castromayor Capulet-Montague appear ("Juliet Capulet-Montague" 2013; "Juliet Castillejos" 2013). As suggested above, the algorithm is not perfect: though it seems able to read macrons and international characters (or at least an l with stroke), as in Juliett Anne Capulet ("Juliet Anne Capulet" 2013), some results do not include both search terms, such as Ezgi C. Capulet (MertKültür) ("Ezgi" 2013). What does not appear in the November/December "Juliet Capulet" search are all of the Julia Capulets, Juliette Capulets, Julie Capulets, and Julie Caps, the Juliette Montagues and the single-name Juliets (which includes every person, Page, group, app and event with any possible variation on "Juliet" somewhere in his, her, or its name). Each of these variations needs to be searched for separately: "See[ing] more results" for each of them returns mostly chock-full queues (though there are only twenty Juliette Montagues), while "Find all people" searches for Julie Capulet and Julie Cap returned 380 and forty hits, respectively, before "End of results" finally appeared.7

Taken together, these searches indicate that there are easily more than 3,500 Juliets roaming Facebook, and that's just a partial survey of the personal accounts: the count does not include the Pages, groups, apps or events or those variations on her name I might not have considered yet (such as "Julieta Capulet," a variant I blundered into in late December, 2013 — I wasn't looking specifically for her — of whom there are sixty-eight). Because of the astonishing complexity of the site and the jaw-dropping number of pages it contains, to say nothing of those Pages, groups, or personal accounts that users or Facebook itself has deleted or of those that might be added after this has been written, it is difficult to say how many Facebook Juliets there were, are, or ever shall be. Given the company's self-reported 1.267 billion monthly active users (MAUs) ("Form 10-Q" 2014, 21), there could be a nearly bottomless well of Juliets on Facebook.

In Her Own Words

So what do all of these Juliets have to say for themselves? As one might expect, in November and December of 2013, Juliet's life has moved on from mid-March. Juliet (no period) now has only forty-nine likes, down from fifty-one: she is less popular. Juliet's career trajectory has changed from Artist to Author, and she continues actively to maintain her Page, as do many of the Juliets who hold personal accounts, adding friends, likes, and photos, posting status updates, and so on. Juliet Capulet [2] and Juliet Capulet [17] are gone altogether: pasting the URLs for their page into a browser takes me to my own Facebook Wall. If it were not for previous versions of this essay, I would not know about them, and as far as Facebook is concerned, neither ever existed. What happened is anybody's guess, and their ghostly presence here is an indication of social media's evanescence, as well as a suggestion of the challenges posed by social media research in general: people, pages, feeds, and accounts are twenty-first century will-o'-the-wisps. This fugitive aspect of social media use is enhanced by the nature of Facebook itself, where accounts can be deactivated, deleted, disabled, or suspended, the distinctions being that while a deactivation (which is user-initiated) can be reversed at the user's request, a deletion (also performed at the user's request) is permanent, while suspension and disabling happen because Facebook thinks the user was bad: in its words, "We disable Facebook accounts that violate our terms" ("Disabled" 2013; see also "Deactivating" 2013). The distinction between disabling and suspension is somewhat opaque, though suspension seems to be a temporary measure for some malfeasance (see "Facebook Community Standards" 2013 and "Statement" 2013), while disabling is more permanent, Facebook's nuclear option, as it were.

And as for the Juliets who remain? As one might assume, Juliet has a home, with an address and everything. In fact, she has at least three: 123 Star-Crossed, Verona, Italy 37121 ("Juliet Capulet [2]" 2013); Verona street [sic] 88, Mansion 12, Verona, Italy 881249 ("Juliet Capulet [4]" 2013); and Via Cappello 23, 37121 Verona, Italy ("Juliet Capulet [5]" 2011).8 She does not just live in Verona, though: she has cribs in College Station, Texas ("Juliet Capulet [8]" 2013), Halifax, Nova Scotia ("Juliet Capulet [9]" 2012), Paderborn, Germany ("Juliet Capulet [10]" 2013), Vinnitsa, Vinnyst'Ka Oblast,' Ukraine ("Juliet Capulet [11]" 2013), and Jakarta, Indonesia ("Juliet Capulet [12]" 2013), to name but a few. Juliet has gone global. Nothing new or surprising in that. What is surprising is how quickly the polynational Juliet asserted herself in the search results: the first twenty-two hits in the "Find all people named 'juliet capulet'" search represented Juliets from at least seven different countries (four specifically from the U.S., two from Canada, two from Italy, one each from Australia, Ireland, Germany, and Indonesia, with the remaining ten having no particular location indicated next to their thumbnails). As for her education, Juliet was home schooled ("Juliet Montague [3]" 2012), though it appears she also studied at Verona High School ("Juliet Capulet [13]" 2010), Lord Beaverbrook High ("Juliet Capulet [6]" 2010), Colegio William Shakespeare ("Juliet Capulet [14]" 2010), the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ("Juliet Capulet-Montague" 2013), along with Soul Reaper Academy (in Reseda, California),9 and The High School of Love ("Juliette Capulet" 2012).

