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American Comedy And Issues Of Social Class In America

2529 words - 10 pages

American Comedy and Issues of Social Class in America

Issues of the social class have been an important element of American
film comedies. Since the silent era until the current day, comedy
films tend to focus on many contemporary common social class issues in
During the silent era of film, the three well known comedians, Charles
Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd. Throughout his films,
Chaplin's character is portrayed as a lower-class man, who is trying
to climb the social ladder and better his position in society. His
dress reflects his attempt to give the appearance of higher social
status. His costume has all the elements of a gentleman, however his
appearance is ridiculous because the pieces of his suit do not fit
together. He wears a bowler hat, and carries a cane, as gentlemen do,
but his coat is too tight, his pants are too large, and his shoes are
too large - like a clown's. His mustache also gives the impression of
an upper-class man, in modern style, but the sophisticated look
differs from the long beards of the older, wealthy elite.
In his hit film "immigrant" Chaplin plays the role of a European
immigrant to America. Chaplin attempts to obtain a new life for
himself by coming to America. He is a poor immigrant, but tries to
appear to be of a higher class in order to impress a woman on board
the ship. First he gambles to get more money, intending to keep it for
himself, but he ends by giving it to the woman, thus giving her the
impression that he is a man of means. Later in the film, they meet
again in a restaurant, where he attempts to imitate the manners of a
gentleman. He uses his silverware, but he uses it incorrectly, using
his knife in place of a fork. He orders food for the woman, making it
seem like he can afford spending extra money, but in actuality, he
cannot even pay for his own.
In his film The Count once again Chaplin is portraying a lower-class
citizen in the role of a tailor's assistant. After losing his job, he
goes to get food from his mother who works as a cook for a
higher-class family, which exemplifies his lower social status. Then
he tries to pass himself off as a count to get the attention of a
woman by the name of "Miss Moneybags", which implies that he is only
interested in her money. Throughout the rest of the film, he competes
with his former boss to seem more upper-crust. At dinner he fails
horribly when trying to eat watermelon like a gentleman. The
watermelon gets on his ears so he ties a napkin around his head, which
is a telltale sign of his lack of breeding.
In his film The Count once again Chaplin is portraying a lower-class
citizen in the role of a tailor's assistant. After losing his job, he
goes to get food from his mother who works as a cook for a
higher-class family, which exemplifies his lower social status....

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