Introduction Speech of a Famous Person: Marilyn Monroe

This was written for my Advanced Public Speaking class.  We had to introduce a famous person.  This assignment assumed that the person was still alive, and that the subject would be speaking publicly.

  1. Introduction
  1. Today, I will introduce one of the most influential people of the twentieth century.
  2. She is known for being one of the leading sex symbols of her day
  3. Yet, she also wished to be known as more than a pretty face, but a serious, talented actress.
  4. That person is Marilyn Monroe.
  1. Body
  1. Monroe was born in Los Angeles in 1926 (Doll, 2007).
    1. She did not have a stable, happy childhood.
    2. Her mother was mentally unwell.
    3. Her father never acknowledged her as his own daughter.
    4. Her mother became unfit to raise her, and so Monroe was often in foster care, or cared for by friends of the family.
    5. At age sixteen, she got married, and soon after that she began a modeling career as a result of her work in a parachute factory during World War II but after she began her modeling career, she got a divorce, and turn her efforts to to becoming actress.
    6. Years of hard work paid off, and Monroe was signed to 20th Century Fox.
  2. Monroe became a huge star with 20th Century Fox, with much emphasis on her sexy image (Doll, 2007).
    1. Some of her hit films included Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, and The Seven Year Itch.
    2. However, Monroe did not feel happy about the roles she was given, and she sought more challenging work, not wanting to play shallow, sexy dumb blonde characters.
    3. She moved from Hollywood to New York City and studied at the Actors’ Studio to learn how to become a serious dramatic actress.
    4. She also established her own production company, Marilyn Monroe Productions.
    5. Following the success of The Seven Year Itch, she signed a new contract with Twentieth Century Fox, granting her creative control over the films she appeared in.
    6. Following her appearance in the film Bus Stop, Monroe proved that she was serious dramatic actress with considerable depth.
    7. From then on, Marilyn Monroe was viewed as not only a sex symbol, but as self-sufficient and intelligent woman who was very good at her field.
  1. Conclusion
  1. To conclude, it is clear that Marilyn Monroe is more than a pretty face.
  2. She is a woman who knows what she wants out of her career, and she showed that she has the talent and skill to make it happen.




Doll, S. (2007, August 29). Marilyn Monroe’s Early Life – HowStuffWorks. Retrieved February 9, 2015, from


Doll, S. (2007, August 29). Marilyn Monroe’s First Movie Role – HowStuffWorks. Retrieved February 9, 2015, from


Doll, S. (2007, August 29). Marilyn Monroe in ‘How to Marry a Millionaire’ – HowStuffWorks. Retrieved February 9, 2015, from


Qualitative Content Analysis of Disney Princesses

I originally wrote this for my Communication Research class, this past semester.

Content Analysis of Disney Princesses

Ellis Sutton


The purpose of this content analysis is to analyze the Disney Princess characters based on how well they are as media depictions of women.  In other words, the characters will be analyzed based on how they fit in or do not fit into to traditional gender roles; how they subvert and/or maintain traditionally female expectation; and how feminist they are portrayed.

Content Analysis of Disney Princesses

The Disney Princesses are among the most well known animated characters of all time.  Many girls have looked up to them.  They can be seen everywhere from, of course, the movies, and various forms of merchandise such as clothing, Halloween costumes, dolls, candy, and anything that one could possibly think of.  It’s clear that these characters are a gold mine for The Walt Disney Company.  However, not everyone is keen on the Disney Princesses.  Countless individuals have criticized the franchise, accusing Disney of doing things such as stereotyping girls, telling girls that being princesses is the only thing that they can do and/or should strive for, and of the movies themselves, being negative and anti-feminist portrayals of women that serve to reinforce patriarchal and traditional expectations of women.

This content analysis will analyze six of the  official Disney Princesses: Snow White from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs; Cinderella from Cinderella; Aurora from Sleeping Beauty; Ariel from The Little Mermaid; Belle from Beauty and the Beast; and Jasmine from Aladdin.  I will analyze them based on what their goals are (that is to say, whether they have goals that conform to traditional expectations of women and girls or not); and how assertive they are (in other words, the question of whether or not they stand up for themselves when they are able to, and if they take the initiative to reach their own goals, or if they do nothing while others simply do stuff for them).  In addition, I will quantify the number of times that they engage in assertive declarations and actions; I will define assertive declarations and actions as any instance where the Disney Princesses, through words and/or actions, stands up for one’s self and/or others.

The purpose of mentioning the goals of the Disney Princesses is to address a common criticism of the franchise.  Several of the characters have been accused of having goals and dreams that are nothing more than wanting a man to be with.  Such critics charge that the movies send the message that the only thing a woman should aspire to is to find her one true love.  In this paper, I will examine whether the Disney Princesses only care about romance, or if they care about more than simply romance.

To begin with, I will start with the very first Disney Princess: Snow White from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  Personality wise, Snow White is portrayed, above all, as a kind and sweet-hearted individual.

At the beginning of the film, she is cleaning the outside steps of the castle, while wearing rags, as her evil stepmother, the Queen, has forced her to do as a result of the Queen’s jealousy of Snow White’s beauty.

I have counted only one assertive declaration and/or action that Snow White engages in.  The only assertive thing she does is running away when the Hunstman informs her that the Queen wants her dead.  The rest of the film, Snow White expresses her dreams, wishes, and hopes, which seem to be nothing more than her true love one day finding her, and carrying her off into the distance where they will be happy together for the rest of their lives.

Next is the title character of Cinderella.  I have counted three assertive declarations and actions that she engages in.  Cinderella is a multi-faceted young woman.  She is a gentle and kind person, as exemplified by the fact that she has befriended several of the birds and mice who live in the large chateau she lives in; mice are often viewed as pests, but since she is treated horribly by her step-family, she can clearly empathize with people and even animals who would likely be mistreated as well.

Moving on, Cinderella is a strong and assertive woman and human being, but only as much as she can be.  Even though her family abuses her and treats her as servant, Cinderella remains optimistic, and does not allow the abuse she has suffered to make her into a bad person.  She almost always maintains a positive attitude.  At times, Cinderella does get frustrated; she complains about the sound of the morning bell of the clock of the palace, and at one point she says, “Oh now what do they want?” when her stepsisters yell to her to do some sort of task for them.

