Heung, Marina. "’What's the Matter with Sara Jane?’: Daughters and Mothers in Douglas Sirk's ‘Imitation of Life.’” Cinema Journal Vol. 26, No. 3 (Spring, 1987): pp. 21-43. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/1224906>.
In this article, Marina Heung argues that the 1959 remake of Imitation of Life, which can be classified in the woman’s film genre, represents a body of work that at least purports to assume a feminine perspective and to address the conflicts and aspirations of a predominately white audience. The film flouts Hollywood’s typical inherently patriarchal films and deals with issues that are oftentimes ignored, particularly the mother-daughter relationship. Although the film deals with race through its development of the black-white relationship between two single mothers, the overarching theme is not of race, but of melodramatic elements. Heung cites Jeanine Basinger’s essay, “When Women Wept,” which suggests that at the core of the film, like other women’s films, is the “rise-to-power” plot. She believes that the film focuses on the white mother’s career aspirations and desire to become a famous actress, which leads to her
Although this article focuses on the remake of Imitation of Life, most of the arguments can be applied to both films. For example, both works assume a feminine perspective; however, they focus on the conflicts and aspiration of a predominately white audience, ignoring the needs of a black audience. Black women appear marginally in the film, forcing black female spectators to look beyond what is presented to them as what others may call entertainment or “pleasure.”
I found this article interesting and potentially useful because it provided me with a new way of looking at consumers of new media. Most new media theorists consider consumption through the Internet and other digital technologies to be more personal; but the social context does still exist, and Livingstone does a good job in highlighting this in her article. Her hesitancy to discuss individuals, however, seems short-sighted in the face of what’s developed in the years since this was written. Personal computers and Internet interaction is essentially a single-person activity – how can you leave the individual out of that? But, her argument is worth considering if only to prod me to consider the larger social context of digesting and learning new media.
Call#: Van Pelt Library Rosengarten Reserve PN1995.9.A8 A44 1999