Wk3M2 Comedy

Today’s discussion is brought to you by Group 4: Clark Faust & Nicholas Neal

Films for Discussion:

The Kid, Charlie Chaplin, 1921

Bringing Up Baby, Howard Hawks, 1938

Easy A, Will Gluck, 2010

35 thoughts on “Wk3M2 Comedy

  1. Nick Neal

    In what ways does Charlie Chaplin’s “The Kid” and “EasyA” function as a form of liberation? (i.e what are some societal rules that are broken?)
    What are some examples of slap stick in “The Kid”?
    Would you say “Easy A” is a sex comedy or a romantic comedy?
    Does “The Kid” and/or “Easy A” touch on any social issues? If so, what are they?

    1. Shenese Doll

      Both films function as liberation because the main characters both indulge in an act that is unusual to the majority. In “The Kid” the main character is first of all a tramp, he is not someone that “kids” looked up to, he does petty crimes…but he sees the child, and takes him in and raises him as his own, and loves him… some of the funniest scenes happens when he is trying to protect his adopted son(in coaching him during the fight with a neighborhood fight) and also when he fights to keep his son… Nowadays it is not uncommon for someone to love an orphan as there own, and people from all different social classes do this, then, a poor man probably was not quick to care for a child that is not his own, they probably thought that taking the child to an orphanage was better.
      In “Easy A” Olive lies about having sex, that is something that many teens may do, but they probably don’t do it for money or gift cards. Olive’s actions are liberating because it is as if she becomes the modern-day woman in Scarlet Letter…She figures why not have fun, though she realizes that those actions have not so fun consequences… To go along with some of the others comments, I do think that “Easy A” is a coming-of-age story also.. This teen does something that basically makes her grow-up a little and learn some valuable lessons in life and about sex.

      An example of slapstick in “The Kid” is, when Charlie continues to hit the big brother of the kid who was fighting with Charlie’s son.

      I think that “Easy A” is a sex and romantic comedy. A sex comedy because the main topic is sex, Olive’s best friend’s parents are pretty eccentric, they had dinner outside with no clothes on.. Also a sex comedy because in this film, the ideas of sex rumors and the way teens think about sex are challenged and made fun of. It is a romantic comedy because at the heart of the story, Olive does have a crush on someone, who is the only guy who does not use her for sex rumors and eventually they start dating…and he even helps her clear her reputation..

      Both films touch on social issues. “The Kid” touches on child abandonment, guilt, growing up without a parent, poverty, and the lack of investigation when it comes to children. Also as stated before, raising children that is not your own.
      “Easy A” deals with of course sex, sexuality, sex rumors, and the ideas of sex by teens. Also it deals with school authorities/teachers and relationships with their students(even though Mrs. Griffin was having sex with a grown man, he was still a student) also it showed a healthier teacher/student relationship in a way(Olive and Mr. Griffin). It also dealt with religious views in Amanda Bynes character. Though for this movie it was funny, but it makes you think about how Christians are sometimes viewed in comedies. They are often portrayed as overly religious and stuffing their views down people’s throat, and they are often portrayed as judgemental and hypocritical, it can be funny, but to a certain extent can also be annoying.

    2. Levi Brown

      I would be as bold to say that Easy A is not a sex comedy or romantic comedy but a ‘geek comedy.’ I don’t want to rely upon the text as an answer but I do agree with Belton in that Easy A is a geek comedy. The character least concerned with her outward appearance is a teenage social misfit (Belton 119). Olive (Emma Stone) is a understated, quirky, high school teenager who later takes on the sex and/or romantic comedy tropes this in turn shows why they are bad.

  2. David Martin

    I think that “Easy A” is neither a sex comedy, or a romantic comedy, I see that film as sort of a coming of age/loss of innocence story with a comedic sexual undertone. “Easy A” touches on an issue in our society that is more prevalent than ever and that’s the increased sexual activity, and promiscuity of high school kids. Stone exemplifies throughout the movie that although lying to others about how mature you are can be fun and quite successful, it’s better to be honest and let yourself become mature rather than forcing it upon yourself.