Cinderella is assertive, as said previously, only to the extent that she can be.  When the palace sends out a decree that “every eligible maiden” (which I assume means, any young woman who is of marriageable age, and who is not already married or engaged to be married) is to attend a ball in honor of the Prince, to help him find a woman to marry, Cinderella points out that she can go as well.  Her stepsisters, Anastasia and Drizella, mock such a notion, that the Prince would be interested in a girl who is a servant.  Cinderella, however, stands up for herself, stating that regardless of how they treat her, she is still a member of the family, and the royal decree never said that servant girls are not to be counted as “every eligible maiden.”  Her stepmother, Lady Tremaine, concedes that Cinderella is right, and gives Cinderella permission to go to the ball, but only on the conditions that Cinderella finishes all of her chores and finds a dress that is proper to wear to a ball.

I would like to expand upon how Cinderella’s assertiveness only goes so far.  While, Cinderella does defend her right to go to the ball, she does little else other than saving the mice around the chateau.  Part of this has to do with the time period the movie is set in.  A woman in those times likely would not have had many options for an independent life.  One might say that Cinderella could run away, but then she would likely be homeless, or be forced to take a job as servant for another family, who might very well abuse her as well.  Not to mention, if she ran away, her stepmother could potentially badmouth her to people who might otherwise be interested in considering her for employment.

With regard to goals, Cinderella does not seem to live the principle of “The only thing a woman should want is a man.”  What she really wants is freedom.  Cinderella longs to be happy, and to be cherished and valued by somebody.  Ultimately, of course, it is marriage that provides Cinderella with her ticket to the life she wants.

Despite her successful attempts at being assertive and standing up for herself to her step-family, there are still many other times where she is powerless.

Next is Aurora from Sleeping Beauty.  It’s rather hard to analyze her, from a general standpoint, or from a feminist standpoint, because Aurora is very undeveloped as a character.  In total I have counted zero assertive declarations and actions.  She is depicted as being kind and beautiful, but that’s all that she is.  She is a romantic at heart, and she is a big believer in how dreams are destined to come true.  However, Aurora never does anything to make her dreams come true; she is passive rather than assertive.  While picking berries in the forest, she tells her animal friends that she has met her true love multiple times in her dreams, but is convinced that she will meet him in real life because as she says, “If you dream a thing more than once, it’s sure to come true, and I’ve seen him so many times.”  Moments later, Aurora does in fact the meet her dream lover, Prince Philip.  They embrace each other, but when Aurora realizes that she must return home, she runs away, but invites Philip to her birthday celebration .  When the three Good Fairies, Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather (who have raised her under the name of Briar Rose, and told her that they are her aunts),  tell her that she is a princess and is betrothed to be married to  Prince Philip (she is unaware that the young man she met is in fact Prince Philip, and he is unaware that she is Aurora; they never even learned each other’s names) she cries in devastation.  Aurora does not stand for her right to marry whomever she wants, she goes along the the Good Fairies back to the castle.  Shortly afterwards, Maleficent hypnotizes her into pricking her finger on a spinning wheel, leading to her going into a deep slumber that can only be awaken by receiving true love’s kiss.   Yet, her passiveness ultimately leads to her  getting all she desires: her one true love.

It is interesting to note that given Aurora’s flatness as a character, the Good Fairies are more well-drawn and developed than she is.  In fact, one can make the argument that they are the true main characters of the film.  They could also be more easily defended on feminist grounds.  First, they are not typical female characters.   They are depicted as being old (though as supernatural beings, they are likely immortal and at least hundreds of years old), and they are not “conventionally attractive.”  Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather are depicted appearance wise as short and overweight; Aurora, by contrast, is tall and thin.   They all are assertive, and they take the initiative to protect Aurora.  They conclude that the only way to keep Aurora safe from Maleficent is to raise her in seclusion.  When this ultimately fails, however, they still do all they can to break the spell.  They rescue Prince Philip, who had been captured by Maleficent when he came to their forest home to see Aurora.  While Prince Philip does defeat Maleficent, he does so with their help; the Good Fairies give him a magical sword and shield.  The Good Fairies are the active protagonists of the story, and they even participate in the “typically male” action of rescuing the damsel in distress.  They secure the happy ending for Aurora and Philip.

Moving ahead thirty years, is The Little Mermaid.  It’s protagonist, Ariel, is very different from the previous three Disney Princesses.  I have counted four assertive declarations and actions that she engages in.  She is first and foremost, the type of girl who is curious about what lies beyond her own experiences.  Ariel is obsessed with life on land, and to that end, she has collected countless items from sunken ships.  This is important, because the movie shows that Ariel is assertive, and that she rebels against the narrow expectations that are imposed upon her.  She knows that there is more than just the sea, and she longs to be apart life on land, to become human, and follow her heart’s yearning.  She is the most assertive Disney Princess thus far.  Her main goal in life is not to find a man, but to live a life that is completely different so that she can finally find happiness.

Also, Ariel is noteworthy as the first Disney Princess to save the life of a man.  When there is a huge storm, Prince Eric is thrown overboard his ship, and Ariel rescues him from drowning. She is immediately in love with him.

Later on, when Ariel’s father, King Triton, finds out about her feelings for Eric, and he angrily expresses his disapproval.  This leads two Flotsam and Jetsam, Ursula’s two pet eels, to lure Ariel away to Ursula’s lair so that Ursula can use Ariel to gain control of the kingdom from Triton.

The scene where Ariel makes her deal with Ursula to become human is interesting in how women’s roles in society are discussed.  Ursula demands Ariel’s voice as payment.   Ursula tells Ariel that on land, men prefer it if women never speak.  This is interesting to me because rather than depicting a protagonist behaving in an anti-feminist manner, they portray an antagonist as such.  This specific portrayal seems to imply that it is in fact a bad thing for women to never speak their minds.

Next is Belle from Beauty and the Beast.  I have counted six assertive declarations and actions that she engages in throughout the film.  She is perhaps the most complex Disney Princess thus far.  Belle is an intellectual.  She has a huge love for reading books and expanding her mind into new horizons.  Because of this she is considered odd, as her society does not consider it suitable for a woman to be very educated, and therefore, Belle has no friends in her village.  The lack of a human connection has made Belle into an independent women.  Belle is not happy with her life, and the thing she wants most of all is to live a happy, adventurous, and fulfilling, and to have someone (not a romantic partner, necessarily, but SOMEONE) who can understand and respect who she is.

