Answer the first question (everyone must answer this question), and then answer one of the following three questions. Each answer should be about 600-700 words–any less than that doesn’t really give you a chance to address the question well.
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Feel free to discuss these questions and kick ideas around with each other. Then, write your answers on your own–do not collaborate on the actual answers.
Number your answers using the actual question number. If you answer #2 and #3, don’t number them #1 and #2 in your exam. This will confuse me, and you don’t want that. I need to know which question you’re working with.
- Discuss the purpose of art in general and satirical film in particular. Art doesn’t “make anything happen” (a line from a poem, about poetry). Molly Ivins says that satire is “traditionally the weapon of the powerless against the powerful,” but don’t forget PJ O’Rourke: “The most brilliant satire of all time was ‘A Modest Proposal’ by Jonathan Swift. You’ll notice how everything got straightened out in Ireland within days of that coming out.” Maybe they’re both right, and maybe the power of satire isn’t that it immediately creates change and improvement. What is it doing, then, and is it valuable, if it doesn’t solve the problem it exposes?
- Based on the movies we’ve watched, things we’ve read, and discussions we’ve had, offer a definition of satire in film. Imagine someone who has never seen a satirical film before: how would you explain to them what satire is and how it works? Be sure to discuss purpose, targets, irony, and differences between print and film. Pull examples primarily from class materials, although you can refer to movies we haven’t watched if you can’t make your point without them. As we’ve done so many times in class, use Kernan as a touchstone. His article is a good starting point, and from there you can agree or disagree with him on your way to providing your own definition.
- A) Analyze a well-constructed scene from any of the movies we’ve watched in class. Discuss its technical strengths (lighting, editing, sound, etc.), how its content contributes to the film’s narrative arc and satirical argument, and how the well-executed technical aspects of the scene enable it to “work” on its own and in support of the movie’s larger point or argument.
B) Analyze a misstep in any of the movie’s we’ve watched. Here you’re discussing how a scene fails and why. Again, your discussion should incorporate technical aspects of filmmaking as well as content.
- Early in the semester we discussed satire as Horatian or Juvenalian. Explain the differences, and use movies we’ve watched as examples to help you illustrate the differences.Discuss the satirical argument of any movie or movies we’ve watched this semester. Here your goal is not to define satire, but to identify the target of the satire and explain the corrective that the movie is presenting. You can discuss how well the movie hits its target(s), what corrective it offers, if any (and how the movie helps you identify its corrective), and how important you think the target is (that is, does the movie attack something that really needs fixing).