    1. Nick Neal

      Yes, but it’s still a comedy where the chief subject involves sex. That seems to qualify it as a sex comedy. Is that a mistake to define it like that?

      1. Alex Wilson

        I would have to agree with both of you a little bit, I think that the actual term “Sex Comedy” perhaps makes the movie seem a little more raunchy than what is it. I can’t think of a better way to say it myself, but if I heard “sex comedy” I would literally think I would be watching sex in a comedy movie, which is far from the case. But the movie does revolve around sex and sexual interactions, making it a “sex comedy” in my opinion, I just think it could be worded a little differently to make it not come off as so brash. So all in all I think both of you are right as I said, but there is a middle ground between the two that would be even more correct (in my opinion).

  3. Steven Colonero

    I have to agree, it is more of a coming of age story about a girl realizing that there is more to sex then what the public or in this case high school students think. She even gives her little explanation at the end that it is no one business when she loses her virginity and that is should be a special person who you lose it to. While this does remind me in a way of the sex comedy American Pie when most of the characters lose it to a person they care about. In Easy A case, I feel the film explore more of a social aspect of high school and how rumor spread so easily, and in most cases they simply are not true. The film also address the issues of homosexuality and bullying along with religion without being overly blunt about those issues as well.

    1. Nick Neal

      Actually it’s interesting when you think about the ideology of Easy A. On the surface it seems like a progressive film what with the criticism of traditinalist Christians, the recognition of the societal plight of homosexuals, there’s even a subtle jab at capitalism. However, one scene seems to throw that out of whack. The scene where the guidance counselor just hands Ema Stone’s character some condoms without actually listening to her problems. It seems to be depicting access to birth control at public schools as inneficient for dealling with the issue. That I think makes the movie slightly more complicated ideologically.

      1. Chris O'Malley

        I’m not sure I agree with your assessment of that one scene Nick. Even though the film suggested that condom distribution is inefficient, that does not mean the film opposes the practice of distributing birth control. It seems like the film is pushing for more comprehensive education and counseling in addition to supplying birth control. And this interpretation appears to fit better with the general ideology of Easy A.

        1. Levi Brown

          One thing I realized, Olive (Emma Stone), the geek, does not come off as the character with the problems. In that scene with the guidance counselor, I believe it to be character-driven, rather than situation-driven. The counselor hands Olive the condoms as a way of projecting her own guilt. On another note, I’ve noticed that one genre trope of indie films, and I don’t think Easy A is an indie film, is for the main character to have a better grip on real life than a person who’s occupation, the guidance counselor. I think this dynamic was in Art School Confidential, The Wackness, Keith, and Dorian Blues (I’m sure there’s more but I can’t think of them off the top of my head). This dynamic reveals to the viewer that the protagonist has it all ‘under control’ so to speak because they do not care about their outward appearance.

          1. Levi Brown

            Ugh, I just noticed a mistake (the Bruce is strong with this one). Here’s what I meant to say: I’ve noticed that in indie films, I don’t think Easy A is an indie film, the protagonist often has a better grip on life than someone who one would think has a understanding on life, think the guidance counselor. Hopefully, that clears up any confusion my previous post may have caused.

  4. Renee Schuyten

    The Kid shows a single man raising a child (who was not his own!) That’s a liberating topic for today’s audience, let alone 1921. The mother left the baby in a wealthy family’s car, thinking this would be this dreamy existence – and then we see the horror of a baby being left in an alley, and no one will take him as he passed around from person to person (slapstick getting that baby into the pram) and finally coming around to this reality for the child where he is poor, a bit of a crook – but well fed and well loved. This resonated with the audience as we all try to find balance between wealth and providing, and what that really means when weighed against love.

    1. Nick Neal

      I actually had the comedic sequence where chaplin is constantly trying to pass the child off to other people as liberation. I’m not using liberation in a normative sense. What I simply mean is breaking some type social bond, whether legitimate or illegitimate. Only in a comedy could constantly dropping off a baby into a random carriage seem acceptable. Because it’s not meant to be taken seriously.

      1. Renee Schuyten

        Absolutely, Nick! An over the top look at something society has such a hard time seeing without the laughter colored glasses on – poor, unwanted, Illegitimate children, and who takes responsibility for them?

        1. Clark Faust

          Could the fact that Chaplin is a man caring for a young child by himself been seen as liberating? It shows a role that was foreign to men in media at this time. I think it speaks to the fact that single fathers have been around for a long time and have done what they can for their children.

          1. Alex Wilson

            While I do agree with you Clark, I am going to play devils advocate here simply for the purpose of continuing the post. I do think that it could be seen as liberating in the sense that the man took the child in and was raising it, but could you say the liberation is taken away when he was more or less forced into taking the child? He tried to leave it behind and give it away multiple times, however the police officer kept showing up ultimately forcing him to take the child in. So really I just want to pose a question to you (or everyone) that since he was forced to take the child in or have to deal with the police, and did not actually do it willingly, do you think it is still liberating?

            1. Levi Brown

              I’m having trouble seeing what The Tramp, in by taking the child, was being liberated from. I’ve never viewed that character as someone who was aware of the social forces at work around him. Is it something like if he takes the child in, inheriting responsibility,he frees himself from the constraints of the poverty? I don’t understand. Help. please…..

            2. Kendrick Branch

              I agree with Renee and Nick, who seem to be saying that the viewer is liberated, not The Tramp. The humor in the film seemed to be based on a male in such a situation. The fact that he was forced to keep the child is more of a comedic cause to counter the sad truth of it being abandoned. Like Renee said, unwanted and illegitimate children are a repressed topic in society. Chaplin provides the viewer a ‘therapeutic release’ from these from unconscious worries.

  5. Jennifer Machura

    As an aside, I found it interesting how The Kid handled the issue of poverty. Of course, I suppose audiences had been familiar with The Tramp character for some time to know that a film starring Chaplin as this character would deal with being poor in a comical way. The Tramp doesn’t constantly search for some get-rich-quick scheme to get out of the slums, and he seems just comfortable enough with his lot in life. I haven’t seen any other films featuring The Tramp, but that’s what I gathered from watching The Kid.

    1. Clark Faust

      Do you see the Tramp as a rebel for the poor or working class as suggested in the reading? You say he is comfortable in his own life, but isn’t there more of a struggle than that. Throughout the film, the Tramp does his best to support the child he found. I would say that he struggles to do so as he schemes fixing windows illegally. Does this struggle represent something about the state of the American poor of the period?

      1. Chris O'Malley

        I would say that the Tramp is struggling against the class limits. The poor often were not respected as human beings and are forced to make a living doing shameful things like destroying then repairing windows.

  6. Clark Faust

    So far, everyone’s responses have been very interesting and I like where the discussion is going as of now. I would like to bring some other ideas to the discussion.

    Are there any examples of liberation in “Bringing Up Baby”? If so, what repression is being liberated?

    “The Kid,” as is much of Chaplin’s work, is an extremely influential piece of comedy and cinema. Can you see its influence in the other films?

    The reading says that comedy challenges struggles and repression in society. Can you think of a film that challenges this theory?

    1. Allison Hudson

      I don’t know that I would consider Bringing up Baby to have much liberation going on. The film is essentially a romantic comedy about a paleontologist and rich woman who must find her pet leopard. The censorship in Hollywood was also going on, so though there are moments of sexual innuendo and comedy, they couldn’t cross that line like Easy A did. Hepburn’s character is feisty and she does seem to be in charge most of the time as far as the developing relationship with Grant goes. However, she is so silly and flighty it’s almost kind of demeaning to the female character. As if we are just princesses or something who have nothing better to do all day. So I would say I don’t see a lot of liberation in that film.

      1. Shenese Doll

        I understand what you are saying, but also her character is supposed to be a little crazy, but she also goes after what she wants, even though it is David, she sees him, wants him, and does nothing but be herself and gets him, I think that is liberating. Also. at the end, when everyone realizes that she went after the wrong leopard, the untamed one, David worries that she will not be able to handle the untamed leopard, and then the next shot is of Susan pulling the leopard with a rope and unafraid of it. Something that the men could not do, but she did, that is also liberating.