So far as personal relationships go, her status seems to depend on when exactly in her life one encounters Juliet. No one ought to be surprised that she "Works at Loving Romeo at all times!"("Julie Capulet" 2013), nor that she says that her relationship with Romeo may be "complicated" ("Juliet Capulet [6]" 2010; see also "Juliet Cap [1]" 2012). And it also makes sense that she is married to Romeo Montague (or Montegue, or Mont Ague, or Rome Montague, or Romeo TheMontague, or Romeao Montagué). At least fifteen of the Juliets indicate that they are widowed, suggesting that she took a moment between her husband's death and stabbing herself in the chest to update her profile (see "Juliet Montague [4]" 2012 or "Juliet Capulet [15] 2011). Some may be startled to find that she is "in an open relationship" (e.g., "Juliet Montague [2]" 2012 and "Juliet Capulet [11]" 2013).

And how does Juliet spend her days? Charmingly, she "Worked at Being the Best Daughter" ("Juliette Montague" 2013) and is "President at Making everyone happy" ("Juliet Capulet [2]" 2013), though her parents, Nurse and the Friar might dispute these assertions. When she isn't "Being a Princess" ("Juliett Capulet" 2010), she "Works at Peacemaker" ("Juliet Montague [3]" 2012), though she does have her moments: a "Former Lazy Teen at The insane asylum for the chronicly stupid," she doesn't read, and has this to say for herself: "I just sit around, and let my drunk nurse do everything" ("Juliet Montague [1]" 2011) and "dad has money dont need job" ("Juliet Cap Ulet" 2011). She listens to Pitbull ("Juliet Capulet [10]" 2013), Mozart ("Juliette Montague" 2013), Coldplay ("Juliet Anne Capulet 2013), Michael Bublé ("Juliet Cap [2]" 2011) and Pink ("Juliet Capulet [16]" 2011). Distressingly, she watches Keeping Up with the Kardashians ("Juliet Cap [3]" n.d.), though she gains some cred back because she plays in a band that sounds like "Alanis Morissette, Paramore, The Cardigans, NIDJI, [and] The London Suede" ("Juliet Capulet [12]" 2013; "Capulet" 2013). She does come across as rather self-involved, judging from the number of selfies — self portraits — she posts, she loves her new tattoo ("Juliet C" 2013) and is keen on others' body art, too ("Juliet" 2013). Go figure, her personal interests are She is religious, or at least interested in religion; she both reads and likes the Bible ("Capulet Juliet [4]" 2014) and reads the Q'uran and likes Islam-centered Facebook Pages that post inspirational messages ("Juliet Montague [4]" 2012). She likes cuddling ("Julie Capulet" 2013). These descriptions and epithets indicate the variety of ways in which Juliet has moved into — or been moved into — popular culture: individual Juliets participate in a welter of relationship statuses, political commitments, and artistic media and genres. When taken together, Facebook Juliet demonstrates a thorough (though perhaps unaware) involvement in culturally up-to-date postmodern pastiche.

Temperamentally, Juliet is all over the map. As might be expected, she frets about having to wait around for her Romeo to show up (see "Juliette Montague" 2013 and "Juliet Capulet [16]" 2011) and is inclined to despair: "I shall never marry paris I rather be dead" ("Juliette Montague" 2013) and "Ugh fml [fuck my life]!! worried & scared & just don't know what to do anymore! :("("Juliet Capulet [9]" 2012). Although she has her low periods, she is proud of what she accomplished as the president of her college's chapter of ALPFA (Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting) ("Juliet Capulet-Montague" 2013), and she has her happy moments: "party time! Get your mask on!" ("Juliet Capulet [5]" 2011), and "Can't stop thinking about romeo as sweet as thy rose.!" and "Romeo im so Glad were married.! Art tho my beautiful and beloved husband!" ("Julie Capulet" 2013). Despite all of her difficulties — in addition to her romantic and familial challenges, she also reveals that she has leukemia and is out of her meds ("Juliet Montague [2]" 2012) — Juliet can even be light-hearted, describing herself as "Sono solo tutte puttanate" ("It is all just rubbish") and has an introspective side: "Non so chi sono, non so cosa diventerò" ("I do not know who I am, I do not know what I will become" ("Juliet" 2013) (trans. Maurizio Calbi (2014). She does get angry — "Totally po'd" ("Juliet Capulet [13]" 2010) — and can be surprisingly foul-mouthed: "Works at none of your fuckin' business, STALKERS" ("Julia Cap" 2013; see also "Juliet Capulet [4]" 2013).

