The Dream of America Is Alive In Blaine

The small town of Blaine, MO, is the product of The California Dream: the mid-19th century promise of fame and fortune if one successfully traversed to the West. This psychological motivation directly influenced The American Dream, the national ethos still heavily ingrained in the United States, dictating that hard work will undoubtedly achieve prosperity. However, historians have acknowledged this ideal as, “the dream that outran reality,” an alarmingly accurate description which director and screenwriter Christopher Guest used as a thematic thread in Waiting For Guffman (1996).

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For some time, the late Phil Hartman’s sentimental and appropriate title as “The Glue” of Saturday Night Live was believed to be coined by Adam Sandler. A quick Wikipedia search (reliable, sure) and corresponding cited source claims that Jay Mohr revealed this piece of trivia in his memoir Gasping For Airtime– a dishy tell all of what not to do behind the scenes at Studio 8H, a read which certainly painted the likes of Michael McKean, Chris Farley, and Hartman in a good light. However, having recently read Chicago Sun-Times’ author and staff writer Mike Thomas’ 2014 biography on Hartman, it was revealed that the originator of the beloved “Glue” nickname was none other than Hartman’s frequent on-screen collaborator, the late Jan Hooks. This revelation is not surprising, considering the duo’s apparent work husband/wife relationship made available to audiences every Saturday night from 1986-1991. The nickname discrepancy seems silly and the slightest bit agitating (trivial, to say the least), but the error in Mohr’s account undercuts the significance of Hartman and Hooks’ relationship, on-screen and off.


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The Audience Member: The Administer of the Blow Job 

An Analysis of Andy Warhol’s Blow Job (1964)

Like a film projector presents images to a blank canvas, the viewer projects his or herself onto Warhol’s Blow Job, for which what is unseen- yet promised, must instinctually be created in the viewer’s own imagination. These personal and intangible depictions vary from viewer to viewer, and may not even remain static during the film’s progression. The unseen provider of fellatio in Andy Warhol’s Blow Job (1964) is therefore the audience member, an idea facilitated by the film’s structural film form- and its importance to the film’s sociopolitical response to mainstream film and sexuality, provide an increased attention to the spectator’s experience.

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Screwball Comedies: Exposing the Production Code and Gender Roles

“A kiss could last three seconds. We just kissed each other and talked, leaned away and kissed each other again. Then the telephone came between us, then we moved to the other side of the telephone. So it was a kiss which opened and closed; but the censors couldn’t and didn’t cut the scene because we never at any point kissed for more than three seconds. We did other things: we nibbled on each other’s ears, and kissed a cheek, so that it looked endless, and became sensational in Hollywood.”

– Ingrid Bergman: My Story, 1980, p. 160

A ban on three second kisses sparked the creative back route through which Alfred Hitchcock portrayed Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman’s palpable and often cited chemistry in Notorious (1946). Without this restriction, this scene (above) may never have taken place. The ban, stemming from the Production Code, guided the morals of Hollywood films from 1934 to 1967. Passed as a response to a series of scandals involving sex, profanity, and drug use; the code was the final arbiter of what was deemed acceptable on screen. Containing a list of Don’ts and Be Carefuls, the Hays Code forced Hollywood screenwriters to think outside normal convention in order to portray salacious stories. A genre of film that grew out of this limitation was screwball comedy, in which Denison University professor Jane Greene defines as an American cinematic genre with an emphasis on slapstick comedy, eccentric behavior of the leading couple, and witty verbal sublimation- components which all work together as a substitute for sex in order to ensure that the film would not procure difficulties from censorship.1

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