    2. Shenese Doll

      One form of liberation in “Bringing Up Baby” is David finally expressing his love for Susan. In the beginning of the movie, you immediately get the sense of a man with many sexually repressed feelings. He wants a honeymoon but his fiance says no and insists that their relationship does not interfere with work in anyway including kids..Once David meets Susan, it is nothing but craziness when he meets her, but he begins to loosen up a little and though they never show any real affection until the end, you can tell that David feels “alive” with Susan, even though she brings trouble. Another liberation is not settling for the “proper” David is already engaged, so he cannot fall in love with another woman the day of his wedding, but he does, and he does not regret it. Basically, he chooses trouble with Susan(signifying living a fuller life) rather than being sexually repressed with the other woman.

      There may be some films that challenge the theory of comedy challenging struggles and repression, but I really cannot think of one comedy that I have seen that does are does successfully. I feel like any comedy I have seen all deal with some type of struggle or repression. It is not funny if it does not. The comedy comes from seeing the struggle are repression challenged. Even a movie about normal everyday life can be funny, because in everyday life, there will be some type of struggle.

    3. Christophe Freeman

      “The Kid” is great example of comedy and it definantly had an influence on comedies that followed. This film is a great example of developing a backstory for comedies. The audience knows a lot about the characters before the comedic sequences start. The audience understands why trying to ditch a new born baby by Chaplin is funny because of the way it is introduced. Had it not been premised well it wouldn’t be funny.

  7. Christophe Freeman

    Both “The Kid” and “Easy A” show situations that are far from the norm in our society. “The Kid” shows a situation where a woman abandons her own child as a baby to have a career. “Easy A” shows a situation in which a girl revels in being thought of as a whore in high school. These films show the pros and cons of these different situations with comedic insight.

    I agree “Easy A” is a coming of age story but I would consider it a sex comedy because it’s all about a girl lying about her sexual activity.

    There were various examples of slapstick comedy in “The Kid.” In the beginning “The Man” is walking when a pile falls on him out of nowhere. Also when the little boys are fighting in the street. “The Man” was running circles around the tough older brother. I found myself laughing aloud a few times.

  8. Allison Hudson

    I think I would compare Easy A to Mean Girls because they both deal with the social norms of high school and both characters are sexualized and basically hit rock bottom in order to find themselves. The comedy definitely softens the issues that Easy A deals with (homosexuality, first time sex, Christianity) and I guess I feel it is somewhat liberating but it’s a genre we have seen before so it’s not too eyeopening. American Pie, Mean Girls, even Fast Times at Ridgemont High, are all high school sex comedies that deal with an issue of losing your virginity. It is also related to the novel The Scarlet Letter, which did not condone any sexual behavior, especially adultery. In that sense, Easy A is liberating because it is mocking the Scarlet Letter and Emma Stone’s character proudly dons the A in public. Bringing this issue up in a comedic film shows that it’s relevant in our society but nobody is really doing anything about it.
    I agree with Clark that The Kid was liberating for its time because it showed a man taking care of a kid who wasn’t his. That wasn’t something prominent in society at that time even though it did happen. Again, the comedy, particularly slapstick, cloaks the seriousness and drama of the situation to make it more light-hearted as to not overwhelm the audience. It really is a sad story of abandonment, but Chaplin’s character is able to take in the child and raise it. To answer Alex’s question, I do think it is restricting to Chaplin’s character to have to take in a child because no one wants it. However, it was a choice. He could have done the normal thing and tried taking it to authorities and admitting it wasn’t his. Of course that really ruins the entire film, but I do think it was still his choice in raising the child.

