Thursday, July 2, 2009

Assignment #1 Eng 170W

Brenda Gonzalez ASSIGNMENT #1

Eng 170W

There seems not much to say about any genre besides what we clearly and distinctly realize and understand at face value, but upon delving deeper into the subject of genre theory there is a new world to think about when on the subject of any text. When you watch a movie, read a story, go to a play, or view a piece of art you expect to know what you’re going to get out of it unless you intimately, deliberately, and intricately get involved with the piece of work, in which case you may be surprised at what you find. Focusing on the genre of comedy what comes to mind first would be laughter, enjoyment, and feel good stories – but looking deeper into a text of that genre it’s possible to find other genres within it and a deeper perspective that the author was perhaps attempting to portray.

The film Pineapple Express, Dir. David Gordon Green. Prod. Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen, and Evan Goldberg.(DVD) Columbia Pictures. 2008, is one of the many pieces included in the string of hilarious movies that Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen have been involved in. This particular film evokes many moments full of laughter due to the script, and mainly the characters. There’s a very loser and silly type humor in three (Dale, Saul, and Red) of the characters and it seems to be a reoccurrence in the Judd Apatow films. Right before the climax Dale gets caught smoking in an alley after selling a bunch of weed to minors and as the lady officer approaches him she says “I’m a liaison officer for the school, and guess what? I just saw three students walking from back here with their eyes as red as the devils dick, you’re busted.” It’s foul language with an unconventional twist and often unheard pairings of words to form shocking and great sentences. Or it could be as simple as when Dale and Saul were in the woods and began to freak out because they thought they heard something. Then Saul thought he saw something and just bolts into the woods like a mad man, now Dale freaks and runs too; they both end up running until one trips, falls, and hits his head on a rock and the other runs into a tree. It’s always great to see slapstick humor where people unexpectedly get hurt.

In the very first scene of the film the viewer is brought to an underground, classified government facility in 1937 and there’s an experiment being done on the effects of marijuana smoking. This scene has a serious vibe and appearance except for Private Miller who was the test subject and high indeed – he was extremely animated with obscene hand gestures and singing and dancing, but very funny. This scene seems more of a political satire than anything else and perhaps that was the underlying substrate the writers wanted us to hold on and attach to. Dale actually makes a few arguments in the movie about the legalization of marijuana and it’s apparent to see he sides with the idea, if you didn’t already get that. On the radio he says “If marijuana is not legal within the next 5 years I have no faith left in humanity period. Everyone likes smoking weed, they have for thousands of years, and they’re not going to stop anytime soon. You know? It makes everything better…” This definitely reflects ideological concerns of today’s youth. Economically as well as morally people feel that legalizing such a drug like marijuana would not harm our societies but only make them better.

There seems to have been a kind of comedic revolution in such films since The Forty Year Old Virgin. In “An Introduction to Genre Theory” The Problem of definition, by Daniel Chandler states “genres change over time; the conventions of each genre shift, new genres and sub-genres emerge and others are ‘discontinued’.” When thinking of classical American comedy what comes to mind are The Three Stooges, The Honey Mooners, Charlie Chaplin, and even Mel Brooks. But what do they all have in common besides the fact that they made everyone laugh? ‘Their demarcation is always historical, that is to say, it is correct only for a specific moment of history’ (Bordwell 1989,147). I don’t believe such a film would have been accepted in the 30’s or 40’s, but perhaps the 60’s.


  1. Interesting, and the Apatow movies make for a great subject. Be sure to get into and then stick to your argument--the first paragraph is very general and the second half of the second paragraph doesn't clarify why it's talking about ideological concerns, and so it comes off sounding like broad statements about how most people feel about marijuana legalization. The overall point that such a film could only be made today is a good one, though--would have been great to stick to just that point throughout. Also, if you're interested in the subject, there was a pretty good article about these films (and how they might be a new genre). I can't copy and paste links here, so email me if you're interested, or google 'denby on apatow' and you'll see it.

  2. Actually, you can find it here: