Dr. Rosanne Welch talks “The Monkees” on the Zilch Podcast [Audio] Check it out! http://goo.gl/z1JaL7 via Instagram

Just a “little” grading to do (LAUGH) #education #teaching #life via Instagram

Women in American History: Sarah Kemble Knight – Learn more about here in http://ift.tt/1O1IqAS via Instagram

Women in American History: Sarah Kemble Knight

Women in American History: Sarah Kemble Knight - Read more about here in Women in American History

“Sarah Kemble Knight (April 19, 1666 – September 25, 1727) was a teacher and businesswoman, who is remembered for her diary of a journey from Boston, Massachusetts Bay Colony, to New York City, Province of New York, in 1704–1705, a courageous and unusual adventure for a woman to undertake on her own.” — Wikipedia

Learn more about Sarah Kemble Knight in Woman in American History

A well-worn writer’s keyboard. Millions of words have passed through those keys. #technology #writing #writer #keyboard via Instagram

Why Concussion Deserved Oscar Nominations for Writing, Acting and Best Film

Now that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has moved swiftly to make changes helping to create a more diverse membership, my thoughts on this year’s hashtag – #Oscarsowhite – are beside the point. But my thoughts on why the movie Concussion lost out in this race are relevant in that I want to encourage people to see the film, though it will fast be gone from movie theatres thanks to its pathetic publicity campaign (as I understand it the production company did not even send out screeners to voters, thereby tanking chances for nominations in any categories).

concussion-poster

I saw Concussion when it was screening at the Palm Springs International Film Festival a couple of weeks ago — because who can turn down a film starring Will Smith — and because I sensed it had the social justice angle I enjoyed in Erin Brokovitch and Norma Rae. Those films received nominations – and won Oscars – so after seeing it – and after the Oscar nominations were announced – I wondered why didn’t Concussion earn anything? The themes of the film are well worth delving into — so are many other aspects of Concussion including how it speaks to women and people of color and what it teaches writers about honing a story and polishing dialogue.


Concussion deals with how a huge corporation – the NFL – disregarded – and continues to disregard – the life and health of its most visible employees – the team players. Concussion deals with how the NFL’s need to make mega-bucks made them bury the truth of CTE – chronic traumatic encephalopathy – the disease Dr. Bennett Omalu discovered while peforming autopsies on retired players, beginning with Mike Webster, a legendary player for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

That meant that the mothers, sisters, wives and daughters of such players were denied the chance to understand and to help the beloved men in their lives all for the sake of a game. It is a film writers should see — and should have nominated – because of the nuance of the dialogue. The most telling line in the film is when a representative of the NFL says “If 10-percent of mothers in America decide football is too dangerous for their sons to play, that’s it. It is the end of football.” Of course, the representative utters that line as if the end of football is the end of the world – but I guess it would be the end of HIS world and that’s, sadly, the only world he cares about. Writer Peter Landesman keeps the focus on what matters when he has the doctor respond, “Deny my work, the world will deny it. But men will continue to die. And families will go on being destroyed.”

In his portrayal of Dr. Omalu, Will Smith, who is normally such a powerful presence, earned an Oscar nomination for the way he tranformed into the much more nuanced, humble character of the Nigerian immigrant doctor with medical degrees from more international universities than I could count. Playing a character like that it would be easy to ‘get cocky’ but Smith kept the low key, reality up front in his performance. Now that the Oscar nominations have been made, I feel that Will Smith was robbed. Smith embodied the gentle, spiritual qualities of the real man so deeply, he deserved at least a nomination. Any actor with 2 nominations to his name already (for Pursuit of Happiness and for Ali) would have easily received a nomination for this deeply mature drama.

I know this because after the screening the film festival sponsored a panel with Smith, Landesman and a surprise guest – Dr. Bennet Omalu, the doctor who discovered that American football practices where destroying the brains of the men who played. During the interplay between Smith and Dr. Omalu, Smith kept going in and out of the accent and persona he had studied and captured while sitting right beside that real life inspiration. That was a lesson in acting all by itself.