Depending on how you look at it, Juliet's English can be taken on a scale ranging from vibrant to eye-wateringly bad. On occasion she does speak in her "native tongue," as in "O comfortable, friar! Where is my lord? I do remember well where I should be, And there I am. Where is my Romeo" ("Juliet Capulet [7]" 2010) and "My only love sprung from my only hate! Too early seen unknown, and known too late! Prodigious birth of love it is to me that I must love a loathed enemy" ("Juliet Capulet [9]" 2012), but I have only found one instance where she preserves her own verse form ("Juliet Capulet [17]" 2013). More often than not, she is colloquial, idiomatic, and slangy: "Drop me a t-bomb, chillin' in Verona" ("Juliet Capulet [6]" 2010); "Friar Lawrence has helped put an end to this ridiculous fantasy of County Paris and I. Haha fat chance. Soon enough my parents and Nurse will regret their decision in forcing me into this nightmare" ("Juliet Capulet [15]" 2011); "im in love with Romeo why is there all this hate" ("Juliet Capulet [3]" 2011); and "Rip tybalt, gunna miss u cuz! [heavy black heart emoji]" ("Juliet Capulet [9]" 2012). Sometimes, Juliet mixes things up, as is the case with Juliette Capulet: "Romeo I miss you if only we could be together . . . O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo . . . I shall never marry paris I rather be dead" (Juliette Capulet 2012) She can be funny: "Paris, ugh get lost #canyounot" ("Capulet Juliet [2]" 2013) and On occasion, she lapses into text-speak, as with "OMG IM FB FAMOSA LOLZ YALL" ("Juliet Montague [2]" 2012). Once, she goes all reflexive, glossing and interpreting her own utterances: Juliet is also multi-lingual: she knows Italian ("Juliet" 2013), Spanish ("Juliet C" 2013), Russian and Ukranian ("Juliet Capulet [11]" 2013), German ("Juliet Capulet [10]" 2013), Turkish ("Ezgi" 2013) and Arabic ("Juliet Montague [4]" 2012 and "Juliet Capulet [19]" 2013). Having facility in none of these languages myself, I cannot say whether she is any better in them that she is in her cradle tongue, if "cradle tongue" can even be applied to Facebook Juliet. For all of her linguistic prowess, and although she can be funny now and then, Juliet does not have much of a sense of humor overall. Even when her posts come across as superficial or inappropriately light in tone — "gunna miss u cuz! [heavy black heart emoji]" — they are grounded in pain. Despite their apparent frippery, posts such as these suggest an awareness of the playtext's own tonal and structural complexity, a tragedy written over a comic structure that celebrates language play while satirizing those, like Romeo, who celebrate language "improperly" by wallowing in linguistic excess.

As I indicated, a lot of Juliets, and the answer to what they have to say for themselves is, "a lot." With that comes a knotty problem: teasing out the ways in which individual Juliets signify while trying to discern an overall picture of how Juliet (and, by extension, Shakespeare) signifies on the platform as a whole. This is not made easier by the fact that some individuals, such as Juliet, say quite a few things, while others, like Juliet Montague [1], say comparatively little or even nothing at all, as with Juliet Capulet [8]. Taken as a group, however, the Facebook Juliet that gradually emerges from the normative pressures of the platform is pretty, polyracial, and youthful; generally but not exclusively heterosexual and not an especially active sexual agent; not very friendly — one might even call her isolated — and in her interpersonal relationships relatively though not entirely drama-free; and while seeming superficially to be a conformist, at least as far as Facebook is concerned, a playful experimenter with and subverter of identity.

Juliet: Young, Beautiful, and Polyracial

The most immediately apparent aspect of Facebook Juliet is that she's astonishingly good looking. A great many of her Profile pictures feature Claire Danes or Olivia Hussey, mostly in shots from Baz Luhrmann's 1996 William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet or Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 Romeo and Juliet respectively, but there are also a few from later in their lives (see figure 2): of these, the great majority of the Danes pictures are iconic shots of her gazing at Romeo through the fish tank or of her leaning on her balcony railing, adorned with an angel's wings; the Hussey pictures are more varied, but common among them are her own balcony shots and close-ups from the masked ball.10
Figure 2. Profile Pictures: Olivia Hussey and Claire Danes as Juliet
When Danes and Hussey exit the scene, other celebrities of various magnitudes take over: Juliet looks a lot like Lily Collins, Lady Gaga, Michelle Trachtenberg, Jamie Lynn Spears, Anne Hathaway, Emily Osment, Megan Fox, Blake Lively, Michelle Obama, Mallika Sherawat, Kate Winslett, Amanda Seyfried, Nelena, Carrie Underwood, Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgins, Melodie Gibeau, Marilyn Monroe, Aswariya Rai, Julia Allison, Jasmine Villegas, Molly C. Quinn, Elizabeth Mitchell, Emma Stone, Nina Dobrev, Emma Watson, Princess Diana, Hailee Steinfeld, Juliette Lewis, Angelina Jolie, Gwenyth Paltrow, Nina Dobrev, and Bar Refaeli (see figure 3). And this list only scratches the surface — there are many, many more out there.
Figure 3. Profile Pictures: Celebrities as Juliet
Many of the personal accounts that seem like they could be of real people feature Profile pictures taken from flattering angles, in decent, if not outright good light and with some digital manipulation in evidence, with the women demonstrating attractive behaviors, smiling, laughing, and the like — along with the occasional duck lips pose (see figure 4).11
Figure 4. Profile Pictures: People Themselves as Juliet
Some of the Juliets represent themselves with images from other media, ranging from traditional European portraiture to pinups, movie posters, manga, anime, and digital imagery (figure 5).
Figure 5. Profile Pictures: Representations of Juliet from Other Media
While young, Juliet's no kid: late teens into the early twenties seems closer to the mean (given some older outliers and excepting Hussey and Danes). That fact notwithstanding, these images, be they of actual account holders, of celebrities, or imported from other media, make it apparent that Juliet's appearance is conceived of in accord with those notions of feminine beauty that are received and perpetuated through mass media (see figure 6).
Figure 6. Screenshot, First Screen of Results of Three-keyword 'what is pretty' Google Image Search
Classic markers of female beauty are abundant: bilaterally symmetrical faces; unblemished complexions; bright, clear, often large eyes; long, flowing hair; and slender, if not outright and even impossibly skinny physiques (though when Juliet has got it, she flaunts it). These images are almost always framed and lit to enhance the subject's face and/or body (and not just in the shots of professionally made-up actors and models who are experienced in holding their bodies and expressions so they are at their most attractive for a professional photographer and whose faces often benefit from digital fiddling before the photographs are published). In general, Facebook Juliet endorses and fosters widespread notions of what is "pretty.12