  9. Alexandra Freda

    In The Kid we are dealing with unwed potentially young pregnancy, (perhaps even an adoption or abortion debate, of course this is 1921 so how far we could go on the latter is questionable for the time), social and class struggles including economical and parental rights. In Easy A (inspired by The Scarlet Letter), we deal with gay rights and homophobia in public schools, the perception of gay male homophobia in particular, and of course the social stigma of being a sexually active young female, which she chooses to embrace as opposed to rebel against even though at its core it is a lie. Sex comedy or romantic comedy – what essentially is the difference? Could we even say to a degree it is a screwball comedy? A term coined by when a female protagonist generally dominated a male protagonist and challenges his masculinity in often humorous ways. While there is no exact main male protagonist, Olive being the main female character, the males maybe to some certain degree could all be considered fodder for this exemplifying characteristic in this genre of film. While Olive’s character goes through her trials and judgements throughout the film, in the end the joke is on the men who stood to gain respect for the reputations and the women who disowned or looked down upon her based on rumors.

  10. Angelo Lima

    I found it very interesting that the film Bringing Up Baby showed a real live leopard which could of been wild, but it was probably tamed. Especially for the little fight that the leopard had with the dog in the yard which I was impressed that the leopard did not rip the dog apart, but I guess the leopard was tamed very well. This is a pretty risky especially for a movie of this time because many things can go wrong in the shoot and the leopard could seriously endanger actors, actresses and even animals.

    1. Kendrick Branch

      I think the fear of nature is a huge repression. The worry of a wild leopard ripping us apart rests within our subconscious, and for good reason. That is why the idea of releasing one in a city is funny. That fear is at the core of Brining Up Baby.

  11. Angelo Lima

    The Kid was a very interesting, fun and smart film altogether because of the way Charlie Chaplin was easily imitating almost every style that the kids were acting like. This includes there attitude and personality in the adult body of Charlie Chaplin. The great thing is that people that can act towards the symbolism of the movie such as Charlie Chaplin can make it more than just a movie experience for the audience that is watching.

  12. Evan Halleck

    n what ways does Charlie Chaplin’s “The Kid” and “EasyA” function as a form of liberation? (i.e what are some societal rules that are broken?)
    What are some examples of slap stick in “The Kid”?
    Would you say “Easy A” is a sex comedy or a romantic comedy?
    Does “The Kid” and/or “Easy A” touch on any social issues? If so, what are they?
    I think both of them really break standard rules. the kid takes an unsual approach and has a trampish character as the main character which is pretty unusual in films. I think that your question is hard to awnser about the film Easy A. I really think that sex comedy falls in to romantic comedy. Normally in a sex comedy it is about someone wanting or trying to figure out sex and I think that makes it fall under romantic comedy. Since sex is a main function of romance then why wouldn’t comedies about sex be under the main genre of romantic comedy.
    I also want to touch on Charlie Chaplin’s performance in the kid and his career in general in the comedy world. I think that he has one of the most unique forms of comedy that I am not really sure would work with the types of comedies people are used to today. He uses a physical comedy approach most of the time which rely on goofy actions and expressions. Other than a few actors that are around now a days like Jim Carrey I feel comedies today are more focused on having the audience laugh through dialogue, real life experiences, and big events that find the character in unusual situations. Although Charlie has some films that have some of these elements we don’t really see too many physical type comedies released today. With the three stooges being only a mediocre hit it is really hard to tell if the younger generation will ever be a fan of it and if it will ever make a come back.

  13. Savannah Steiner

    In both “The Kid” and “Easy A” the protagonists are maturing in some level when forced into troubling situations. In “The Kid” the Tramp is a colorful thief who commits petty crimes, but turns his act around once he decides to take care of a child on the streets. In “Easy A” Olive spreads around rumors about her sleeping with a closeted teen in order for him to escape homosexual slander to his name, and as rumors spread that she’s a whore learns truths of image and its misrepresentations. Both characters seek liberation from their former lives by making unusual choices to protect others only to grow themselves. By acting in a different way they really found out who they really are.

    In “The Kid”, some examples of slapstick are Charlie Chaplin taking hilarious tumbles, doing foolish reactions, and stunts to the events around him.

    “Easy A” is definitely a sex comedy because of most the humor surrounding that topic. Romantic elements are added, but not the focus.

    “The Kid” touches on issues of poverty, homelessness, and parenting.

    “Easy A” touches on societal issues of sex, education, and the media’s representation of love/sex.

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