Richard Dyer maintains that because the film musical is one of the purest forms of onscreen entertainment (i.e., its central objective is to provide pleasure), it consistently offers spectators a utopian sensibility.
Lesson / Koan : Right as Rain & Rain is Right.
Richard Dyer’s work discusses the use of utopianism in film, television, and mass entertainment.
Dyer characterizes utopia as -“the image of ‘something better’ to escape into, or something we want deeply that our day-to-day lives don’t provide.“
The Musical — a genre that thrives on the audience’s enjoyment of the stars’ performances — is not concerned with how utopia would be organized but what it would feel like. Viewers may experience this via five elements: energy, abundance, intensity, transparency, and community.
To illustrate Dyer’s point, one might consider “Singin’ in the Rain“ (Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, 1952), a film with which many readers are likely familiar.
• Energy (work and play synonymous)
For instance, the spectator experiences the musical’s utopic feeling of energy through the number “Moses Supposes” as Cosmo Brown (Donald O’Connor) and Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) tap vigorously and forcefully in the office of a voice coach, indicating that the two could sing and dance forever.
• Abundance (elimination of poverty for self and others; equal distribution of wealth)
Similarly, the viewer senses abundance during the number “All I Do Is Dream of You” as the performers as well as those observing don extravagant clothing and meander around lavish sets.
• Intensity (excitement, drama, affectivity of living)
Third, the utopic feeling of intensity is emitted during the film’s most recognizable number, “Singin’ in the Rain,” as Lockwood directly and unabashedly expresses his newfound love for Kathy Seldon (Debbie Reynolds).
• Transparency (open, spontaneous, honest communications and relationships)
Furthermore, the utopic sense of transparency is evident in the number “You Are My Lucky Star” as Lockwood and Seldon publically affirm their relationship, one of quality and substance.
• Community (all together in one place, communal interests, collective activity)
Finally, audiences relish the utopic feeling of community while Lockwood, Cosmo, and Kathy perform “Good Morning,” dancing about Lockwood’s Beverly Hills mansion in perfect harmony and with a cooperative spirit.
Glee is a fairly popular show, isn’t it?
Many would say that the art & time for musicals is over and gone. The social value of the musicals is what has really has gone missing. The value & impact to escape. Some would say that movies, films & Hollywood are still producing two hours of escapism, but the five elements Dyer describes are missing so often.
Here is a simple test : How many people do you know that you would describe in the following way? :
“They have a song in their heart.“