American Vaudeville as Ritual by Albert F. Mclean

By Albert F. Mclean

This examine provides a wholly new view of the character of contemporary well known leisure. American vaudeville is right here considered as the conscientiously elaborated ritual serving the various and paradoxical fantasy of the recent city folks. It demonstrates that the compulsive myth-making college in guy isn't constrained to primitive ethnic teams or to severe paintings, that vaudeville can't be brushed off as meaningless and inappropriate just because it matches neither the standards of formal criticsm or the regular styles of anthropological study.

Using the tools for feedback built via Susanne ok. Langer and others, the writer evaluates American vaudeville as a symbolic manifestation of simple values shared by way of the yank humans in the course of the interval 1885-1930. via analyzing vaudeville as folks ritual, the publication finds the subconscious symbolism simple to vaudeville-in its humor, magic, animal acts, tune, and playlets, and likewise within the performers and the managers―which gave shape to the dominant American delusion of good fortune. This outstanding view of the hot mass guy as a people and of his mythology rooted within the very empirical technological know-how dedicated to dispelling fantasy has implications for the intense research of all types of mass leisure in the United States. The booklet is illustrated with a couple of remarkable images.

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The Latin preference for exuberant public architecture, brighter colors, and larger families-the cynical humor of European ghettos-the peasant's phlegmatic indifference to personal property-the lower-class intellectual's endless verbalization-these were but a few of the attitudes that shook the primarily Anglo-Saxon and Germanic standards of taste and value. The streets, the buildings, the signs, and all of those peripheral social institutions of which vaudeville was one became brighter, more dynamic and boisterous.

Vaudeville novelty, humor, movement, and sophistication were precisely calculated to bring meaning to lives destined for white collars and dark suits. The taste-makers of this group were not necessarily the wage earners, however. The vaudeville ritual ran on through the working week and the working hours, catering in a large part to women and children. What the vaudeville managers thought of as "family entertainment" became the entertainment of those members of society which the industrial economy had released from domestic toil.

Neither Caffin' s praise of the "electrifying experience," nor Seldes' approval of its liveliness could recommend vaudeville as a serious enterprise for informed persons, and the failure of these two critics to note the mythic elements in this mass entertainment only confirmed the suspicion of the sophisticated that "art as amusement" was fundamentally meaningless. Vaudeville was not a disciplined or formal art and cannot be interpreted as such. It was born of social and economic pressures upon the masses and was nurtured by persistent anxieties.

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