This leads to some conflict with Gaston who wants to marry Belle, but she does not like him because he is arrogant, narcissistic, and does not consider women to be equal human beings like men.  This is evidenced by Gaston stating outright that women should not read because then they would get ideas and such.  Gaston also has no respect for Belle’s right to make her own choices.  He attempts to marry her without her consent, having already set up a wedding and everything.  He plans for her to be a traditional and submissive wife, but Belle firmly rejects him.  Belle shows herself to be assertive in standing up to Gaston for her rights.

After this, the horse Phillipe, returns without Belle’s father, Maurice.  Belle rides him to the castle where Maurice is being prisoner by the Beast.  Belle once again shows her assertiveness in offering to take Maurice’s place as the Beast’s prisoner.

The film is often accused of romanticizing abusive relationships, and Belle is often accused of having Stockholm syndrome.  I disagree with both of those notions.

First of all, from the beginning, Belle is assertive towards the Beast whenever she is able to.  When the Beast demands that she join him for dinner, she firmly states that she will not eat dinner with.  Given how little respect he has for her, she wants nothing to do with the Beast.  Belle also shows some rebelliousness, in fulfilling her thirst for knowledge.  She goes to the West Wing of the Castle, despite the Beast telling her not to.  When he catches her, he responds with explosive anger, seriously scaring Belle in the process.  She immediately runs away into a pack of wolves.  The Beast follows after Belle to save her, but this leads to him being injured.  She takes him back to castle to treat his wounds, and when the Beast complains about how Belle caused the entire ordeal by running away, she counters that she would not have run away if she hadn’t scared her.  He responds that she should have stayed out of the West Wing, and she responds that he needs to learn how control his anger.

This leads to the Beast making significant changes in his life and in how treats Belle.  He notices that Belle is sad, and she is still keeping her distance from him.  He wants to do something for her, to make things better for her, and he introduces her to the castle’s library which contains more books than she had ever seen before in her entire; it is far larger than the bookshop in her village, certainly.  This shows that he is cares about what she is interested in.  Belle and the Beast begin spending more and more time together, with the Beast treating Belle with the utmost respect.  This is proof that the film does not romanticize an abusive relationship.  If anything, the film shows that people will respond favorably only to people who try to treat them with genuine respect.

Also of note is the fact that the film does not depict Belle trying to change the Beast.  She does not try to be nice to him so that he will not disrespect her, and she certainly does not cower in fear for the majority of the time before the Beast starts being kind to her.  She stands up to him, and refuses to submit to his demands.  In fact, the entire reason she is at the castle is by choice, in order to save her father.  She willingly puts aside her suffering for the sake her father.

The above shows that Belle has a lot of agency.  Every action she takes in the film is her own choice.  This combined with the fact that Belle rebels against certain traditionally female roles is clear proof that Belle is a highly feminist portrayal of women.

Finally, I will discuss Jasmine from Aladdin.  Jasmine is the first non-white Disney Princess, and she is from a culture that is known for being very oppressive towards women, namely the Arab/Islamic world.

Jasmine’s conflict at the beginning of the film is how her father, the Sultan, is forcing her to get married.  By law, all princesses must be married to a prince.  Jasmine, however, does not like any of the princes that her father invites to the kingdom of Agrabah.  She tells him that she wants to marry for love.  Jasmine also laments about how she has very little agency.  She expresses how being a princess is not always fun; she has never been outside the palace walls, and always has servants telling her what to do, with regard to performing her princess duties, I presume.

Jasmine realizes that she has to take control of her own life.  At night she runs away from the palace.  The following day, Jasmine is incognito, wandering through the marketplace.  She sees a young boy trying to reach an apple, and she gives it to him.  However, the merchant, angry at her for stealing the apple tries to chop her hand off, Aladdin, who witnessed the ordeal quickly intervenes, saying that Jasmine is his sister who is crazy.  Far from being a helpless damsel in distress, Jasmine is able to play along and act as though she is mentally ill.

Later on, Jasmine does more to show that she is assertive, she is able to use a stick to jump between the roof of two buildings, just as Aladdin has; “I’m a fast learner,” she says.  When the guards capture Aladdin, she attempts to use her royal authority as a princess to tell them to stop, only to be told that Jafar is the one who ordered Aladdin’s arrest.

Other assertive things Jasmine does throughout the rest of the film include, standing up to Jafar for having Aladdin arrested by the palace guards; admonishing her father, Jafar, and Aladdin (who is disguised as Prince Ali) about how they are demonstrating a complete lack for her rights to make her own choices about whom to marry and telling them, “I am not a prize to be won!”; calling out Aladdin for lying about being who he was; and helping to distract Jafar when Aladdin tries to sneak back in the castle.

Jasmine engages in a total of eight assertive declarations or actions within the running time of the film.

In conclusion I have analyzed how often several Disney Princesses engage in assertive behaviors.  It is clear that as time moved on, the filmmakers recognized that women are capable and strong, and the films more and more began to reflect that.

Think Piece: The Joneses

I originally wrote this for a class in Communication Ethics.


The Jones is a satirical comedy-drama that calls into question the issues of consumerism and how they affect people.

The film is about the Jones family, Steve and Kate, the parents, and Jenn and Mick, the teenage children, but they are not who they appear to be.  They are actually the employees of a company that makes several household consumer products.  They pretend to be a family that has moved into a wealthy suburb, and they integrate their company’s products in their everyday life.  The goal is that by “modeling” the company’s products in manners that normal people would use them, it would encourage people to buy them.

This is an interesting perspective to say the least.  Some people might feel that advertising does not reflect real life, and that they only depict simulations of the use of consumer products that supposedly never work the way they do during the commercials.  This appears to be an attempt to solve that issue.  However, this leads into the ethical dilemma of deceiving people, and how that would reflect upon the company if the deception were to be discovered.

Other ethical issues include the fact Jenn, who is pretending to be a teenager is having an affair with a married man.  Also, Steve has feelings for Kate, which complicates the job that they have to do together.