Looking past all of the pulchritude, it becomes clear that while Juliet predominantly conceives of herself as white, she also thinks of herself as Black, Indian, Latina, Hispanic, or Indonesian — and again, this list just scratches the surface. In her analysis of the semiotics of race in a performance of The Winter's Tale, Ayanna Thompson argues that "the races, ethnicities, and colors of the actors were not semiotically relevant in the production . . . Their color . . . was not highlighted, questioned, or brought into the semiotic realm of the production; we, the audience, were not supposed to think about race and/or color in this production" (2008-2009; see also Thompson 2006, 7, 10-12, 16). Her comment is pertinent here: the "casting" of Juliet on Facebook seems colorblind, and the "audience" does not appear to have been asked to think about race and/or color. None of the individual Juliets that I have considered specifically comments on the race of her visual representation, and while the visual evidence of a "different" ethnicity is impossible to miss — and thus could be considered to be "highlighted," though this is a consideration that Margo Hendricks's essay "Gestures of Performance: Rethinking Race in Contemporary Shakespeare" challenges (2006, 201) — any interrogation of Juliet's race or the Facebook audience's assumptions about her race seems more implicit than explicit. More broadly, the variety of racial representations on Facebook supports the notion that Juliet is a trans-racial signifier: she matters in some way in a range of cultures. Put another way, I do not see evidence of what Lisa Nakamura describes as "identity tourism," in which online performances use "race and gender as amusing prostheses to be donned and shed without 'real life' consequences" (2002, 13-14; see also Thompson 2011, 147-48, 157, 158 and 160). Even more profoundly, I think, the polyracial Facebook Juliet illustrates how the character is being remade (over and over again) to suit the users' own assumptions and needs.13

Sexual Juliet

Juliet appears to be almost entirely heterosexual. So far, I have found only one page that overtly indicates that she is bi-sexual or lesbian: Juliet Rose Capulet-Halliwell has "liked" three LGBT Facebook groups and expresses desire for another woman: "Hey girl, guess what? If you don't make her yours, I'll take her." None of the remaining Juliets I have considered so far even seemed covert in the suggestion that they were lesbian, bi-sexual, transsexual, or questioning (though given the huge number of pages being dealt with here, it is possible that many LBTQ Juliets populate Facebook). This heteronormative representation is at odds with academic culture, where the queer or queer-influenced analysis of Shakespeare is well established, and with popular culture as well, where lesbian Juliets can be found on YouTube (marckerr92 2008, lilmissgiggles32 2013, almagomezschool 2014), in indie/cult films (Tromeo and Juliet 1997), in international films (Rome & Juliet 2006), in hard-core pornography (West Side 2000), onstage (Philadelphia's Curio Theatre Company's fall 2013 production; see Piepenburg 2013), and in fan fiction (BrandiJenner 2014, Pattinson n.d.). It is also at odds with the way in which Juliet's race and nationality are busily being remade on Facebook: with regard to sexual identity, the site seems to exert conservative pressure, or perhaps it rewards heteronorming by pushing heterosexual Juliets further up in the algorithmically-driven results queue. Whatever her orientation, on the whole, Facebook Juliet demonstrates little erotic heat. Much of the time, the Juliets do little other than express desire for their Romeos in sweet but mild terms, such as "I [small + cute heart emoji] Romeo Montague xox" ("Juliet Capulet [2]" 2013) or "My husband Romeo has been banished for the killing of my cousin, and all i have is the memory of his sweet kiss and the ring he planted on my finger" ("Juliet Capulet [3]" 2011). More often, she does so in modern argot: "I am madly in love with this dude that crashed my parents party. HE IS SOOOOO HOT!!!!" ("Juliet Montague [1]" 2011). Juliet Capulet [1] writes that she has learned to fall backwards, a stage beyond Nurse's promise that she will learn about that (Romeo and Juliet 1.3.43-44, 57-58); Juliet "likes it in Romeo's room" (Juliet Capulet [13]" 2010), but what exactly she likes is left up to the imagination; and she hilariously (though I think unintentionally) lets the world know that "I am no longer a maiden. My Romeo did come!" (Juliet Capulet [15] 2011). Very rarely, however, is she verbally explicit about her desires, though when she is, as is the case with Juliet Rose, she doesn't hold back, and Romeo's response is enthusiastic: "yeeeeeeeeeeeeee:". Juliet Capulet [4] asks Romeo for anal sex; is Juliet expressing a little anarchic desire, revising herself by making explicit possibilities heretofore only implicit in her epithalamium (3.2.1-31)? Is she taking a swat at decorous conceptions of her character, which could be taken to include those in the Shakespeare playtext itself, where Juliet does speak of her desires but does not specify exactly what she desires to do (with? to?) Romeo . . . or what she wants him to do with/to her? Has she been hacked? The request for anal sex does appear more than two years after the next most recent post and was posted via mobile device: maybe Juliet left her smartphone lying around and Mercutio got ahold of it — it certainly sounds like him. (If it is a hack, it may be that the hacker her- or himself is expressing some resistance or rejection of the sexually decorous Juliet. Or maybe just trying to embarrass or humiliate the account holder. That, too, would not be unlike Mercutio.) While it is unclear to me whether Facebook Juliet is disinclined to sex or is being discrete, the overall representation of the character is at odds with scholarly (and some theatrical) understandings of a more active sexual agent,14 though this conservative representation does generally align with how Juliet is conceived popularly (see Hendershott-Kraetzer 2012, 18-34). It may also be that Facebook itself exerts a normalizing pressure on how the character is represented, irrespective of however Facebook Juliet's creators may conceive of her.15 (Given what I take to be the relatively high proportion of what appear to be school-generated Pages and accounts that I found, the sexual agency-suppressing activity of school, parents, and/or peer groups may also have a bearing on how the character is represented.)
Juliet does show her sexuality, rather than talk about it, though this is more rare than one might think, given the pressure exerted by Facebook itself for accounts and Pages to be as much visual as verbal, if not more so:
Figure 7. Erotic visuals on Capulet Juliet [1]'s Facebook Timeline
Figure 8. Erotic Profile Pictures on Juliet Montague [3]'s Timeline
In both of these instances — the only two I've yet found that visually depict Juliet's sexuality — Juliet tends to be dominant over Romeo. Reversing this pattern is an older one of Capulet Juliet [3]'s profile pics, visible in the photos portlet at the center left of figure 7: a close up of Romeo behind Juliet, kissing the nape of her neck, his hand either caressing or grasping her throat. That this visual has been supplanted by one of a partially naked Juliet kneeling above a partially naked, prone Romeo suggests that Juliet sees this image as a more accurate, more up to date or more desirable representation of herself. (In this, the account holder is more in line with scholarly understandings of the character; see for example Brown 1996, 334.) These two examples appear to be exceptions to the pattern, however: although the female body of Facebook Juliet is often on display (see figures 3-5 and the photos portlet in figure 8), her sexually active body is not. Curiously, whatever the particulars of her sexual agency may be, the ways in which Juliet codifies her relationship with Romeo conform to the circumscriptions set out by Facebook itself. For instance, "Married," "Widowed," "In a relationship," and "It's complicated" are all options in the pull-down menu Facebook offers when editing "Basic Info" in one's profile, as is "In an open relationship."16 Others that are available but that I have not yet seen selected are "Single," "Engaged," "In a civil union," "In a domestic partnership," "Separated" and "Divorced." No relationship at all seems to be an option, too, a kind of relational null set.

