A group blog for Introduction to Media Criticism at NYU, Fall 2009.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Narrative in a Can
The movie-musical Hairspray demonstrates the narrative traits outlined by Rayner in "Narrative". The main character, Tracy Turnblad, is presented at equilibrium at the beginning of the film as a typical high school girl who can't seem to adhere to the "firm sense of social order". In this manner, she serves as a catalyst of her own transition to disequilibrium as she tries out and makes it into Baltimore, Maryland's local dancing show.
Conflict in the narrative mostly comes from issues such as Tracy's weight, her dedication to racial equality, and her crush on Link Larkin, which all threaten to disrupt the societal norms of her peers, friends, and family. These issues all serve as motives for Tracy to succeed as a star.
There is no specific narrator, but because this is a musical, I believe that the mode of address is emphasized through the songs in the film, which serve to communicate necessary plot developments and character growth to the viewer.
An important enigma presented in the story is Tracy's fight to integrate African Americans in everyday broadcasts of the Corny Collins Show. She must figure out a way to do so while getting people to vote for her for Miss Hairspray, and by not upsetting her mother. The action code that follows involves a protest, in which Tracy gets arrested and then escapes from jail. She then finds a way to sneak on to the set of the show (of which she is now banned) while also sneaking in the African American group of dancers into the show. Through some tricky maneuvering, she manages to do so all while winning Miss Hairspray and finally wooing Link Larkin. Exciting, I know.
Overall, the narrative elements as outlined by Rayner all exist in this film. And in song form, too!