Pleasantville and Social Reproduction

A black and white photo of a woman holding a plate of rice crispies

This post originally appeared on the Practicum blog.

In Religion & Society—my introductory religious studies course — I regularly use the 1998 comedy Pleasantville to engage in a discussion about how we’re socialized to actively seek conformity to the existing social order. The film is about two teens — David, played by Tobey Maguire, and Jennifer, played by Reese Witherspoon—who are magically transported from the 1990s into a 1950s sitcom; they immediately begin to chafe under the social expectations of small town life. As they start deviating from the social norms of the fictional sitcom world (and encourage others to do so as well), they disrupt the life of the entire town. (If you haven’t seen it, the trailer is below. Note: there are spoilers further down.) Continue reading “Pleasantville and Social Reproduction”

Getting Away With Murder

ThenNowA recent news story has many, especially those in academia, buzzing and debating. Some of the (sensationalist) headlines read:

1)     James St. James, Millikin University Prof Revealed To Have Killed His Family 46 Years Ago, Keeping Job

2)     University Prof Keeps Job After Newspaper Reveals Shocking Secret

The first sentence of the first story included just the right recipe of words for juxtaposing St. James’s identity over and against his past and present, it reads, “…connected the dots between the 61-year-old’s peaceful life as an academic and his violent past as Jim Wolcott, known murderer.” A journalist from the Georgetown Advocate even had the opportunity to sit down with the St. James, at a bar, and interview him. Continue reading “Getting Away With Murder”