Oh, What a Lonely Girl

Juliet does not have many friends (at least, she's not much friended or doesn't friend others very much). For example, Juliet (one name only) is a community with 51 likes, while Juliet. (the period is specific) has 18,701; Juliet Capulet [10] has 202 friends, while Juliet Montague [4] is lonely indeed, with only one. This may be an effect of the sheer number of accounts and Pages one encounters. Which would you friend? Who's the "real" Juliet? Profile pictures aren't any help because so many of them are exactly the same, and those that aren't are of celebrities, and those pictures that don't appear to be of celebrities, that look like they're of "real" people, are often of celebrities or models that haven't been recognized as such. Along with this is the strong sense I have that many of these accounts were created as school projects or even on a lark, after which a smattering of chums and FB pals created a remedial social network with friends or classmates before the project was abandoned. Ironically for a character who advises against "rash" and sudden actions (Romeo and Juliet 2.2.118), Juliet joins Facebook, engages in a flurry of activity, posting pictures, some likes and a cluster of status updates, and then never updates the account again. This activity usually happens over the course of one to three days in months right around the end of an academic term or semester (October-December and April-May are common months; see "Juliet Cap" [4]" 2013 and "Capulet Juliet [4]" 2013, for example. Ultimately, the reasons why many of the Juliets joined Facebook remain opaque. If any of the pages are, in fact, the result of school assignments, I am uncertain as to their educational benefit. In "Teaching Shakespeare with YouTube," Christy Desmet argues that that social media platform "is perfect for the kind of peer review that we want students to engage in as they write, create, and revise their work in different media" (2009, 65) and that it This is an argument that Ayanna Thompson extends and complicates in Passing Strange: Shakespeare, Race, and Contemporary America: "If performance facilitates a deeper and more complex understanding of the Shakespearean text, what happens when a performance complicates the identity politics within the classroom?" (2011, 166). It is difficult to say whether honing critical skills or a discussion of identity politics is happening on or because of these Facebook pages. Granted, I am not friends with any of the Facebook Juliets, so there may be a wealth of critical interchange happening outside my line of sight, but then again, many of the Juliets seem to have set their privacy levels pretty low.17 What is available to the un-Friended viewer suggests requirements to identify passages that are important or essential to the character either in her own words or in those of other characters (see "Juliet Capulet" [7]" 2010); these may be coupled with requirements that the student summarize/paraphrase the lines or provide brief interpretive comments (see "Juliet Capulet [19]" 2013). There are also accounts and Pages that indicate a requirement to imaginatively enter the character's psychology ("Juliet Capulet [19]" 2013 or "Juliet" 2010, for instance), in a manner similar to that described by Eileen McBride and Kimberly Hall in "Facebook: Role Play in a Psychology Class" (2012, 315-17), though on a much more limited scale. Then, too, the Page creators and account holders may be using these projects to subvert popular, received notions of Juliet, such as by "dirtying up" an "innocent" character by having her ask for oral or anal sex, or they may critically engage their classwork after the fact without specific guidance or direction. They may be building accounts or Pages that satisfy some personal interest or need; Elliot T. Panek, Yioryos Nardis and Sara Konrath suggest that at least one such need is narcissistic (2013, 2008-10), a subject to which I return below. Or, as Sujata Iyengar and Christy Desmet suggest in their discussion of YouTube Ophelias, the character may be "comprehensible only to members of a specific, sometimes tiny, interpretive community for whom and among whom it was designed" (2012, 62).
