The Social Problem Film: Scarface and Superfly.docx - Gyana Singh CTCS 190 Zeke Saber 19 April 2019 The Social Problem Film Scarface and Superfly

The Social Problem Film: Scarface and Superfly.docx - Gyana...

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Gyana Singh CTCS 190, Zeke Saber 19 April 2019 The Social Problem Film: Scarface and Superfly Introduction to Cinema: Paper 2 By the mid 1900s, film had revolutionized the entertainment industry becoming one of the most popular forms of recreation 1 . Filmmakers decided to use this highly popular medium to start conveying information about the political climate, social issues and current events of the time. This new purpose for film, rather than just entertainment, gave rise to the social problem genre. Social problem makes use of popular genres as a platform to further analyze more serious social issues in a way that continues to maintain the attention of the audience. The evolution of the social problem film can be further analyzed when looking at the films Scarface (1932) and Superfly (1972). Both of these films make use of a gangster sub-genre to help portray the way that genre can be used as a vehicle for more complex issues and, given their different origin peri- ods, can help to show the similarities and differences between post-classic and post-modern films. All genres contain a general narrative formula which helps to structure the plot of films within the particular genre 2 . As mentioned by Herbert J. Gans, the myths associated with the so- cial problem genre include youthfulness, moral heroism and the justification of social mobility 3 . In a gangster films like Scarface and Superfly we are able to see the youthfulness and hopeful- ness within out two protagonist. Both Tony Camonnte and Priest exude determination and a pas- sion to succeed. We see this determination predominantly in their cunning and devious actions. The convention of moral heroism is also evident in both films. Tony and Priest can both initially be seen as ‘underdogs’; the films play with the sympathy of the audience by creating a rags to 1 Herbert J. Gans, “The Rise of the Problem Film: An Analysis of Changes in Hollywood Films and the American Audience,” Social Problems , Volume 11, Issue 4, (Spring 1964): 329. 2 Barry Keith Grant, Film Genre Reader IV (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2015), 51. 3 Herbert J. Gans, “The Rise of the Problem Film: An Analysis of Changes in Hollywood Films and the American Audience,” Social Problems , Volume 11, Issue 4, (Spring 1964): 329. Page 1 of 8
Gyana Singh CTCS 190, Zeke Saber 19 April 2019 riches story without fully highlighting the moral issues within the films. Moral integrity can be questioned within both of these films as the characters both make choices to partake in issues which are unlawful and dangerous. However, the audience still hold sympathy for the protago- nists due to their self-confidence and will power. By filling the screen with constant action the director is able to create the illusion of the ‘hero’ battling against outside forces 4 . Due to the hierarchical nature of gang culture, social mobility becomes very evident in both Scarface and Superfly. In Scarface we see our protagonist Tony Cammonte work his way through the ranks until he eventually becomes the “top-dog”. On the other hand, in Superfly

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