But writer Peter Landesman was robbed as well. All through my time sitting in the darkened theatre, engulfed by the story, I had to decide if it was the real story that was powerful or if it was the writing of the film – and the answer was both. The lesson in writing came from watching Dr. Omalu speak. I wondered about the process of distilling this man’s life into a film – how did Landesman chose which pithy phrases to include in the film and did Landesman make any up that echoed what Dr. Omalu might say? Luckily, I had the chance to ask that question during the Q&A session and after thinking for a moment Landesman picked the saddest line Dr. Omalu had told him in their interviews – “I wish I had never met Mike Webster”. What a perfect line to summarize the sadness that came to Dr. Omalu’s career when he went up against the NFL and the fact that he had to regret a discovery that should have made his career – one that he knew could help children across the United States, his adopted home.

The line Landesman said was invented for the film – was one he happily shared credit with actor and writer Albert Brooks, who played Dr. Omalu’s supervisor and supporter. In a nice look at how well film collaboration works when everyone wants what is best for the story (and not merely what’s best for themselves) there is a line Brooks added to what Landesman began with on the page. In trying to demonstrate the importance of American football to the Nigerian immigrant who had never seen a game, Landesman had Brooks’ character say “The NFL owns a day of the week!” That is a great line. But Landesman originally followed it up with the weaker “They’re very big!” While working on the scene, Brooks improvised a better follow up line: “The same day the church used to own.” THAT’s a line that says something specific – much stronger than “They’re very big.” Nice writing lesson I’d say. That’s why the script deserved an Oscar nomination as well. And that’s why even without nominatinos everyone should see this movie.

I have friends who saw Concussion back to back with Spotlight – which tells the story of the reporters who broke the priest abuse scandal. What my friends’ came away with was shock that the NFL was more powerful than the Catholic church. Imgine. Both films are structurally the same – a small set of characters discover important information that a profitable corporation wants to hide – and in each film the characters are discredited. For Concussion it’s important for audiences to see how much more easily an immigrant of color could be discredited – Dr. Omalu is called a voodoo doctor by some and anti-American by others – even though by publishing his findings he is trying to save the lives of Americans — and not just rich, football players who one could say accepted the risk in exchange for money but the hoards of little boys who want to play tackle football as preteens.

Usually films about true American heroes – ones who fight against great odds to save others – are not only nominated for Oscars, but they win them handily. Remember Erin Brokovitch and Norma Rae. For Brokovitch, Julia Roberts won the Academy Award and the film was nominated for Best Picture and Best Director. For Norma Rae, Sally Field won the Academy Awards for Best Actress and the film won for Best Original Song while also being nominated for Best Picture and Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium. The film was also nominated to the Palme d’Or (Golden Palm) at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival.

Those facts started me wondering… why all these plaudits for women bucking big business and none for the man of color who did so? I’m bemused, bothered and bewildered. And just plain mad.

When my son played Little League the coaches referred to baseball as either the Gentleman’s sport or the thinking man’s sport – even comparing baseball to chess in the way players needed to always know where the other players were and what moves were possible. I understood that idea. I’ve never understood anyone’s fascination with American football — though the film Concussion did a good job of offering both sides by showing the many, many fans – males and females alike –
who consider the moves the players make to be balletic. Frankly, I prefer to pay to see Misty Copeland do actual ballet. And if all those folks who call American football ‘balletic’ paid to see an ACTUAL ballet every now and then the arts in America wouldn’t be in such financial difficulties.

So the final question is how to respond to the lack of Oscars for this very worthy film – and to the NFL for not responding fast enough to this deep danger to their players. Since both Hollywood and the NFL are major corporations I suggest our money is the best weapon to wield. So far the film has made less than any other Will Smith film – can we change that? I hope so. Frankly, I think anyone who watches the Superbowl owes it to their gridiron heroes to watch Concussion – THAT would make it financially successful even if it’s too late for it to be critically acclaimed.

Dr. Rosanne Welch talks “The Monkees” on the Zilch Podcast [Audio]

I’m so pleased to post this link to an interview Sarah Clark did with me for a podcast she co-hosts called Zilch: A Monkee’s Podcast.

Zilch48

Naturally, we talk about my upcoming book Why The Monkees Matter and my scholarly take on the show.

Clck here to read more about Why The Monkees Matter  by Dr. Rosanne Welch

Sarah asked all the best questions which allowed me to discuss all the things I love studying about the show – its take on feminism, its handling of ethnic characters, what I like to call its cultural collateral – and of course why it deserves a place in critical studies in television courses because of its innovation – you do know it won an Emmy for Best Comedy in its debut year, don’t you? That ranks it right up there with classic quality comedies.