Usually, Juliet's circle is restricted to her fellow Veronese, though sometimes other people appear, both real and from fictional sources (see figures 10-12). Whenever it can, Facebook will encourage the people who are visiting personal accounts' walls (people such as myself) to reach out and friend the individual with a cheerful "Do you know Juliet? To see what she shares with friends, send her a friend request." Facebook will do this no matter how open or closed Juliet is: personal accounts that appear open to the world (as is the case with "Julia Cap" and her turbulent home life) can be friended, as can accounts that are about as revealing as, well, a wall.
Figure 9. The Unwelcoming Timeline of Juliet Capulet [14]
More revealing than the number of friends that Juliet has, however, is how she interacts with them. None of the Juliets I considered showed any posts on others' pages, even Romeo's. In her online life, as in her Veronese world, Juliet seems to live in an isolated little bubble. In one odd instance, Juliet posts a screenshot of a Facebook chat with Romeo, in which Romeo never engages with her.
Figure 10. Juliet Capulet [13)'s 'Talk' with Romeo
This is more Juliet the stalker rather than idealized youthful lover. In a similar vein, very few of her comments are liked, let alone commented on: this is exceptionally unusual for Facebook, where people will like and comment on all manner of things, especially emotive posts describing joy, fretfulness, pain, or worry. However, more often than not, Juliet's posts go almost unnoticed and unremarked. Figures 11 and 12 show two of the more spirited exchanges that I found:
Figure 11. Juliet Capulet [1]'s Exchanges with Friends
Figure 12. Juliet Capulet [16]'s Exchanges with Romeo
The first, between Juliet Capulet [1] and her friends is fairly representative of a Facebook interchange. Juliet launches comments in a variety of tones to the universe — loving and sincere, as regards her nurse; sardonic, as regards her impending marriage; and fretful, regarding Paris — and she gets responses. One set of comments takes the form of a micro-debate about marrying at a young age, while another is a brief exchange about her friends' experiences with nurses. One of her friends even gets up into Juliet's grill, taking her to task for questioning Paris's suitability and for moaning and groaning about being married. In figure 12, the second set, from Juliet Capulet [16], we see Juliet and Romeo interacting directly, giving us a rare, for Facebook, inside look at Juliet's anxiety before her secret nuptials. Contrary to what one might expect, direct interactions between Juliet and her Romeo seem to be few and far between: she comments on him often and posts pictures of him, but the two do not often speak.
Thus, Juliet's posts tend to go unremarked. In addition, although she describes her own drama, she tends not to engage in drama. Obviously enough, she is frustrated with her family, the feud, and the complications to her romantic life. However, Juliet's self-destructive inclinations are not on display as much as I had expected, given her propensity to threaten self-harm (see Romeo and Juliet 3.5.243 and 4.1.52-59; see also 3.2.143-47 and 3.5.200-202). Only seven of the Facebook Juliets indicate suicidal thoughts: "Oh Romeo, have you left this world without me? nay, i shall joineth you . . . we shall part from this world together . . . — [crying face emoji] feeling Empty" ("Parisa Juliet [Capulet]" 2013); "I RATHER DIE THEN MARRY COUNTY PARIS HE IS NOT MY TRUE LOVE, NOT MY HUSBAND, ROMEO IS! I have no one but Romeo. My father, Mother and NURSE betrayed me. How could she do this. Friar Lawrence will help me or else . . " and "Life is empty without Romeo, there is no point for me to be left on earth. Oh happy dagger, this is thy sheath. There rust and let me die!"("Juliet Capulet [15]" 2011); "I shall never marry paris I rather be dead" ("Julia Capulet" 2012) — a comment, incidentally, that is liked by Romeo; "Oh Romeo why did you have to die? I shall kill myself too. YOLO (Yee Only liveth Once" ("Juliet Cap" [4] 2013); "IM done with all this crap. im just gonna kill myself. goodbye world" ("July Capulet" 2013); "RIP Romeo I will love you forever and I can not exist without you, I need to end my life" ("Juliet Capulet [20]" 2014); and a rather shocking status update in which Juliet wants to die by "shov[ing] poison down my vagina" while having anal sex with Romeo ("Juliet Capulet [4]" 2013). One Juliet memorializes herself but does not specify an intention to kill herself: Those aside, Juliet's posts stress her confusion over loving a Montague, her love for Romeo, or her misery at not being able to be with him because of extrinsic circumstances. But no matter what she is directing to her friends, the majority of her comments seem lost in a void.

