I feel pretty (dreadful and yet rather well-pleased considering everything)

Since E's disappeared, let me update yous (slightly) on my newfound love for American (in the United States-sense) musicals. Well, just one in particular but since most of research seems to consist of generalising based on a sample ("personal experience") of one or two cases, who I am to not follow the trend?

I came home from the sixth day of my 9-7pm (leaving the house at 7.40am, thank you. Usually I don't even wake up by then) flunkie-ness to find West Side Story was on the television.

Three things about said film:

1. I'd heard about it but never seen it before
2. Why did they cast an actress with a dodgy "Latin" accent as the main ("Puerto Rican") character?
3. If it had been made these days, they'd definitely have changed the ending (yes, yes, "based on Romeo and Juliet...etc etc etc" but they'd still have changed the ending)

Three other things about the film:

1. It was surprisingly good in terms of showing the changing relationships between various groups--the more-established group is fighting with the immigrant group yet both pretend to be not up to anything when the police inspector walks in. The police inspector himself allies with the "Americans" (Irish? I was nodding off but do recall them being called "Micks" at some point though the main bloke was called Anton, not a very Irish name) versus the "Puerto Ricans" and tells the Americans "I'm on your side".

2. Love, thankfully, doesn't "win". There's all this soppiness about "Love" and "Magic" and suchlike and yet, the ending. Ah yes, I did like the ending.

3. It's surprisingly "Universal" in the sense that it's got themes of love, rival factions, authority figures trying to maintain said authority, gang rape (almost), unemployment, death, and just trying to get along in a new society.

If I were in the Ministry of Culture of this country, I'd probably start exporting West Side Story rather than just telling foreigners about the great glory of America.

As a foreigner here myself, this film from 1961, felt surprisingly topical. Let me tell yous why: a couple of other TUWSNBN studnets and I were sitting out on the sun last week, having a very similar discussion along the lines of whether people from "different cultures" (their words) could get along, both personally and in groups. I was told (for WSS literates, I was of the Maria-Tony camp) that I was "such an optimist"*for thinking that getting along is possible and that people from the same culture (however defined) also face problems, though said problems might be different. I was told off for being a deluded nutter (though in nicer terms than that) and there were numerous stories about how people they knew (of) had had their relationships broken up due to "pressures from family and culture". Well, yes, but there are also people I've known of who've had their relationships broken up by things which aren't to do with "family and culture". I'm not generalising based on those that all relationships (in which one person has a reptile, in which one person wants to travel to Mali, in which one person loves bungee-jumping and so on) are doomed.

This leads me to another thing that I kept on emphasising throughout my Intro to Research class:

People usually base their arguments on personal experience (this, as I told them based on my decade-longer experience in surviving in this world, is common in and outside of academia). Since this is what we all do, my kids found this quite an easy concept to grasp.

Arguing based on personal experience is wrong if we do so to stop or close off the conversation. ("Well, I was in Venezuela and that is how it was over there")

But, it is okay if we use it to provide a means to start off (or continue) a conversation

I can definitely say that the class, this time around, was a lot more fun in terms of students talking about some of these issues. It was a lot less fun in terms of them hardly ever handing in their assignments in time.

Back to relationships: I suppose I would like to remain a cockeyed optimist in this sense. I would like to think I can well pick a fight with a bloke from my own culture as with one from elsewhere.

Back to the film: I'd still have liked WSS better if Maria'd offed herself as well but one can't have everything in one film, I suppose. If yous have not seen it before (though, considering most of yous are probably American, I'd assume yous have unless you have a strong aversion to musicals), it's perfect for a Saturday evening after a long work week.

* This was not seen as a good thing, btw.

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At 5/15/2007 7:05 PM, Anonymous serena said...

west side story is better on stage! but the movie is fine also. And yes, modernized version of romeo and juliet.

At 5/16/2007 9:32 AM, Blogger Priya said...

Never seen it on stage--but loved the lighting and the (set? real?) buildings and tenements where they filmed it.

Perfect for a Sat night!


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