The whole show is fun to listen to as they discuss Micky’s solo show and some news about future concerts, (but if you want to start with my interview first that starts at 29:15 and ends at 1:23:00)

Listen to the podcast

[audio:http://podkisst.com/audio/Zilch48.mp3]

You might want to download the file (or subscribe to the podcast) rather than listening online as sometimes I’ve found their server gets overloaded and the audio falls out. I download the mp3 and then play it from my iTunes program.

More on The Monkees from Dr. Rosanne Welch:

Hey, Hey, They Wrote The Monkees – Written By Magazine

The Doctor As Family Man from How Doctor Who Redefined Masculinity [Video Clip] (0:51)

Dr. Rosanne Welch presents “How Doctor Who Redefined Masculinity: A Study of the Doctors and their Male Companions at the Cal Poly Pomona University Library. Dr. Welch teaches in the IGE (Interdisciplinary General Education) program.

Watch the entire presentation here

The Doctor As Family Man from How Doctor Who Redefined Masculinity

 

Transcript:

This leads me to the family men which I think is the most defining characteristic and I’d almost say in the new Who, but I’m going to show you how it affected the old Who as well. But they’re in this period, all referencing that. Now we go back to the old Who because it started with a father — a grandfather figure. Right? so we were given a family man to begin with to want to follow through time. His granddaughter, Susan, who is his first companion. So we had him, then we didn’t really talk about The Doctor’s family for a long time, until? Any guesses? (Pause) The Doctor’s Daughter! Finally we got to a daughter. That’s very interesting. Now we know she’s a clone thing and bah blah so it’s not really liked he was married and had a kid yet…

A clip from this 5th talk on various aspects of Doctor Who presented by Dr. Welch. You can find Dr. Welch’s other Doctor Who talks using the links below.

Dr. Rosanne Welch

Follow Dr. Rosanne Welch on the Web and via social media at:

Rosanne performs in The Vagina Monologues at Cal Poly Pomona

My CalPolyPomona colleague (and encyclopedia co-editor) Peg Ann Lamphier and I wanted to put our feminist money (or at least time) where our feminist lectures are — so we auditioned for the annual performance of The Vagina Monologues, produced by the Women’s Resource Center on campus.

We’re sharing one near the very end of the program with two students that tells the story of a birth. It’s been a blast working with these great young women.

Can’t wait for the performance on Tuesday Feb 16th. Come check it out!

Rosanne performs in The Vagina Monologues at Cal Poly Pomona

 

Captain Jack and Danny Pink from How Doctor Who Redefined Masculinity [Video Clip] (1:00)

Dr. Rosanne Welch presents “How Doctor Who Redefined Masculinity: A Study of the Doctors and their Male Companions at the Cal Poly Pomona University Library. Dr. Welch teaches in the IGE (Interdisciplinary General Education) program.

Watch the entire presentation here

Captain Jack and Danny Pink from How Doctor Who Redefined Masculinity

 

Transcript:

But I think this is a huge step and, of course, or you may know, if you don’t know, they spun Jack off into his own show, Torchwood, which I found a wonderful show. I’ve got a chapter ina book on Torchwood right here.

And he’s also shows us a man who can deal with a powerful woman. And that’s Gwen in this series is his equal in terms of carry the gun, take the down the bad guy, has all of that stuff. There’s no “better than you” argument. They’re very equal and their both capable of that which makes for a really, really interesting series. So Jack, I think, gives us a few things. He’s a warrior, but then he’s this new person we’re going to accept in our society which wouldn’t have happened in the 1960’s or 70’s. So Jack’s a pretty important guy.

Hey, in our most recent make companion we have Danny Pink. Also a warrior. Also affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from our most recent war. So he’s living with that on a daily basis while he tries to take care of Clara and see where he can go in his life. So I think he’s a really cool character.

A clip from this 5th talk on various aspects of Doctor Who presented by Dr. Welch. You can find Dr. Welch’s other Doctor Who talks using the links below.

Dr. Rosanne Welch

Follow Dr. Rosanne Welch on the Web and via social media at: