24 Frames: Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (Frank Tashlin, 1957)

The high point in the film’s satiric vision of corporate upward mobility comes toward the end of the film, in the scenes in which Rockwell receives his promotions — first to vice president and then to president. These scenes parody status panic and the success ethic at its most exaggerated. When Rock first sees his tide of vice president on his new office door, he is understandably excited: “I never thought I’d live to see that; it makes everything that’s happened seem worthwhile.” But the predictable promotion scene turns to a parody of the “grey flannel dream” when Rock is given the key to the Executive Washroom. The Executive Washroom, with its “imported liquid soap,” is a kind of temple to the success ethic. “This means I’m an executive,” Rock declares fatuously, as Rufus, teary-eyed, hands him the key. Rock walks to the bathroom door, accompanied by background strains of “Hail to the Chief,” and enters the inner sanctum while angelic singing is heard in the background. “Oh, the beauty of it all,” he proclaims, overwhelmed by the fruits of his own success.
The over-the-top quality of Tashlin’s gag is saved only by the fact that the Executive Washroom is connected to a more general motif of scatalogical references. When Rockwell is first fired by Junior, he tells his boss off in no uncertain terms: “You’re just a litde poop of a man, and that’s the way the poop poops.” Rockwell’s language – simultaneously obscene and childish – seems to be emblematic of spoken discourse throughout the film. Rufus, for example, speaks in a jokey form of corporatese that often involves childish constructions such as “your problem can be solvie-solvie” or “we’re on the gravy choo-choo,” and he insists on infantalizing Rockwell as “Rocky-boy.” Rita has an equally infantile tendency to think that any word of more than three syllables must be obscene. “Seclusion sounds so dirty,” she titters during a television interview, and when Rockwell asks for her “endorsement,” she admonishes him not to “start talking dirty.” Both on Madison Avenue and in the entertainment industry, it seems, language has been reduced to the sanitized and infantilized discourse that can be used on television and in advertising. In one gender-bended euphemism, the Executive Washroom becomes the “Executive Powder Room.”

The films plot (and Rockwell’s success) depends on both the creation of Rita Marlowe (the “goddess of love” with the “oh-so-kissable lips”) by the popular media and the manipulation of the media (fabricating a “Lover Doll” for personal and promotional purposes) by Rita. As Rufus tells Rock, success no longer has anything to do with talent, accomplishment, or education. Rather, it is a matter of “being at the right place at the right time.” When Rock reaches the executive rank, Rufus comments sardonically, “It’s a miracle how you overcame your education.” Much more valuable than Rockwell’s Harvard diploma, which has so far only gotten him low-paying jobs as a copywriter and has given him an inflated sense of his own prospects in the world, is the serendipitous fact that his niece is president of the local chapter of the Rita Marlowe Fan Club.

Class, Language and American Film Comedy – Christopher Beach

É deveras assustador perceber que depois de 50 anos as coisas não apenas continuam as mesmas como tiveram seus efeitos potencializados vertiginozamente, em termos de lavagem cerebral em relação ao culto ao corpo (e como isso afeta drasticamente a psique feminina), ao culto à celebridade (e como isso afeta drasticamente a inteligência humana) e o culto do resto da porcariada (dinheiro, poder, blábláblá, toda aquela coisa de sempre que afeta tudo em geral). Brrrrrr.

Publicado por Adriana Scarpin

Bibliófila, ailurófila, cinéfila e anarcafeminista. Really. Podem me encontrar também aqui: https://linktr.ee/adrianascarpin

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