Another consequence of our consumer culture is how people constantly are sent the message that their value lies in the stuff they buy.  Their neighbors, Larry and Summer Symonds, are deeply in debt, and the Joneses unintentionally exasperate Larry’s anxiety about their plight.  This culminates in Larry taking his own life.  Steve is devastated, and he feels responsible for Larry’s suicide.  He exposes the entire ruse of the Jones family to the entire neighborhood realizing how dangerous consumerism can be to other people, especially if it is compounded by the fact that people are being deceptive.


Think Piece: Thank You for Smoking

I wrote this for a class I took this past semester on Communication Ethics.


Thank You for Smoking is a satirical comedy-drama film that poses several ethical questions and dilemmas that the tobacco industry has faced in real life.

The film points out how when it became known that smoking cigarettes causes all sorts of health problems such as lung cancer, the tobacco industry knew that this would be a threat to their livelihood.

Enter Nick Naylor, a spokesman for the Academy of Tobacco Studies.  He is a powerful and hated lobbyist who who does everything in his power to get people to doubt that cigarettes are harmful, and that nonetheless, people should be able to choose to smoke cigarettes if they wish to do so.

The main ethical issue of the film (or at least, one of the main ethical issues) is about why should a company be able to sell a harmful product to the public.  Naylor points out that scientific studies (which have been funded by tobacco companies, and are certainly falsified) have found no conclusive evidence either way to prove or disprove that tobacco is harmful.  However, any of Naylor’s words and arguments are bogus due to the studies.  Nonetheless, through creating doubt, he is able to increase the odds that a child or teenager may just someday make the decision to smoke cigarettes when they become of legal age.

Throughout the film, there is much time devoted to showing Nick trying to justify his life’s work to his son.  It is interesting from an ethical perspective because it calls into question how a parent is supposed to deal with that.

Nick has a personal dilemma when he is forcibly given a nicotine overdose.  Nick is saved only by the fact that he is a smoker, but is told that he must stop smoking in order to stay alive.  Despite this, he accepts the consequences of his actions, and he remains firm that if an adult has knowledge of the harm that cigarettes do, then they should be allowed to make the decision to smoke.

Film Analysis Assignment (Roman Holiday) [MCOM 4731 & 6731/IFDI 5731 – Film Analysis Assignment]

For my screenwriting class, we had to write a film analysis paper for a film that was awarded or nominated for an Oscar for its screenplay.

Film Analysis Assignment

Due Date:  Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Students will choose a film from the list below and write a 3-5-page paper (single-spaced), discussing the important aspects of the film they chose to view for class.  Students are encouraged to choose a film they have not seen before, since the purpose of this assignment is to expand overall film knowledge.


The first portion of the paper will be dedicated to the identification and explanation of the following structural elements of the film:

  • Plot
  • Subplot(s)
  • Protagonist
  • Antagonist
  • Theme
  • The film’s turning points (all seven turning points)
  • Setting (all four aspects)
  • The genre of the film


During the second portion of the paper, students are encouraged to analyze a film from their personal viewpoint.  Students should ask themselves questions such as, did you relate to the characters while you were watching the film?  Were you rooting for the protagonist?  Were there believable character arcs throughout the entire film for the main characters?


Throughout the entire paper, students are expected to make a thorough analysis of the film; therefore, it may be necessary to view the film more than once.


Below are the films you may choose from:

The Godfather

The Godfather, Part II

When Harry Met Sally

The Verdict

All the President’s Men

The Graduate

Roman Holiday

Singin’ In the Rain

Dead Poets Society

Good Will Hunting


Ellis Sutton

MCOM 4731 & 6731/IFDI 5731 –

Film Analysis Assignment


For this analysis, I watched the debut performance of a graceful, talented, and generous actress, the late Audrey Hepburn.  It was Roman Holiday.  This film won several Academy Awards including Best Actress for Audrey Hepburn and Best Story (At the time, the awards for story and screenplay were two separate awards) for Dalton Trumbo (Ian McLellan Hunter who wrote the screenplay along with John Dighton, and who was nominated for writing it along with him was credited for the story accepted the Best Story Oscar because Trumbo was part of the Hollywood Blacklist, and therefore, could not be credited; Trumbo would, in later years, eventually be credited for winning the award, and in 1983, his widow was given the Oscar that was rightfully his and should have been awarded to him in the first place).

The film focuses on a Princess Ann, who is the princess of an unspecified European country.  Ann is on a goodwill tour of various European capital cities, including London, Amsterdam, Paris, and currently, Rome.

Ann, however, is feeling very jaded and disenchanted with life as the member of a Royal family.  Her life is very choreographed.  She always has a packed schedule filled with dedicating buildings, meeting dignitaries, and attending balls where she has to dance with several of the male guests in attendance, and where she has to stand for a long time, in high heel shoes, to meet, greet, and shake hands with the various royal people in attendance.

At nighttime, Ann is very emotionally upset about her life, and how much she wishes it were normal.  She complains to her maid servant about how she hates her long nightgown, which covers her feet, and that she wishes she could wear pajamas, or even nothing at all, as some commoners are known to do.  Ann also dislikes her nightly bedtime meal of milk and crackers.  When Ann grows hysterical about the challenges of being a princess and royal life and not having the freedoms that are afforded to most commoners, her maid servant calls her doctor who gives her a sleeping pill to calm her down.

The pill does not, however, go into immediate effect,and Ann sneaks out of the palace where she is staying, for a chance at some freedom, if only for a temporary period of time.

Ann hides into truck that is carrying wine.  She exits the truck after leaving the palace grounds and is happy about her newfound freedom.  However, the sleeping pill goes into effect.  A newspaper reporter, Joe Bradley, finds her in an intoxicated daze as caused by the sleeping pill, and he takes her home so that she can have a comfortable place to sleep for the night.

The next day, there is panic of sorts because Ann is discovered to be missing.  The palace claims that she is ill, and they cancel a press conference that she was due to give.

Eventually, Joe realizes who Ann is.  He decides to use this development as an opportunity to get an exclusive interview with Ann.

When she wakes up, she is confused.  He explains what happened the previous night, and she says that her name is Anya.  After she bathes and gets dressed, Ann leaves Joe’s apartment.

Ann explores the city, with great joy; feeling the need to reinvent herself, she gets her haircut in a short style, and and she runs into Joe on the Spanish Steps.  The two spend a lot of time together throughout the day all over Rome, and they fall in love.

Eventually, the police officers sent by the place to locate Ann find them at a party.  One police officer tries to take Ann by force.  Joe gets involved and this leads a large fight breaking out.  Ann and Joe manage to escape.

Shortly afterwards, Ann tearfully says goodbye to Joe because she has to return to her life as a princess.

She returns to the palace, stating that she knows what her duties are, and that is why she returned.  Ann also asserts herself to her servants, something that she had never done before.

Joe decides not to do the story that he planned to write about Ann.

The next day, the palace holds the press conference which was cancelled due to her absence, the previous day.  Joe is in attendance.  They interact as princess and news reporter, and it is very clear to the audience that their time together has changed them forever and for the better and that they would never forget each other.



The protagonists of the film are Ann and Joe.  Ann is the protagonist, first and foremost, because she is one of the film’s main characters.  The film focuses on her desire to live the life she wants rather than the life she wants to live.  Joe is a secondary protagonist (deuteragonist) because he is the second most important character in the film.



An interesting part of the film is the fact the antagonist is not the type to be actively evil, necessarily.  The palace and its servants are Ann’s antagonists.  She does not see eye to eye with them.  She wants to have more freedom.  When Ann runs away from the palace, and they find out, they set out to find her.  Eventually, the police find her, and they try to take her by force.  While, this attempt is thwarted, Ann does go back to the police because she recognizes her duties as a princess.  She only left in the first place because she wanted to get away from all of her royal responsibilities and obligations for just a moment in time.



The theme of the film is about how people can become very dissatisfied about their lives, and how sometimes, they simply need to take a break from everything just to feel alive again and to put things into perspective.  Ann gets a chance to be normal for a day.  But she realizes that she has to go back to her own life, and nonetheless, she appreciates that.

The film’s secondary theme is in how people can see other people as a pawn to be used only for one’s own purposes, only to change their mind as they get to know the person.  Joe, when he finds out who Ann is, decides to get an exclusive interview with her.  However, the day they spend together causes him to develop a true level of respect for her, and therefore, he decides not to write the story, because he understands what her struggles are; it would completely wrong to exploit her.


The Film’s Turning points (All Seven Turning Points)

I will now talk about the seven turning points in Roman Holiday.


The Back Story

Princess Ann is the prince of a European country, whose name is never mentioned in the film, let alone mentioned.  She has been to other European capital cities as part of a goodwill tour, and now Ann in is Rome.  She feels trapped by the demands of being royal, and she longs for freedom that is afforded to most commoners.


The Catalyst

At night, Ann complains to her servants about her plight.  When she grows belligerent, they call her doctor who gives her a sleeping pill to calm down.  Ann calms down to a point, and when her servants and doctor leave her room, she sneaks out of the palace.


The Big Event

Ann, in a drugged stupor, falls asleep outside.  She is found by Joe Bradley, and he takes her to his apartment so that she can have a comfortable place to sleep for the night.  The next day, he finds out who she is when it is announced that Princess Ann is ill, and cannot give a press conference.  He decides to get an exclusive interview from Ann.


The Midpoint

After Ann, wakes up, she thanks Joe for his kindness, and she leaves to explore the city of Rome by herself, enjoying herself in the process.  She runs into Joe, and they spend lots of time together, falling in love as well.


The Crisis

The palace has gotten the police involved to locate Ann and bring her back to the party.  


The Climax

At a riverside party, the police find Ann, and they try to take her by force.  Joe and his photographer, Irving, intervene, and this ensues in a huge fight breaking out, and Ann, Joe, and Irving escaping.

The Realization

Ann realizes that she has to return to her old life.  She bids a heartfelt farewell to Joe.  She asserts herself to her servants when she returns, recognizing her duties as a princess.  At the press conference, the next day, Ann meets Joe, who ask her a few questions, and it is clear that they have both changed as a result of their time together.



In this section, I will depict the four elements of the film’s setting.



The film is set almost entirely in Rome, Italy.  Several Roman landmarks are featured in the film including the Spanish Steps and the Mouth of Truth.  This shows how the city of Rome is very much a character in the film, given how many of the famous landmarks of Rome are prominently featured throughout the entire duration of the film.  If set in any of the other cities that Ann visited such as Amsterdam, London,or Paris, things would have been very different.


Time Period

The film is set during the early 1950s.  The time periods is not a huge part of the film.  But it does depict some of the values of the time such as how women often have little to no agency.


The Genre of the Film

The film is a romantic comedy with some dramatic elements.  The main plot of the film focuses on the relationship between Ann and Joe who eventually fall in love with each other.  There are also numerous comedic scenes such as when Ann is very groggy from the sleeping pill, and acts extremely awkwardly and clumsy.  There is also the scene where Ann and Joe are at the Mouth of Truth.  Joe puts his hand in the mouth, and he acts like it was bitten off.  Ann is extremely horrified, and Joe reveals that he was simply playing around with her.  There is also drama such when Joe and Ann part ways because Ann has to return to her royal life.  The final scene, depicting the press conference lacks any sort of comedy.  It is a calm and serious moment.


My Own Views of the Film

This film just okay in my humble opinion.  The story is rather simple.  It is all about how the royal life is not all fun and games, but a job that has great demands and very little freedom.  I did find Ann sympathetic to a point because I can understand being bored with one’s life and wanting to shake things up, even if only for short period of time (I feel that way every single day).  However, there is this part of me that despite the fact that Ann lacks certain privileges that commoners have, she still has privileges that most commoners do not have.

I don’t find the majority of the supporting characters interesting other than Joe.  They seemed kind of superflous which is odd because they logically do have something to add to the story.  They did not have the most memorable personalities, and if I were writing this film, I would like to think

However, I suppose that the rest of the film was okay.  Inoffensive and light, but not one of my favorites.  It had some funny moments, and Ann and Joe’s separation was heartfelt.  But this film seemed rather bland a lot of the time.  I personally preferred some other films that Hepburn appeared in such as Sabrina, The Children’s Hour and My Fair Lady (what little I have seen of it).

Chicago International Film Festival: Into the Clouds We Gaze (MCOM 4735, 6735 / IFDI 5735: Documentary Filmmaking Critical Viewing Assignment)

For my documentary film class, I also had to see a film at the Chicago International Film Festival.

MCOM 4735, 6735 / IFDI 5735:  Documentary Filmmaking

Critical Viewing Assignment – Due:  October 27th


Part of the fun of being a filmmaker is that you’re expected to watch A LOT of films.  It’s no different in this class, as one of your assignments is to view a documentary film at the upcoming film festival.


The 50th Annual Chicago International Film Festival will be taking place in Chicago on October 9th through October 23rd.  There are several documentary films that will be shown throughout the course of the film festival.  Please check the Chicago International Film Festival’s website for film descriptions, showtimes, and the theatre’s location:  It is not unusual for a film’s director or cast member to take part in a Q&A sessions after the screening.  If this is the case with your film, your participation is highly recommended, as you can learn a lot about the filmmaking process from these industry professionals.


Your papers should be 3-7 pages long (double-spaced) and it should include the following things:

  • A summary of the film
  • Production elements (demographics, overall theme(s), shooting techniques, etc.)
  • Personal reflection on your experience at the film festival

I hope you enjoy the festival!


Ellis Sutton

MCOM 4735, 6735 / IFDI 5735:  Documentary Filmmaking

Critical Viewing Assignment

On Tuesday, October 21, 2014 at 4:30 PM, I went to the Chicago International Film Festival at the AMC River East 21 theater to see the documentary film Into the Clouds We Gaze.  It follows a young man named Rada who lives in the northern Bohemia region of the Czech Republic.

Rada seems to have only one thing that he truly cares about in life: his car, a Ford Escort, and customizing it with stereos and lights.  Rada also goes to festivals where electronic dance music is played, and where people show off their cars at night while playing their music.

Rada also has practical things to care about.  He does not have stable employment throughout the documentary.  Near the beginning of the film, he gets a job at a factory.  He eventually changes to jobs to one at a farm, handling the heavy machinery there.

In the meantime, Rada spends time with his girlfriend who has a young daughter from a previous relationship.  She at one point expresses how she is afraid to tell her daughter the truth about her father who abandoned them when she became pregnant.

Rada eventually leaves her for another young woman that he cares more about and had stronger feelings for.

The film ends with Rada doing what he has done throughout the entire film: meandering about through his life not having any real direction.

The documentary was directed by Martin Dusek.  I watched an interview with Dusek, and he said that his goal was to document a young man who has no real purpose for his life that he has determined, and who is not particularly unique or interesting.

Thinking about this film, it is hard to understand the point, but the director’s words make it clear that the point is that there is no real point at all.

The film does not seem to have much of a real story arc, and while things happen, they did not seem to add anything to the film.  It was just a documentation of a young man who does things without much of a real purpose.

The production aspects were interesting.  The documentary is in a cinema verite style.  There is no narration.  There are no lower-thirds or “talking head” interviews.  The subjects are followed as they engage in their day to day lives.  They do not seem to acknowledge the camera.

The cinematography looked clean and clear.  There was a variety of camera angles such as close-up, long shots, medium shots, and anything one could think of.

This was only the second time I went to the Festival. (I had gone the previous day.)  I knew what to expect, and therefore, things were straight forward.

An interesting thing about the screening is that the director of the documentary attended the screening, and he introduced the film, which was great.

This concludes my paper.  While, I did not completely enjoy the film, and I considered it to have its share of flaws, I am more than willing to attend the CIFF again next year.



Chicago International Film Festival: Tir (MCOM 4731 / 6731 & IFDI 5731: Screenwriting Critical Viewing Assignment)

For my screenwriting class, we had to attend the Chicago International Film Festival and write a paper on our experiences there.

MCOM 4731 / 6731 & IFDI 5731: Screenwriting

Critical Viewing Assignment – Due: October 29th

Part of the fun of bring a filmmaker is that you’re expected to watch A LOT of films.  It’s no different in this class, as one of your assignments is to view and critique a recent narrative film.


We are very lucky to live in the city we do, as film is a very appreciated art form in

Chicago. An example of this appreciation is the Chicago International Film Festival that is being held at the AMC Theatres (River East), from October 9th – October 23rd. You are expected to view one narrative film that is being shown as a part of the film festival. Please be aware that the tickets to the film festival sell out fast, so it’s highly recommended that you buy your tickets ahead of time.


Your paper should be 2-3 pages long (single-spaced) and should include the following elements:

  • A summary of the film and it’s structure – what was the film about, who the main characters were, etc.
  • Obvious production elements (shooting techniques, editing style, etc.)
  • Character Analysis – were the characters within the film interesting, was it an active or inactive protagonist, was the antagonist superior to the protagonist, did the characters have interesting relationships with the supplemental characters within the film, etc.
  • Personal reflection on your experience watching the film – would you recommend it to a friend, did you gain something from watching it, etc.
  • And finally, what was your impression of the film festival? Did you enjoy the overall experience? Would you attend the film festival again?


The website for the Chicago International Film Festival is the following:


Ellis Sutton

MCOM 4731 / 6731 & IFDI 5731: Screenwriting

Critical Viewing Assignment


On Monday, October 20, 2014 at 1:00 PM, I went to the Chicago International Film Festival at the AMC River East 21 theater to see the movie Tir.  It focuses on two men: Branko and Maki.  They are truck drivers who take turns driving a freight truck all over the continent of Europe.  The film is an Italian-Croatian co-production, and it is spoken in the Croatian, Italian, and Slovenian languages.

Branko struggles with this job because it requires him to be away from home from his wife Isa for what appears to be many weeks and maybe a few months at a time.  He was a teacher back home, but changed careers in order to preserve his family’s financial security.  Not only that, working as a truck driver enables him to earn three times more money than he could earn working as a teacher.  Maki’s role in the film is as Branko’s friend.

It is difficult to discuss the film’s plot.  That is mainly because this film does not have a plot.  It simply meanders about for around ninety minutes depicting things such as the two men driving, unloading cargo from the truck, Branko talking to his wife on the phone, and lots of things.  Nothing really made sense.  Things happened for no real reason.

Late in the film, Branko tries to park his truck somewhere, but he struggles to find a place because a large number of men are protesting, I assume, unfair working conditions and such for truck drivers.  However, I did not understand, precisely, why they were protesting or what they had to gain from it.  It simply made no sense.

The ending also does not make much sense, and it seems as though there is no real, true resolution.  Branko simply continues on with his job as a truck driver.  Earlier in the film, he received a call from his wife, letting him know that a teaching position opened up, and he could finally give up his job as a truck driver and come home, but he refused to take it because of money reasons.  On the one hand, I can understand his viewpoint because sometimes people have to do what they have to do rather than follow their hearts.  Branko seems to simply move on with his life as it already is, and he makes no changes.  He does not grow as a person, as far as I could tell.  He does the same thing at the end of the story as he did at the beginning of the story., and there seems to be no reason why that is the case; there is a lack of introspection and character insight to explain why Branko ends up in the exact same place that he was in the very beginning of the movie.

The look of the film was rather nice.  It looked lively during daytime scenes, and the look of the film always matched the mood of the scene.

Closeups were effective in conveying emotional scenes such as the phone conversations Branko had with his wife.  There were also several scenes where we saw the perspective of Branko or Maki driving the truck; in other words, it was a first-person view of the road.  There were also several beautiful shots of the expressways.

The theme of the film is about how people are often forced to choose give up their passions so that they can earn enough money to be financially stable.  The film, however, was not structured well enough to fully explore that theme.

With regards to my experience at the film festival, there was a bit of hassle.

First, I procrastinated.  I did not make plans to pick a film and go to the festival until the weekend before.  There did not seem to be much of a selection left, and therefore, I was somewhat concerned with there not being anything interesting to see.  Looking through the schedule days later, I learned that there were screenings of old, classic movies such as Psycho and A Star Is Born.  I would have loved to see films such as that on the big screen.

When I got to the theater I remarked to myself that it is how the film festival will be in a normal movie theater.  I figured that the reason was, perhaps, that while things are changing, the film industry in Chicago is not as strong as it is in New York City and, of course, Los Angeles.  Also, I was not aware of any famous people coming to the theater.

This was a special experience for me because this was the first time since Father’s Day 2010, when my family and I saw Toy Story 3.  Lack of money, time, and people willing to go with me prevented me from being able to see any movies until the CIFF.

I liked the theater.  It was the biggest one I had ever been in.  The individual screens were smaller than other theaters I got into.  A classmate was also there.

This is all I can say about my experience of the festival.  I hope to be able to do it again next year.




Gender and Sexuality as portrayed in the Glee Episode “Feud”

This written as part of my Gender and Sexuality class.  We viewed the Glee episode “Feud.” After that, we had to write about the show’s depiction of gender and sexuality.


Ellis Sutton

Critical Gender and Sexualities



The show Glee has always had lots of focus on gender and sexuality issues, and the episode “Feud” was no exception.  Just about every storyline in the episode involved gender or sexuality.

The main conflict is between Will Schuester, the coach of the glee club, and former student Finn Hudson.  Will was engaged to marry school guidance counselor Emma Pillsbury, but things ended after Finn kissed Emma.

This conflict is about two men and a sort of “competition” over the sexuality of a woman.  However, while that may be the basic conflict, the issue becomes far more complex.  Will does not view Emma as his property, let alone Finn as violating or “stealing” her.  He is betrayed.  Finn joined the military after graduating high school.  However, after some problems, he was discharged, and didn’t know what to do with his life.  Will invited Finn to help him coach the glee club, and Finn even coached the club without Will when Will left to go to Washington, D.C. to prevent the U.S. government from cutting funding of arts programs (such as the glee club).  Throughout the series, Will was a father figure towards Finn, and was always looking out for him and encouraging him to be successful.  Then Finn repays Will by disrespecting his relationship with Emma.  Clearly, a seemingly primal male-male fight over a woman’s sexuality has for more nuance than one might assume.

Another issue is between Rachel Berry and her boyfriend Brody.  Rachel’s roommate Santana believes that Brody is cheating on Rachel.  Brody is working as a male escort.  This interesting because prostitution, whether it is on the street or in hotels, is often something that is done by women.  Santana finds about Brody’s work, and tries to get him to leave Rachel.  Rachel, however, refuses to believe Santana, and she along with, Kurt, demand that she leave the apartment they share.  After this, Santana calls Finn (Rachel’s ex-boyfriend), who by then has been banished, and tells him about Brody.  Finn responds by confronting Brody, and ordering him to leave Rachel, this leads to fight where Finn brutally beats Brody, all while Finn calls Rachel his fiancée even though they have not yet even reconciled.  This depicts how protective people can be of their former romantic partners.  It’s also another example in the episode of men competing over the sexuality of women.

Another conflict is that between Ryder Lynn and Unique Adams previously known as Wade Adams.  Unique is male-to-female transgender, and Ryder refuses to acknowledge that Unique identifies as female.  Ryder refers to Unique as a boy, and rejects Unique’s identity.  Later while, chatting with his online girlfriend, Katie, about the situation, she tells him that is Unique says she’s a girl, then that’s her truth, and he needs to respect that even if he doesn’t understand that.  Katie uses the analogy that he wouldn’t like it if people told him that their relationship isn’t real because they’ve never met in real life.  Ryder comes around, and he fully acknowledges Unique as a girl.  Gender and identity is something that is hard to understand, but Glee showed how people need to be open-minded and sometimes accept things because one person’s reality may not be the same as another person’s reality.  Everyone is different, but each difference is equally valid.


A few more additional thoughts on Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes

I think Byron Hurt did get men to look at themselves.  The reason is that first and foremost, he provided a context to the hip-hop music that people don’t necessarily see.  He did research and interviewed people on how hip-hop affects them and what rappers are really saying in their music.    I feel that if people listen, they will reconsider what they are listening to and watching, and examine whether the effect is has on them is good or not and what they should do about the effects of hip-hop on them.  The documentary clearly shows that people mimic the attitudes and behaviors expressed in hip-hop and many of those attitudes and behaviors are negative such as sexually harassing women, being violent towards another man because “he looked at you the wrong way,” or any type of behavior that is harmful towards other people or oneself.  I believe that Hurt’s documentary will hopefully encourage people to think for themselves and not allow the media to influence them negatively because he shows people the objective effect that hip-hop has on them.

Needless to say, sexism is everywhere in our culture.  Men and women are both perpetrators and victims of it.  Women are often objectified and are often pressured to conform to limited roles such as being a wife and mother.  Despite the fact that women work far more often than they did in the past, women still are expected to balance motherhood and their careers.  Many say that a woman can’t be a wife, mother, and have a career, and be able to do it well.  Men don’t seem to have this struggle to nearly the same extent.  People rarely, if ever, talk about how men are unable to be a husband, father, and have a career.  I suppose the reason is that women are expected to be children’s caregivers while men are expected to support their wives and children financially.

A trend I have noticed in combatting gender discrimination is that women who reject traditional gender roles have more support than men who do the same.  For example, in high school, I noticed a handful of girls who dressed as boys do, and they were generally accepted by the school at large.  However, I once heard of a boy who came to school dressed as girl, and the reaction was less than favorable to say the least.  In society in general women are often trying to defy traditional gender roles because they are constricting and subjugating, but men who do the same are often frowned upon probably because of some latent hatred of femininity.

Hip-Hop and Its Effect on Gender Roles

This is yet another assignment from a past class I took.  Once again, this was an English class where we read and wrote about social issues surrounding sex, gender, race, and class.  The class mixed sociology with English.  This paper talked about the documentary Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, by Byron Hurt and talked about several of the gender and racial aspects  of hip-hop.


Ellis Sutton


English 102

Hip-Hop and Its Effect on Gender Roles

Sex is a person’s biological role in reproduction.  Gender is the role and behavior associated with a person’s sex.  Males and females, boys and girls, and men and women, all have specific behaviors that they are expected to do or not do.  However, ever since humanity began, there have been people who have questioned, rejected, and even attempted to change gender roles on the grounds that they are harmful, constricting and the like.  Byron Hurt, an activist, is one of the many people who have done that.  In his documentary, Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, Hurt attempts to find out what hip-hop and rap music says about what roles men and women should and shouldn’t have (“Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes”).

A point made over and over again throughout Hurt’s documentary is that hip-hop often sends the message that men need to be dominant towards women and other men.  Rap lyrics and music videos often contain content that glorifies being violent towards other men for generally senseless reasons such as “stepping on one’s turf” or “looking at them the wrong way.”  Hip-hop is in a way a form of a common trope in American culture that equates masculinity with violence.  Some of the rappers Hurt interviewed for the documentary film, said that the message that men, especially black men, receive is that they have to command and demand respect, never express anything that could be perceived as weakness, and never let other men disrespect or degrade them (“Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes”).

People ask why hip-hop is so violent.  One reason is that black men in America often are disadvantaged financially.  Many black men can’t use money to assert their dominance so they decide to sue their bodies to fulfill that goal.  They act as though they are “hard”, use aggressive mannerisms, and the like.  By contrast, men who are wealthy don’t tend to come across as violent because they can use money to show dominance (“Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes”).

Hip-hop has another side to gender roles that poses a risk that is just as great if not greater than the idea that men must be hyper masculine and violent towards one another.  It is the issue of how women are treated.  Rap lyrics routinely refer to women with epithets such as “bitches,” and “hos.”  Women in rap videos are depicted wearing very little clothing next to fully-dressed men; the implication is that women are objects who exist solely for the sexual pleasure of men.  They have no other worth or value.  Hurt documented the consequences of such media messages:  At the BET Spring Bling event in Daytona, Florida, young men who attended the event routinely sexually harassed and sexually assaulted young women by shooting video cameras under their skirts or groping them.  It is stated that in the black community, issues that affect blacks as a whole or black men are given greater importance than the issues of misogyny, sexism, and violence against women.  One of the results of those attitudes is the sobering fact that black women are 33% more likely than their white counterparts to be victims of domestic violence (“Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes”).  Even women are desensitized by hip-hop and seem to accept the messages to an extent.  Hurt asked one young woman about what she thought about misogynistic hip-hop lyrics.  She said that they don’t offend because they aren’t specifically targeted to her.

When it comes to hip-hop portraying certain gender roles for men, there is an irony.  It’s very common for rappers (and people in society in general) to denigrate men for “being less of a man” if they cry or fail to conform to what society considers to be masculine.  This also includes lyrics that are homophobic.  However, the irony of homophobia in rap is that rap has a homoerotic subtext.  The documentary notes that for example, there is a video featuring a shirtless LL Cool J, and the viewer is encouraged to look at him.  In addition when rappers talk about the pursuit of sex, they focus less on the women and more on working together with their friends to get sex  (“Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes”).

There is an important reason why hip-hop expresses the messages that it expresses.  In the early days of the genre rappers talked about political issues in their lyrics, but over time, the lyrics changed to have less substance.  One would wonder why that would happen.  The record companies are seemingly uninterested in signing artists that talk about so-called worthy issues and more interested in artists talking about violence, drugs, sex, and the like.  The documentary suggests a racist subtext because the record executives are mostly white men who allegedly don’t blacks to criticize their subjugation in society.  It is remarked that this is a trend that is not fundamentally different to old American films that depicted African Americans in a manner which reinforced negative black stereotypes such as being lazy or violent.  Some amateur rappers whom Hurt, interviewed said that the white record executives do not want to perpetuate positive images of black men, and they even expressed that they don’t engage in crimes, don’t neglect their parental responsibilities, nor would they want their sons to emulate the behaviors of rappers.

Byron Hurt set out in his documentary to depict what hip-hop music says about gender roles and how those messages affect society (“Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes”).  When the documentary is over, one can clearly see that many of the messages and views expressed in hip-hop are negative and have equally undesirable consequences.  This begs the question: what can be done about these consequences? I think that what needs to be done is that people need to first and foremost think about the media they consume.  They have to decide whether the messages and views expressed in the media they consume are positive or negative.  People also need to think about the media they consume is affecting them in a positive way or not.  Afterwards, they have to decide what to do about it.  Will they change their attitudes and if so how?  Will they listen to music that doesn’t disrespect people?  Will they continue to listen to potentially harmful music, but not let it influence them to partake in negative behaviors?  The only way that people can change society for the better is for people to start with themselves and takes personal responsibility.

Works Cited

Hurt, Byron, dir. “Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes.”Independent Lens. 20 FEB 2007. DVD.