Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Prompt 1: Images

According to Ware’s graphic novel, “Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth,the western world is in a dismal state.  Guised as a global metropolis at the forefront of civilization and technology, Ware depicts the West as ridden with social problems.  He shows Lady Liberty, once the personification of freedom and power, as having been corrupted by present-day western world.  Ware, through his use of a blindfolded Lady Liberty, exposes the true condition of the West in present day: a backwards society in which technology is the only component that is advancing, albeit aimlessly.  
Despite rapidly improving and groundbreaking technology,  millions are impoverished and sick.  To blame technology itself for not being accessible to the poor and ailing would be to ignore the true cause - the wealthy.  Capitalism is what drives the incessant growth and aimlessness of technology in the world.  The competition to make more money has resulted in numerous advances in technology but has also resulted in man’s ignorance to the plight of his fellow citizens.  By using technology only for monetary gain, conditions for the poor continue to deteriorate despite the existence of technology to aid them.  Ware presents two wealthy men each buying a newspaper from a young black paperboy.  The deteriorating health of his mother, who we can assume to be impoverished, is revealed and both men are presented with an opportunity to help the paperboy.  However rather than helping the boy for altruistic reasons, it became apparent that it was a competition between the two men when the “losing” man muttered the racial slur.  They were not concerned for the welfare of the boy and his mother, but concerned rather of themselves.  He was too busy “weighing the relative value of his own redemption, the young newsboy’s actual degree of impoverishment, and the large lunch he was planning for himself later that day” to be concerned with the boy’s well being.  


This state of the wealthy using their status and money towards themselves rather than the needy is the source of the aimlessness of technology.  The blindfolded Lady Liberty grasping the ribbons of technology illustrate a society which is equipped with tools of progress however is blinded by competition and selfishness.  When the people who have the means and access to technology do not use it to promote social health of the society, then the advancements of technology are all for naught.  

The bare-chested Lady Liberty is not an image of empowerment but rather one of the sexualization of women.  In the painting, “Liberty Leading the People” by Eugène Delacroix, Lady Liberty is an image of freedom and power.  She is depicted as leading the French from a tyrannical government into a new age of independence.  Her bare chest symbolizes not the sexual image of a woman but rather the difficult journey from which she has emerged victorious.  This sentiment is not mirrored in Ware’s depiction of Lady Liberty who is plastered on the wall of a store.  She is not in a context of art but a context of commerce and capitalism.  Here her bare chest does not symbolize
power but rather is present to be ogled or simply dismissed by passerby's.  Ware illustrates that despite being heralded as “The Metropolis of the West” at the forefront of social and technological advancement, women are being dismissed and sexualized.  When a woman attempts to be an individual by self-empowering herself, she is disregarded and attacked as overstepping her boundaries.  The woman dressed with an intricate hat rather than a more simple one is dismissed by the same man who dismisses Lady Liberty’s chest as an image of empowerment.  This depicts the stratification of genders in the social hierarchy in which women are at the bottom.  

Ware’s critique of society’s view of women is apparent in our modern day media’s depiction of women.  Films, magazine, and music present a hypersexualized image of women intended to portray women in an inferior role thus promoting the immobility of women in the social hierarchy.              

1 comment:

Adam said...

This is a strong, argumentative intro.

Re: the 2nd paragraph, I have two criticisms, although the direction itself shows promise.

First, we jump too easily and quickly from the specific to the general. While we can certainly read Jimmy Corrigan as a critique of global capitalism, it is very specifically grounded in particular times and places (note the plural!). It would be much more engaging and interesting to see you begin with the specifics and maybe, to some extent, work your way back to the generalizations, rather than the other way around.

2nd, we don't actually know what the other man's motives were, do we? We know Jimmy Corrigan's great-grandfather's motivations, but not the other man's. Think through the specifics first. Generalize later, if at all.

Your discussion of blind liberty/technology is smart, although you miss at least one importance reference. Your use of Delacroix is awesome, but one thing to remember (or research here) is that Justice is conventionally represented as being blind. Now, that doesn't mean that you're wrong - because Justice is not conventionally represented as bare-breasted, either. So I think your insights are smart, interesting, and worthy of elaboration - but that it's a little more complicated, and that there are more points of reference, than you initially thought.


Great *early* analysis of Ware's visualization of technology. Earlier on, the essay was a little more random and over general, although by no means useless. I'd love to see a more elaborated version of this essay. The argument is there, but many details remain to be worked out. Also, ideally you'd want to think through what it means that this "Lady Technology" is in 1893, not in the present of Jimmy's life. Does that matter for your reading?