In a way, this paucity of reactions to Juliet's thoughts is of a piece with the Shakespearean playtext. Juliet, a lonely girl to begin with, becomes ever more isolated as the plot unrolls: she sets aside her family for her new husband, loses her cousin to that husband, then learns that her husband has been banished; her parents shun her, she is betrayed by, and then shuns, the Nurse, her one confidante; fearing betrayal by the Friar and possessed by a ghastly vision of lonely insanity in her family's tomb, she wakes in that tomb to find herself widowed, and thereafter is betrayed by the Friar, abandoned to commit her final self-destruction. So it should not be especially surprising that Juliet has few friends nor that her last, desperate declarations go unnoticed by the world. In fact, it should come as more of a surprise when Facebook Juliet reveals a wealth of friends and followers, a revelation of a part of Juliet's life beyond that revealed or even suggested by the Shakespearean source. None of the Juliets who articulate suicidal intentions appear to hover over the decision to kill herself; there is no discussion of the psychology of a would-be suicide; surprisingly, no one (other than the one Romeo) even makes note of her declaration, let alone tries to talk her out of it. None of the accounts have been turned into memorial walls, though according to Facebook itself, "we . . . set privacy so that only confirmed friends can see the profile or locate it in a search" (Kelly 2009). It could be argued that in the preponderance of accounts and Pages that do not demonstrate an explicit suicidal ideation or that even continue to update Juliets' timelines we are seeing Juliets who reject Juliet's final option; it may be that the Facebook Juliets are embracing Juliet as "a strong teenage girl who lives in a society that seeks to bend her to its conventions . . . [but] defies both conventions and her parents" (Hulbert 2006, 219), even to the extent of defying the parent text. However, both of these cases would be a difficult to make, attempts to fill an aporia with intentionality. Here, Facebook Juliet remains frustrating, troubling, indeterminate, though the ways in which her life is reconfigured online may help to clarify what we are seeing.

What a Change is Here

Discussion Forum: Immigration Issues

the balcony scene from the film version of West Side Story  

West Side Story is a musical about a love that crosses all boundaries.  Based, or borrowed one might say, from Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet, it tells the story of two star-crossed people whose love overcomes the rigid cultural boundaries and associated hate and distrust that exist in their respective societies.  

the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet  

In Romeo and Juliet, it is the feuding noble families of the Capulets and Montagues who fan and nourish the flames of discontent, distrust and a very "us" and "them" society.  While their skin colors are not all that different, their separate and distinct cultural heritages and years of stubborn tradition keep them at arms length, as if a stench separates the two clans.  

The story lines of West Side Story and Romeo and Juliet are also very much like the Hatfields' and the McCoys' feud... except that the Hatfield and McCoy feud is non-fictional.    

the real Hatfield's

"The Hatfield–McCoy feud (1863–1891) involved two families of the West Virginia-Kentucky area along the Tug Fork, off the Big Sandy River. Those involved in the feud were descended from Ephraim Hatfield (born c. 1765) and William McCoy (born c. 1750). The feud has entered the American folklore lexicon as a metaphor for any bitterly feuding rival parties, or clans in this case. More than a century later, the story of the feud has become a modern symbol of the perils of family honor, justice, and vengeance."(this little bit of info is from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatfield–McCoy_feud).

These two waring clans (Hatfields' and McCoys') were both caucasian white as far as their cultural identification.  They did not have color or ethnicity to fight over, but there was still something evil enough between them to fan hatred so they may as well have been purple and green.  So, it would seem that diverse cultures did not always have a unique "corner on the market" of hatred - sometimes it was a hatred between people who, on the surface, were very much alike.

It is also the themes of family honor, justice and vengeance that strongly drive the plots lines of, first, Romeo and Juliet (1594), and the modern day play West Side Story (1961).  And here we have two culture wars, fed by these traits, and including those other lovely human conditions of hate, distrust, and the distain of having that distinct sour taste in ones mouth for another.   All unfortunate stuff.

from the film, West Side Story

When you watch West Side Story, it will become evident that there is a cultural (and physical) war on the mean streets of New York City between a white immigrant population and the Puerto Rico contingent.  

The film West Side Story is the cinema version of what was originally an immensely successful stage play (which opened on Broadway in New York in 1957).  While the play and movie are more than 50 years old now, there are themes here that remain universal and timely in terms of issues brought about by harsh race relations, and the "us" and "them" mentality that feeds this mentality... just as in Romeo and Juliet some 500 years earlier.

A word about this movie.. students in the past have commented on how "dated" or "hokey" this film is, and how silly it is to see people sing their lines in a story and dance out the story lines.  

Well, it is what we call musical drama, which is still a very popular dramatic form today on stage and on film.  In these performances, people often sing their lines and dance out their emotions (consider the films The Sound of Music or The Wizard of Oz as examples) as opposed to simply saying their lines.  Musical Drama is an unique American Art form.

Try to focus on the storyline of this film... the themes are still relevant today even for a film from those dated 50's. The original Broadway play and the motion picture both won majors awards for excellence in their respective fields.  

YOUR PROJECTS

There are two parts to this Unit's Projects...

PART ONE - due the first week of this Unit

PART TWO - due the first & second week of this Unit

In this project for the Unit, you are to enter comments into the discussion forum below.  Our course is, at its base, one that uses aspects of drama in various forms of the media and mass entertainment to enlighten us about sociological aspects of diversity in our country.    

The following article appeared in a newspaper in Philadelphia.  It has to do with a performance of the song "America" from the play West Side Story:    

Diversity Strikes in the City of Brotherly Love

June 5, 2001  
A reader in Philadelphia, who has requested anonymity, writes about his experience at a local Catholic girls' school event: "This past weekend our school presented its annual Spring Concert. The musical program was to end with selections from Leonard Bernstein's "West Side Story". The final song was to be "America".

