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
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.
- "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)
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).
|Figure 1. Screenshot of search for 'juliet capulet'|
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 " 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  and Juliet Capulet  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 " 2013); Verona street [sic] 88, Mansion 12, Verona, Italy 881249 ("Juliet Capulet " 2013); and Via Cappello 23, 37121 Verona, Italy ("Juliet Capulet " 2011).8 She does not just live in Verona, though: she has cribs in College Station, Texas ("Juliet Capulet " 2013), Halifax, Nova Scotia ("Juliet Capulet " 2012), Paderborn, Germany ("Juliet Capulet " 2013), Vinnitsa, Vinnyst'Ka Oblast,' Ukraine ("Juliet Capulet " 2013), and Jakarta, Indonesia ("Juliet Capulet " 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 " 2012), though it appears she also studied at Verona High School ("Juliet Capulet " 2010), Lord Beaverbrook High ("Juliet Capulet " 2010), Colegio William Shakespeare ("Juliet Capulet " 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 " 2010; see also "Juliet Cap " 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 " 2012 or "Juliet Capulet  2011). Some may be startled to find that she is "in an open relationship" (e.g., "Juliet Montague " 2012 and "Juliet Capulet " 2013).
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 " 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 " 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 " 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 " 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 " 2010) — and can be surprisingly foul-mouthed: "Works at none of your fuckin' business, STALKERS" ("Julia Cap" 2013; see also "Juliet Capulet " 2013).
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 , say comparatively little or even nothing at all, as with Juliet Capulet . 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
|Figure 2. Profile Pictures: Olivia Hussey and Claire Danes as Juliet|
|Figure 3. Profile Pictures: Celebrities as Juliet|
|Figure 4. Profile Pictures: People Themselves as Juliet|
|Figure 5. Profile Pictures: Representations of Juliet from Other Media|
|Figure 6. Screenshot, First Screen of Results of Three-keyword 'what is pretty' Google Image Search|
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
|Figure 7. Erotic visuals on Capulet Juliet 's Facebook Timeline|
|Figure 8. Erotic Profile Pictures on Juliet Montague 's Timeline|
Oh, What a Lonely Girl
|Figure 9. The Unwelcoming Timeline of Juliet Capulet |
|Figure 10. Juliet Capulet [13)'s 'Talk' with Romeo|
|Figure 11. Juliet Capulet 's Exchanges with Friends|
|Figure 12. Juliet Capulet 's Exchanges with Romeo|
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.
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,
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