On the first night of the concert the parents and relatives of the Puerto Rican students in the concert stood and began a loud disturbance, suddenly producing and waving Puerto Rican flags. The concert ended, but the barbarism had just begun.

The Puerto Rican thugs promised to return and do violence, including shooting at the school, if there was any repetition of the performance of "America". The school actually caved in to this thuggery and cut the song on the next and final night of the concert. Six seniors were due to perform their last vocal performance as a Little Flower student during this number.

A lot of words, I know. Sorry to bore you, but I have had it. I just had to tell someone who could understand. I am weary of the face and the insolence of the Philistine."  

"America" from the film version of West Side Story

Film clip of the song "America" from West Side Story... roll your mouse over the image to start the clip.  

Lyrics to the song America:

ANITA: Puerto Rico
My heart's devotion
Let it sink back in the ocean
Always the hurricanes blowing
Always the population growing
And the money owing
And the sunlight streaming:
And the natives steaming
I like the island Manhattan?Smoke on your pipe
And put that in!  

GIRLS: I like to be in America
Okay by me in America
Everything free in America  

BERNARDO: For a small fee in America  

ANITA: Buying on credit is so nice  

BERNARDO: One look at us and they charge twice  

ROSALIA: I have my own washing machine  

INDIO: What will you have not to keep clean?  

ANITA: Skyscrapers bloom in America  

ROSALIA:Cadillacs zoom in America  

TERESITA: Industry boom in America  

BOYS: Twelve in a room in America  

ANITA: Lots of new housing with more space  

BERNARDO: Lots of doors slamming in our face  

ANITA: I'll get a terrace apartment  

BERNARDO: Better get rid of your accent  

ANITA: Life can be bright in America  

BOYS: If you can fight in America  

GIRLS: Life is all right in America  

BOYS: If you're a white in America

GIRLS: Here you are free and you have pride  

BOYS: Long as you stay on your own side

GIRLS: Free to be anything you choose  

BOYS: Free to wait tables and shine shoes  

BERNARDO: Everywhere grime in America
Organized crime in America
Terrible time in America  

ANITA: You forget I'm in America  

BERNARDO: I think I'll go back to San Juan  

ANITA: I know a boat you can get on,
Bye Bye!  

BERNARDO: Ah-hah
Everyone there will give big cheer!  

ANITA:Everyone there will have moved here    

So, here you can see how the combined elements of lyrics, music and dance make a not-too-subtle statement about immigrating to America in the 1950's.  In this scene, the characters are weighing the pros and cons of having come to America from their home country of Puerto Rico.

Readings Related to This Discussion

Here in Denver, as in many cities around the country, there is a major annual celebration for Cinco de Mayo.  The city is alive with cars that proudly display the Mexican flag, and the tradition of "cruising" can be seen along Federal Blvd in central Denver.  Some of our fellow citizens find it offensive that these cars clog up our roadways on this day, supposedly promote crime because of their gatherings and that the display of the Mexican flags on most cars appears as some sort of "anti-American" statement...


Article: Cinco De Mayo Denver Cruising(link)

On Columbus day in Denver, as in other cities, we have an extensive annual parade downtown.  In recent years, this parade has become highly politicized....

Article: Columbus Day Controversy (link)   

What we have here are controversies that drive debates about what is considered acceptable as displays of immigrant pride.  One of the sides of the debate wonders why, if we are all Americans, do we need so many holidays to celebrate cultures external to the United States?  While others will argue that these diverse celebrations divide America as a single nation.  

Even on our own campus, some question why we need Asian American or African American student groups as they see these organizations as causing splinters in the fabric of what makes America a whole country.  The thought is that many minority cultures seemingly want to have special laws and funding to support and protect their beliefs in this country. In Europe, there continues to be a growing wave of concern where countries fear losing their cultural and individualistic identity because of a growing influx of immigrant populations.  They fear a "dilution" of the traditional, majority population.  

Article: Immigration Rage in Europe (link)

Article: Immigrant Fears in Europe (link)  

The debate rages on.  What do you think?  

For you to consider for this discussion...  

Does the need for annual unique cultural celebrations in this country divide America, or do they benefit America?  Is Nationalism a bad thing for a country to believe in?  Should countries in general, such as is happening in the European Union (EU) has strict limits on immigration so as to keep the countries bloodlines "pure"?   

Your initial response to this discussion is to be submitted below by 11:59PM, Sunday of the first week of this Unit.  In the following week, you need to add additional response comments to the flow of the general discussion.  Make it happen and keep it lively class.    

The following viewings are not required, but I wanted to share with you examples of what makes drama vital across the ages.  The two clips shown here are the opening scene from a filmed version of Romeo and Juliet, while the second clip is film clip from the opening scene of West Side Story.  West Side Story was based on Romeo and Juliet and deals with conflict between rival factions in a city.  The action in these two scenes parallel each other, yet span hundreds of years.  The result is the same.... conflict.

The work of Drama is to, among other things, reinterpret itself in ways that bring new meaning to contemporary audiences.  This excellent "upgrade" of Romeo and Juliet that became West Side Story, places the action on conflict between white caucasian's and Puerto Rican's in the 1950's.  What musical drama does it express the dialog in song and dance to reinforce, visually and aurally, the meanings behind the staged action.  

Film clip - the opening scene of Romeo and Juliet

Film clip - the opening scene of West Side Story

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